Eurail help!

Jul 7th, 2012, 09:39 PM
  #1  
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Eurail help!

I am in Hungary right now with my wife with a big European itinerary ahead of us. However, I am starting to worry that we are in big trouble in regards to our Eurail Global Pass. We did not have time to get reservations shipped to us before we left so we opted to try to pick them up in Europe. The problem is that we will end up taking a lot of high-speed trains with compulsory reservations and I am starting to worry that these trains will be full.

Itinerary:
Budapest-Prague
Prague-Vienna
Vienna-Bad Aussee
Bad Aussee-Paris
Paris-Arezzo
Arezzo-Rome
Rome-Marseilles
Marseilles-Angers
Angers-Barcelona
Barcelona-Amsterdam

This all takes place over two months and the first one that may cause trouble (Bad Aussee-Paris) is on the 17th of July. Am I correct to be worried here? Is there anything that I can do if I have already shot myself in the foot on this?

Thank you!
Spenwright is offline  
Jul 7th, 2012, 11:29 PM
  #2  
 
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"Marseilles-Angers
Angers-Barcelona"
Geographically, that does not make sense.

"Barcelona-Amsterdam"
That is a very long journey because there are no direct trains.
TonyBishop is offline  
Jul 7th, 2012, 11:33 PM
  #3  
 
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"Bad Aussee-Paris"
That too is a very long journey because there are no direct trains. The minimum is around 12 hours with 2 changes of train.
TonyBishop is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 12:32 AM
  #4  
 
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Do you know your dates of travel? Have you contacted RailEurope to get reservations (do they email them or only regular mail)? Have you tried to get reservations in Hungary (at a train station) for the remainder of your trip?

Are you really considering a train from Barcelona to Amsterdam? 18 hours on the train - that's a long time, I've done it.
adrienne is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 12:36 AM
  #5  
 
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I am suspicious that you connected the dots on a map and assumed train service would be there without seriously looking at schedules. Years ago that was more or less possible but as you point out, the trains you will need will, for the most part, require your reserving in advance. French trains offer few seats to pass holders, even if trains are not otherwise full.

I don't follow exactly what you mean by We did not have time to get reservations shipped to us, but I would make time even it it meant that reservations would be shipped to you at some hotel address en route.
Sarastro is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 01:38 AM
  #6  
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The train trips were going to be long and involve transfers...we were aware of that...but, at least through the Eurail.com -- "Plan your trip" , I had it all mapped out.

A lot of our trip was built around the availability of our places to stay. That is why the order of some of our locations looks so bizarre. The arrangement was much prettier when we started but we took the debt of long train rides in exchange for not overhauling our location schedule. Of course, it is now seeming like that may not be a viable option.

---

I went to the station in Budapest (where we are currently staying) but they essentially told me that I could only get reservations at the particular station that I wanted to travel through. Our original plan was to get all of our reservations in Budapest since we wouldn't be dealing with "compulsory reservations" for a few weeks after our arrival in Europe. That struck me before as enough time in advance. Many blogs/forums noted that it is often easier and cheaper to get your reservation once you are in Europe but I have been unable to find out how to achieve that...at least in Budapest. Perhaps it is easier to accomplish in Western Europe?

---

In regards to the shipping -- we did not anticipate that we would need (at least in some cases) to get paper copies of train reservations mailed to us and that this process could take up to two weeks. That is, we did not realize that fact before we were less than two weeks out. We considered getting them shipped to us en route but many places seemed to suggest that we could just pick them all up as soon as we got into Europe. Sounded good at the time but we may have misinterpreted our sources.
Spenwright is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 03:21 AM
  #7  
 
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Did you checked seat61.com for reservation information? I've not purchased rail passes in a long time but have read lots of threads here about them and the problems getting reservations after the fact.

I think your big problem will be in France. Let's see what other people come up with so don't panic yet.

Have you tried the regional train sites to see if you can buy reservations only w/o the tickets?
adrienne is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 03:39 AM
  #8  
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France is definitely causing the most trouble. Regional trains are an option but in some cases it would take an incredible amount of time to complete the trips as well as 6-8 transfers...kind of takes the joy out of it haha.

I have been sifting through alternatives all afternoon and I think I might be able to snatch up a bunch of cheap plane flights to cover the majority of our itinerary. From there, I can fill in the rest by purchasing individual train tickets and changing a few of our destinations. Fortunately we have not validated our Eurail pass yet so I think it is eligible for return. But I am not quite sure how to get it returned from where we are. We purchased it through Rick Steves so I am contacting them to get info on returning the pass.
Spenwright is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 03:42 AM
  #9  
ira
 
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Hey Spen,

Unfortunately, now that you have shot yourself in the foot, all you can do is make the best of it.

It isn't completely hopeless. Most of the time you will get the needed reservations.

However, be prepared to either delay your departure or to take a slower train.

It's not the end of the world.

Enjoy your visit.


PS: Next time, ask before you jump.
ira is online now  
Jul 8th, 2012, 03:52 AM
  #10  
ira
 
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Hi S,

If I'm too inquisitive, don't answer.

