Interrailing Part 1: Vienna to Prague

After asking if anyone would be interested in hearing about my interrail adventures, I had a few positive responses so I thought I would go ahead with a little series about them. Bear in mind that this was back in 2011 (which I actually can't believe!) so some information may now be out of date.


I'm sure you all know, but just in case anyone doesn't, InterRail refers to a scheme by which you can get a rail pass for travelling in many countries in Europe. I believe it's called EuRail if you are living outwith the EU. You choose which ticket suits you best: we had a 22 day unlimited travel ticket but there are options to do, for example, 10 travel days out of 22. You can also choose a travel ticket for just one country, if you want to see somewhere extensively. Basically it's a very cost effective way to travel, and means you don't have to book tickets - though be careful, sometimes you do need to reserve seats.

The first part of our route was actually a little nonsensical. Vienna and Bratislava are the two closest capital cities in the world, so it would make sense to visit one after the other, right? Right, but being the clever people that we are, we booked flights to Vienna before realising we could fit Prague into our itinerary so instead we travelled from Vienna up to Prague and down to Bratislava. I would advise against this unnecessary extra travel time and start at Prague instead!

Anyway, we started in Vienna which I think was quite a nice place to ease ourselves into travelling again. Vienna is clean, safe and easy to navigate although quite expensive. We also stayed in the nicest hostel of our trip...which could have been a mistake, but I think it was nice to start out in a particularly comfy place.

Sara's photo of the dorm

Eating dinner in the communal area beside the kitchen

We stayed at the Wombat's Hostel at the Naschmarkt and it was really modern, had loads of facilites and the bedrooms were spacious with lockers big enough to fit our bags - perfect. Here we stayed in a girls dorm, I'm not sure why as we stayed in mixed dorms in other cities, but this is certainly something that is offered in a lot of hostels if you are nervous about that kind of thing.

The location was also ideal, right beside the lovely Naschmarkt market and only a few minutes walk from the Museum Quarter. I love a good foreign market, I think they can instantly make you feel more immersed in local life.

We arrived late afternoon, so explored the nearby area and had dinner in the market, and the following day explored more of the city sights. Vienna is a beautiful city with wonderful architecture, so just strolling around it is a pleasure.

Museum Quartier - lots of museums and outside sitting areas

Sand sculpture in Museum Quartier

Theatre

Austrian Parliament Building

Naschmarkt

Sneaking a look at the horses from the Spanish Riding School


St Stephen's Cathedral - these patterns are caused by lights, not the stained glass windows as I originally thought, but still beautiful

Prater - the Vienna funfair that's like a mini themepark

Some sort of sparkling wine concoctions - yes even Sara's red

Anca, our roommate and first travel buddy. I wish I'd got her contact details as she was a lovely girl

We also took a trip to Schonbrunn Palace, which is a bit further out from the city centre. It was apparently modelled on Versailles, and at the time I had not been to Versailles so found Schonbrunn very impressive but having since visited its predecessor I can see that Versailles is in a whole different league! That said, the grounds are beautiful and we had a nice, if a bit too hot a day meandering around them.



Having fun at the centre of the maze in the gardens
I did enjoy Vienna, but I would say it was almost so nice that it lacked some of the character some of the other places on our trip had.

After three days, it was finally time for our first train of the trip which took us to Prague, where on arrival we fittingly got to see Thomas the Tank Engine.



We had just one night in Prague, but got a night train the next day so had nearly two days to explore. Note: I am wearing a vest top in these photos but that was overly optimistic of me, it was not the warmest place we visited by a long shot.

On the first afternoon, we had a walk round the city. Prague is quite a good city just to wander in, partly because it is so busy, you don't even really need to look at a map you can just follow the crowds of tourists, particularly if you're heading to Charles Bridge.



We happened to visit while a little market festival was going on in the main square


Rubbing the statues on the bridge

We then headed across the river to Petrin Hill, where you can walk up this mini version of the Eiffel Tower and get a good view of the city.

At dinner I ordered a "pizza pepperoni with chilli" - but this wasn't quite as I expected

The next day we went on one of Sandeman's New Europe free walking tours. I cannot recommend these enough, I did this one in Prague and another in Berlin and both were brilliant. The tour guides are knowledgeable, funny and engaging and work purely for tips so they give it their all. In Prague, Filip was our guide and he was brilliant and shared several personal stories which made the history of Prague all the more interesting.

On the tour, we revisted a lot of the places we had already seen but this time we actually learnt something about them as well, so it was well worthwhile.





