Put me on a train and you can pretty much color me happy. I’m still waiting for someone to build railroad tracks across the Atlantic Ocean and I’d never fly again. Love trains. Hate planes. It’s that simple.
Trains are all about an era gone by. Think of trains and think of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Classic.
It’s all about the classics and it’s all about watching the world pass by and losing yourself in daydreams. You can see so much from the window of a train, staring out at the picture perfect landscapes seemingly running alongside of you, or even behind you for that matter.
And just as you’re completely lost in your thoughts you’ll experience that suddenly loud whoosh… of another train passing by at high speed. So close you feel as if you have to hold your breath in fear of the two trains colliding. It’s exhilarating!
Where to Go?
I still vividly remember the day I learned Eurail agreed to partner with us. Lying in bed reading emails I came across the good news, leaped out of bed and nearly gave Abi a heart attack. He was peacefully brushing his teeth, when I began to joyously dance about the apartment. Guess what?! Guess what?!
With 10 days of train travel to call our own, I was like a kid having just been given a $10 bill to spend in a candy store. Where to go?!
A Mis-Guided Notion
There is a long-standing romantic notion of using a pass to hop on/off trains on a whim, but truthfully, I believe those days are gone because train travel in Europe has become so popular. We carefully chose our train travel dates based on our overall itinerary and it worked out really well for us. We did manage to spend a day hopping on/off when we traveled from Aix en Provence to Marseilles to Arles and back again in one day. Yep. It worked and we had a fabulous day.
A Bit Bleary Eyed
Traveling by train is not always perfect, we did experience a few delays along the way, but overall it was so much fun. Well, the overnight train from Porto to Madrid left us a bit more than bleary eyed, but it was still a good experience – one to add to the list of, okay, that was different but still good. I thought we’d never get through the 100 numbers in front of us at the Barcelona train station where we waited to make reservations for a train to Aix en Provence.
The Eurail Pass
The great thing about a Eurail pass – aside from saving money – is the flexibility. I’ll let you in on a little secret… if you play by the rules you are supposed to fill in your date of travel before you board the train. But, as long as you don’t fill in the date of travel on your pass, until you are actually on the train, that day is unaccounted for and still available for travel. So, if for some reason you miss your train, or just change your travel plans, you don’t lose a travel day. Sshhh… don’t tell anyone.
We did learn, however, that even with the pass you’ll need reservations as some trains are extremely popular, such as the train from Paris to Bayonne. And, you will have to pay a reservation fee which is calculated by your travel destination points. You’ll still come out ahead though using the Eurail pass.
The Party Bus
No worries if you can’t reach your destination by train; we scored a great bus connection using our Eurail pass. I dubbed this baby the party bus because if offered comfortable seats, power outlets, free WiFi, a WC and a vending machine! We arrived in Nuremberg by train and connected to the party bus for the drive to Prague. It worked!
Riding the Rails
Lest you think travel by train is less than comfortable… check out this meal we were served while riding the rails between Madrid and Barcelona!
I have to admit we never figured out how to tell if we were going to be served a meal or not, but we just looked at it as a surprise perk of the day if we did. We were also served a box lunch while traveling across Germany. While traveling from Barcelona to Aix en Provence, we watched a full-length movie – Disney’s Planes.
There’s nothing like a train for being able to stretch out and totally relax while watching the world go by – with your eyes closed. Put
me us on a train and you can pretty much color me us happy.
So what do you think, is exploring Europe by train in your future?