Since the arrival of our delightful puppy and unwillingness to fly with him due to him not being cargo InterRail is now our preferred method of travel. There are exceptions being shorter trips where he gets a holiday at “The Hylton Hound Hotel” a kennel that we trust and he seems to love.
Out first trip with the dog across Europe was a mission to celebrate Christmas in the Transylvanian city of Brasov and hopefully all enjoy some snow. Then obviously the return journey in the new year after a break in the mountainous city.
As it was a 4000+ mile round trip we broke it up visiting a few equally spaced destinations on the way. The only compulsory options we had when planning was Vienna due the being the launch point of many night trains into Romania and Brasov where we were spending the festive period.
The journeys final destination is one of my favourite budget locations Romania. Staying for a fortnight for Christmas and new year. Food drink, walking and winter sports are on the list of things to do as well as see some new attractions.
Packing For The Dog
The dog has little choice in what is packed for him on trips, although he loves to reclaim anything he considered his from the backpack.
Most importantly was the EU Pet Passport, to be stored with mine for safekeeping. Water is very important so this had a dedicated side pocket with a bowl that doubled up for food too.
His bed was strategially taken, it took up lads of space and was kept under the to top flap of the rucksack. Anytime he needed to settle down out come the bed and he curled up for a probably much needed nap. Toys like his rope, monkey his friend and treats were all passangers in the bag.
As some countries were known to be cold, a pink coat was kept in his top backpack pocked to ensure he was travelling in comfort and easily found.
Pet food is frequently available throughout Europe so, we took a few days work to save shopping daily and keeping the weight down.
Getting Dog on Continental Europe
Without a car getting a dog onto the continent has limited options. You can use the Dutch Flyer from Harwich to Hook of Holland or Newhaven to Dieppe. For this trip the Harwich option ticks more boxes for us. They have a kennel deck, somewhere to walk pooch and have beds for us to sleep during the night crossing.
Outbound Journey Stops
The outbound journey involved mainly 2-day stopovers to enable some enjoyment of the trip, ensuring the dog wasn’t subjected to too many long daytime journeys.
The Journey started in Stroud train station, a picturesque town in the Cotswolds and the birthplace of Extinction Rebellion. We filled up on vape juice to make us to Austria to save having to waste time finding shops to reload and get refreshments in the beautiful Gloucestershire town.
This London visit was mainly to change trains to get to the Essex coast but utilised the change to walk the dog in Kensington gardens before jumping on the Central Line Tube to Liverpool Street Station.
A town on the Essex coast and home to the Ferry Port that we were catching that evening. Great beer and a final chippy lunch were enjoyed before heading to join the boat. More about leaving the UK…
Passed through Rotterdam and didn’t really get to see anything other than refreshments in the train station before changing and heading towards The Hague. Read about getting to The Hague…
Close to Rotterdam port and a beautiful historic city with many places of historical significance. The Hague…
The financial centre of Germany with lots of high rise buildings and a well known Christmas market. Frankfurt…
The most Christmassy city in Europe according to many guides and so far cannot disagree. Nuremberg is a fascinating German city with some great architecture and lots of history.
A city that had been on my bucket list for 2 decades, one must do is a waltz somewhere on our stopover. Vienna has so much to see and feel I only scratched the surface. Prater amusement park was a fantastic fun evening out and visiting the historical central area had some fantastic architecture and religious buildings to admire.
A city was chosen due to being used primarily to allow the dog a break from the overnight train from Vienna. This was a great Interrail stop due to the cities fantastic citadel and nice food. Alba Iulia…
The city with most tourist visits in Romania in the heart of Transylvania was to be our home for Christmas and New Year staying for over 3 weeks. A historical city with lots to see and do including easy access to the stunning Carpathian mountains which I took advantage of for a few wintertime walks. Brasov…
Return Journey Route
All the stops on the way back from Transylvania to home in the UK.
The first stop after leaving Brasov was to the eastern city of Deva, an un-researched town that was near the Border and on the railways, line close to the Hungarian border to use as a launchpad back into Central Europe. The Citadel in the city and nearby Corvin Castle was enough for us to say yes to avoid an 18 hour trip to Vienna or 16 hours to Budapest.
