Oslo S. Photo: Pål Stagnes

Interrailing to Spain

At Easter I chose to travel to Spain in a slightly different way; I bought an Interrail ticket and took the train.

With an Interrail ticket in my hand I traveled from Oslo to Alicante. I bought the ticket so shortly in advance that I did not have the opportunity to get reserved seats for the european trains. Interrail tickets should be booked between 8 days and 8 weeks before departure so you can get the tickets in the mail. You can buy the Interrail ticket on Oslo S, but seat reservations for the european trains must be arranged from NSB’s customer center and they will send the tickets by mail.

I had made a rough plan for the trip; I wanted a day in Paris and a day in Barcelona. Otherwise, the journey would be on the way.

 

Interrail – Europe in only on ticket

Since 1972, European youths has been able to travel and discover its own continent by train. Since its inception in 1972, the age limit has been increased several times, and now anyone who wants to can go interrailing.

With an Interrail ticket you can access more than 250,000 km of continuous railways, and the opportunity to travel in 30 different countries with an even greater number of transport organizations.

Over the past 40 years, Interrail has established itself as a supplier of a unique travel experience associated with adventure, freedom and flexibility. Interrail provides an entrance to Europe’s geographical, historical and cultural wealth, enabling both new and experienced travelers to immerse themselves in the various cultural elements that make Europe an exciting place to explore. All this is achieved with only one ticket, which also provides additional benefits such as discounted ferries, attractions and accommodations.

Interrail is available to European and Russian residents. Citizens in other countries can buy Eurail tickets that give the same benefits.

Tidlig morgen på Oslo S og jeg er klar for å legge ut på Interrail. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Early morning at Oslo S and I’m ready to go on Interrail. Photo: Pål Stagnes

 

First day of travel – Saturday, March 24, 2018

The day started early, very early. The alarm clock started to be noisy already at 0500. I would have plenty of time so I did not have to stress to reach the train.

The first part of the trip was train to Gothenburg. That train went off at 0701. It was quiet on board and the time was spent listening to podcasts and to sleep.

In Gothenburg it was a short break before there was a transfer to Copenhagen.

 

Foto: Pål Stagnes
Photo: Pål Stagnes

The first train was from Oslo to Gothenburg. In Gothenburg there was a change of train to Copenhagen, but in Malmø all passengers had to leave the train because of a failure. Fortunately, the next train came after 15-20 minutes. On the train I met Hanna and Alfred, two Norwegian youths aged 18 and 19 who were also on Interrail. They were on their way to London, with a stop in Paris.

In Copenhagen we had to switch over to bus to Rødbyhavn, and from there by ferry to Puttgarden. The route Rødbyhavn – Puttgarden requires a seat reservation, and my plan was to fix this in Copenhagen. Since we had been delayed I did not have time to fix it, but I had to go straight on the bus. The bus service lasted a couple of hours.

Since I had no seat reservation, the plan was to arrange this in Rødbyhavn. It would be easier said than done. In Rødbyhavn there was no rail station at all where I can buy the reservation. Fortunately, the conductor allowed us, if somewhat reluctantly, to board the train.

On board the ferry, everyone had to leave the train and the train were kept closed until we approach land.

I spent the time at the ferry to have a long-awaited meal, rarely have a simple pasta bolognese tasted so good.

The trip to Germany takes only 45 minutes.

From Puttgarden there is a few hours with the train to Hamburg which is a hub for further travel. Just board the train and enjoy the ride. In Puttgarden we stayed for a long time and waited until we were told that there was a radio failure and that the train was therefore not allowed to continue. The further trip was therefore with a regional train with a change in Lübeck.

The train from Lübeck was scheduled to arrive in Hamburg just a few minutes after the train we had planned to continue our travel with. We therefore asked the conductor to hear if the train could wait a few minutes so we could join it. The conductor called in to check the possibilities, but unfortunately he got bad news. The line between Lübeck and Hamburg had been closed due to fire, and the train we were on had to return to Lübeck.

In Lübeck, nobody could provide information on how to proceed to Hamburg. After a lot of waiting, we ended up taking a taxi to Hamburg togheter with a Swedish family of four.

