Is an overnight train a fun experience?

Jul 20th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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We took an overnight from Paris to Genoa and thought it was fun. We had our own 1st class cabin, but no bathroom facilities. The dinner was good. It definitely wasn't luxury, but I remember it as a fun experience.
WanderingTexan is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 09:28 AM
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Oh... its a classic experience. But then I adore trains - do it in a New York minute.
SuzieC is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 09:48 AM
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Ok, but couchettes are not what we were talking about
PalQ , can a spaniard buy through Raileurope ? It seems sometimes that they have better offers !!
kenderina is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 09:50 AM
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I think people may be on to something about different countries! My positive experience was in Switzerland and France not Italy. Geneva to Venice twice and Venice to Paris once.
suze is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 09:52 AM
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We took the Artesia from Venice to Paris last spring in a T4. We considered flying, but decided to take the train for the experience - and it really was quite pleasant.

The cabin was larger than I expected - I thought it would be more like the experience TexasAggie had, but there was quite a bit of room for the 4 of us.

It wasn't like staying at a hotel, but I thought it was fun. If you're considering the Grand Class double (which sounds way more luxurious than the T4 we had), I would try it for sure.
chepar is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 10:01 AM
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Kendirina: not sure - visit for info; not sure they mail to Europe and have no paperless tickets i think.
PalQ is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 10:02 AM
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As long as you don't actually want to sleep, don't mind noise, constantly starting & stopping, obnoxious drunks trying to get into the wrong Coach (typically yours) then go for it. (This list has been severely edited due space limitations).
SAnParis is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 10:10 AM
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SAn Paris, I've never seen a drunk in a long distance train here in Spain..much more less on a Grand Clase coach.
Alcohol is too expensive in the trains to get drunk, I suppose. And the Grand Clase coaches are different for the rest, they are not mixed. One cannot join the coach without a ticket for it, there is train personnel to ask for it.
kenderina is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 12:10 PM
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HMD99- As you're figuring out by now, it's a love it or hate it kind of a thing. And people have a wide range or experiences from negative to positive.

Personally in your situation I would probably skip it since your boyfriend really doesn't want to do it anyway. It's fun but not THAT fun.

suze is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 12:31 PM
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I've seen drunks on trains...several times - one whole couchette car i had the misfortune to be in was largely a German youth group and they all got smashed - vomit was all over the WCs in the morning and lots of noise all night.
And in Spain in a couchette, a French guy came in who was so smelly that the conductor gave him his own compartment.
couchettes are a crap shoot - usually nice middle class folks but never know. Sleeping cars, however, like the Gran Clase will only have well-heeled folks - i wouldn't worry about drunks in that class. Gran Clase in Spain are amongst the finest sleeper trains in Europe - luxurious compared to those in Italy for example.
PS you don't have to buy alcohol on the train to get drunk as many folks bring their own on - always allowed.
PalQ is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 12:31 PM
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We did an overnight train last year from Cairo to Aswan, and return from Luxor to Cairo. We too booked a 1st class, private compartment with meals included (I don't remember if there was a dining car or not) but while we had a tiny fold out sink in the compartment the restrooms were down the hall and only 2 per car - with so many people using them they were disgusting! Ugh! Also, while the sheets seemed to be clean there was great doubt regarding the blankets and pillows. Also, it was hard to sleep because there are many slow downs and stops. The train compartments were also pretty dirty, grimmy, etc. We don't consider ourselves to be super particular with accomodations but we do require cleanliness. I'm sure the trains in Europe have better standards, but for what my opinion is worth, I'm with your boyfriend, next time we'll fly!

