40 years on track – InterRail culture and lifestyle documentary


I like it when people back
home don’t know where I am. Once a person tries it, he gets hooked. I had to make a plan but
in fact I hate planning, I just want to travel freely. you are travelling from one city to the other, when you run to catch the train and not be late. It created a very interesting environment of interaction among very different people. People that want to visit our Europe, considering we now have a Europe without borders. Not everyone knows about InterRail, but I think people will like the idea, once they hear about it. That was the year before,
and I ordered my pass as soon as I heard that it could be done
and the card I got said number 25 . My biggest problem was that
there were no guide books, people in the railway system
didn’t know how the card worked so I had to explain it to them
by showing them the brochure because otherwise they
would say: “What is that?” There was a train to Vienna
well then we will go to Vienna, or there was a train to Paris,
well then let’s go to Paris. Once on my fourth trip, I went
as fast as I could down to Greece, two and a half days
travel through the Balkans and I sent a postcard
from Athens to my family. Then I rode back and travelled
to Scotland as fast as I could, and mailed another postcard
a week after the first one. So my family didn’t have
any idea where I was. At first I said that
I would never go again but I couldn’t really
be without the feeling of just getting in a
train and going somewhere. At first, it was kind of
awkward. I was 17 years old and this was the first extended
holiday without my parents. It was a somewhat strange feeling,
and I was probably not as relaxed traveller as I am today. It was kind of a funny feeling
to travel alone for a month, with very little money in my pocket. The last InterRail
trip I made was in 1981, and by that time I had
already covered 15,000 km. Then, a couple of years later,
I read in a Swiss travel magazine about an existing InterRail record. They described how it had been achieved. Then I thought, this is
actually quite boring; trips back and forth from Lörrach. Then I thought I could do better, maybe I could travel more kilometres. I said to myself that I
want to break this record then I just sat down to plan
and it still took many years Finally, in 1987, I was almost 26 and this was the last opportunity
for me to travel with InterRail I thought, now you have to do this. I checked all the timetables,
had the route planned passing along the outer borders of Europe. It was really my goal to make
the journey something interesting, and yes, the record still
holds after 25 years. It was the first time
I went on vacation, without almost any money but
of course I didn’t give up and still travelled to Northern
Norway and to the Lofoten Islands. I remember arriving in Narvik with something like 100 Portuguese
Escudos (0,50 EUR) still I kept traveling through
Europe for another 10 days. If my mother would have known
where I sometimes spent the night, then she would not have
been so enthusiastic! Anyway, I was young
and I did not really care about security. In fact, everything always worked out very well, I never had any bad experiences. From the middle of my second InterRail
trip I only slept in the trains, and never the sleeping
trains, only the normal trains. It was something like a historical
event a 17 year old Portuguese citizen crossing to the other
side of the Iron Curtain. I felt it more as an emotional
rather than a fearful experience. Of course there was all
that tight border control, with policemen coming inside the train. they would ask for our passports
and put them inside plastic bags and take them to a place –
we didn’t know where it was! I don’t think those
people had real problems. Policemen had other concerns
than bothering someone with a backpack. That “barbed wire” feeling that
one expected to experience… (because we left the West without any real knowledge about those countries) I never felt it actually. The Czech trains were a
passive member of InterRail, I don’t know which year exactly,
but they left the network. Since 1990 they have been a full member and I had the possibility
to purchase this pass. It really opened the
door to Europe for me. It was in the year of 1992, the first
trip I did was from Prague to Paris At that time we had to change in
Cheb… this is really history now. Our level of English
wasn’t that good then, so it was hard for us to have a
normal conversation with foreigners. But the good thing between InterRailer’s was that one could recognise
each other by the backpacks. So we tended to travel
together in the same compartment and there we would start a
conversation, so it was very nice. The functionality of the
InterRail pass was the same, the difference was
that before, passengers didn’t have to pay for anything
else once they entered a train. there were not as many free
trains you could just get on now it was TGV and ICE and so on, with extra fees and
reservations and what have you. all these supplements
that we must pay again and that happens on
basically every second train, unless we take a slower train or
change among commuter trains… That wasn’t what I was traveling for! European Rails of Peace which is aimed towards
students from Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the peace building project
aimed to connect young people coming from the neighbouring countries, but the countries which are
still living this kind of reality which bare the severe consequences
of wars and conflicts from the past. The whole concept of the
InterRail way of travelling is one which gives the most freedom, and the European Rails of Peace project is trying to break those constraints that maybe do not exist
in reality anymore, as they exist in some symbolic space and which still exist mentally in the
heads of these countries’ citizens. Many young and even
older people don’t travel that much with backpacks
anymore, I mean, backpacks are no longer
characteristic for youth travellers, not for InterRailers. To this extent, today it is difficult to recognize InterRailer’s as such. In the past, we did not
have as many opportunities to gather information. Today, there’s the Internet,
Ipods, I-phones etc. I believe that this
has somewhat killed communication while travelling, because there’s no need any
more to come into contact with other travellers
to get information. That certainly used to be different. I disagree because people
that are InterRailing still want to communicate with others, they want to meet the local people and they try to establish contact. …sometimes I sleep in a seat,
other times in a couchette. . I once slept at an
airport, and sometimes also… not really at a train station,
but I did once spend that night at a station and then I slept on
the first train the next morning. When I go on a trip I never
make travel plans any more. When I was 14 years old I always
planned what I was going to do. Nowadays, I just step in a
train and see where I end up. The original InterRail
experience is the same, because we keep having
the same InterRailer freedom. We can board any train
and go wherever we want. through alpine villages
or through the fields where you can see some
crops being planted such as wheat, or sunflowers. Definitely! There is still
so much to see and discover and that is a pass which
can be used to the maximum. InterRail was an open
door to Europe for me. the cultural interchange,
the spirit of adventure, learning how to deal with
less pleasant situations that may occur that it is something that really helped me
to mould my personality and to be the person that I am today. I can certainly say that InterRail has laid the foundation for
my enthusiasm towards travel and for my openness
towards other people. What does InterRail mean to you?
Freedom! Freedom!
Yes!

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