Help Needed for October Train Trip

Old Sep 18th, 2009, 12:43 PM
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Help Needed for October Train Trip

My husband and I are leaving for Paris on Oct. 11. It's been a long while since we traveled by train so we're hoping to keep about 5 days of our trip unplanned and go here and there on the train. We're going to UK and France and then it's wide open. Suggestions needed for what's great to see by train in October and should we buy a eurail pass or a Britrail pass? Thanks
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Old Sep 18th, 2009, 12:50 PM
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whether you need a Eurailpass or BritRailpass depends on how much you are traveling by train in each country and with only five days of train travel together in both it would probably be better to do regular tickets.

But since you seem to want fully flexible tickets sometimes only a few of those can make a pass pay off - but again where and how long the train rides are. I kind of think it would be hard to realize the value of any pass given what you've said.

For a ton of great info on European and British trains and railpasses, etc. i always point novices to: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.seat61.com and www.ricksteves.com. Passes not readily sold in Europe so buy them before leaving IF you find you need a pass. if you give some ideas of the rail journeys you will be doing i and others can give better advice of pass vs regular tickets you buy as you go - that is if you want fully flexible tickets to travel on whims - significant savings on tickets can be had if you lock yourself into non-changeable non-refundable deals you can get online at: www.voyages-sncf.com and for the U.K. www.nationalrail.co.uk but then you lose your flexibility - but anyway you can see all the various fares at those sites and get pass prices from the above mentioned sites to see what is best.
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Old Sep 18th, 2009, 12:54 PM
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Spain is nearby)) Great country with many things to see! Madrid or Barcelona is comfort to go by train from France. And in October there is also beach season
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Old Sep 18th, 2009, 12:55 PM
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How about the sleeper train to Venice?
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Old Sep 18th, 2009, 01:26 PM
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Thanks for the advice. I'll check out the websites. Have you taken the sleeper train to Venice? My hubby wants to see Venice but are last experience on a French sleeper train was just okay. Has anyone gone from London to Scotland or any other parts of Italy? We've also thought about going to Sicily but are not sure how safe and if we could use the train at all.
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Old Sep 18th, 2009, 01:49 PM
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The Paris-Venice sleeper train is rather like any French sleeper train - though called the Artesia Hotel Train it is nothing fancier than the typical French overnight train. A few years back they will billing this train as a luxury hotel train because it has Excelsior cars - private compartments with douche and WC in them - yet they were plagued by problems and never worked well. RailEurope issued a statement that these trains should not be billed as luxury trains but regular overnight trains. The spiffy Excelsior cars were taken off and rehabbed and are now in use on domestic overnight trains in Italy. So if you didn't cotton the French overnight train you will not this one either. But what kind of compartment did you have before - if a 4- or 6-person couchette then that is far different from the private doubles you could get - those are obviously nicer because you are by yourself and not with some snorer, loud louts or whatever you rish in a multi-berth compartment. But if you did a double on the French night train and didn't like it don't take this train either IMO
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Old Sep 18th, 2009, 02:31 PM
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We had it to ourselves but the toilet was smelly all night. We'd be willing to give it another try. We also don't mind just taking a overnight train and sitting up. Is there an extra charge for this train?
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Old Sep 18th, 2009, 04:13 PM
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The London to Scotland trip is very pleasant and confortable. We did it a few years ago and went to Fort William. From there we took the train up to Mallaig, which is a small fishing town on the coast accross from the Isle of Sky. It is very peaceful, if that is what you are looking for. Enjoy.

Greg
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Old Sep 19th, 2009, 06:35 AM
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We also don't mind just taking a overnight train and sitting up. Is there an extra charge for this train?>

On Artesia overnight trains there are no regular sit up seats - the nimimum fare gives you a place is a six-person couchette - three bunks on each side of an aisle and not even a wash basin - toilet down down the hall, shared by dozens of people and yup by morning they often stink like heck. French domestic night trains do have regular seats you can sit in and then only pay the normal train fare - sleeping berths in couchettes or sleeping cars (singles, double and triples) usually cost much more than just a simple seat. If you think the double was not great don't ever sit up in your seat all night - for one thing people come and go, the conductor will wake you up to check tickets, etc. In a couchette or sleeping car you should not be woken up as the conductor of those cars takes your ticket for the night, etc.
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Old Sep 20th, 2009, 02:39 PM
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Thank you for all the replies. We are checking all suggestions out. My mother's family is from the Isle of Skye so we are intereseted in that also.
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Old Sep 21st, 2009, 06:26 AM
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The London-Ft William sleeper is the best way to get time-effectively from London to the wonderful West Highlands, see www.seat61.com/CaledonianSleepers.htm. And the train ride is an experience in itself!

I assume you're using Eurostar London-Paris? Then book this well in advance at www.eurostar.com as it starts at £35 one-way booked up to 120 days ahead, but £155 on the day.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2009, 01:49 PM
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http://www.scotrail.co.uk/caledoniansleeper/index.html

and if taking the Caledonian Sleepers to Scotland you can get some pretty tasty fares by booking online ASAP - at the official ScotRail (First Rail Co) site above - assume Man in Seat 61's site is linking to the same but did not try.

and then from Fort William take the really scenic train ride to Maillag then ferry scoots you over to the Isle of Skye
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Old Sep 22nd, 2009, 09:49 PM
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I traveled Edinburgh to London but broke the trip for two days in York. It is a very good train, and York is definitely worth seeing. I used an 8 day BritRail flex pass for that and other excursions. Whether a pass is good for you depends on where you are going and for how long.

Night trains on the Continent are great IMO -- if you have a couchette or bed. I would never take a sit up overnight. You'll be miserable the next day.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2009, 11:32 PM
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If you've only got 5 days, are starting off from London or Paris and (as seems to be the case) have a thing about trains, I'd completely write off Italy (above all Sicily) or Spain.

From Paris, you can just about get to Milan/Turin (or Barcelona) by more or less fast train in 9 hours or less. Any further in either country (and Spain's huge) and you're committed to an overnight train (in BOTH directions!!!!) or writing off at least two complete days to travel.

France's TGV system, and the equivalents in its neighbours, can get you within a 400 mile radius of Paris within 4 hours or so (and Britain's slower, but more frequent trains, get you to 300 miles North, or 250 miles west, of London in the same time scale).

That roughly gives you from the Scottish border, through most of Wales, all of England, the Benelux, Switzerland, most of Western Germany, and all France north of about Bordeaux to choose from.

Limit yourself to this area, decide where you'd like to go, then start thinking about whether that's best done by an "all you can eat" pass or point to point fares.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 09:21 AM
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Whether a pass is good for you depends on where you are going and for how long.> And especially in Britain whether or not you desire flexibility to hop any of the zillions of trains anytime - www.nationalrail.co.uk lists all the various fares - you can get deep discounts by booking very early and locking yourself into non-changeable and non-refundable - in many cases - specific trains. But a quick look at what what walk tickets cost - ones you buy just before the train often cost an arm and two legs and thus a pass could be viable with say a trip to Scotland and back - hopping on any of the usually two trains an hour at will. But for most on such short time who because of their limited time probably would not mind locking in one of the online cheap fares and fore go any pass.
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