Train journeys that’ll preserve you coming again for extra: Japanese Europe


On the conclusion of my second Eurail journey, my family and friends stopped asking me the inevitable questions of when will it finish. As a substitute, the main focus shifted in direction of the following massive journey. Questions on the place I’ll be heading, and what the following journey will entail, ultimately pushed me to do one other. This time I might head to Japanese Europe.

Although there’s little consensus on what constitutes “Japanese Europe” – does it embody Czechia and Hungary? What about Slovenia, tucked in so near Italy and but seemingly with one foot within the Japanese Europe of previous? Poland, in comparison with neighbor Germany feels extra jap than central, however then once more its western border is sort of according to that of Sweden’s.

These are questions that ran via my head as I thought-about exploring the international locations on the jap facet of the continent. However after visiting a number of of those locations, it grew to become clear that apart for articles equivalent to these, regional classifications are typically not very helpful. As a substitute, it’s considerably extra productive to concentrate on what every distinctive nation has to supply.


A cursory look on the Eurail timetable in Berlin revealed a curious sight. Despite a reasonably important distance, Warsaw, the Polish capital, was simply six hours away by prepare. An specific EuroCity prepare connects the 2 capitals, and so it appeared to make sense to take the journey. The journey to Warsaw led to a prolonged exploration of Poland, together with a go to to the well-known streets of Krakow.

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Despite unbelievable pure magnificence – and a few of the greatest worth winter sports activities on the continent – many Eurailers overlook the nation of Slovakia. Although the rail infrastructure might not be as superior and complete as neighboring international locations, it’s predictable and environment friendly. And with views like these from the picturesque capital of Bratislava, it’s a worthwhile inclusion in any rail itinerary on this facet of the continent.


Budapest was the start line for my first Eurail journey, and it’s featured not less than thrice since then. There’s a magic to this capital metropolis that’s exhausting to pin down. It lingers within the streets, on the fashionable espresso outlets and gritty spoil bars. It reveals itself in its pleasant and intriguing folks and their melodic language. But it surely’s while you take a stroll down the glowing Danube within the late afternoon that you simply understand this can be a metropolis so distinctive and delightful that it’ll preserve drawing you again.


“It is best to try Lake Bled,” the man on the hostel bar stated to me as he pulled out his cellphone. “Look how unbelievable this island is!” He was proper – the on his cellphone was exceptional. The small island seemed like one thing out of a fairytale. I then established that it was straightforward to achieve by rail, and so adjusted my itinerary. Two days later, I stood on the shores of Lake Bled and reveled within the surreal fantastic thing about this now iconic European attraction.


Croatia might not be probably the most rail-friendly vacation spot in Europe. With a restricted number of strains, and long-distance trains to the coast that run at uncommon hours, it will possibly get irritating. Due to this, my first journey to Croatia began and resulted in Zagreb. However with some dedication, I returned three years later to make all of it the way in which to the coast. The city of Break up, which at occasions looks like a film set, together with the idyllic coastal life-style on the islands close by, was properly price returning for.

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I’d by no means actually meant to go to Montenegro. However after I heard of a prepare experience that could be the perfect in Europe, I realised I had little selection. After pottering down the coast over a number of days, I discovered the common-or-garden start line within the city of Bar. The all-day journey took me via the colossal mountains, throughout tons of of bridges and thru tons of of tunnels, and ultimately emerged right into a full autumnal wonderland that cemented it as the perfect prepare experience I’ve been fortunate sufficient to expertise.


The Serbian capital of Belgrade was initially on my itinerary solely due to its place as the top level of the Montenegro Specific prepare from Bar. However Belgrade is an interesting vacation spot in its personal proper. That is because of its spectacular however typically sombre historical past, vibrant bars and eating places, and delightful pedestrian streets that may simply take in a whole day.

After three Eurail journeys via three distinctive areas of the continent, it’s straightforward to assume it’s time to look to a brand new continent for future journeys. However after I cease to think about that after a collective eight months, and 1000’s of miles on the tracks, I’ve but to even scratch the floor of the continent. What about Scandinavia, the Baltic international locations, and the center of the Balkans?  The one reply I’ve to those questions is to drag out my assortment of Eurail maps and work out the place to go subsequent.

Header picture by Joel Sparks by way of Unsplash

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