European travels with a Global InterRail pass – Part 6

Jennifer was selected to be a “tester” and to travel around Europe with a Global InterRail pass, keeping a diary of her travel and thoughts. She has shared these for Silver Travel Advisor.

The end of the Journey, thoughts and conclusion

I’d like to express my thanks for the opportunity this trip provided. While I may have been critical of certain aspects of the rail travel, stations, services etc., I hope I have not come over as ungrateful. As I said at the beginning, last year’s operation on my spine had dented my confidence a bit on the travel front. I was also new to solo/senior rail travel in Europe. I not only coped with the experience but enjoyed it immensely.

Impressions of my travels around Europe with a Global Pass

I liked the fact that I did cope, despite train hold-ups, accidents, changes to plans and poor weather conditions for much of the trip.

My son and his family Over the course of the trip I travelled by plane, train, bus, car, metro, taxi, tram, funicular and by foot. The highlights of the trip came at both ends: beginning in Barcelona with a visit to my son and his family (where the weather was fine, we visited Montserrat, and decorated the Christmas tree) and ending in Lisbon (fine weather again and time to explore the city).

Given the train delays, cancellations and disruptions experienced, I did appreciate the flexibility of the Pass and being able to rebook on alternative trains without incurring additional costs.

I disliked the fact that so much time was spent travelling (especially given the delays etc.) and not enough time exploring the places I was travelling to. Given that the InterRail Pass allows for 5 days travel out of 10, this would have been a much more relaxed and enjoyable trip if spread out over the 10 days, as opposed to concentrated into 7.

A 10 day trip would also have provided more valid feedback on the flexibility and benefits of the Global Pass. While I acknowledge that the decision to concentrate all travel into 7 days was no doubt influenced by the project budget, it certainly had an impact on my overall enjoyment of the trip.

Portugal by train The timing of the trip was also no doubt influenced by the project timetable. However, given a choice of season in which to make this particular journey, I should not have chosen to travel in these 3 countries at this time of year. With the exception of my start and end points, the weather was cold and very wet.

However, my main ‘dislikes’ relate to those stations where facilities were lacking: in particular, escalators. Narbonne station was very tired and down at heel. No first class lounge here! Even the public toilets were out of order. Also no escalators, just flights of stairs to get to platforms. Likewise, Montauban, Bordeaux, Santiago.

Next Steps

I’m inclined to feel that the Pass has lost its convenience factor in countries such as France, Spain and Portugal, given that you can’t just hop on a train but need to make a reservation. And I did wonder about the need to reserve seats at this time of year, as most of the trains used were anything but full.

I met several people en route who described the App. as “useless”.

An old street in France Given the combined cost of the Pass and the bookings made via International Rail Ltd. (£600.60), I did wonder how much of a saving the Pass actually represented, although I haven’t taken the time to calculate this.

A minor point, but the InterRail Global Pass is a fairly flimsy document. At the very least, a plastic wallet would be useful.

And finally, staff at the Memmo Alfama Hotel in Lisbon encouraged visitors to “let Lisbon inspire you. Make a sketch or write about something that has touched you. And if you feel like sharing it, leave one of them here for us to remember your stay”. Someone had written:

When I travel, I make it a journey
When I go to different places, I experience them
When I meet new people, I learn
When I taste new flavours, I grow
When I follow my intuition, I lose myself
When I smell, I recall
All these unique experiences are unforgettable
And when I return
It’s not my ego that is big
It’s my memory

I’d echo that!

Note to Readers

Please see the information at the end of Part 1 regarding this ‘test travel’ project.

•  Read European travels with a Global InterRail pass – Part 1
•  Read European travels with a Global InterRail pass – Part 2
•  Read European travels with a Global InterRail pass – Part 3
•  Read European travels with a Global InterRail pass – Part 4
•  Read European travels with a Global InterRail pass – Part 5

You may also find interesting:

•  The Benefits of the InterRail Pass and Top Ten Tips

•  InterRailing is for Seniors too!
•  Great Train Journeys of the World
•  Top Rail Travel Tips

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Jennifer

Retired academic with wanderlust

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