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Help with 2 week Itenary to europe and Rail Pass

Help with 2 week Itenary to europe and Rail Pass

Mar 16th, 2011, 10:19 AM
  #1  
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Help with 2 week Itenary to europe and Rail Pass

Hello!,

Me and my husband are planning a europe trip in the end of May. The trip would give us 16 days in europe, and after looking at the various places in Europe we decide to include the following places in out trip:

1. Start with Amsterdam
2. Head to Paris
3. Next to Nice/Provence area
4. Then to Venice and Rome in Italy.

I wanted to know what people's opinion was about including a day trip to Belgium(Brussels or Bruges) on the way from Amsterdam to Paris? Is it worth it? Or should we rather spend that extra day enjoying more of Paris/Italy?

Also I wanted to know how does the rail pass work. Does it work for all the local trains as well? or is it just for long distance trains? Coz, if i do individual trips from point A to point B of my itenary, the total for 2 people comes out to be $800/2 people, but if i go for a pass, I see that I have to spend about $1200/2 people. So was wondering if the rail pass is a must? as it also includes all the local travels? Like if we want to make day trips from Rome to some other parts of Italy?

As always thanks for your inputs in advance.

Regards
rs_travels!
Rs_travel is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 11:00 AM
  #2  
 
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Coz, if i do individual trips from point A to point B of my itenary, the total for 2 people comes out to be $800/2 people, but if i go for a pass, I see that I have to spend about $1200/2 people>

Well you have answered your own question I think. But if your $1,200 figures are for a Eurail Select Pass then if you bought one before the end of March you would get an extra day free - if a 6-day or longer pass.

and if you are comparing $800 worth of 2nd class tickets to a first-class pass then IMO you are comparing apples to oranges - in my decades of European rail travel I heartily advise first class for the average tourist on the trip of a lifetime and since 1st class typically costs about 40% more than 2nd class the pass more comes into play.

there are loads of reasons why the average tourist should IMO go first class - first of seats are significantly lerger as there are three seats in 1st in the same space a 4 2nd class seats and most importantly to me there are often quite a few empty seats in first class - I always find a nearyb empty seat I can stash my bags on - keeping a close eye on them and not having to fend for space in often already crowded overhead racks in 2nd class, which is much more unlikely to have emtpy seats.

and only in first class cars usually you have to me the very desirable seats with a window and an aisle - so-called isolated seats - just one in a row and if you are traveling with others these can face each other - you both have an aisle and a window and a nice table in between for writing postcards or picnicking or eating food from the onboard snackbar.

Anyway check out these fantastic IMO web sites for lots of European trains, passes and alternatives to them - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com. For train schedules the German Railways web portal has schedules for all of Europe and is to me the easiest I have found to use - www.bahn.de.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 11:25 AM
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More important you have 6 destinations in 16 days. That's about 2 days per stop plus transit time. So maybe 1.5 days for Paris? Not enough. Do you want to visit inland Provence as well as Nice and the Riviera coast?

Whenever you change locations, you have to check out of your hotel, get yourself to the train station, ride the train maybe making some train changes, then get yourself from your destination station to your next hotel.

I think you need to cut this trip down. The obvious place to cut would be Italy or maybe Nice/Provence. But you know your own priorities.
Mimar is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 12:55 PM
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Also I wanted to know how does the rail pass work. Does it work for all the local trains as well? or is it just for long distance trains?>

a railpass is valid on virtually everyone of the zillions of trains rolling around Europe each day - commuter, regional, local, inter-city, long-distance, S-Bahns whatever you want to call them - as long as your railpass is valid in that country.

Now in France and Italy you must have a seat reservation before boarding many trains and these cost extra above the pass - 3 euros a pop in France but 10 euros a ride in Italy so factor those in as well.

If you cut your itinerary down then perhaps you would consider the cheaper France-Benelux Railpass, valid in Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and France and significantly cheaper than Eurail Pass.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 16th, 2011, 06:28 PM
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>>>a railpass is valid on virtually everyone of the zillions of trains rolling around Europe each day - commuter, regional, local, inter-city, long-distance, S-Bahns whatever you want to call them - as long as your railpass is valid in that country.

