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Questions about traveling by train and foot in Spain, Italy, Germany

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Feb 23rd, 2013, 10:32 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Feb 2013
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Questions about traveling by train and foot in Spain, Italy, Germany

Hello,

I will arrive in Madrid Spain on May 1st. I have bought my plan ticket and am currently looking into train tickets/reservations. I have a very tight budget. I plan to be doing more "couchsurfing" than hostel hopping. (This is my first time backpacking/traveling Europe)

Here is my itinerary;
May (Spain)
1 - Madrid (Arrival into Europe)
till
7 - Madrid (train to Valencia) book w/ http://petrabax.com/renfe/ flexi pass about $90
8 - Valencia
till
13 - Valencia (walk to Vinaroz) 144 km = 30 hours
20 - Vinaroz (train to Barcelona) book w/ http://petrabax.com/renfe/ flexi about $50
21 - Barcelona
till
31 - Barcelona (departure from Spain to Venice) book w/ kayak - Veuling (***TO VENICE*****) about $150 for flight, baggage, and additional fees...

June (Italy)
1 - Venice (Arrival into Italy)
till
8 - Venice (train to La Spezia) book w/http://www.trenitalia.com/trenitalia.html about $50
9 - La Spezia
till
14 - La Spezia (walk to Florence) 185km = 38 hours
22 - Florence (train to Rome) book w/http://www.trenitalia.com/trenitalia.html about $50
23 - Rome
till
30 - Rome

July ( Italy/Germany)
1 - Rome
till
2 - Rome (flight to Munich) search w/ Kayak - book w/ (Air Berlin $150...ect) or (Veuling $180)
3 - Munich (Arrival into Germany)
till
9 - Munich (train to Dresden) book w/ DB BAHN about $100
10 - Dresden
11 - Dresden (walk to Berlin) 180km = 40 hours
till (walk)
19 - Berlin
till
27 - Berlin (Departure to America)


My questions are:

1. I want my trip to be spontaneous; I don't want to have to leave one place just to catch a train. I want to follow my itinerary but also have room to change it. From what I gather a Flexi Pass option train reservation gives you the option to change the dates, but certain fees might be added to change the fare. SO, Would it benefit me to buy the tickets on the date of departure at the stations, keeping in mind (according to my plans) I only need to travel by train twice in each country. Will making the reservation a month or two in advance save me money, along with a Flexi Pass option ticket, benefit me more?

2. I don't want to just spend time in the cities...i don't think i will have enough money to take buses out of city and then back again. So in order to see the country I was planning on walking through some towns. Once in Valencia, my plan was to walk for several days, sleeping at night where ever I can find a place that is secluded, stopping in towns along the way for supplies, food etc. then take a train to Barcelona in order to arrive before the 24th. In each country I set aside about a week or so to walk to a destination of departure to a city. I have no clue what sort of terrain I will encounter and if it is even legal just to find a tree somewhere outside of a town and sleep till morning.

Any and all info that you can give me would be great. I have never traveled before in Europe; I have been researching site after site trying to piece together my own trip, my equipment, lodging, as well as my activities in each place. Please give me your input. I appreciate it. Thanks!
Zachariah is offline  
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 02:06 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 30,507
I don't understand why you would book train tickets with Petrabax, a reseller, if you are wanting to save money. Resellers either mark up the tickets, charge a lousy exchange rate or gouge you on shipping.

>>>Flexi Pass option ticket<<<

Is this a Renfe offer? Not clue what a flexi pass option ticket is.

For Italy, often a bus can be as fast and cheaper. Did you particularly want to walk from La Spezia to Florence? Were you planning to visit Florence?

>>>8 - Venice (train to La Spezia) book w/http://www.trenitalia.com/trenitalia.html about $50<<<

I would break this into two legs and see if you can book advance tickets for the fast train leg cheaper. Part of this route is fast train (Venice/Florence or Venice/Milan) and part is likely slow R train (Florence or Milan to La Spezia). There are no discounts for the slow R trains (you must validate R tickets before boarding!), but you can often snag fast AV train tickets for as little as 9€ online if you know the date you need. Florence/Rome also. Do not buy R train tickets online in advance as they have more restrictions. Prices don't change on R trains. Walk up price is the same as online.
http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...008916f90aRCRD

>>>Rome (flight to Munich) search w/ Kayak <<

For flights in Europe, I would use either www.skyscanner.com or www.whichbudget.com to search. You can then book directly with the airline.

There are various discount tickets on Bahn.de.
http://www.bahn.de/i/view/USA/en/pri...onal-usa_LZ001
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 02:18 PM
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Posts: 30,507
FWIW - There are lots of campgrounds in Italy. Some have bungalows to rent and some offer tents. There is one outside of Florence, but there are several hostels in Florence also.

http://www.ecvacanze.it/en/camping/c...-michelangelo/

Venice hostel:
http://www.ostellosantafosca.it/oste...Home_Page.html
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 02:37 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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This website doesn't have as many budget travelers or backpackers as Lonely Planet. You might want to check their forums also.
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntre...spa?forumID=27

Reids Guides and Let's Go also cater to budget travelers.

