Your favourite travel memories

A double dose of nostalgia and wanderlust from our community

In a rather tough year for most of us, many of us have felt nostalgic for how good life was before the measures started. Looking back, we've learned to appreciate the little things. Little things like making new friends while travelling in Europe, sitting close to these new friends, sharing photos of your travels, and most importantly bidding these new friends adieu with a hug or high five. We miss these times and we can’t wait to show our new appreciation for these little things when the time comes.

What better way to get nostalgic about travel, than by sharing the Eurail and Interrail winners of our Favourite Travel Memories photo competition. These throwback images, and accompanying stories, truly show the joy that travelling gives us, so let's give kudos once again to the individuals who submitted them.

Yasmin Dijksterhuis - The Netherlands

In the summer of the year that I turned 18, my mum and I decided to do something totally adventurous and new: interrailing to Switzerland together. During this 7 day Switzerland trip we discovered new places, ate new local delicacies and gained new experiences together. This trip gave us both the opportunity to do challenging activities that we had never done before. In Interlaken, I lied on a grass field watching my mum paragliding – she had the time of her life. I swam in a lake with clear blue water high up in the mountains. It was so beautiful, I will never forget that view. With the melodic jingling bell sound of the grazing alpine cows in the background, we also hiked in the Swiss Alps for hours that week.

During those hikes, we were accompanied by clear, fresh air and an amazing view. Looking back to this Interrail trip, the only word that can describe this train trip is “wow”. Wow, not only because of what we saw but also the many unforgettable memories my mum and I created together. The long talks my mum and I had during our journey were memorable. This trip gave us the chance to have the good, long, mum & daughter talk we used to have again. The picture I shared is taken by my mum while I was trying to figure out how we could descend mount Corviglia and return to the city of St Moritz where we were staying that day. As two amateurs walking in the Alps for the first time, this descending journey wasn’t easy. But eventually, we made it and that is why my mum and I like this picture so much. Because of this journey, I was able to share some memorable stories with family, friends and you! So thank you Interrail!

Ivan Houdijk - The Netherlands

My favourite travel memory was back in 2018 when I was travelling 2-month solo through Europe. Halfway through my trip I ended up in a small town in Croatia, and it happened to be during the World Cup, where Croatia was exceeding expectations. I was lucky to be able to watch the semi-finals of England-Croatia in the only bar of this small town, with all my fellow travellers of the hostel and the town locals. They won and there was an amazing after party. At my hostel, I met three Dutch travellers, who were travelling by car back to the Netherlands. So for a day, I switched the train for a road trip to Slovenia. Two of them unfortunately had to continue their trip to the Netherlands two days later.

Me and my new friend ended up staying in Slovenia for some extra days. But then it started itching as the finals came closer. We realised we really wanted to see the final of France–Croatia live in Croatia itself. So last minute we booked a bus ride to Zagreb. We almost missed the game as the bus was way overbooked and we were the only ones in Ljubljana that were still allowed to go onto the bus. In Zagreb, we ended up meeting - by total coincidence - some of the travellers from the hostel we watched the semi-finals with. The atmosphere of being in Zagreb while Croatia was playing in the finals of the World Cup are indescribable. Unfortunately, Croatia lost, but there was still a great atmosphere and the Croatians – and us as well – partied as if Croatia had won. This is definitely my favourite travel memory of my 2018 Interrail trip. These are exactly the spontaneous and unexpected moments, that make Interrail travel so amazing and memorable.

Linda Muller - South Africa

So, in 1998, my boyfriend (now hubby) and I went backpacking in Europe and had the German Beerfest on our itinerary. We got on an overnight train in Paris…if I remember correctly, we didn’t realise we had to book a seat and the train was full…FULL…so we got chucked out of the compartment (my boyfriend was really sad as he just got chatting to a very beautiful Brazilian girl!). We ended up sitting in the section between two coaches with quite a few Italians and French guys. They had a spliff going round and there was a guitarist, singing and a lot of laughing…not that we understood much of what was said. I also remember sitting at the step area with my luggage and every time someone opened the door from outside my stuff kept tumbling down the steps. But we made it to Munich in one piece the next morning, left our luggage at the station, went to the Beerfest, drank, sat and slept on the sidewalk, drank some more and late the same evening left for Italy. A very interesting 24 hours if ever!

