That Time I Backpacked Overland from Prague to Marseille and Never Wrote About It

“Maybe the strangeness only ever was, to hide ourselves from some kind of happiness” – Nick Jones.

The Time I Backpacked Overland from Prague to Marseille and Never Wrote About It

That Time I Backpacked Overland from Prague to Marseille and Never Wrote About It

We simply can’t cover everything we do in life in a blog and while I started writing about my travels in 2007, I couldn’t have covered every detail. As I prepare for a bit of European overlanding the next few months, I cast my mind back to when I was even cheaper and more extreme. In 2007, having flown into Prague, I overlanded through Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and France. I ended up in Marseille on that trip. It was my longest overland tour of Europe to date, unless I can count the fact that I often didn’t leave England or Northern Ireland for a period of months. I cover it in blocks and in separate posts but I never really mentioned how it was all on one trip. Perhaps reading back it may seem like scattered visits to each city but it was an adventure, and of course an easy one as I speak English, a good bit of German and French and it’s easy to backpack in Europe. It’s very easy.

Backpacking in Luxembourg

Backpacking in Luxembourg

The chance to overland from Slovakia to France has arisen again this year, for June, taking along the way the likes of Italy, Seborga and Monaco. But I probably won’t be doing that. Instead just a quick over view of the zany overlanding I did as a budget whackpacker in 2007. But the whole story has a similar twist – Lock In Lee was involved at the start in 2007, there’d be football along the way, in 2007 I met Katia Alves in Paris. This year I met her in India. This year I’m meeting Lee in Austria so the way to Grodig bears some resemblance to my early travel days.

On a German train in 2007

On a German train in 2007

Leaving Czech Republic
I said my goodbyes to the famous Lock In Lee at Kolesovice train station in Prague after we had some crazy times there and I got a place on a train over the border into Germany. I teamed up with a French-Canadian girl called Steph who was at a rock concert and lonely at the train station in Prague. Then I met a hat-trick of English guys that had been kicked off a train in Austria and couldn’t remember if they had been to Slovakia or not. We shared beers, then the police got on the train and stamped us out of Czech Republic at Decin.

Lock in Lee and I in Prague in 2007

Lock in Lee and I in Prague in 2007

Backpacking in Germany
My first stop in Germany was Dresden and I spent the next two weeks backpacking in places like Osterweddingen, Hamburg, Magdeberg, Bremen, Hannover and Trier. The highlights were touring Magdeberg with my mate Rene Peters.

Baxckpacking in Osterweddingen, Germany

Backpacking in Osterweddingen, Germany

Rene in his car

Rene in his car

Die Grune Zitadelle, Magdeberg

Die Grune Zitadelle, Magdeberg

Main Cathedral in Magdeberg, Germany

Main Cathedral in Magdeberg, Germany

Day Tour of Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
After touring Germany, I got a train into Luxembourg literally just to check the place out for a day. Rene stayed in German and I backpacked across the border alone, on train.

Waiting on my train to Luxembourg 2007

Waiting on my train to Luxembourg 2007

In those days, the Inter-railing thing was really cheap and you could get a different train at 1 minute past midnight and it would count as a different day on your monthly booking, so I remember hanging around at the border until the time changed. I think this was how I ended up with some time to kill in Trier or Bonn, the former West German capital.

Having some Bofferding in Luxembourg

Having some Bofferding in Luxembourg

Free 4 Star Hotel in Campeigne, France
After the inter-railing around Germany, Rene landed a contract job in Campeigne with a full 4 star hotel included! Rene also had a company car for the trip so I hitched a ride with him and we travelled from Germany, through Belgium into France. I also sneaked into his 4star hotel room and got a backpacker’s free night out of it. It was the Hotel Mercure in Campeigne, just north of Paris.

A rare photo of me in Belgium before overlanding into France

A rare photo of me in Belgium before overlanding into France

TGV High Speed to Marseille
One day at the train station in Paris Gare de Lyon, I was literally about to get on the train to Rotterdam in the Netherlands! But something changed at late notice with the trains and platforms and in the end I ended up paying 5 Euros for an upgrade into the bar and lounge of the high speed TGV to Marseille. Within hours I was lying on the beach in Marseille! This was my last stop on the overland route from Prague to Marseille. Though I later returned to Paris for a few days before returning to Bournemouth to work in a theatre.

The last minute ticket upgrade at Gare de Lyon!

The last minute ticket upgrade at Gare de Lyon!

That’s just a snapshot of my 2007 overland train journeys. I’m excited to be travelling on European trains again in a few weeks actually and have some crazy travel surprises up my sleeve for the next three months. Despite seemingly coming to the end of my backpacking dream, it seems the fired cannon hasn’t hit its target just yet.

Having a beer on route to Marseille

Having a beer on route to Marseille

No doubt, I’ll be on a European train again soon and probably a cold beer and a spot of old school whackpacking.

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4 thoughts on “That Time I Backpacked Overland from Prague to Marseille and Never Wrote About It

  • So that’s how your first major backpacking trip ended before you settled down in Bournemouth for a bit. Very random, yet cool itinerary. What was that? Like a full month at the end for this European leg?

  • Hi Ray, Thanks for the comment, yes it was kind of my first long backpacking trip, although I did lots of smaller overlanding trips before that with Millwall Neil, Lock In Lee and my Northern Irish football mates. We did a Germany to Poland trip in 2005, I backpacked in eastern Spain in 2003, toured a lot of England in 2002 – 2005 and made many Irish road trips across the border to Cork and Dublin in my teens, most of which don’t have photos and I can’t remember too much. I’ll get some more retro trips typed up in the future though. The older we get, the more we forget what we did! Safe travels. Jonny

  • I have been to 34 nations while overlanding, so its a pretty big thing for me. I have gone from KL to Indonesia, London to Istanbul, Istanbul to Tehran and Birmingham to Sofia as well as Montreal to New York.

    My first big overland trip was London to San Marino where I ended up visiting Luxembourg by chance and scored a hat trick of Mirco-States

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