Now in France and Italy you must have a seat reservation before boarding many trains and these cost extra above the pass - 3 euros a pop in France but 10 euros a ride in Italy so factor those in as well.<<<

Not exactly. The fees for required seat reservations can be much higher on some trains when using a pass. Also, not all trains in Italy are covered by passes. There are several private or commuter lines that aren't and of course, none of the subways are covered. Here's a fee list for what you will have to pay in addition to the cost of the pass. It may not be totally up to date.
http://www.ricksteves.com/rail/pdfs/reservations.pdf

When buying point-to-point tickets in Italy on Trenitalia, your seat is included in the price. You can also snag some sale fares.
http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...0080a3e90aRCRD

>>>not having to fend for space in often already crowded overhead racks in 2nd class, which is much more unlikely to have emtpy seats.<<<

I haven't ever found this to be a problem as the fast trains in Italy (and many other countries) have space to store luggage on the floor behind your seat (even a large suitcase will fit).
kybourbon is online now  
Mar 18th, 2011, 11:19 AM
  #6  
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PalenQ: Thanks for those websites. They are really helpful, specially the seat61.com.

Mimar: You are right. We are planning something like
Land in Amsterdam - 2 nights
Paris - 3 nights
Provence/Nice area - 4 nights
Venice - 3 nights
Fly out of Rome - 4 nights

Our flights are booked to AMS, and leaving from ROME, but we dont have any other reservations yet. So please let me know your inputs. Our goal was to include some country side, and probably even rent a car for a day or so, when in provence, so that we get to enjoy the country side in europe

kybourbon: You are right, even the seat61 website says the same, that nowadays pass is not as good as it used to be before, since reservations are needed on many long distance trains.

I guess what I wanted to know was, in paris, to get to the places I want to see, would I need to use the subway, and if yes, would the pass work on that as well?And same applies to Amsterdam etc?
Rs_travel is offline  
Mar 18th, 2011, 12:59 PM
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w in France and Italy you must have a seat reservation before boarding many trains and these cost extra above the pass - 3 euros a pop in France but 10 euros a ride in Italy so factor those in as well.<<<

Not exactly. The fees for required seat reservations can be much higher on some trains when using a pass>

well there are very few trains charging more than 10 euros - very very few and in cases like the Thalys where the first class supplement is much more expensive then you get a meal included with drinks, etc.

So to say that 'reservations can be much higher on some trains with a pass' is really misleading info since there are nearly none that I know of higher than 10 euros with the exception of the Thalys train (Paris to Brussels/Amsterdam/Cologne).

: You are right, even the seat61 website says the same, that nowadays pass is not as good as it used to be before, since reservations are needed on many long distance trains.>

Again you are talking usually of 3-10 euros and that for a few trains will not make or break a railpass - in your case if you compare first-class fares for your revised trip it may well make a Eurail Select Pass viable - especially if you get the extra day free if buy before end of March.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 18th, 2011, 07:45 PM
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>>>I guess what I wanted to know was, in paris, to get to the places I want to see, would I need to use the subway, and if yes, would the pass work on that as well?And same applies to Amsterdam etc?<<<

Yes, you would need to use the subway or buses in Paris. Passes are for trains (although a few random discounts are offered on some ferries,etc.) , not city buses/subways. Most cities have their own passes for transportation within the city or a museum/transport combo. Often it will include admission to a couple of sites. Rome has the Roma Pass (25€)which provides free admission to your first two sites, discounts after that at other sites and transport in Rome for three days(bus/tram/metro). It doesn't include Vatican City. Best value use of the pass for Rome is the Colosseum/Forum/Palantine (regularly 12€), the Capitoline or Borghese museums (Borghese require reservation by phone telling them you are using the pass). The Colosseum/Forum/Palantine count as one entrance and can be revisited during the three days the pass is valid.
http://www.romapass.it/p.aspx?l=en&tid=2