None of us had planned to stay in Hamburg, so when we arrived hunt for a place to stay overnight started. After checking in numerous hotels, we finally found a hotel that had two available rooms, but could also get a third room at the neighboring hotel.

My first day at Interrail was a long day and I was not in bed until closer to 0200.

 

Hamburg Hauptbanhof. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Hamburg Hauptbanhof. Photo: Pål Stagnes

 

Second day of travel – Sunday, March 25, 2018

I had agreed to meet Hanna and Alfred at the station at 0930. We met at a bakery at the station, so there I had breakfast.

At the station we tried to buy seat reservations to Karlsruhe and further on to Paris. Unfortunately, there were no seats available, but we were told that we could travel to Karlsruhe without reservations, and then try to arrange it from there.

On board the train we found free seats in a 6-man coupé. The seats should free until Hanover, but we were lucky and did not have to give ut the seats.

Neither this day, everything went smoothly. A signal error caused us to stand still and the valuable time we intended to use in Karlsruhe to buy seats reservations for further travel was lost. We therefore started searching for alternative transport to Paris. We considered different train departures, buses, car hire and shipping services, but we chose to wait to see how it went in Karlsruhe.

Fortunately, we arrived in Karlsruhe a few minutes before the train to Paris arrived. The time between arrival and departure was so short that we would not reach the station to buy the seat reservations. We therefore had to gamble and hope that we could buy the seat reservation directly from the train staff.

Fortunately, the conductor could help us with seat reservations and we could jump onto the train. We first got our seats from Strasbourg, but we did mind, we were on board the train to Paris.

In Paris, I said goodbye to Hanna and Alfred and wished them a good trip to London, which was their final destination.

On my way to Paris, I had booked a cheap hotel room at Hotel 3 Nations. For 40 Euro I got a worn room, but it was clean and had a private bathroom.

 

Hotel 3 Nations, Paris. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Hotel 3 Nations, Paris. Photo: Pål Stagnes

 

Third day of travel – Monday, March 26, 2018

This day I had planned to spend sightseeing in Paris before I will take the night train to Toulouse.

The first thing this day was to get a reservation to Toulouse, so I had that it in place. At the Paris-Est train station I bought a the reseravation for the night train. I had booked a berth in a 6-berth cabon.

The train to Toulouse departed from Paris Austerlitz train station which is located on the other side of the city. I therefore took the metro there to put my backpack into a locker. With the backpack in the storage box it would be much easier to go travel around the city.

I lacked cash but thought it would be easy to find an ATM at the station. It was not, and when I finally found the ATM it was closed. I had to go to the neighboring station with full backpack and get the cash there and then go back to Austerlitz to get rid of my backpack. It took some time, but eventually the backpack was in the storage box and I was ready to go out and enjoy Paris.

I started with a late breakfast at a nice cafe. Not far from Notre Dame there was the possibility of getting on to a hop on hop off bus.

 

Notre Dame. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Notre Dame. Photo: Pål Stagnes
Eiffeltårnet. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Eiffel tower. Photo: Pål Stagnes

After two rounds of Big Bus Paris, I had seen famous attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe. Traveling with an hop on hop off bus gives the opportunity to see a lot in a short time and also the opportunity to make some stops along the way.

After I had finished sightseeing, it was time to go back to Austerlitz.

 

Om bord Big Bus. Foto: Pål Stagnes
On board Big Bus. Photo: Pål Stagnes
Foto: Pål Stagnes
Photo: Pål Stagnes

I had planned to find me somewhere to eat near the station, but I did not find any place that was open. Instead, there I ended up with a simple meal at the station.

On board the night train I found my berth. Despite the fact that I had asked to get a lower one I had been got the middle one. The bottom berth was not used.

The berths are simple beds, with a pillow and a blanket, but it does not matter if you do not demand too much comfort.

To make sure nobody stole my backpack during the night I locked this to the bed.