Suspaul is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 12:33 PM
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I overnighted in a pvt. compartment from Rome to Nice when I was 21; I thought it was an interesting adventure. Today I would fly.
grandmere is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 05:34 PM
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I only have experience with Amtrak here in the States, and even with a private compartment, I found it difficult to sleep because of the movement of the train. The IDEA of train travel is certainly romantic, but the reality is less so. My daughter and a friend took an overnight train last summer from Paris to Venice and did not get any sleep because it was so hot. Also, they did not get served dinner. It was the only anti-American experience they had on their whole backpacking trip. The waiter just would not come to the table to take their order and, being young college students who did not want to make a fuss, they decided to leave the dining car without eating.
I think train travel is an interesting experience, at least once in a lifetime, but I would not push your boyfriend into it if he is predisposed against it.
MaureenGP is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 05:38 PM
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We took 2 night trains (with only 1 hotel night in between...BIG mistake). Private compartments for 2, very very very tiny, very stuffy. It was October, but there was no air circulating unless you left the window open, which meant you got all the noise (and it actually got too cold in the middle of the night, but immediately too hot if you closed the window). Dad slept well, I didn't sleep at all. I'd vote for flying... yes, you spend more time in the airport, but no lost time the next day because you are exhausted.

AnneO is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 05:49 PM
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IMHO, it all depends on who is sharing the berth with you...
Brazilnut is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 06:19 PM
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I have stayed off this thread, because:

1. "historically", I have been "against" overnight train travel, but earier this spring, I took a 2nd class couchette from Biarritz-Paris, and found that it can have some merit, and it is certainly tolerable... and...

2. I hsve never trie the posh (high-priced... to me) private compartment option that the OP seeks - - and I am not inclned to ever try it...


I find it interesting that the most relevant advice seems to have been offered in the very first sentence of the very first reply.

HMD and boyfriend need to determine whose pre-determined attitude will trump the other's...
rex is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 07:49 PM
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I've only once done this, so my experience is limited, and it wasn't 1st class, but I'm not sure my issues wouldn't be relevant to any class.

It was hot. It was cramped. It was noisy - people getting on and off in the middle of the night and conductors randomly coming into cabins to check IDs. Passport controls (not sure that's still an issue - they used to come into your cabin every time you went into another country). I slept about 2 hours total. Hated that. It wasn't the least romantic.

Upon arrival I was about at the worst I ever am when traveling - sweaty, exhausted, feeling dirty, ready for a full day's nap - and I've been descrined by many as "indefatigable."

That train ride did me in.
StCirq is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 08:11 PM
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PalQ, you're right, you can buy alcohol outside the train I have been lucky then, I've never had a problem on the train and I travel on them quite frequently through Spain.
No night trains, though and also no trains that are known here to be really bad ones.
By the way, raileurope doesn't sell me tickets for Spain , I looked their web ..oh, well, Renfe prices are not that bad
kenderina is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 11:44 PM
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Hi I've just booked an overnight train (CityNightLine) from Amsterdam to Zurich, private compartment. We'll be travelling in September, and I hope the experience will be a good one. It was interesting readings everyone's perspectives on this. The reason we went ahead and booked an overnight is because we couldn't get any decent flights in that sector, and a day train doing that distance would have killed us.... (Not to mention all the changes involved)
sharon1306 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2005, 01:11 AM
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MaureenGP thinks the staff on the Paris-Venezia train were anti-American. On these trains, there is a dining car, and the stewards go through the train taking reservations for dinner which is generally served in two sittings at specified times; passengers in the sleeping cars get the first choice, and there may be no places left for couchette passengers. The dining car also has a bar which serves snacks, but they won't serve a meal outside the specified times. The staff actually work hard serving dinners and are then up early in the morning serving breakfasts. These trains often have passengers of many nationalities including Americans.
I'm also baffled by StCirq's idea that there are random ID checks on overnight trains. Each sleeping car or couchette carriage has an attendant who checks tickets and keeps them overnight. On some trains, the attendant also keeps passports overnight, so that passengers do not need to be woken at borders. That has certainly been the practice during the 25 years or more that I've been using overnight trains. If you venture into Eastern Europe, passengers are woken at borders for passport and customs controls. All this is quite irrelevant to an overnight journey within Spain where nobody will need to wake you during the night.
GeoffHamer is offline  

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