2023 : Central Europe

Several years ago we had the idea to tour Eastern Europe using ferries and trains rather than flying. Since it would be a long trip we would take the tent for economy and flexibility and to avoid intricate planning and booking ahead. It didn’t turn out that way. With several city visits, a few places where we’d stay two nights for a day hike and didn’t want to leave everything insecure in a tent, sections with no campsites and some campsites with poor reviews, it became apparent that it wasn’t worth dragging a tent and sleeping bags along.

Taking bikes on trains in Britain isn’t straightforward but our experience enables us to navigate the rules, negotiating the systems across several other countries including cross border services added another level of complexity. We booked cheap advance tickets to London but had to phone Greater Anglia for bike reservations from there to Harwich. An overnight ferry would take us to Hook of Holland for a short ride to Den Haag then a train to Amersfoort where we would stay overnight. We called on Ffestiniog Travel to book the long journey to Berlin from there but I was able to book the subsequent internal service to Dresden on the Deutsche Bahn website.

We’d scheduled a couple of short local train journeys during our ride to Vienna (shown as gaps on the map) to make the planning easier, then we had to work out how to get home. We could have booked in advance but would lose our money if our plans changed, or we could book more expensive tickets on the day but we opted for Interrail passes which we could also use to get back to Bangor from Dover. We still needed bike reservations so booked them from Vienna to Zurich at a cost of around £30. The “Man in Seat 61” is a mine of information and he directed us to the https://www.vagonweb.cz/ site which helped us locate the bike coach for our trains.

The dream of flexibility having passed, we booked all the accommodation in advance but ensured it was refundable.

03-May Train and ferry to Hook of Holland
04-May Amersfoort
05-May Train to Berlin
06-May Berlin
07-May Berlin
08-May Train to Dresden
09-May Dresden
10-May Hrensko
11-May Hike in Bohemian Switzerland
12-May Prague
13-May Prague
14-May Prague
15-May Lazně Bohdaneč
16-May Usti Nad Orlici
17-May Mohelnice
18-May Opava
19-May Pszczyna
20-May Krakow
21-May Krakow
22-May Krakow
23-May Zabrzez
24-May Zdiar
25-May Zdiar
26-May Strbske Pleso
27-May Strbske Pleso
28-May Ružomberok
29-May Banská Bystrica
30-May Banská Štiavnica
31-May Banská Štiavnica
01-Jun Bratislava
02-Jun Vienna
03-Jun Vienna
04-Jun Mulhouse
05-Jun Paris
06-Jun Paris
07-Jun Calais
08-Jun Home