Right, so I've just set up this blog which I will be using for my European exploits coming up in just over a month, and I thought I better do a first post just to get things in motion.
First of all, welcome! If you have made it this far and you are actually reading this post, that at least shows some kind of interest in what I'm doing, which is pretty good news because when I'm in Europe I don't want to be searching helplessly for free wireless internet for nothing. In fact, seeing as the journey hasn't even begun yet, I would say that you are one of the more committed ones. Yes. I'm starting to like you already.
So the plan is this: me and my brother Sam are going to be visiting Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Austria over a period of 4-5 weeks, starting from 24th May when we will be flying out to Madrid. We have InterRail tickets for the duration of our journey, meaning that we can travel ANYWHERE by train in Europe with just those tickets, so this is how we will be getting around. We will probably also use trains as our accommodation some of the time by getting on sleeper trains, but apart from that we will be staying in campsites and hostels, and maybe the occasional cardboard box. We'll be getting the train back to England too: from Austria we'll make the long journey through Germany and France to the Eurotunnel where we can take advantage of our family connections to get back to England for £1 (The InterRail will not cover this). And then we catch up on sleep.
In terms of the places we're going to visit within the countries I've mentioned, we have a list of places we'd like to visit and for how long we want to stay there. But this list is VERY flexible. I don't think there's any place where we've said we're definitely going to spend a certain amount of days, and we've also budgeted extra days for randomly going off the beaten track and exploring some rural areas, for example. And for this reason, I'm a bit wary of copying out that list of places on here... I don't want people to think that we're going to go somewhere for certain and then be disappointed when we don't. Also I think it'll be more interesting for you guys because it'll be less predictable and you can follow the twists and turns that occur while we're travelling. And, to be honest, after a few days when we've lost all our stuff, missed last trains, got stung by evil European death-insects and been taken prisoner by lonely mountain dwellers, the list will probably go completely out of the window anyway.
Unfortunately, there are still a few things to sort out. Although InterRail tickets give you free passage on pretty much any train in Europe, some of the trains (high-speed trains and sleeper trains) need to be booked in advance. Me and Sam were meant to be sorting that out yesterday, but we got a bit distracted...throwing water balloons at people (long story that I cannot do justice to on here), so that still needs to be done. And neither of us have much time to get our shit together - Sam has ridiculous amounts of uni work and I have revision and then exams until 22nd May. We leave 2 days after my exams finish - not a very big window to do stuff, and one that will probably involve packing and last-minute craziness.
But we'll manage. Even without booking the trains before we leave we can probably still manage, it'll just take up more of our time while we're there.
People have been telling us all the shit that could go wrong while we're out there, and by now we have pretty much considered every possible occurrence. While, of course, we're going to try and make the trip as enjoyable and stress-free as we can, it's inevitable that something's going to go wrong at some point, and we've resigned ourselves to this fact. However, our travel agent who booked our flights has done similar backpacking-style trips, and he maintains that the times when things go wrong are the most memorable and give you the greatest experiences. So this is what we're focusing on rather than the pessimism from some quarters - whatever happens, this trip is going to be FUCKING AMAZING.
As for this blog, I may do a few more posts before we leave, but as I've said time will be a constraint. I will definitely mess around with the background/layout, I'll probably change the background image while I'm out there to a photo I'll have taken. While we're away, I will probably update the blog at least once for every day that we are in an area with internet access, which hopefully will be the vast majority of the days. There should be tons of photos and plenty of other stuff, and I expect I'll write a lot of random personal shit because I've never really done anything like this before, and I have to say it's PRETTY DAMN FUN. I've always considered/wanted to keep a journal or blog of some kind, but I've either not had enough time or my life hasn't been interesting enough to justify it.
So I'll update again soon, in the meantime it's work work work, but at least there is something really worth looking forward to at the end of it.
Jack - 15/04/12 - 02:55 (Yes, that's how much I got into this blog business...)