I had a transport pass last time I was in Amsterdam (Sept.)which covered the train to and from the airport and trams in Amsterdam. I really didn't look into other passes there since my time was very limited so I'm not up on the latest they have to offer.
http://www.gvb.nl/english/travellers...port-pass.aspx

For Amsterdam/Paris:
http://www.nshispeed.nl/en

Depending on day/time you select, you can find sale fares for Ams/Paris.
kybourbon is online now  
Mar 19th, 2011, 07:43 AM
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Passes in Amsterdam that cover trams are for the average traveler a waste of money IME - central Amsterdam is surprisingly compact and eminently walkable - you'd have to take a lot of trams to make passes pay off - just use the new Oyster Card device that you can get at the GVB office - public transports, opposite the front entrance of the Central Train Station - ask them what the best plan is for your plans.

A railpass would be valid for trains into Amsterdam from the airport but of course not on trams once there.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 21st, 2011, 11:22 AM
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kybourbon: You are right, even the seat61 website says the same, that nowadays pass is not as good as it used to be before, since reservations are needed on many long distance trains>

Again those fees are not that high as some would make out - 3 euros or so usually (but 10 euros in Italy) - passes are just as good (or bad) deals as they ever were and in many countries there are no supplements and you can just hop on any train anytime.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2011, 05:37 PM
  #11  
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Thanks PalenQ for your responses. I guess I'll just have to see how much I am planning to travel on these trains and then decide whether I need a pass or not.
Rs_travel is offline  
Mar 24th, 2011, 08:27 AM
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Rs - price is not to me the only thing to judge - in the many countries that allow folks with passes to hop on any train anytime - even if you show up seconds before departure with a pass - then that flexibility can be priceless to me at least - when you book an online discounted ticket it usually is train-specific and not changeable it seems so you must be at the station at a specific time - I enjoy just leisurely getting up and heading to the train station and hopping the next of the usually zillions of trains and to me this is priceless - but to folks who have an itinerary written in concrete and are taking just a few trains that may be the best way to go. But for example if I plan on a day trip from Rome to say Pompeii during my Rome stay I would rather wait until getting to Rome to decide what day I want to do that trip - weather factors, etc.

But unfortunately you will find on your routes this hop on at will trains only in the Netherlands and Belgium (except Thalys trains) and in France it can be hard to get a passholder fare on popular TGV routes (like those Paris-Avignon-Nice IME) but in Italy I can always make my reservation with a pass the day before and have never had any problems doing so - again with a first class pass it is always easier to make reservations as there are more seats available in that class as more go in 2nd class.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 24th, 2011, 10:22 AM
  #13  
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PalenQ - Agree with you on the convenience factor associated with the rail pass.

To me it looks like my itenary will for sure need the following train rides:
1. Amsterdam to Paris
2. Paris to Nice
3. Nice to Venice
4. Venice to Rome.

Now as I understand based on the responses I got, the rail pass will not work on trams in amsterdam, they wont work on the paris subway and probably wont work in Italy local trains either.

But I am sure I'll be doing some day trips from Nice to other south france regions. Also day trip from Rome would be nice to florence, pisa etc. The rail pass would be really good for these impromptu day trips..So I might go for the pass that they have for 6 days (not consecutive) and rest depend on the local passes and individual tickets..
Rs_travel is offline  
Mar 24th, 2011, 12:45 PM
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buy the 6 day pass before the end of March, at least in the U.s. and get the 7th day free - this is the current special for Eurail Select Passes of 6 days or longer - an extra day free and you can use the pass anytime - activate it for six months after issue.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 11:08 AM
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Hello!.

I am completely confused with the europe rail passes. After doing all the research and the price comparison on all the passes, we decided to buy the 6 day - select saver pass for three countries. (Me and my husband will be always travelling together - so buying saver pass made sense).

