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Searching for innovative travel and train tips and/or opinions if we are trying to do too much

Searching for innovative travel and train tips and/or opinions if we are trying to do too much

Jan 21st, 2000, 07:11 PM
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Searching for innovative travel and train tips and/or opinions if we are trying to do too much

We are a married couple in our early 30's planning our long-awaited dream vacation to Europe. While I went to England and did some travelling in Europe back in college, this is my wife's first time. We plan to be in Europe for 16-18 days in late Sept/early Oct of 2000. Our top priority is England/Scotland--about 8 days. In the remaining 10 days we want to see Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, and Berlin. Is this too aggressive given the time constraint? Our plan would be to sleep on trains (couchettes/sleeping compartments) between cities. Does anyone know if there is an overnight train that goes direct from Paris to Rome and from Rome to Berlin? How many train hours is it between these cities? How frequently to these evening trains run? Because we may not be back to Europe for many years, we (especially my wife) want to get a small flavor of many places rather than focusing on one or two. We very much appreciate any input and advice!

Dan and Kim
Jan 21st, 2000, 08:17 PM
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Dan, if you are absolutely set on going that far that fast, my only suggestion would be to exchange Rome for Venice. Rome is fabulous, but Venice closer, completely unique and would be a wonderful change of pace from the other, larger cities you are planning. You may get "museum'd out" and Venice would be a relaxing finish to your trip. Just remember to "get lost" - far from the tourist crowds.
Jan 22nd, 2000, 05:22 AM
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There's a daily direct night train from Paris to Rome. Trip takes about 14:30 hours. From Rome to Berlin, there's a daily direct night train from Rome to Munich. There you switch to a direct train to Berlin. Total travelling time should read about 19 hours. You could also take a direct day train from Rome to Munich and then switch to a direct night train to Berlin, but this would add some 3 hours to the previous alternative.
The daily direct Paris-Venice night train takes about 12:30 hours. From Venice you may take a direct night train to Munich and switch. Total time should read 16:30 hours.

Jan 22nd, 2000, 05:33 AM
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Because of your extensive itinerary and your limited time allowance, you might want to consider flying between these major cities. Check out www.europebyair.com, where you can buy one-way flight passes for $99 each (minimum of three). This may be your best option, at least for saving time.
Jan 22nd, 2000, 06:41 AM
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Take it from an old hand, your itinerary is an exact prescription for total exhaustion. The more you travel, the less you experience -- that sounds cynical, I know, but it is true. Why not cut your destinations in half, limit yourselves to experiencing a few places in depth, and see if European travel is really for you. So often we have talked with first-time travelers such as yourselves and found that they wished they had slowed down, allowed time to soak in the local cultures, and forgot to rest. I salute your ambitious schedule, but I fear that you will overextend yourselves into a frantic pace that allows too little time in each spot.
Jan 22nd, 2000, 07:07 AM
Brian in Atlanta
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I think like Al. I hate the stress that packing and repacking and travel can cause.

But you've been clear that you want to see a lot, so I would defintely look into flying between these cities.

While it will likely cost more than the train, it may be comparable (train tickets aren't cheap either - and don't forget the couchette supplement). And just think of all the extra time you'll have in those wonderful cities! 14 and half hours on a train from Paris to Rome? Ouch. I imagine that's about a 2 hour flight.
Jan 22nd, 2000, 09:18 AM
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Another vote for flying. Several air carriers have a deal where you can add 3 legs (continental) on to your international ticket for something like $100. You might want to check into the details with the various airlines.
Jan 22nd, 2000, 10:03 AM
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Like the others I admire your desire to "see it all" but in all honesty you will probably be so tired out you won't enjoy what you are seeing, espiecally toward the end of the trip. Slow down and enjoy yourselves. Sure, you are young and have plenty of stamina but having time to take a walk down a street that looks interesting, see something that was not on your "list", linger over a meal, (or even stay in bed an extra hour one morning) or enjoy an extra cup of coffee at a sidewalk cafe, or have a conversation with someone who lives where you are visiting .. these are things that can be cherished memories later on. Your schedule, while ambitious might conjure up memories later on of "why did we do that", "do you remember what we saw that 1/2 day we were in ______.", etc. We've traveled to Europe many times and our best memories are spur of the moment things, things that were totally unplanned but that we had time for because we had no grueling schedule. I'd rather see a city or two less and "see" what I am seeing then try and do everything. I would not recommend train travel either with your schedule and sleeping (couchettes/compartments) are not cheap either. If you must do this schedule fly. With 16 days I'd cut it down to 3 cities.

Another thing to remember is the constant packing and unpacking you are in for, basically a different place every day or two. Take it from me, like Al, an old hand at traveling, this is not fun for most people! No matter how light you travel it gets old real fast.
Also please consider the weather, while it should be decent that time of year rain is a factor and can limit sightseeing possibilities at times.

