Need advise on getting around in Europe

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Apr 25th, 2000, 07:38 AM
  #1
Lily
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Need advise on getting around in Europe

We are planning a trip with my in-laws next summer. We would like to visit Germany, France (Paris) and Spain (Barcelona). I will be using my USAir miles for the tickets so we have to fly into either Paris or Frankfurt or Munich but I really want to see Barcelona. Any suggestions on trains, rental cars, or flights (cheap) to get around? Any suggestions or scenarios are greatly appreciated.
 
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Apr 25th, 2000, 07:58 AM
  #2
Rex
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Lily,

I hear that USAir free seats to europe are very hard to get. Wouldn't hurt to try to snag them at the earliest date they open them up (13 months? 11 months?)

For travel within Europe, there are several plans you might consider. If you like to drive (and have more than 10-12 days minimum), you could do this as a backwards "S", arriving in Paris, heading east into Germany, (enter at or north of Strasbourg), returning through Basel or Geneva headed south to Barcelona. It might be worth your while (could save you almost a whole day of driving) to consider dropping te car off at Montpellier, as there are often cheap flights from there to Paris. You could also consider picking up a French car at the border as you leave France (for example, take the train to Strasbourg) in stead of renting it from Paris in the first place.

If you'd rather not drive, or not so much, then consider taking the train to Brussels, do a loop into Germany from there, and fly to Barcelona - - www.virgin-express.com - - again, very cheap - - and then train back to France (either all the way, or just to Perpignan, rent a car from there, with or without dropping in the south).

Lots of ways to skin this cat.

Best wishes,

Rex
 
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Apr 25th, 2000, 11:29 AM
  #3
Ben Haines
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Fodors Need advise on getting around in Europe

Poor little pussy: I've another way. It is Rex's useful S-bend, turned into train travel. The main point I offer is that the Pau Casals hotel train, with restaurant car and sleeper cabins of various sizes, some with en suite showers, leaves Zurich nightly in summer at 1953 and reaches Barcelona at 0901. I'm afraid I don't know the fare, it might be 250 US dollars a person.

That being so, you can start and end in Paris, on the lines of Charles de Gaulle to Brussels Midi, change, Thalys train to Cologne, and then around Germany. Or if you start with days in Paris then you can take a sleeper: board at Paris Est about 2200, leave 2227 or 2258, reach Frankfurt am Main 0702 (or it's a longer night if you go to Berlin or Munich from Paris). About lunchtime on your last day in Germany you can take a connecting restaurant car train to Zurich from the Rhineland, Nuremberg or Munich, direct or with a change on the way.

Then Barcelona to Paris offers another hotel train: Barcelona 2005, Paris 0814.

The site http://www.railpass.com tells you of agents who can sell you the relevant railway pass. You'll need to be sure that the pass covers hotel trains.

Please write if I can help further. Welcome to Europe.

Ben Haines, London


A
 
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Apr 25th, 2000, 11:45 AM
  #4
Beth Y
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I have no specific comments on what looks like great comments above. Only have general thoughts. I traveled with my older in-laws in France last summer. We did train and car. If your in-laws are spry, the above comments are all you need to hear. If not, think about the comfort factor. One of our train rides was he** for my in-laws cause the seats were so close together they could not sit comfortably. Then the other train ride was comfortable. We had more time and were able to book a better class on the return trip. They are good cause they can get up and stretch their legs, sleep, eat, pee, whatever. Plus, you can go to the bar car too to get some space. On the other hand, a car was easier for them to deal with. Waiting for trains, walking down platforms, etc. was stressful for my in-laws. Whereas, we were in control of the car. Again, we rented a minivan to make sure there was plenty of legroom, etc. Just some thoughts.
 
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