Hi! Let me introduce myself: Koen Nijbroek, a 22 year old biologically oriented geek, working as a BioInformatician at KeyGene in the Netherlands. Roughly 5 years ago I boarded my first train, a trip taking 2.5 hours with multiple transfers. Since I live in a very rural area of the Netherlands, finding the first train wasn’t all that difficult. However, switching trains at the very first InterCity station – with only a 3 minut transfer time – was quite nerve-wrecking. After asking multiple people whether I boarded the correct train (although every information sign said so…), I was assured that I would make it to my destination. BUT – in the middle of the trip there was (at least I think) a power outage since everything in the train completely shut down. Luckily after 1 minut we could continue our travel and arrived in time. I think, at this point, I already fell in love with train-travel. Being able to be completely free and explore every corner of our country in the following 4 years (with my free public-transport card (! hurray for being a student)) kept me quite busy in the weekends.
Now that I had seen every inch of the Netherlands I loved to broaden my experiences. Whenever opportunities arrived at my doorstep I would jump in the train to Belgium, or Germany. I have even once surprised my parents for a short-stay at their camping in Austria (I’ve done this occassionally in/out the Netherlands but I’ll only describe the best experience). Going from a very tiny village called ‘Eibergen’ (the Netherlands) to another very tiny village called ‘Nenzing’ (Austria) that’s, as Louis van Gaal would say it, another cook! Luckily my trip was amazing; enjoying the luxury of the ICE, the stunning trip on very narrow passages through the mountains, talking about my plans to foreign people in my best German. I absolutely loved it. Arriving at Nenzing, it was raining pijpenstelen (look it up ;)). Unfortunately the next bus to my destination would not go in the coming hours as a bus driver, that lacked the knowledge of English, described to me. BUT I did not want to give up the touch of surprise, so I walked – with a huge ass suitcase and an umbrella from the bus driver (so sweet!) – up the hill for a few kilometres. In the middle of nowhere a car pulled up next to me and the driver asked me if I needed a ride, so with my soaking wet clothes and suitcase she delivered me to the front door. After finding out where my parents were exactly staying, I wanted to scare the hell out of them – which succeeded because my father looked like he had seen a ghost ;).
So now it’s time to go even further; Interrail. Since I love train travel, and I’d rather to citytripping with my girlfriend, I have a rather ambitious goal to accomplish: I want to visit at least all official capital cities in Europe (de jure) of the 30 Interrail countries. This allows me to spend on average 6 hours of free time in each city. Being used to the luxury trains in the Netherlands, this will be quite an experience compared to being dropped off in the middle of nowhere in Turkey – continueing the trip with a replacement bus (Bucharest – Istanbul. So the coming month I will blog about my experience in my 1-month travel through Europe, I hope you will enjoy it.