At the beginning of 2002 I spent two weeks travelling across South Africa with a good friend of mine, this was an excellent trip and fuelled the fires of my new-found expensive hobby: travelling. After a straight six-months of being back in the UK I was straining at the lead and desperate once more to head for foreign climes. Having decided to go away I had to answer the two most important questions: Where to? and Who with?
The destination was easy to narrow down initially based on financial constraints – not too far. This basically meant that the holiday would have to be in Europe which is no bad thing given the diversity of the region, my main concern is that it would be harder to increase my ‘country count’. For a little while I have been harbouring an ambition to travel to at least a third of all the countries in the world, not a particularly easy task but achievable within a lifetime. Travelling to Europe however would mean that I would inevitably visit some countries I have already seen, hence not increasing my country-count. With this in mind I began to think about the type of holiday this would be.
Before doing too much planning I needed to work out who I would go with, I had considered the idea of going alone but I think that travelling is always much more enjoyable with others. One of my housemates had expressed interest in the idea of going away and decided to go for it, he sold his motorbike to raise the capital and then we began planning in earnest.
At the time we began planning for the holiday Barrie had not been out of the UK for over seven years and had been only 16 years old on his previous trip, a family holiday in Majorca. Both myself and Barrie agreed that it was about time he left the county. After taking a good look at our finances we both worked out a basic budget we could afford – a maximum of around £750 for travel, accommodation, food and spending money, the holiday could be a maximum of two weeks.
We came up with several
options from last-minute deals to country-hopping on budget airlines but eventually
we settled on the idea of flying into the South of France then travelling by
train to Amsterdam to fly home. In order to achieve this we booked our outgoing
flight to Biarritz on Ryanair and our return from Amsterdam on Easyjet. The
travel in between would be by train using a 12-day Interrail ticket covering
Zone E (France, Belgium, Luxembourg & Holland), this would allow us unlimited
travel on the public train network of each of these countries. We booked practically
everything on the web – flights, Interrail tickets, insurance and the
first night’s accommodation.
|Day One||Off We Go|
|Day Two||The Plan Goes Out The Window|
|Day Three||Road Accident|
|Day Four||The King of Pop|
|Day Five||He's Electric|
|Day Six||Kings of the Hill|
|Day Seven||Un Maxi Suggestion|
|Day Eight||Au Revoir Metz|
|Day Ten||REAL Belgium|
|Day Eleven||This could be Rotterdam, or anywhere?|
|Day Twelve||What it feels like to be a bottle|
|Summary||Summary of the trip.|
|Awards||Some awards and hostel reviews.|
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