Please don't think we are all a bunch of kill-joys, I don't think we are, but we are all pretty experienced and have seen what how a hectic schedule can turn a dream vacation into a nightmare vacation.
Jan 22nd, 2000, 12:07 PM
Ben Haines
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Dear Mr Cashman,

I used to do your sort of thing in my early thirties, and have long and happy memories of short and happy visits. I was 30 when I took trains from London to Pakistan, except for an oil tanker, a plane, and a bus from Meshed to Peshawar via Herat and Kabul. The main change in the thirtythree years since then is that unhappily air fares now often undercut rail fares. Not full air fares, of course, but any offer you can get of trips at 99 or 100 dollars each, or no-frills flights, or both. For no-frills flights between London and Edinburgh I'm sure that Go have flights, and think that Easyjet and Buzz do too. And between London Luton and Amsterdam Schipol Easyjet have flights three times a day for 30 pounds (46 US dollars). You'll find detail thus

Buzz www.buzzaway.com ++44 870 240 7070
Easyjet www.easyjet.com ++44 870 6 000 000
Go www.go-fly.com ++44 845 605 4321.

In fact you may not need to fly between London and Scotland, since for Glasgow and Edinburgh there are Apex return tickets at 90 pounds return, berths included, in 2-berth, standard class, compartments (sleepers, not couchettes). ++44 8457 55 00 33 is the phone number for credit card booking, which you'd need to make early, from the States, in British office hours.

On the other hand, London to Paris as a night trip rail, boat, rail lands you in Paris exhausted, and there's no overnight London to Amsterdam service by rail or by rail and sea. So I'm sure you should fly from London to Amsterdam by Easyjet, either in connection with a flight down from Scotland or by itself:. I suggest that your first stop on the continent be Amsterdam, since Paris to Rome at 15 hours is a shorter night train run than Amsterdam to Rome at 17 hours.

Next the night train from Amsterdam Central at 2224 to Paris Nord at 0629.

Then the Palatino Express, as Paulo says, Paris Gare de Lyon 1933 to Rome termini at 1005.

And finally Rome to Berlin. Rome 2115, Munich main station 0831. Then either go straight on, Munich main station 0843, Berlin Zoo 1631, or enjoy a day in Munich and go overnight: Munich Ost board any time from 2030, leave at 2228, Munich main station 2306, Berlin Zoo 0757.

You can avoid the long transit from Rome to Berlin if you zig-zag: Amsterdam, Rome, Paris, Berlin, a set of overnight trips. This is worth the cost only if you're on some kind of railpass that counts nights and not distances. The range of these is laid out in http://www.railpass.com.

I used to sleep well in couchettes, but have now graduated to sleepers, where these days I sleep better. The supplement is 18 US dollars for a couchette and about 45 for a sleeper.

You'll find all the main trains of Europe in the Thomas Cook European Timetable, which may be in the reference library of a city near you.

Back from Berlin you may choose the night train to Ostend and then by catamaran and rail: Ostend 1145, Dover 1245 to 1321, London 1506. Or you may choose another no-frills flight, Buzz or Virgin Express, www.virgin-express.com, ++44 800 891 199

Naturally, you can turn all this around: England, Scotland, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, London, or zigzag England, Scotland, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, Paris, London. In the very last of these selections I'd suggest Paris Nord at 0958 by TGV at thirty pounds rail fare, taxi across Calais from train arrival at 1140 to boat departure at 1230, twenty pounds for the boat fare, a fine French lunch (it's a SeaFrance boat, not a Stena Sealink), Dover at 1300, and the hourly bus at ten pounds from Dover Port to London Victoria in 2 hours 20 minutes. More expensive than the Buzz plane, but pleasanter.

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

Ben Haines, London

Jan 22nd, 2000, 12:41 PM
dan woodlief
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I am sure you can do it, but the cities you have chosen are so spread out and all have so much to see and do that I would recommend doing a bit less. I think you will want a minimum of 3 days in Paris unless you have spent a ton of time there in the past (even then your wife might), and Rome should also get at least three days. Unless you can narrow it down more to which cities you want to see most, I would advise a more compact area. How about England/Scotland, 2 days in Amsterdam, 2 days in northern France (eg., Normandy), and then 6 days in Paris with daytrips. Or 2 days in Amsterdam, 4 days in Paris, fly to Rome and spend 3-4 days (or Venice), and fly out from Italy. Another option: England/Scotland, 4 days in Paris, 3 days in Swiss Alps (a good change and truly breathtaking scenery), and 2-3 days in Venice or elsewhere in northern Italy.

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