So this post is about four months after the fact but better late than never!
Last September I was able to take a 12 day trip around Europe with my friend before we left that side of the world to head back to the states.
I mainly wanted to document and blog about the trip because before we left I looked everywhere for a decent review of what to expect with the form of transport we had decided to take: the Euroline Bus system. It was cheaper than the Europass for trains and I felt it was slightly easier to plan, although it definitely took a LOT of time to make our final itinerary.
Our main goals for this trip was to see as much of Europe as we could. I’m someone who would love to visit as many places as possible and so just 12 hours wandering a city seemed like the perfect way to cram a whole bunch in a short time. A lot of people thought we were crazy, and maybe it’s not for everyone, but I felt like I got a lot out of it, and now I know the places I would visit again and spend more time. The other goal for me was to do this as cheaply as possible, finishing up a graduate degree abroad with no foreseeable job meant I needed to be frugal, and so I challenged myself to seeing Europe on as little as possible.
The Euroline network pass allowed for either 15 or 30 days of travel on any of their busses in over 20 countries. My issue with the train pass was if you wanted to go to more than four countries the price went up considerably, and finding all the individual country’s train tickets involved a lot of different sites. With Eurolines there is one site that you can look up all the cities and cross check everything; so, in our case, when you’re trying to do a 12 day trip with as few hotel rooms as possible, it is much easier.
Another huge plus with this pass was that we could use it all the way from Ireland. Get on a bus one night in Dublin, wake up in London the next morning (well I guess you’re woken up in the middle of the night for the ferry too, but still, not a bad deal). And then the same thing from London onto wherever else. Also, as I mentioned above, we saved a ton of money on hotels/hostels. Sometimes it was absolutely necessary, or we knew we wanted to see more of a city so we spent the extra money to stay a night, but apart from three nights we spent every night on a bus. Some good, some bad, some amazing, some terrible.
We started planning our trip by making a list of cities we would like to visit. We were open to most places but for some reason had a mutual desire to avoid Paris, so with that we spent many hours checking dates and times to and from the cities we wanted to visit. Avoiding Paris was actually a disadvantage at times because, as we soon found out, there were some cities that served as really great hubs to get to some of the more out of the way places. This issue eventually made us cancel the Italy portion of our itinerary simply because it would add an extra three days to get to Venice. I’ll just have to go back and experience Italy some other day!
A minor note on the booking process. It’s a bit stressful. Not stressful the same way the planning was, but stressful in that some of our connections we had tickets in hand before we ever left Dublin, and others we didn’t know if we could get tickets until hours before the bus left. This is because the Eurolines network, while all under the same pass, uses different offices in each city/country, and some cities/countries (like Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and the UK) emailed us confirmations and we were all fine and dandy, other cities/countries (like Hungary, Belgium, and Munich) were more of hold-your-breath-until-they-handed-you-your-ticket kind of situations. Thankfully we made it onto all our busses and amazingly didn’t miss any connections the entire trip, which seems like a small miracle now that I think back on it.
The next post I’ll get into a bit of the actual trip, the ups and downs of the buses, and some more pictures. To end this installment here is the final and full itinerary for our #rompthrougheurope trip!
Dublin -> London -> Amsterdam -> Berlin (night in Berlin) -> Vienna -> Budapest (night in Budapest) -> Munich -> Prague -> Brussels -> London -> Edinburgh -> (flight back to) Dublin