Alumni Grant - Interrail Trip
Nena and Ellen (class of 2016) received an Alumni Grant their Interrail trip in July 2016. To raise the matching funds for their grant, they worked a Saturday job in retail during term 1 of Year 13.
To get an impression of their Interrail adventure view their trip video on YouTube.
Nena and I started our trip on the 18th of July in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. One of our favourite activities was the yellow bike tour. The bike ride lasts a couple of hours and is a fantastic way to see the city! Another highlight was visiting the Anne Frank house, out of all the museums this was definitely our favourite. Tickets can be bought online, however we found it easier to show up on the day with some sandwiches and queue for around two hours. We stayed at the Van Gogh hostel which we would highly recommend. The hostel was a wonderful recommendation from Tanglin students who graduated in 2015. It is located within walking distance of the ‘I am Amsterdam’ sign and Vondel Park, so we found we could pretty much walk everywhere. It is possible to buy a three day public transport pass for around 18 euros, but we went everywhere on foot! It turned out Amsterdam was our most expensive destination, so we would advise to budget a little more to visit this Dutch city.
Berlin by was our favourite place by far! We took the Eurostar from Amsterdam and we would recommend being at the station 30 minutes before the train is due to leave to ensure you get seats. Unfortunately we didn’t make a reservation so we had to sit on the floor. Later we found out seat reservations only cost around 3 euros so that was a good lesson! We stayed at Plus Berlin, another hostel which was absolutely fantastic. It is located in the heart of east Berlin so it’s near great restaurants and nightlife. Nena and I spent around two hours at the Holocaust museum which is situated under the Memorial. It was our favourite museum of the entire trip, even though it is quite graphic. We also visited the Berlin Wall Memorial and Museum. We did not have to pay for any of the sites we visited in Berlin which was a bonus!
The Czech Republic does not use the Euro so we had to make sure to change our money. It was at this point of the trip Nena and I started staying in Air BnBs. It really worked for us and we would recommend it, however just as a precaution we would suggest booking places with a lot of good reviews. Prague was one of the cheapest places we visited. Our accommodation was not as centrally located as in the other cities, so we used Ubers to get around. It sounds extravagant, however we found they were reliable and very reasonably priced: a trip into town was around 100 Czech Koruna (5 SGD). We enjoyed the John Lennon wall, walking around the grounds of Prague castle and wandering through Prague old town square. Another highlight was renting a Pedalo to have a paddle along the river Vtlava.
Nena and I were only in Vienna for one night so it was a very quick stop. We visited the Opera House and both the Summer and Winter palaces. The highlight for us however was visiting the Modern Art Museum. While neither of us are art connoisseurs we found it really interesting and quirky.
Entry was free for students so Nena and I showed our TTS student cards. Our top tip is to bring your TTS card as we got discounts at almost every attraction that cost money!
Hungary also doesn’t use the Euro so Nena and I had to ensure we had enough Hungarian Forints. We would advise changing money before you go as most places charge around 25% commission. The Budapest Baths were definitely a highlight: we went to the highly recommended ‘Széchenyi Thermal Bath’. We also enjoyed touring the grounds of Buda castle and seeing the Chains Bridge. Budapest was the only place where we booked a big bus tour ticket as it had a stop right next to our Air BnB. Moreover the 20 Euro ticket included walking night tours as well as river cruises – bargain!
We flew to Rome as it would have taken 23 hours to get there by train. Our Air BnB was located around a 40-minute walk from the city center and so we walked everywhere. We expected Rome to be quite expensive, however since we saved money on transport by walking we found it very reasonable. We would highly recommend the Knights of Malta keyhole which gives a fantastic view of St Peter Basilica. Next we visited the Coliseum where we would highly recommend the audio tour. In addition we explored the Parliament Building, Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps and the Pantheon. To save on the budget Nena and I avoided eating in main squares and found that food was much more reasonable in the allies near the Pantheon. We also spent a whole day at the Vatican. In the morning we did the audio tour around the Vatican museum and in the afternoon we went up St Peters Basilica into the dome and then we went inside to say a prayer. We were fortunate we went on the last Sunday of the month when entry is free, so we saved 25 euros! We would highly recommend a visit to the Vatican as this was one of the highlights of our trip. It is worth noting that Rome is scorching hot so we brought a water bottle everywhere. Thankfully there are loads of taps to fill up from. We would also recommend hats and sun cream as we queued outside in the baking sun for around two hours for both the Vatican museum and St Peters Basilica.
This was the longest Nena and I have ever been away from home. It was also the first time we’ve actually had to properly manage a budget and take care of ourselves. After this trip we both feel like we are finally ready to go to university and leave home! Travelling across Europe together meant we had to be really organized and independent. We would both wholeheartedly recommend a trip like ours to our fellow Tanglin students! It gave us an opportunity to meet so many new people from across the world. Moreover since Nena and I have grown up in Singapore, we felt this trip allowed us to exit the Singapore Bubble and experience a whole new part of the world we had never been to. If we could pass one tip on to someone planning to do a similar trip, it would be to plan ahead in detail. Nena and I spent many hours planning our entire itinerary and we found this was the key to our successful trip. We are so thankful to the TTS Foundation for enabling us to have such a fantastic trip: it was truly an incredible opportunity.
The Alumni Grant is a matching grant awarded to our Tanglin graduates within 18 months after graduation. The grant is funded by the TTS Foundation. Find out more about the Alumni grant via the Alumni website or send an email to our Alumni Manager - Mrs Nellie Rogers.