You might find this walking trip from Pisa to Ravenna useful.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...to-ravenna.cfm
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 03:47 PM
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Just a thought about walking in Germany - I am a bit new to the concept, but if you are fit and used to walking, why not. But realise you can't walk on the autobahns. There is nowhere for the pedestrian, plus it would be incredibly dangerous (no, really, people are driving at really high speeds) and the police would haul you off, if you didn't get hit by a car. I don't know if that will muck up your timings or not, or if you have calculated timings using B roads (back roads). You may need to reassess based on this, and probably the Via Michelin website can help you with this. If you've already done your due diligence, congratulations on what sounds like an incredibly interesting trip!

Lavandula
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 05:05 PM
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Agree that you cannot walk along main highways in europe.
Besides the fact that it isn't safe the police will haul you in and determine if you have the resources to support yourself (and are not a vagrant.) If you intend to walk you definitely need to use back roads - and even then be sure of the conditions and that there is room for pedestrians.

If you are entering europe with camping gear be prepared to show your ongoing return ticket, tell them where you will be staying and prove that you have enough money to support your self for the length of your trip. You MUST have a place to stay at least for your first nigh - even if only a hostel.

Immigration has a very sharp eye out for young people who might potentially become a charge on the economy - and they can decline entry to anyone they feel has the potential to overstay their visa and/or not be able to support themselves. They may also ask you to prove that you have medical insurance - so their national health doesn;t have to care for you for free.

I know the idea of walking and going as you please sounds fun - but first you need to get past Immigration and into Schengen.
As for sleeping wherever yuo can find a place - that also can be a problem with the police - esp if you try to camp on private land without permission.
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 05:06 PM
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Oh and do be prepared for potentially chilly temps north of the Alps as well as substantial rain.
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 05:47 PM
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I didn't watch it but there's a documentary on youtube: Zu Fuss von Dreden nach Berlin (there are 8 parts).

It's in German and only a little about the hiking but it should show you a little about what you can expect.

There are a lot of hiking clubs, hiking trails and so on in Germany. Search for "Wandern" or "Wanderwege" plus city or region name. If you get into contact with one of them, they might be able to provide help.

Sleeping outside of camping areas is a bit of a grey area. As long as you don't put up a tent, don't stay long and don't leave a mess, it's improbable that something happens or at least the fines are low. Having a fire can really change the situation since people might fear that you cause real damage.

But the language barrier could be a real problem. Don't expect a lot of people, especially the older ones, to speak English in rural East German areas. Something that might end with a short explanation could become a problem if you can't communicate with them.

If you want a German online dictionary for searching the web, leo.org is very good.
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Feb 24th, 2013, 07:38 AM
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When you travel from Prague to Dresden, you go via the Elb Sandstone Mountains which straddle the German-Czech border. The Elbe has carved a valley in them and it's the train route between Dresden and Prague.

It's a really beautiful place and might be more interesting to hike than going from Dresden to Berlin.

There's also one more thing that might interest you. There's an initiative to revitalize pilgrims paths in the Polish-German border region. Some seem to include Dresden to Leipzig and Leipzig to Berlin. Thier web-page seems to be http://www.brandenburger-jakobswege.de/

They probably can help with maps and maybe cheap places to sleep.
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Feb 24th, 2013, 07:47 AM
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One more website for hiking:

http://www.wanderkompass.de/fernwanderwege.html

These are long distance hiking trails in Germany. They are often themed. One in the Elb Sandstone Mountains seems to be called Malerweg (painter's trail).
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 01:18 PM
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kybourbon, Thank you for the comments! What site do you think I should use to buy train tickets in Spain as opposed to Petrabax? What about trains from Spain into France?...nearer to the border on my way towards Italy?

Hans, Thank you as well! I will definitely look into those sites.

Mytraveler, Yes I plan to book a few nights at a hostel for the first days I arrive in Europe. I plan on checking my bag on the flight to Europe so hopefully, if i have a tent and things like that in a bag it might not be an issue for immigration. I've never been on a plane. If my bag is checked will the Schengen authorities still be inclined to search my belongings, looking for clues to of my possible vagabondism?
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 01:38 PM
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The rail site for Spain is renfe although it seems people have a few problems booking through them. Read this before attempting to book.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-...ts.Online.html

When DD was living in Spain, there were lots of cheap bus deals aimed at students.
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Mar 2nd, 2013, 01:48 PM
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Also in Spain if you are on a camino route (there are several) you might find that staying at one of their pilgrim hostals quite a good deal. You do not have to be a full camino hiker/walker but can do some of the areas in bits and pieces. You get a passport for around 2 to 5 Euros and get it stamped as you go. You only get certified if you finish the last 100Km into Santiago but other wise many people just do parts. I saw the hostal in Burgos and would stay there in a heart beat. Buses are super cheap for students and seniors and very convenient..Good luck and take care!!
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