Hi! Let me introduce myself. Koen Nijbroek, a 25 year old biologically oriented geek. I am currently working as a BioInformatician at KeyGene in the Netherlands. Besides my awesome job I love to be a somehow-freelance traveler, especially to travel by train.
Roughly 8 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.
Traveling beyond the Netherlands
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. 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. 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 and the driver asked if I needed a ride. With 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. That succeeded because my father looked like he had seen a ghost ;).
Over the last years I have done numerous Interrail journeys throughout Europe. I even explored the USA by Amtrak from Washington DC all the way to San Diego and enjoyed an amazing holiday in Japan by rail. In the end I want to share all my experiences, inspire you and help you making the best out of your adventure.