As I’m sure you know, we spent 5 weeks away this summer Interrailing around Europe and quite simply had the most incredible time. We planned our route, where to stay, and what to do and eat with a mix of in advance and spontaneity, but with having been to none of the places we were going before, there were always going to be lessons learnt along the way.We thought we’d share our top 10 insights which we don’t think many people talk about or get written about much on other travel blogs, forums and sites like TripAdvisor. These are in no particular order, just the ones that have stuck with us the most.They take their bike lanes very seriouslyOur first stop was Amsterdam, where there are statistically more bikes than people, so of course we were expecting bikes to be everywhere. They were, but nothing prepared us for the strict yet unwritten rules of their bike lanes. The most fooling part of all is that most of the lanes look like pavements, so if you go, always be prepared to check before you even turn or cross the road – they literally fly at you from nowhere!No J-walkingOur Interrail stops had varying levels of attitudes of when to cross the road. Berlin sticks in our mind as a place where people only cross when you’re given the green man, even when there is literally no one around. With coming from London where crossing signs mean next to nothing, it was certainly a surprise and a little weird at first.Always carry change, pay for toiletsWe left London for our trip with no cash whatsoever but instead armed with our multi-currency Revolut card. It was great to have but when it came to things like needing the toilet, it caused us a few painful problems! In most places we were charged for public toilets, even in McDonald’s. Carry change and be prepared to pay to pee!
Some places still allow smoking indoorsIt seems crazy to think that it wasn’t that many years ago that in the UK this was the case too, and it seems like other countries still have a lot of catching up to do in order to change laws. Many restaurants and bars still allow smoking indoors and it may be worth checking before you go in or book a table if you don’t like it.
Apple maps doesn’t support some European countries – use Google mapsOne big surprise was that Apple Maps often didn’t know the route for us to get from one place to another via public transport. Luckily, Google Maps did, so get the app downloaded before you set off.
Always validate your travel ticketAnother shock we had was the way we had our public transport tickets checked in every country we went to, other than Paris. There are no gates to get through to tube lines, and no checks by bus drivers that you have a ticket – you just get on. Instead, many cities had a machine onboard a bus or inside a tube station where you stamp your ticket, and then it becomes valid for the period specified on your ticket. The only time you will get checked is when a travel officer randomly hops on board to check tickets. It’s incredibly tempting to risk it as there is a 90% you’ll get away with it, but the huge fines that can be imposed meant that it’s really not worth it. Our tickets were checked twice in the 5 weeks we were away and luckily, we took the safe option to buy tickets.
80% of places don’t take cardThe further we got away from the UK, the more normal it seemed for restaurants and shops to only take cash. It was a pain to be honest, although more often that not there was always a cash machine nearby.
Not all European countries have Euros as their currencyWe crossed between 5 currencies during our time away – Euros, Czech Kouna, Hungarian Forints, Croatian Kouna, and Swiss Francs. We used the Revolut card for the entire trip to make sure we used cash only where necessary. Give it a Google if you don’t know how it works – it was a saving grace!
Zebra crossings are not always zebra crossingsSimple one – in some countries what seems like a zebra crossing is just where they recommend you cross. Cars don’t stop for you.
Even if it’s a traffic light crossing, be cautiousWe remember this especially in Budapest, but we know it happened a lot in other places too. If there is a green man to cross the road, cars turning the corner to go through the crossing can go through even with pedestrians crossing. All the lights do is determine who has priority, but the more daring drivers will make it a close shave. Be careful!
We have been shortlisted for the BEST FOOD BLOG for the second time in the #BloggersBlogAwards 2017, if you love what we do and truly believe we are worth your vote, please vote for us here – voting ends Sunday 10th September 2017.
Thank you to everyone who had nominated us, we are truly grateful, we hope you continue to join our in our adventures.