My father would often say to me, "Son, you cannot truly become a man until you've been woken rudely in the middle of the night by an angry Frenchman screaming into your face that you're in his seat while aboard a regional European train service." While these were almost certainly just nonsensical ramblings induced by the heady cocktail of children's vitamins and vast quantities of Peperamis that constituted his diet for the last 7 years of his life, chances are, if you go inter-railing it is something you will experience.
Now, thanks to an EU initiative that has been rolled out within the last year, the chance to live experience this hauntingly specific situation could be yours. The EU announced an initiative last year to make a certain number of free inter-railing passes available to 18 year old citizens of the EU in order to help foster a greater sense of European solidarity.
2018 was the first year of the DiscoverEU project and some 30,000 youths were awarded free inter-railing passes. A new round of applications for this summer however has opened today and they are looking for teenagers to apply.
If you were born between 2 July 2000 and 1 July 2001, inclusive, and are an EU citizen, then you can apply for a free inter-railing pass through their website.
This new round of applications opened today and will remain open for two weeks, closing at noon Central European Summer Time on 16 May 2019. I simply cannot stress how important it is that you double check what the hell Central European Summer Time is and how that affects the closing time for you. As far as I can make out, from a cursory Google, it is some 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, meaning that the closing date in Ireland is 10am on Thursday 16 May. For the love of sweet, buttery Christ however, I urge you to confirm this yourselves - or, to simply not leave your application until the last possible minute.
With the application process you can either apply as an individual, or, apply with a group of up to 4 friends to travel together. Successful applicants will be awarded a ticket to travel around Europe for up to 30 days between August 2019 and January 31, 2020.
More information than I have to hand can be found on their website, so I implore you to simply go visit that instead so we can bring this whole article to a close.