Olivia O'Connor - United States

My favourite travel memory in Europe was sitting in a glass room at The Northern Lights Ranch in Lapland, Finland. I travelled to Finland with three friends in search of seeing the Northern Lights. I looked up at the sky, watching the snow fall while sipping on hot chocolate. This moment reminded me of the feelings of magic and wonder, like when I was a kid. As an adult, sometimes you forget those small moments of pure bliss that can be found when you’re present, out in nature, and enjoying something new with the people you love. As I looked up at the sky, my friend snapped a photo and captured the essence of that trip. I was looking up, wondering what it will be like to see the Northern Lights for the first time. As I sat there, I realised that while seeing the Northern Lights is what brought me to Finland, I was content with the adventure and feelings of excitement I felt just being there and connecting with my friends and myself in a new place

Hannah Binder - Austria

In the summer of 2017, together with a friend from Sweden, I made an Interrail journey through 8 different European countries. During this month we tried to see, eat and experience as much as possible. One of our last countries was Ireland. During our whole trip, we had always booked our accommodation the day before and were quite shocked to discover that unfortunately none of the hotels in Dublin were in our price range and all hostels were fully booked. After a lot of back and forth, my friend finally persuaded me to try couchsurfing. I was very sceptical at first, but then I agreed as I didn't want to return to England on the same day either. After I had registered there, I immediately received an invitation from a Marco from Venezuela. As it turned out, Marco was exactly our age and moved to Dublin two years ago because of the difficult situation in his country. He welcomed us with open arms and insisted on hearing all about our trip so far.

Since he lived in a flat share himself, he even let us have the bed in the evening and slept on the floor himself. At midnight he woke us up and shyly asked us if we would have a quick glass of wine with him, as he had just turned eighteen. Of course we agreed and now he told us many stories about South America and Venezuela, his culture and family. The next morning, he showed us a South American Food Market and invited us to try traditional Venezuelan food. It was the most wonderful two days of our trip! Until today we are still in contact with Marco and remember our adventure with great joy. If we hadn't travelled with only two backpacks, a small budget and two Interrail tickets, we probably would have never met Marco! (the picture was taken at the food market in Dublin)

Heather Instasi - United States

4 weeks into a 5 week Europe trip, my husband and I stayed a few nights in Murren, Switzerland. One day we were there, we decided to hike around. We spent all day, over 7 hours, hiking down to the Lauterbrunnen valley, through the valley, and back up. It was a beautiful hot day in the swiss mountains and the most beautiful day we've ever experienced. We were tired and sweaty and walked over 14 miles, but we still talk about that day and how much we loved it. This is one of the views on that hike.

Samantha Ma - United States

My best friend and I used our Eurail passes for a girl's trip from Paris to Barcelona, with stops in Lyon, Aix en Provence, Marseilles, and Montpellier along the way. From a spontaneous hike outside of Marseille, to immersing ourselves in the French and Catalonian food cultures, it was an adventure for the books! Although we made so many memories on this trip through France and Spain, my favourite memory was wandering along with the fragrant, beautiful lavender fields in sunny Provence together, catching up about life since we moved to opposite coasts of the US. Travelling by train together let us enjoy Europe at a nice pace and take in the beautiful countryside as it gently rolled by.

Aaron Bartholomew – United States

I have wonderful memories of my European trips; four in all. I swear by train travel as you get to see the countries and not just look down on them from a plane. Train travel allows you to meet other travellers, relax and see the beautiful countryside. Playing cards, reading my book, hanging with my travelling companions are part of the treasure let alone the destinations.

I do remember one particular time we boarded a train that would eventually be separated into two trains. One went to Berlin and one to Prague. We had a strange feeling we were in the wrong car. The conductor said yes we were so at the next stop we all stood at the door with our heavy backpacks and were at the ready to make the switch.

We only had a minute or two. As soon as the train stopped, we went dashing out, nearly falling over due to our packs on our backs, sprinted to the car behind us and barely made it before the train started moving. At the very next stop, they detached the train into two. We just made it and headed to Prague.

