The Interrail trip is sadly over now, but I’m pleased to report that the trains were much more reliable during the second half of the trip, with no more unplanned route changes or delays. I was getting quite tired by the end of it, and I’m quite happy to be back in Canada right now, relaxing in my family home before university classes start again. A word of warning: this is quite a long post, with a ton of pictures.
Paris was a little overwhelming, it’s such a large place and there is so much to do. I feel like I could have easily spent a week there seeing all of the main attractions, but since I was only there for two days I had to decide what I wanted to see and what I had to ignore.
I did make it to the Notre Dame Cathedral, as it wasn’t too far from my hostel.
When I was in Paris, I survived almost entirely on pastries. I had quite a few pain au chocolat, and I also ate a lot of baguettes. My favorite baguette was from “La Parisienne”, where it was the winner of the best baguette of Paris in 2016. Later in the trip I also stumbled upon a bakery that was proudly advertising a second place finish in the 2014 edition of the same contest, so I guess it’s a pretty big deal in Paris!
Another famous building I wanted to see in Paris was the Panthéon.
I didn’t want to miss the Louvre, and I spent almost an entire afternoon there. However, I didn’t even come close to seeing everything, but I saw most of what interested me. I focused on sculptures, historical rooms, and Egyptian relics, which meant I skipped a lot of paintings.
In one section of the Louvre, there was an exceptional collection of rooms that were modelled after the apartments of Napolean III. There were living spaces, as well as a large dining room.
The way that I was getting between everything in Paris on this day of sightseeing was by walking, and I had a route planned out that I followed throughout the day:
After seeing the Eiffel Tower, I had seen most of the big name tourist items that I wanted to see in Paris. I was looking for something else to do, and decided on a natural history / science museum.
The morning that I was leaving Paris, I had a little bit of free time, and I decided to walk to another famous building, the Sacré-Cœur.
Brussels was the city that exceeded my expectations the most. I can’t put my finger on it, but I really loved the vibe of the city. The architecture was modern in places, and historic in others, and every part of the public transit that I saw ran very smoothly.
I stopped at the Belgian Comic Strip Center for a few hours. The main attraction for me was Tintin, as I read a lot of those comics growing up, and I bought some Tintin related souvenirs that I really liked. Tintin and The Smurfs are the two most famous comics that come from Belgium, and the museum had large sections devoted to both.
One of the most unique buildings in Brussels (and all of Europe) is the Atomium. It’s not near the center of the city, and it took me about an hour and 15 minutes to walk there. I then took the metro back to my hostel afterwards.
One of the main reasons I stopped in Bruges was a film called In Bruges that I watched for the first time a couple of months ago. In the film it is depicted as a small town with medieval architecture, and that is true. I didn’t realize Bruges was actually a fairly popular tourist destination though, and there was a decent amount of people roaming around town when I was exploring, especially around the belfry.
Amsterdam was a pretty interesting stop. I knew that it was known for having a lot of bicycles, but that didn’t prepare me for just how many there were. Almost every bridge I crossed had both railings covered with bikes, and when waiting at crosswalks it was more important to keep an eye on the bike lane than the car lane. In fact, it would be very difficult to drive a car in downtown Amsterdam, which I think contributes to the bike culture.
I went to a fairly large zoo in Amsterdam, which had a lot of animals and a large variety of species.
After the zoo, I walked around more of Amsterdam, and checked out anything that looked remotely cool.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Antwerp, and I didn’t even know what the city was known for before I got there. I learned that it’s called the city of diamonds, and my walking tour guide told us that quite a large percentage of diamonds (more than 50%) worldwide pass through Antwerp for certification or something like that.
The main reason I stopped in Luxembourg was because it was conveniently located on my way back to Reutlingen to pick up my suitcase. It was a pretty interesting stop though; the hostel was full of lots of fun people and the city had lots of history.
One of Luxembourg’s most famous historical attractions is their Casemates - underground tunnels and rooms that were historically used for military purposes.
Strasbourg is very close to the border of France and Germany, and was one of my last stops before I got back to Reutlingen to pick up my suitcase. I didn’t stay there for long, but was able to take in an outdoor video/multimedia presentation beside a massive cathedral.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen / Zugspitze
I could easily have written an entire post about the Zugsptize climb, as it is one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life. I also tried to make a Google photos album for personal use with only the good photos that I took, and it still has 234 photos in it! I’ll pick a selection of those to put in this post, but I might make another post in the future that has more details and photos about the hike.
Reutlingen and Final Travel
I only stayed in Reutlingen for one night, mainly to pick up my suitcase and other bag. I then took a train from Reutlingen to Stuttgart, a Flixbus from Stuttgart to Strasbourg, a long distance train from Strasbourg to Angers, and a local train from Angers to Cholet. It was obviously more difficult to travel with a suitcase instead of just a backpack, but on most trains there was an easily accessible place to store large luggage.
I got to spend a week in Cholet with a friend’s family, which was super relaxing and fun. I tried tons of French cuisine and wine, and got to see historic locations. After my week in Cholet was done, I got on a 6 am train to the Paris CDG airport, arrived there around 9, and dropped off my luggage and went through security in less than an hour (surprisingly, because that airport is notoriously slow to get through). I got on a Westjet direct flight to Halifax at 11:20am, which ended up taking off about an hour later than planned, and landed in Halifax around 2:30pm.