Back to the main rail crossroads in Central Europe when travelling to many Eastern and Southern European counties. We also had unfinished business in Vienna as the stop on the way had some very wet weather for us, preventing us from seeing as much as we wanted. The Weather Forecast was blue skies and cold for the 2nd visit and enjoyed a fantastic dog walk admiring the city.
An easy trip to Bratislava from the Austrian capital on the train as it only takes just over an hour on a frequent commuter train. The accommodation was cheap, the city looked beautiful and due to it being featured in the movie “EuroTrip” a favourite of ours the decision was easy. Subsequently, on further research, we found out it wasn’t filmed there but in the next stop, it was. Twitter helped also with a great tweeter @PaleAleTravel being very keen on the city, a poster with some very similar interests to me, especially about the beer and places to get some work done.
The city of a hundred spires had been mentioned a few times to me for its architectural beauty, fantastic beer and interesting history. People in my life had mentioned Prague many times including an older client who had left in a rush in the Prague Spring in 1968 to get to England. A blogger Riana | Teaspoon of Adventure who I had followed in twitter seemed to have the best info for me about the city. Especially as her dog was often with her, this helped me with some preliminary research into my visit. Prague was a beautiful city and very welcoming, so much so my mum has indicated an interest in a trip herself.
Next stop was a toss-up between the city of Dresden and the nearby Leipzig both in the region of Saxony in the former country of East Germany. Dresden won this choice as it was an easy day travelling and the available property was more in or budget on the day of travel. I have heard great things about both cities and will hopefully visit the other on another of our cross Europe tours. Dresden was a stunning city with some fantastic architecture, history and was dog friendly.
This time a quick stopover to stretch mine and the dog’s legs and to empty him after quite a few hours of the train. Not much happened except him saving his business for the green outside the European Central Bank. I never knew the dog had voted for PuppyExit since then, he didn’t really think about the puppy-passport if he voted that way. Back to a station bar where the bags were left to enjoy an Erdinger or 2 before the train left for Achen and on.
Houthern St Gerlach
The endpoint of this full days travel was to Houthem St Gerlach a rural village not far from Maastricht. A nice looking hotel that was chosen as being the cheapest we could find in the country for the 2 days we wanted to visit. The rural location meant that we had a chilled out time except my compulsive need to see Maastricht as a day trip out, About Houthem St. Gerlach…
While the fiance was enjoying the luxury of Hotel Vue back in St. Gerlach I had itchy feet to visit Maastricht a 15 min train journey to have an explore. A place I have been drawn to since enjoying many Andre Rieu concerts there on YouTube. The home of the Maastricht Treaty seemed an apt place to visit as many of my Brexiteer friends has cited this treaty as one of the ones that had the biggest issues with. The city was in fact very beautiful and was lots to see and experience.
Unfortunately due to uncertainty of the validity of the EU Pet Passport scheme, we headed back to the UK before the end of January 2021 to avoid any issues. This let us back to the Ferry from Hook of Holland back to Harwich for a stopover there. That was a nice budget B&B called The Goodlife Guesthouse for sleep then an exploration of the seaside town with breakfast of the beach before traversing London and back to Stroud.
We stayed in my home county of Gloucestershire for a few days to acclimatise to the UK and enjoy some good old British Countryside and catch up with my important clients.
Eventually last train trip was back to our current home in Birmingham to get back on with the daily grind and soon to follow the unfortunate lockdown a few months later.
Interrailing was great fun, learned a lot, particularly that 1/2 days was not enough for our leisurely style of exploring and not liking to rush too much. We discovered much of Europe is dog-friendly and only problems of significant were backs of stray dogs being protective when we had ours, that made the decision he won’t be coming to the 2020 trip to the Danube Delta as there were so many there on our last 2 trips so off the Hylton Hound Hotel he goes.
Plans are afoot to tour Europe for a Second by rail in the near future, travelling with a dog in tow and laptop for working as we go. Future New Destinations include and are not limited to;
- Heidelberg as recommended by a friend who loved there.
- Switzerland including Lucerne.
- The Black Forest
- Provence in France