Interrail 1988: Athens to Alps

On 18 June 1988, I had arrived in Athens by train after a 36 hour journey from Austria and despite tiredness and scorching heat, I headed out with my new pals, 3 London coppers. We visited the Acropolis and then found a bar to watch England lose to Russia in Euro ’88. I found this highly amusing and the lads took it well. Day turned to night and we drank ouzo on the roof of the hostel til 3am.

Next day went got the train to Patras for the ferry to Corfu, crossing the famous Corinth canal en-route. One of the policemen, Plug, had forgotten his passport and had to return to Athens. We got the overnight ferry and slept on deck under the stars.

Corfu was lovely and a mellow week was spent on the beach, in the sea and in the bars at a quiet resort. We hired mopeds and zoomed around bareheaded idiots. One night we went to the beach to see dozens of turtles and another night a storm nearly blew the tent away.

After a week, we got an early morning ferry (8 hour crossing) to Brindisi, Italy and then an overnight train onwards to arrive in Naples at 5am. Neds had stolen gear from two of the polis guys who had stayed in first class whilst we in second class were fine. After reporting this to local police we visited Pompeii. We were all shattered though and Pompeii was underwhelming, the highlight being Plug stood on a lizard and immediately another lizard ran up and ate it.

We headed to Rome where we parted company. After whizzing around Rome for 4 hours and seeing the Colosseum and Vatican, I caught the 8.05pm train to Foligno then walked miles to find my hostel. That day sums up my interrailing tour, zooming around trying to see everything (overnight train to Naples, Pompeii, Rome then two hour train to Foligno presumably for cheap digs before visiting Assisi next day).

So after a good sleep in a hostel, I visited Assisi. Sadly I wasn’t allowed in the Basilica of St Francis ‘coz I’m wearing shorts’ but Assisi was ‘nice wi hunners o’ wee streets on a hill’. (Lucky I kept a diary with these gems of information huh).

I continued whizzing about Italy like a madman for the next three days, visiting Florence (nice), Venice(if it sinks, I’ll no’ miss it), Bologna and Rimini before getting an overnight train to Interlaken in Switzerland. After the busy Italian cities it was a refreshing change to be in the Alps. Got the cog railway from Wengen up into the Bernese Oberland then walked up see the Jungfrau and the north face of the Eiger. It was amazing postcard scenery.

Back in Interlaken I didn’t have enough money for the hostel so I camped by the lakeside where two young lads befriended me and brought me coffee and sandwiches. I lit a fire and all was good after my frantic five days in Italy.

Next day , 2 July, it was onwards to Annecy in the French Alps then overnight train to Barcelona as my crazy European adventure continues…

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