 

Triumfbuen. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Arc de Triomphe. Photo: Pål Stagnes

 

Fourth day of travel – Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I arrived at Toulouse-Matabiau 6 o’clock in the morning. Here I had some time to brush up and to eat breakfast before getting on the train to Barcelona.

The trip from Toulouse to Barcelona went fast, and the train rolled into Barcelona Sants just before half past twelve.

Barcelona Sants jernbanestasjon. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Barcelona Sants railway station. Photo: Pål Stagnes

The first thing I did when I arrived in Barcelona was to buy seat reservation for the train to Alicante so I did not have to spend time to fix it the next day. On arrival at Barcelona, I had not booked a hotel room, but after a quick search on the web, I chose Hotel Victoria Palace, a two-star hotel that had received good feedback from other travelers. For a 5 Euro extra I could stay in a superior room with plenty of sapce and double bed.

Since there was no check in before 1400 I chose to walk the 3 kilometers from the station to the hotel. A nice walk despite my heavy backpack.

Hotellrommet. Foto: Pål Stagnes
The hotel room. Photo: Pål Stagnes

I arrived at the hotel a little bit earlier than the check in time and my room was not ready when I arrived. I therefore had to wait around 15 minutes. It did not matter, it was me that arrived there too early.

I got a room of about 20 sqm with sofa, desk and double bed. There was plenty of space in the room. The room kept a good standard, the bed was comfortable and the bathroom modern. Here I absolutely got a great deal, and I would love to stay at this hotel again.

Barcelona. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Barcelona. Photo: Pål Stagnes

I had a shower before I left the hotel for a look around in the city. Since I also had a only a short time in Barcelona, I ended up buying a two-day ticket with the Barcelona City Tour. They drive two different routes around the city. Each of the routes takes about two hours. I had traveled a round with both routes and I saw places like Arc de Triomf, Camp Nou (FC Barcelona), Casa Batlló, Catedral Götic, Port Olimpic, Sagrada Familia and Tibidabo.

Barcelona is a nice city with old and exciting architecture. There is far too much to see in such a short time.

Foto: Pål Stagnes
Photo: Pål Stagnes

 

Fifth day of travel – Wednesday, 28 March 2018

I checked out of the hotel in half past ten. In order to avoid to be dragging around with my backpack, I chose the easy way; to take a taxi to the train station and storage my backpack there.

As in Paris, the bag was checked here before I could put it for storage.

With the daypack on my back it was time to find me some breakfast. Easiest solution was chosen; a baguette and freshly squeezed juice at the station.

After breakfast, I head for the bus stop and a new round of sightseeing bus.

Barcelona. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Barcelona. Photo: Pål Stagnes

The initial plan was to join both the sightseeing routes, but when I saw the long queue of tourists waiting at Placa de Catalunya I chose to take a second round with the same bus.

Camp Nou (FC Barcelona). Foto: Pål Stagnes
Camp Nou (FC Barcelona). Photo: Pål Stagnes

After the second round I jumped off the bus at Placa de Catalunya and walked back to the station.

It was a nice walk where I shot some more pictures in addition to those shot from the bus.

On board the train I got found my seat. I had asked for seat by the window when I booked the ticket, but I had got a seat at the aisle.

Selfie om bord på toget til Alicante. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Selfie on board the train to Alicante. Photo: Pål Stagnes

The train to Alicante has a stay of 20 minutes in Valencia. Here the locomotive needs to be moved. The train leaves the station the same way we arrived.

The train arrived in Alicante about 10 minutes behind the scheduled flight time. So I missed the bus to the airport where I would pick up the rental car I would have the next few days. At the bus stop outside the station I was waiting together with many others who were also going to the airport. We waited a long time, and several buses should have been at the bus stop, but noone shoved up. I therefore ended up sharing a taxi with two others who were also running late.

I later arrived at the airport later than agreed with the rental company. It was agreed that they should pick me up since they were located a little bit outside the airport, but since I was late I had to take a taxi. I crossed my fingers because the opening hours were only indicative and that it was still open when we arrived. Fortunately, they were open, and after waiting for other customers to get help, I finally got the rental car, a small Fiat.

 

You can find more information about Interrail at NSB and Interrail.eu.