The last day of interrail had officially begun. We quickly packed our bags - having gotten rather good at it after the last month - and closed the door behind us to Jesper’s apartment. We walked through the lovely neighborhood, passing the fancy hotel on our way, and soon reached the metro. We took the U-bahn to the train station and walked to the cafe Genusshelden. Once again I had trouble finding the place and once again it turned out to be housed inside a sort of mall, this one an old and beautiful one. We ordered our amazing vegan food and happily ate our last meal of the trip together.
I think it’ll be nice to make my own food again, but throughout the trip we’ve eaten so much good food, I’ve lost count of all the great restaurants and we’ve had next to no problems finding vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes.
And everyone who have been so kind to let us stay with them have been incredibly open to veganism, and bought and made food for us without complaint and insisting upon taking care of it. Overall we’ve been completely overwhelmed by how kind and open everyone has been - we tried to be of as little inconvenience to the people we visited as possible, but everyone went out of their way to make us feel at home.
Anne Mette paid for an unbelievable apartment with breakfast included at the hotel in Florence, took us on a free tour of the city and even found time to celebrate Zuzanna’s birthday with a glass of champagne (and paid for lunch!).
Carl Johan picked us up at the train station in Nice, gave us a lovely room, served drinks and vegan food for us and drove us around Grasse. Madeleine arranged for my cousins to take us around Montpellier, paid for a really great dinner, took the entire next day off to take us all around the area around Bedarieux and made us a delicious vegan pie for dinner.
Jelger picked us up at the train station, made vegan dinner for us and gave us a cosy room to sleep in.
Jesper opened his home to us even though he wasn’t there and told us to eat and drink whatever we wanted and use all of his facilities.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg!
Most importantly all of them made us feel right at home and welcomed. Those who could, sat down to talk with us for hours, joking and discussing and spending their time on us while making us feel like a part of the family. It really showed us how incredible and open people are - no one seemed in the least annoyed by having to spent time (and money) on us, but had made elaborate plans for our stay.
And we even met strangers on the street, on the hostels, on a train or in cafes, who turned out to be both open and kind. Not once on our entire trip did we feel uncomfortable or scared (well, a part from the time in Rome when Zuzanna got her wallet stolen... and maybe in some parts of Marseille).
After having eaten we did a little bit of shopping, before walking to the train station and boarding the train to Kolding at 10.53 am. This time we had learned our lesson and had reserved seats in advance. We got a kind stranger to take our last photo of the trip, ending in the same way we had started out.
And while on the train Zuzanna raced to finish the last of the 47 sudokos (and winning the bet), I spent a while reflecting over the trip.
I was excited to see my family again, but working every day for the next 6-9 months and staying in one place didn’t seem appealing to me. The routine of everyday life at home seemed dull in comparison to the excitement of travelling and seeing something new every day. And I had gotten used to moving around, always being on the road: I couldn’t imagine just staying in one place again for such a long time. I was already itching to get out there again and we hadn’t even gotten home yet.
At the same time, though, so much is waiting at home: so many hobbies to take up, so many museums to see, so much to do with family and friends and a job to get good at. I wasn’t only getting farther away from something, I was also travelling towards something, and although sad to get off the rails, home didn’t seem too bad after all.
We had seen and experienced so much on this trip, and although not quite a journey, but more of a holiday as tourists, the trip had taught me a lot - about art, about people, about travelling and so much more - and so I think it was nothing but a success. Zuzanna and I had successfully travelled for a month without wanting to strangle each other and although we were met by a few bumps in the road (mostly due to our own mistakes), we had gotten through the journey without any major issues.
We had visited 9 countries in total, 20 cities and countless museums.
We had boarded 40 trains in total, three of them night trains, and had taken metros and busses and on average walked 15 kilometers a day.
We had slept in hostels, in studio apartments, at friend’s and family’s homes, in a luxurious apartment, on trains and in a boat.
It definitely wouldn’t be my last time interrailing, with so many countries and cities still remaining unseen, and my knee had held up much better than I had even dared to hope for. And so I think that this trip was a great way to prepare myself for my solo journeys ahead and a good start to life out of school. Now we just need to catch the next train on time and I’ll officially be on my way home.
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