What induced you to plot out
Marseilles-Angers
Angers-Barcelona
Barcelona-Amsterdam

When you could have gone M--> B--> A--> N and saved 1200 km and a day of travel?

ira is online now  
Jul 8th, 2012, 05:13 AM
  #11  
 
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You obviously have access to the internet. Why not go directly to the Eurail site; why use a secondary source. I found the answer for you in 30 seconds.

http://www.eurail.com/help/orders-refunds
adrienne is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 05:47 AM
  #12  
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Adrienne,

The Eurail site mentions that returns are valid when the pass is purchased from eurail.com, I purchased the pass from ricksteves.com and I am not sure that the same rule apply. Unfortunately the Rick Steves website is pretty ambiguous about the nature of returns...at least as far as I have seen.

Thank you, though, for the help.

-----

Ira,

the itinerary was shaped a lot by the availability of where we wanted to stay. So while your arrangement would have made more sense (and was the arrangement we began with), we had specific locations in mind.
Spenwright is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 05:55 AM
  #13  
 
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What do you have to lose? Contact RailEurope. You won't know anything if you don't send them an email.
adrienne is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 06:14 AM
  #14  
 
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>>>the itinerary was shaped a lot by the availability of where we wanted to stay. So while your arrangement would have made more sense (and was the arrangement we began with), we had specific locations in mind.<<<

Now you've discovered that wasn't the logical way to plan a trip. You are going to spend a lot of your trip on trains instead of at the locations you want to visit. I would look at losing a few days off the pass and booking some budget flights.

www.skyscanner.com
www.whichbudget.com

As for Paris/Arezzo, you will need a reservation for Paris/Florence, but most of the trains from Florence to Arezzo are old R trains that don't have seat reservations. There are a few IC trains on this route that require reserved seats, but the R trains are more frequent. Same thing for Arezzo/Rome.
kybourbon is online now  
Jul 8th, 2012, 06:27 AM
  #15  
 
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Pass return info on Rick's website:

Refunds: Most unvalidated rail passes are refundable (minus a penalty of 15% or more) if returned to the place of purchase within six months for BritRail or within one year for most other passes. Rail pass insurance, shipping fees, and some special offers are not refundable.

http://www.ricksteves.com/rail/howrailworks.htm#wrong
kybourbon is online now  
Jul 8th, 2012, 07:27 AM
  #16  
 
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"France is definitely causing the most trouble."
@Spenwright. With respect, I suspect your knowledge of geography is causing you a lot of trouble too.

None of these legs make sense.
Bad Aussee-Paris
Paris-Arezzo

Marseilles-Angers
Angers-Barcelona
TonyBishop is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 09:04 AM
  #17  
 
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Posts: 1,672
First, stop worrying.

Trains hardly ever get full, the only issue is railpassholder quotas selling out for those trains wher there's a quota.

The quota issue only really applies to travein within, to and from France. Elsewhere, if there's any seat free at all on the train (and there always will be) you'll get a reservation, no problem.

Don't ask for reservations pn trains that don't exist, in other words, be specific about what you want when reserving. Yes, yuou can have a sleeper reservation from Barcelona to Paris on the excellent overnight Elipsos trenhotel leaving 8pm and arriving 9am, and you can reserve a seat on the Thalys high-speed train from Paris to Amsterdam taking just 3 hours 10 minutes, but no, there's no direct train from B'lona to Amsterdam so you cannot reserve on it.
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2012, 08:22 PM
  #18  
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@ TonyBishhop. Thank you for your "respectful" (snide?) comment. I have already explained to you that the arrangement of my route had to accommodate for open availabilities of specific locations. If you read my posts you'll note that I have never claimed that the route makes geographical sense in terms of least distance covered...

@Man_in_seat_61. Thank you for the help. Very few of these were to be direct, I am aware of that. My trouble was that so many of my transfers were on trains with railpassholder quotas. However, I think that bailing on the Eurail pass (as I have not yet validated it) and switching to a blend of individual train tickets and budget airfare can get me out of this pickle while actually cost less than the Eurail would have (especially after the exorbitant TGV reservation fees).
Spenwright is offline  
Jul 13th, 2012, 08:35 AM
  #19  
 
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The Eurail site mentions that returns are valid when the pass is purchased from eurail.com, I purchased the pass from ricksteves.com and I am not sure that the same rule apply. Unfortunately the Rick Steves website is pretty ambiguous about the nature of returns...at least as far as I have seen.>

rick steves routes sales from his site directly to RailEurope.com I believe - in any case Eurailpasses regardless of where issued are refundable up to one year after issuance minus the 15 or 20% cancellation fee. Check not only www.ricksteves.com but also www.seat61.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com for more details on refunds of passes and a wealth of info on reservations, - before switching to individual tickets be sure to check regular fares - full fare you buy at stations can be dauntingly high and keep in mind that your railpass is probably first class which IME has immense benefits on trains in those countries - full first class fares can be really expensive.

And consider taking overnight trains for long distances - you save on the cost of a hotel. Budget airlines can be cheap but not always if you have not booked weeks in advance.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 13th, 2012, 09:58 AM
  #20  
 
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(especially after the exorbitant TGV reservation fees).>

Yup sadly three of the countries you are going to charge between 3 and 10 euros for a passholder seat - only in France do they have quotas for passholder reservations. So it depends on where you use a railpass these days - most countries you can still just hop on and that is a key IMO aspect of a pass - priceless to me but in Italy, France and Spain ain't so - must go to ticket window (usually) and pay up to $13-15 on top of the ticket and if the journey is in two legs you pay it twice - like from Marseilles to Angers - one to Paris and one out of Paris if you go the fastest way.
PalenQ is offline  

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