It sure brings back the memories. I had several InterRail passes while I worked and traveled throughout Europe during a student work program. I’d just turned 20 and embraced the economical opportunity to explore Europe. The InterRail Pass had to purchased inside Europe—as opposed to the EurRail Pass which was purchased outside of Europe.
|Countries to visit on
InterRail Global Pass
With the InterRail Pass, the trick was to buy the ticket in a small country because in that ‘home’ country you were required to pay 50% of the fare. So, I bought one ticket in Luxembourg, that tiny enclave amidst Germany, France and Belgium and then paid minimal to get back into Germany, where my co-worker, Renate, lived in Saarburg near Trier. Then, I could basically travel throughout West Germany to my heart’s content.
My home base was Berchtesgaden in the extreme south end—two hours from Munich and half an hour to Salzburg. In Berchtesgaden, a mountain town geared towards tourism—partly because of the American military recreational centre located at Hotel General Walker after the defeat of Hitler, and partly, because it’s just an absolute gorgeous setting in the mountains— I was guaranteed to get work in a Pension or restaurant and made lifelong friends in this friendly Bavarian town.
My family connections, however, were at the opposite end of Germany, on the North Sea, north of Hamburg. Thankfully, my InterRail ticket could cover that long and expensive journey. Of course, I travelled outside of Germany too—a completely wonderful adventure. I slept in trains, hostels, train stations and lived out of a small backpack. I ate irregularly, got confused with all the different currencies, met the most interesting people and have barely a bad memory. Getting lost, going hungry, and meeting weirdos was just part of the experience.
InterRail travel was a huge part of my journey towards independence. My own three children, whom I encouraged to do the same, haven’t been quite as passionate about travel. I’m not sure why the seventies had such a travel allure. Europe bustled with young people carrying backpacks. Traveling through Europe, some of it on my own, changed my life in many ways. I came back to Canada, reluctantly, but with a yearning to understand more about my roots. That was before I understood what the Soviet Union had done to my mother’s family—before the collapse—which opened up a whole new frontier for exploring my roots.
Train travel is not known to be economical here in Canada, but there are cross-country passes available and with the rising cost of fuel, collapse of Greyhound, and an aging population nostalgic for the youthful days of InterRail, perhaps it's something to check out.
|Inside VIA coach Marcus.Dyck
In any event, Europe’s InterRail Pass no longer targets only the young. It’s grown old right along with me. By the eighties, the train pass described youth as under 26 and by the late nineties there were no more age restrictions. Yes! There just might be another InterRail journey in my future. But the world is incredibly unstable right now and I, for one, am not ready to be a ‘tourist’ abroad.
Thankfully, I have books to read and interesting people to meet right here in this prairie city. And even without an InterRail Pass, life continues to be an adventure. Now where’s my backpack?