While buying the pass we selected three countries as Benelux(that is supposed to cover Amsterdam, Belgium etc), France and Italy. Now we are trying to book our reservation on the train from Amsterdam to Paris - and it says the reservation cost would be $186 for 2. Even the individual ticket without any pass is $186.

Am I doing something wrong? I would have expected the reservation fee to be just some $15-25, but it says the reservation fee is $186??

Can someone please help!. Let me know if you need more details..
Rs_travel is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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I don't know - this came up a few weeks ago and Man in Seat 61 said the 2nd class seat reservation fee should be $13 or so - but in first class the supplement is much much higher as it also includes a full meal with wine, etc. You may want to go 2nd class on this portion even though you have a first class pass. And even though you have bought your passes I would tell you to call Byron at www.budgeteuropetravel.com to definitatively determine what is the case with a railpass and Thalys. I have bought passes from him for years and am sure he will answer your questions even though you already have a pass. Alternatively contact the agent you bought your pass from and ask about 2nd class fee with a pass.

The Thalys is the only train I know of in Europe with such a ridiculous supplement for railpass holders!
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 11:35 AM
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Did you check specifically on the reservation fees on the Amsterdam to Paris. Information in the links provided by kybourbon indicate that the reservation fees for two people traveling this segment will cost $160. Fees from France to Italy can reach $20 per segment.

I am not a fan of rail passes. Had you purchased tickets in advance for travel from Amsterdam to Paris, they would have cost you as little as 35€ or less than $50.
Sarastro is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 11:55 AM
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Fees from France to Italy can reach $20 per segment.> I think this is simply not true and typical of the misinformation often applied to railpasses for whatever reason - and you can ride, according to Man in Seat 61 the Thalys Amsterdam to Paris for $13 in 2nd class - first class again has a large supplement that also covers a fairly fancy meal at your seat - still outrageous but to compare it to the 35 euro fare in 2nd class compare it to %
$13 not $80 - 35 euros is about $50 - so with a railpss for the same seat you would pay $13 according to Man in Seat 61 - comparing apples to oranges.

Nope it is just 3 euros for the Artesia Day Train I believe - the overnight train will charge extra for the sleeping accommodation as the railpass pays just for the train fare not sleeping berth.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 02:37 PM
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The Thalys has a monopoly on the Amsterdam-Paris route. I used it a few years ago for a noon train. I paid €20 supplement and €3 for the reservation fee in first class. The supplement covered the lunch with wine. It was not a bad deal considering the cost of lunch in Paris. It is a great train.

For an illustrated introduction to the trains of Europe I recommend that you see http://tinyurl.com/eym5b.

The rail passes do not work on city metro or tram systems. For Amsterdam you need an OV-chipkaart, http://tinyurl.com/krx2pr. For just a few days in Paris buy a carnet of 10 tickets. Here is a good explanation, http://tinyurl.com/5wts2ws.

Ditto PalenQ: call Byron at www.budgeteuropetravel.com. I buy my passes and get plenty of free advice from him.

For the Nice to Venice trip I think you have to change at Ventimiglia at the Italian border and again in Milano. The trains from Venezia Santa Lucia to Roma are on the high speed EuroStar Italia, reservation required. That train stops in Firenze so you might want to go V->F and F->R with different seat reservations. See the English version German Rail site http://tinyurl.com/c9jp54 for schedules. Use Italian spellings for the cities.
spaarne is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 10:16 AM
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Though Thalys does have a monopoly on direct Amsterdam to Paris trains there are two alternate routes not involving Thalys at all.

And here is what I did recently from Paris to avoid the Thalys and excessive supplements with my pass - I took a train from paris-Nord to CDG Airport TGV 2 station and changed to a TGV trains (3 euro seat reservation fee with pass only) to Brussels then an IC train (no reservations possible just hop on to Amsterdam - took two hours longer about but only cost 3 euros above the pass.

So if you want to save a lot of money with your pass consider this route - and the pass will also pay for the CDG Airport to Gare du Nord ticket (but not in reserve from Paris-Nord to the airport for some weird reason).
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