Prague station was bustling even at 7am on a late January morning. After a 6am wake up call and a large cup of coffee, my partner and I boarded the train and set off on our travels. Our mission was to arrive home in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, by the end of the day.
With six connections the journey needed to run like clockwork, and we were already cutting it fine with our first interchange at Cheb on the Czech/German border, where we had only 10 minutes to change to our next train. Without that connection everything would start to unravel.
As we made our way through the Czech Republic the train started to lose time, but the friendly train conductor seemed very relaxed about the situation. And he was right – we merely had to step across the platform at Cheb station, and we arrived with a full minute to spare. No need to worry at all then!
As it happened, many of our fellow travellers were making the same connection so perhaps the train would have waited anyway. Either way, it broke the ice between those on board and gave us a chance to chat to some of the other passengers.
The rest of the journey was seamless: after connections in Nuremberg and Frankfurt (leisurely by the standards of the first one), we boarded the Eurostar in Brussels, then it was across London to Paddington for the final train home. After having travelled through six different countries in a single day, we walked through our front door at 1am.
Multiple changes and a full day's journey might sound difficult to some people, but it was actually really good. We loved seeing the changing architecture, farmland and forestry as we made our way across Europe, and there was time at our interchanges to have a coffee or buy some Belgian chocolates like we did in Brussels. We felt like normal citizens, interacting with people going about their everyday lives, which is something you lose out on at the airport. And it certainly beat a long drive from West Wales to a regional airport at ridiculous o’ clock, two hours in a badly lit airport lounge followed by two hours on a budget airline flight, and having to get from the airport into the city itself.
The reason we’d gone to Prague in the first place was for a cross-country skiing holiday. The snow was better in Poland so we spent several days skiing there as it was just a 10 minute bus ride from our guesthouse near the Czech/Polish border. This increased the tally of all the countries we visited on our trip to seven – and we only had to show our passports twice!
Thanks to the recommendations of the super helpful website Man in Seat 61, it was all easy to plan. And with some advance booking it was not too expensive either: £108 return from London to Prague, plus an additional £60 to get from our home in Wales with the help of a newly discovered Two Together Railcard.
There were lots of options to take a more leisurely approach to the journey, including a sleeper train from Paris, so if Prague to Pembrokeshire sounds more like a 24 hour endurance race, then you could always try a different route. On the way out we spent a night in Brussels so that was another plus.
A good book, onboard wifi and an extensive picnic helped the journey to pass smoothly, and the sense of adventure also added to the trip. Overall, it was just really fun. My top tips would be to pack light – but don't skimp on the picnic!