We then headed up to Prague Castle, which again has nice views over the city - I love the red roofs! And then back down the hill where there were lots of interesting shops to explore, including one only selling absinthe, and we were given a free sample of Ben and Jerry's - win! 



One of my favourite finds in Prague was the John Lennon Wall. Initially started as a means for young Czechs to voice their grievances for the government, now the city allow the wall to be used for graffiti and its appearance continually changes. If you go now, it won't be the same wall that I saw, and I love that. Annoyingly, Sara and I didn't have a marker pen...so we did our best to make our mark with biro.



"You're only given a little spark of madness, you mustn't lose it"
 







We headed back across Charles Bridge one last time as we headed up to the station to catch the night train...

I loved Prague; it is a really interesting city filled with beautiful sights and built on a fascinating history. My only regret was not investigating the nightlife more - at the time we were told it was a bit dodgy, but in retrospect I'm sure we would have really enjoyed it!

Next stop - Bratislava!

Have any of you ever been to Vienna or Prague or plan on going?

Square Eyes

I am a big television fan. I feel like that's a slightly strange thing to say, because somehow it's more socially acceptable to be a fan of films, even though more of us probably watch tv on a daily basis!

But I think there are so many tv programmes that are so well made and so enjoyable, and I love knowing that when I come home on a certain day of the week, I will have certain programmes to watch. Don't get me wrong, I watch plenty of trashy television too but my point is that there's lots of quality stuff out there.

So here are a few shows that I'm loving at the moment:

Game of Thrones


I'm sure you already either watch it, or have everyone you know who does asking you to watch it. I've read the books, and while they are hard-going, I love the story and the tv show does such a good job of interpreting it for the small screen. If by some small chance you don't know the premise of GoT: imagine medieval Europe, but in an alternate world where mystical creatures and happenings exist. In essence, I suppose the story centres around the fight for the 'Iron Throne' and to rule the Seven Kingdoms...but there's so much more to it than that. There are so many storylines and characters that even if you're not keen on one there's still much more to interest you...just try not to get too attached!

Here's a little joke for you: Why does George R. R. Martin not have twitter? Because he killed all 140 characters.

Oh, and if you're looking for any more reasons:


Favourite character: Daenerys Targaryen/Jon Snow/Arya (can't choose...and there's so many other great ones!)

Grey's Anatomy



I have loved Grey's since my first year of university, when I binge-watched the first five or so seasons in the month before I started exams. Silly move.

While I don't think it's at its best at the moment, and I'm not really too keen on the news that the writer wants to keep it going for another ten seasons, I honestly think Grey's is one of the best dramas around. The characters are so well developed and the storylines are usually really engaging. And I do love the medical drama aspect, which keeps the pace of each episode going.

Favourite Character: Alex

Sherlock


If you don't watch Sherlock, I'm sure you've heard quite enough about it already in the last few weeks and are probably quite glad that its not clogging up your twitter/tumblr/facebook feeds any more!

But on the other hand, if you don't watch Sherlock - what are you doing?! There's only nine episodes (albeit 90 minutes each) and each one is brilliant, funny, tense and heartfelt in varying measures. And if you watch it all now you'll understand the agony the rest of us are in when we have to wait a year or more for the next season!

Doctor Who 


Really, who doesn't want to fly off with the Doctor in his little blue box? Though I often have a bone to pick with some episodes of Doctor Who, on the whole, I have such a soft spot for it and I challenge anyone who has watched it not to feel the same.

Hart of Dixie


This is a bit of a random one, and I'm not really suggesting it's high quality television, but I do know that it is enjoyable, easy-watching and it almost makes me want to live in Bluebell, Alabama.

Oh, and this helps...


Once Upon A Time


I didn't really expect to like this one, but the storyline quickly sucked me in! I like the format of the events of the present being mixed in with flashbacks, and the way they interpret the traditional fairytales is really clever and interesting. Again, I don't think it's going to win any awards anytime soon but it is a really enjoyable watch!

Favourite character: I feel I can't say without giving away later seasons. From Season 1...probably Mary Margaret/Snow or Ruby/Red.

Downton Abbey


The characters, the plots, the settings, the costumes, the humour - all hail Dame Maggie Smith! - I love it all. Get watching this if for some reason you're not!

Favourite character: Branson/Dowager Countess/Daisy

Of course, as I said, I love my trashy shows like Made in Chelsea, What Happens in Kavos and just about every BBC3 "documentary" ever made but I don't feel like I have much of a defence for them...

What are some of your favourite shows?

EDIT: I forgot The Walking Dead - shame on me!