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Reserving Trains During the Off-Season

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Jun 29th, 2015, 03:14 PM
  #1
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Reserving Trains During the Off-Season

Hello,

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip this Oct/Nov. We'll be visiting 12 cities (listed below) and purchasing a Eurorail Global Pass to get around. We plan to avoid reservation-required trains, but know that we will inevitably need to make at least a few reservations.

Since it will be the off-season, will we need to make our reservations in advance, or can we just make a reservation for departing a city as soon as we get there (example: We get to Stockholm and immediately head to the ticket counter to make a reservation for the train from Stockholm to Amsterdam)?

Thanks!

Cities we're visiting: Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Geneva, Venice, Zagreb, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Copenhagen.
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Jun 29th, 2015, 03:28 PM
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Why are you planning to avoid these? Do you really think you are going to save THAT much money (vs the time it will take you to get wherever otherwise) by doing so?
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Jun 29th, 2015, 03:50 PM
  #3
 
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Well folks may well not want to reserve a certain train but decide later when they are there - IME of decades of travel with a Eurailpass I have rarely not been able to get any reservation I wanted once I got to a city - in any country - France however can present problems as they have a passholder maximum on some TGV trains - that is one you may want to book when buying your ticket - is it a first class pass or a youthpass - first class IME is almost never full - 2nd class can be - hard to tell but then the worst would be to have to pay an upgrade to first class - in first class I would not worry except French TGVs - great sources of info on this: www.budgeteuropetravel.com (Byron there who I've bought passes from for years IME will expertly answer any such questions objectively with no hard sell - again the French ones may be hard to make with a pass online so do so when you buy your railpass or wing it - if flexible you'll get on some train - other great info sites - www.seat61.com and www.ricksteves.com.

amsterdam to Paris also presents problems - the Thalys train is the only direct train Brussels to Paris and they impose a stiff surcharge on passholders of say $30 or perhaps go via Bruges, which many folks like much much more than Brussels - Bruges is indeed a romantic lovely city rare for northern Europe - then you can take a Belgian train to Lille and TGV that is not hard to reserve from there to Paris. But if taking Thalys it costs about as much as the cheapest discounted ticket on www.thalys.com and you will not burn a day on your pass.
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Jun 29th, 2015, 05:29 PM
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I agree that reservations are a very small concern at this point. What I find more concerning is the hours and hours and hours you are planning to spend on the trains over those 11 journeys. Have you calculated that time? Most of them will take up most of your day - all of it in some cases. I would certainly want to use trains for some of those trips - but I would absolutely want to fly some of them too. You need more boots-on-the-ground time.

I would also rethink some of those destinations. Some ought to be axed or replaced, IMO. Geneva - really? I like Croatia a lot, but Zagreb alone might not be worth the long journey. I like Brussels for a very brief stop, but some would say don't bother. Consider Salzburg, and the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland, as possible replacements.
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Jun 29th, 2015, 05:37 PM
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Just as a matter of curiosity how many weeks do you have for this trip? With 12 cities, many a fair distance apart - you will need at least 5 weeks or so to have time to see anything.
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Jun 30th, 2015, 08:53 AM
  #6
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Thanks for the replies, very helpful!

@Dukey1, as @PalenQ said, avoiding the reservation-only trains is more about the flexibility than the money. Knowing that I can book the train just a few days in advance makes that sort of a moot point, though, which is great.

@nytraveler, we are actually going for exactly 5 weeks. Good to know that our thinking on the timeline was in line with someone else's.
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Jun 30th, 2015, 09:40 AM
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You do realise how long it takes by train from Stockholm to Amsterdam? Personally with a limited time like you have I would look into cheap airfares between the two.
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Jun 30th, 2015, 11:12 AM
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From Stockholm go to Copenhagen, then to Berlin and then can take an overnight train connection to Amsterdam if you want to go by rail. But some cheap flights may be warranted if you want to go straight thru Stockholm to Amsterdam - www.whichbudget.com and www.skyscanner.net are two sites keying folks into discounted airlines between any two cities.

And from Copnhagen or actually nearby Trelleborg in Sweden you can take a boat-night train to Berlin. Night trains save travel time even over flying and save money on a hotel or hostel and if you get a private comprtment can also be romantic (my friend claims his first kid was conceived on a night train to Venice!)
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Jun 30th, 2015, 05:08 PM
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Before you buy that pass, do take a look at budget flights. There are many budget airlines in Europe that don't ding you on one way flights like US airlines do.

Also look at booking discount train tickets on each country's train website although you don't really seem to be traveling within countries.

>>>I would also rethink some of those destinations. Some ought to be axed or replaced, IMO. Geneva - really?<<<

I agree. I assume you have reasons for the cities you selected, but it does seem to be all cities and no countryside. I would look at flying into somewhere north and flying home from somewhere in the south for weather reasons. Venice is the furthest south though and it starts to get rainy in Nov.
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Jul 1st, 2015, 12:46 PM
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Also look at booking discount train tickets on each country's train website although you don't really seem to be traveling within countries.>

Yes international trains can be iffy at times especially is a change of trains is required - meaning two separate discounted tickets and if you can't get a discount ticket - sold in limited numbers so mucst be booked in stone weeks ahead of time - often non-changeable non-refundable - then it you can't get discounts on a couple of legs - wow full fare is really high often - strongly consider the pass but yes mix in a cheap flight or two if you itinerary has two places too far apart. Yet overnight trains usually link many cities far apart and again you save time even over flying and the cost of a hotel.

The beauty of a pass is that in most of your countries you have full flexibility to hop any train anytime and if a first class pass that is a definite perk - so when comparing discounted second-class tickets to a first class pass keep that in mind - IME of decades of European rail travel I adamantly believe that for folks on the trip of a lifetime with oft too much luggage first class is a much much more relaxed ride and usualy IME you can just bop onto the train and find lots of empty seats - in 2nd class that is not nearly always true.

and yes Switzerland's beauty is in the Alps not Geneva, nice a town as that may be but one that leaves many underwhelmed - head for the Interlaken-Jungfrau Region for the Switzerland of your dreams - base in say Grindelwald and be eyeball to eyeball with glacier-girdled peaks soaring thousands of feet above lush meadows - toylike mountain trains and thrilling aerial gondolas go off in all directions - hiking trails exude for all abilities and types of shoes, etc.

You'll flove the Jungfrua Region - kind of romantic for couples - sitting on your hotel balcony and get intoxicated on the awesome views.
https://www.google.com/search?q=jung...=1600&bih=1075
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