A Eurostar train at St Pancras station in London. Picture: Supplied

My children often reminisce, misty- eyed, about their time InterRailing around Europe and I thought it was about time I gave it a go. But instead of roughing it like them, I've opted for first-class seating, hotels when I arrive and plan to use overnight sleeper trains so I can travel further within a week.

My first-class Global InterRail pass gives me five rail travel days anywhere in Europe within a 10-day period and cost me ₤331 ($598). Second-class would be ₤211 and single country passes are about ₤100.

Australians can buy a similar Eurail pass - you'll get two months, instead of 10 or 15 days, to use your rail days.

I settled on a circular trip to Poland and Austria, through France, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic, covering a fair part of Central Europe in a week.

My Eurostar train from London to Brussels was an additional cost and a speedy change got me on the train to Cologne. I spent the afternoon and evening exploring Cologne's magnificent cathedral and sampling Kolsch beer.

The 22.30 night train to Warsaw was a €91 ($131) supplement, less than an average hotel bill, and it was comfortable but hardly luxurious. Water and snacks were provided and the attendant brought coffee in the morning.

I booked a Warsaw hotel within walking distance of the station. Warsaw has been rebuilt after it was devastated in World War II but you'd hardly know it as the restoration has been remarkable. There is nothing left of the Warsaw ghetto but a museum now stands on the site and commemorates the brave Warsaw Uprising.

Chopin is one of Warsaw's most famous sons and there are regular open-air concerts and a Chopin trail marked by benches that play a Chopin classic when you sit down.

On the train to Krakow I met an Australian couple on a similar route to mine, except they were following their family history in Poland and Austria.

Krakow is fabulous, relatively undamaged in the war but only because Hitler coveted it as a trophy city. Nevertheless, there are plenty of WWII reminders, including the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Oskar Schindler factory, now a museum.

I took another night sleeper to Vienna. There are few luxury frills on public night trains but I still find them a great way to travel - saving money and time.

Vienna is the magnificently grand city of the Habsburgs, rulers of the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire whose rule came to an end after World War I. Even a long day wasn't sufficient to appreciate it all but I had a schedule to keep, so took the train to Salzburg.

Salzburg's mountain setting is stunning and it has a wonderfully preserved old town. Towering above it all is the impressive Hohensalzburg Fortress but there's a funicular to the top, so no need to hike unless you want to.

The cobbled streets and alleyways of this medieval and baroque city are a joy to stroll through. But its greatest fame is being the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for The Sound of Music.

My final InterRailing day was the trip back to London. The train to Frankfurt was a spectacular ride past mountains and lakes. From Frankfurt, a high-speed train whisked me to Brussels, where a Eurostar train was waiting to head to London.

This was an amazing one-week whistlestop tour of Europe but I think next time I'll go a bit slower and buy a few more rail days with more time to use them in.

eurail.com/eurail-passes.

The West Australian

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