amsterdam, antwerp, belgium, luxembourg, luxembourg city, the netherlands, travel

Interrailing through the Benelux

February 22, 2017

First of all this isn’t an advertisement for interrail. I don’t have that kind of audience and I ain’t getting paid squat. Having said that, interrail is something you should definitely do your homework on before buying a ticket. I did and it worked well for me. Is that it? Can I stop being an advertisement yet? Oh, okay, one more thing.We bought the Benelux package, meaning we could travel on any train between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on a certain amount of days within the space of a month. I can’t tell you the exact amount of money we saved but I can tell you about the route we took.

What do you think? My first time using ScribbleMaps went well, ‘ay? This is not an advertisement for ScribbleMaps either.

The first stop on our journey was Amsterdam. We spent four days there till I couldn’t stand it any longer. If you’ve read my blog post about The Hague then you’ll understand my feelings about Amsterdam and my reasons for wanting to escape. My mum told me after I published it that it was a bit hypocritical to claim I hated Amsterdam because of the museums and then escape to The Hague to visit a museum. I should have made myself more clear. I didn’t hate Amsterdam’s museums, I hated that I couldn’t afford any of Amsterdam’s museums.Funnily enough, we didn’t make the most of our interrail card on the train to The Hague from Amsterdam. That was the one journey we actually paid for. If I were smarter I would have traveled early from Amsterdam to the Hague then to Antwerp in one day to stick within the 24 hour rule but you live and learn I guess. Instead we traveled Amsterdam – The Hague – Amsterdam – Antwerp.Which brings me to our third stop. I’ve rarely talked about Antwerp which is a shame because it’s a city I liked a lot in a new way. It wasn’t the kind of place I fell in love with because of it’s beauty, like Budapest or Reykjavik. In comparison Antwerp was positively ugly. It wasn’t a place I liked because of it’s points of interests either. I can’t explain to you what I liked about Antwerp without sounding crazy but here goes: Antwerp felt like home. Maybe it is Belgium’s startling similarity to the UK but with a lot more bilingual people or maybe I lived there in a past life or something, I don’t know. Either way I could totally see myself living in Antwerp. It’s similar to Copenhagen in that sense.From Antwerp we visited Bruges and Ghent in the same day and although it meant we couldn’t fully appreciate either, we definitely saved money with the Interrail card and we still got to see some things in both places. In Bruges we mostly wandered around and in Ghent we saw graffiti alley.Finally, our last train day pass was used getting from Antwerp to Luxembourg, passing but not stopping through Brussels. Brussels might have been a nice stop on our journey but I talked briefly about why we didn’t stop there on this post. In short, the Brussels terrorist attack happened days before we began planning the trip and we didn’t want to take any risks. Usually that doesn’t stop me as I know the cities I visit on the regular (Liverpool and Manchester) are probably just as likely as Brussels to be attacked, but I still didn’t want to go. Why? Well, I heard a rumour that Brussels is boring and I’d rather explore lesser known places like Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent and even Luxembourg City. That doesn’t mean I’ll never visit Brussels. I will… one day. But not when I’m trying to impress my American friend. Sorry Brussels!So… Luxembourg. By this point on the trip the temperature had shot way up. It didn’t help that we were traveling further south, either. But Luxembourg City was gorgeous, it didn’t really matter that it was too hot to properly explore. I spent most of the time in awe of the buildings and the landscape. You never fully appreciate hills until you’ve been confined in the Netherlands for five days.After Luxembourg City we paid full price for a train ticket to Cologne. I can’t remember exactly how much it was but it was around €50. That definitely made me appreciate the rail card even more. At this point I should talk about trains.I love planes, it’s my ideal mode of transportation everywhere. Trains are okay, I guess. They’re one of the only modes of transport I don’t feel motion sickness on but they take far too long in my opinion. And they’re often way more expensive than flying, which is annoying. However, the train ride from Luxembourg to Cologne was amazing. We got to pass some incredible places. At one point I swear we were in a fjord in South Germany and a whole heap of German holiday-makers were doing water sports beside us on the lake. It’s a shame I didn’t catch the name of that town as we were going passed because it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and I would have never been able to catch that view from a plane window.Does anyone know where this place is? Please tell me because I want to go there!!This is the point of the post where I want to remind you that this is not an advertisement for Interrail. That’s pretty obvious by now, right? Why am I repeating myself? Well, because although I felt I got the most for my money out of the pass (and even saved a little bit of money), I didn’t love my experience with it. I didn’t like the small amount of time we got to spend in Bruges and Ghent and I wasn’t obsessed with the countries we chose. It was probably due to timing rather than my experience. I think I will probably use interrail again in the future, at least until I turn 25 and can’t get the youth discount anymore. I would love a longer time to spend and an unlimited amount of destinations and stops to get the most out of the pass.

 

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