We laughed at our mistake as we breathed heavily from the anxiety and adventure. It's not much of a story but it is the small things that looking back bring a smile to your face. I hope to go again in 2021 if the world settles down. I miss my trips to Europe and the nostalgia hits me the very first train I step on. All the memories of the past friends flood my soul.

Evelina Rimkuse - Sweden

Last autumn I had the wonderful chance of going on an Interrail trip. During my 11 day trip I ended up taking 37 trains, walking over 230 km and visiting 5 countries, so you can imagine I have a lot to tell. But this memory warms my heart a little extra. It was the 1st of November 2019. I had taken a risky night train from Milan where I boarded without a seat reserved, hoping it would be possible for me to pay for it on board, and arrived in Salzburg around 7 am. The streets were empty and silent, while the sky was painted in all tones of red, preparing for the sunrise. All I was craving was a morning swim, so I found a lake 30 minutes away from the station and headed there.

Having undressed and being half emerged in the freezing water I was addressed by an older gentleman on a bicycle. He had a genuine smile on his face and spoke way too fast German for me to understand it, so I told him so. To my surprise he switched to near-perfect English immediately and started asking me about my trip, remaining so immersed in the conversation that he seemed not to notice the otherwise slightly freezing situation. He also told me about his job, what to explore in Salzburg, and that the best way to do it is on a bicycle. On top of that, he even told me he had 5 bicycles at home and would have loved to lend one to me if he didn’t have to rush to work. This man is to this day the happiest grandpa I have ever seen, and this unexpected encounter will remain a dear memory of mine for many years to come.

Zaza Terpstra - Belgium

At the beginning of 2020, I was doing my first solo trip. Travelling alone through Europe as an 18-year-old girl was as amazing as it was terrifying. Being alone, having to organise everything myself, not always knowing where I would go next… Everything was new, exciting and breathtaking.

It was difficult for the first week. Even while I was meeting so many amazing people and really enjoying my freedom, I felt homesick a lot. But after a while, it started to get better. Being on the road, being able to just follow my heart and change my plans last minute was incredible.

At one point I was on the train from Thessaloniki to Athens. It was a long ride, especially because I forgot to make an extra reservation, so I had to change seats a lot. One person saw me dragging my backpack from one seat to another. He approached me because he was impressed by my strength. And so we started talking. He had been travelling in Europe for over a year at that point. He had his own online store, so with simply bringing his laptop, he was able to work from everywhere. We shared many stories and laughs and before we knew, we arrived in Athens.

The next day we met up and visited the Acropolis and a few other touristic sites in Athens together. I had so much fun that day and I was so grateful we were on the same train together. It was one of the most spontaneous meetings I had during that trip and I absolutely loved it!

Dimitra Nefeli Sarri - Greece

My favourite travel memory is when we were travelling across Switzerland. We were in Milan and we were pretty excited about our stops across Switzerland. When we finally got to a place a bit outside Zürich called Winterthur we were thrilled. We chose Winterthur to stay completely randomly and we said why not. Well, Winterthur had some pretty hidden nature gems we were about to explore as we were walking through the city. Small forests, lakes, trees, benches to hang out and enjoy the sounds of nature, to enjoy the beauty of what’s in front of you. That was Walchewieher. We also hung out by the lake and had a picnic later that day.

We met an old couple Barbara and Stan, and after we talked a little, they were pretty excited that we were from Greece and asked us to exchange addresses so we can send them a postcard from Athens. So we did, a few months later we sent them a letter and they send us back a postcard from Winterthur sharing how they did and their news so far. Going to that place was and will be a great memory and I hope I get back someday so I can see more. I’m really grateful we found it and had the chance to explore the other side of the city.

Jeffrey Schimpff - United States

My wife and I were on our way by rail from Chamonix toward Switzerland, with a couple of days open on our itinerary. We marvelled at a beautiful French Alpine valley and then spotted a campground near the tracks. We got off the train at the next stop, then headed back the opposite direction and got off at the station only a short walk from the campground. We stayed there two nights and enjoyed a blissful hike up the Vallee de Brevard (where we encountered an ibex grazing), chocolate croissants delivered fresh to the cafe for breakfast, and a delicious dinner in the nearby village. It was wonderful to have such a spontaneous adventure via Eurail.

These are moments that these individuals will remember for a lifetime. Are you getting ready to create your own?

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