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Need some help understanding European East Pass and Rail Europe itinerary

Need some help understanding European East Pass and Rail Europe itinerary

Feb 4th, 2015, 11:27 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 226
Need some help understanding European East Pass and Rail Europe itinerary

We are planning to get a European East pass for a short jaunt through Vienna, Prague, Bratislava and Budapest and Salzburg. Quick, we know, but it's how the plans fell and we're okay with it...

The part we are trying to figure out is how/if getting a European East Pass is beneficial.

We went on Rail Europe to look up possible train schedules to map out our route. Here is what we found:
Day 1 - arrive Vienna early AM
Day 2 - leave Vienna 1307, arrive Prague 1718
Day 3 - Prague
Day 4 - leave Prague 0742, arrive Bratislava 1150, leave Bratislava 1753, arrive Budapest 2035
Day 5 - Budapest
Day 6 - leave Budapest 1110, arrive Salzburg 1652 ***Rail Europe would not find this reservation for me, we found it on the OBB website***
Day 7 - leave Salzburg 1508, arrive Vienna 1730
Day 8 - leave Vienna AM

1) Would ALL these routes be covered by the European East pass?
2) Why was the Budapest to Salzburg direct train not searchable on RailEurope?
3) In searching routes on RailEurope, it asked if we have any passes and we said yes. Then it proceeds to still list fares for each route, even though we said we have a pass. Will we, in fact, still be charged for all these routes even with a European East Pass?
4) Are will missing something in our search - would we do better with point-to-point tickets, or would the pass still benefit us?
5) On RailEurope, it says that the tickets in/out of Bratislava are "Reservation Required" rather than "Reservation Recommended." Is this true in all cases (or just through Rail Europe), and something we'd need to plan for? Why specifically with Bratislava?

Many thanks again, Fodorites.
itspat is offline  
Feb 4th, 2015, 11:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 77,663
Yes they are all covered (though Austria has a competing Westbahn trains that are not - but you need not use them

RailEurope sucks for schedules - lists trains Budapest to Vienna and Vienna to Salzburg because there probably ain't any direct trains or very few. There are hourly trains on both segments.

You should not be charged any extra for trains on that route - that is for normal 1st or 2nd class seats - some RailJets have special luxurious seats that may charge extra but there is no reason for you to do those - lots of regular seats the pass covers.

Not sure if trains out of Brtislava are reservations required - I just went from Vienna and back (a nice one-hour train ride so can be a day trip - all that Bratislava IMO needs) and I just hopped on the trains.

Now for accurate schedules - go to www.bahn.de/en - the German Railways web site that has schedules for all European trains - if reservations are indeed required they will say that.

For fares you'll have to go into the national railway sites for each country - but with that many trips the 5-day European East Pass should be a good deal - especially if you just want to hop any train anytime - discounted tickets often have restricitons - are train specific and sold in limited numbers so must be booked in stone weeks in advance to get.

For lots of great info on European trains check out these IMO superb sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com (call Byron there with any questions like the above - even if not buying IMO he'll patiently and expertly answer them - I've bought passes from his agency, a REurope agency for years; www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets.

again check the Bratislava reservation question with bahn.de/en and see the real story. I did a quick check on my Thomas Cook Rail Guide and could find no trains out of Bratislava that require any reservations.

reservations are optional on all your trains I believe and in 2nd class you may want to make them for a few euros as you go along - in 1st class you'll always find a lot of empty seats IME - there is definite benefits to first class and the pass price in that class is not that much more than 2nd class.
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 4th, 2015, 12:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 226
Many, many thanks, PalenQ! I think I did take your advice once and call Byron for the SwissPass, and I agree - great service and information! We have also been happy with most of Rick Steves' guidance and often look there, too.

Do you know if the European East pass covers travel within the countries (for example, getting around Vienna, Budapest, etc. via metro, bus, etc.) - similar to how the SwissPass covers more than just the trains? I couldn't find any definite information that states one way or the other.

Thanks again.
itspat is offline  
Feb 4th, 2015, 12:56 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 226
Sorry - I think I just figured the answer to the above question is NO, unless you know otherwise. So I'm assuming we'd be looking at a 1-day city transport card of some sort for each place.
itspat is offline  
Feb 4th, 2015, 10:41 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,676
Vienna to Prague starts at just 19 euros ($25?) 2nd class or 29 euros in 1st class if you book direct with Austrian Railways at www.oebb.at

Prague to Bratislava from around 19 euros from Czech Railways www.cd.cz/eshop

Buy Bratislava to Budapest at the station.

Buy Budapest to Salzburg at www.mav-start.hu but as it won't offer cheap fares on day trains on this route the trick is to book Budapest to Munich from 39 euros and simply get off in Salzburg.

Rail Europe is a French Railways subsidiary and uses the French Railways ticketing system, and simply can't access these cheap advance-purchase fares offered by the Austrian, Czech, Hungarian Railways. It's like buying your airline tickets from an agency who can only sell the megabucks full-flex at-the-airport-on-the-day fare!
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2015, 04:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 77,663
for our trip outlined lining up all those discounted 'from' tickets Man in Seat 61 hypes is both time-consuming, navigating several different web sites and then having often restrictions on changing or refunding and as some of those or most I don't know are sold in limited numbers on each train you have to book in stone weeks ahead of time.

and then the overall cost of those discounted tickets may not be much less than the pass which gives you the ability to hop any train anytime. Priceless to me and not much moree than the potpourri of discounted tickets.

And IME on trains for decades makes me exhort the much more relaxed ride in first class - 2nd class is adequate but if just hopping trains in first class you will IME always find lots of empty seats - not always so in 2nd class.

Cheapest is not always the best and Man in Seat 61 on Fodor's once admitted that he was 'an aficionado of first class travel himself!
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 5th, 2015, 06:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 226
Thanks to you both! Helpful insight. We are now just toying a bit with the schedules, as I think we'd like to spend at least one day leaving earlier and having more time in the city itself rather than on the train during most of the day.

Man_in_seat-61, I have to admit I feel a bit "starstruck" to have received a personal reply from you, as we were happy to come across your website and have learned a lot from it!

PalenQ, thanks again. We are leaning toward the pass for ease/convenience sake, given that our time is ridiculously short. We are just trying to decide how much time is actually needed for the pass crossing country borders, and how many days we'll need to plan for city transport. And then there is the 1st class/2nd class debate. We got 1st class on the BritRail and 2nd class on SwissPass, and I think we were okay with 2nd class overall, although I'm not sure if it'd be different for the countries we're planning to visit - any ideas? Are the food or views amazing/drastically different?

Also, do you know if the pass covers transport between Vienna city center and the airport?

Thanks again!
itspat is offline  
Feb 5th, 2015, 06:45 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 226
Sorry, that last question should have been - should we use a day of the pass getting to/from airport, or does the regular city transport cover this adequately? We'd like to stay near Stephansplatz or somewhere scenic and nice along the Danube, we are willing to use whatever bus/metro transport is needed to get there.
itspat is offline  
Feb 5th, 2015, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 77,663
Yes therer is an airport train in Vienna but not worth it to spend a day on the pass - just a few euros.
PalenQ is online now  

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