There we go: a map showing the trail I made travelling through Western Europe. It’s not precise in that the pink covers both points and lines; the former representing places I stopped and stayed in, the latter representing travel I had to make to get from one point to another. So for example while there is this fantastic line going up the eastern Spanish coast, what that actually represents is that I travelled from Granada (where I stayed for a while) at that southernmost point to Barcelona (where I stayed for a day) at the top of that coast.
If you click on the map you might see the purple dot and the yellow dotted lines. If you don’t see the purple dot it’s no biggie as long as you know where Paris is; the reason for highlighting Paris was because it was both the first and last destination of my trip. The yellow dotted lines meanwhile were to indicate when air travel was required – in the first incidence from Zurich to Luton, in the second from Dublin to Brussels. Travel by ferry occurred on two occasions – in Scotland from Mallaig to Armadale, Isle of Skye and from Fishguard in Wales to Rosslare in Ireland.
The vast majority of the time I travelled by train – I got the Swiss Youth Pass for Switzerland, a German Rail Pass for Germany, a BritRail Flexipass for the UK and the Carte 12-25 ans in France (NB: SNCF link in French only). Where I didn’t get a pass it was because I didn’t think it would work out to be a good deal for the length of time I was travelling and the number of stops I would make. The Italian rail system of discounts for example seems quite convoluted and nit-picky, so unless you’re there a long time and will hop on a train on a regular basis I don’t know if it’s worth it to get a card. I didn’t find short-notice, within-Italy fares to be unreasonable either. If you’re wondering why I didn’t get something like a Eurail Pass the main reason is because it doesn’t allow for much flexibility in your travel plans. It seems to me that they encourage travelling in a circuit more than they encourage returning to places you especially like, so it’s a good deal for people who are travelling for a shorter period of time, say from 2 weeks to 2 months, and who have fairly set ideas about their itinerary. I much preferred having the choice of 5, 6, 8, 10 days of travel by train within one country for a specified period of time, than the choice of having the same number of days for the same specified period of time but for travel through multiple countries. 10 days of travel through 4 or 5 countries over the space of 1 or 2 months? Did not suit me at all. The Eurail passes that do offer “unlimited” travel on the other hand are pretty expensive, so again, best suited for someone who has clear goals in their travel so that they know they’re going to cover as much ground as possible for their 15 days – 3 months. Eurail doesn’t really support aimless wanderers who follow whims.
To round it up I also travelled by bus for shorter distances, as well as for longer ones where trains were not available or were the more inconvenient option.
The map was downloaded from http://www.mygeo.info. Deciding I would publish this post soon I spent time searching the web yesterday for a good journey-tracking device. I came the closest with the one you can make at tripadvisor.com, provided you sign up with them. What’s good about this one is that it pinpoints cities, not just countries. There are others that will help you create a map indicating countries travelled to by shading in the countries, but I was looking for something less broad in its scope and that would indicate route and movement. When I first thought about mapping my travel a few months ago I did find a tool on a site that let you enter in the cities you’d travelled to and would then automatically draw the lines to show your route from one destination to the another, and so forth. It was exactly what I was looking for but I hadn’t yet made the list of places I’d been to and one problem with this tool was that you had to add each destination sequentially already in the right order. So if you suddenly remembered “Oh wait I was in Foligno first, THEN Florence” you had to start from the beginning to make that change, losing all the other information you had spent good time entering in. Anyway, I wasn’t able to find this site again in yesterday (apparently never occurred to me to bookmark it) so that’s the reason for the homemade, Paint-doctored map you see before you. I rather like it I have to admit 🙂
Over the next few days I will be putting up posts of my country by country summaries – for Italy, Ireland – Cork, France, Germany, Wales, Switzerland, Scotland, Netherlands – Amsterdam, Belgium, and Spain. I started out putting it all in this one post and have gotten to the point where I’ve only got a little bit left to do but now feel overwhelmed 🙂 They’re only smallish summaries of my impression of each country, so I will include 3 or 4 countries per post, making that 2 to 3 more posts under this heading. I will also be writing some more detailed posts after these summaries, namely on Switzerland, the festival in Cork and my feelings about France.
Okay, better keep trucking on!