In July 2022, with the support of Gateway Challenges Funding, I was able to go on a three week interrailing trip around Europe. Primarily I travelled from city to city by train, visiting seven countries and eleven cities! Along the way I did many different activities to enrich my time including walking and bike tours, museums and sightseeing.
As a geographer, with particular interest in city design and planning and how the history of a city is shown in its landscape, I went to cities that I had been dreaming of visiting for years.
One key highlight for me from an academic point of view was using all the different transport systems in the cities. I have always had a passion for sustainable urban transport so getting to experience so many networks of train, bus, tram, bike and walking routes was fascinating to me. The UK needs more trams!
Seeing the Berlin wall and the traces of this historical divide that remain in the city today was really interesting. The history of Berlin has had such an impact on the cityscape and I really enjoyed the bike tour I did there as I was able to see many key sites and learn so much about both the past and present and how they visibly interact.
By visiting so many cities, I was able to observe similarities and differences between them. The traces of tourism were more visible in some places than others, one key example being Venice. It was crammed with visitors, to the point where you struggled to move on certain streets, so this was an eye opening experience to me as a traveller and a geographer.
A more personal benefit to me of this trip was the feeling of freedom and independence I gained from spending three weeks travelling - living out of one bag and being able to spend the days exploring and wandering these incredible places of my own accord, especially having not been able to travel as much over the past few years.
One thing I was hesitant about before going was the language barrier, but I found I picked up important words and phrases. Whilst I wasn’t held back as much as I was perhaps expecting, I now feel motivated to work on my language skills for future travels. I met some interesting people along the way and this really helped my confidence grow, and has made me very excited for the travel I can do in years to come.
Undergraduate student, Geography