Interrail V2.0

by bretzelitos

We got concert tickets for Rammstein in Trondheim, Norway… how to get there was the question for us. Flying was for sure an option. But we thought about that it is a good idea to go there by train – by INTERRAIL. So we bought the tickets right after having purchased the Heavy Metal admissions. One week going there, stopping at nice places for a night or two – and one week coming back to France. Nice idea indeed – Hamburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo… wonderful places reachable with comfortable trains.

But then CoViD-19 came and all of the planning went into the bin. Concert cancelled, moved to 2021. Travel restrictions due to closed borders, high rate of ill people in Sweden, cancelled international trains… but still having the INTERRAIL tickets already in our hands. GLOBAL PASS 1st class for 15 days – on the verge of sending them back for refund.

But we did not dare to do so as the situation in Central Europe became better with regards to this Pandemic.

Means complete replanning of the trip – cancelling and rebooking hotels, changing train seat reservations, laying out a new plan for 15 days of travel. But that is not an issue as the web gives you good help. So here we go from July 18th to August 1st, leaving Rambouillet to see the world again. Was about time after three full months of confinement at home!

This time, we have split the trip in two halfs, actually rather in two thirds and one third. In the first part, the bigger chunk, we will see big cities. At the beginning, we will visit my Dad in Obernburg after the TGV trip from Paris to Frankfurt. The real tour starts on the next day as Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden, Prag, Munich, Salzburg and Vienna are planned to be visited. We are having one or two nights in these lovely cities prior to moving on. The second part then goes through the Alps, crossing this impressive mountain range from East to West this time. We will start the crossing in Vienna by using the Semmeringbahn towards Graz, a UNESCO world heritage engineering work. The main crossing will be done from Graz to Innsbruck on the following day. We finally join the Arlbergbahn towards Switzerland leaving Innsbruck. From Zurich, our last rest point in this year’s trip, we will return to Paris via Basel, Mulhouse and Dijon by TGV.

Hotels are all booked now – great service of with the genius level 2 rebated room tariffs. It needs to be underlined that we reserved all the hotel rooms only with a credit card guarantee and will later pay directly in the hotels – in case another unforeseen event would stop the second plan as well. That means also that all of the bookings can be cancelled at no cost just a day prior to arrival. For sure, this leads to a bit more expensive tariffs than the normal relatively low prepaid price, but this year, it just makes sense to do it as such.

Seat reservations for the trains are also nearly completed, only the relation from Prag to Munich remains still open. Either we take the direct Express train via Schwandorf or we take a connection with three train changes via Bayerisch Eisenstein through the center of the Bohemian Forest in the Czech Republic and the Bavarian Forest on the German side. Let’s see, both options have its charme. All of the reservations are printed out which is mandatory for international trips anyhow. To obtain the seats, we have done business with Deutsche Bahn, SNCF/SNCB, Die Länderbahn, Czechske Drahy, ÖBB and via the INTERRAIL application on my mobile phone.

Especially when planning to take TGV trains in France or any of those connections between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdan, Cologne and London, you need to be quick with these obligatory reservations. It is advisable to have additional money budgeted as places for INTERRAIL ticket owners are very much limited and pretty expensive. The reservation cost for Paris – Frankfurt was 39 Euros per person, Zurich – Paris even 69 Euros per place.

On our trip, we will use in most cases direct trains. Only on day 1 and 2 when reaching my Dad’s house, potentially between Prag and Munich and when stopping in Salzburg, we will have to change trains. All of these changes are non-critical, means we have either planned stops or there are many more trains available after at maximum two hours of waiting time. It was not like this during our first trip in 2018.

As said before, the relation with France will be done in TGVs on the first and the last day of our travels. This will be done in a special multisystem double decker TGV to support the different electricity supplies and train security systems whereever ETCS is not available.

In Germany, we go with the following train types:

  • ICE 3 from Frankfurt to Hamburg
  • ICE 1 from Hamburg to Berlin
  • IC from Berlin to Dresden – the new double decker Intercity train
  • EuroCity from Dresden to Prag and from München to Salzburg

All of the places are reserved in vis-a-vis seat positions at the window with a table in between.

In Czech Republic, we might need to see what we take eventually.

In Austria, we have booked seats in three BUSINESS class railjet trains. These will be operated by ÖBB on the relations

  • Salzburg – Vienna
  • Vienna – Graz and
  • Innsbruck – Zurich

The Alps mountain crossing from Graz to Innsbruck will be done in a Panorama car of the TRANSALPIN Eurocity, operated by SBB.

Very helpful to find the right seats has been the czech page of Don’t be afraid – it is also available in English and other European languages. While consulting their page, you can see the actual composition of trains before you book something. The search function by train number works very well. There are even pictures available of the seat space and the surrounding, seat plans and much more. I found it very useful indeed.

So… our dossier preparation is 95% ready now and we are looking forward to our trip “INTERRAIL V2.0” next month! We keep you posted. If you have questions, please use the comment function below, we will answer for sure.

More to come about our planned rides and city visits in the coming days and weeks. 🙂