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Train and Car question Germany-CR-Poland-Austria

Train and Car question Germany-CR-Poland-Austria

Old Oct 6th, 2009, 07:23 PM
  #1  
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Train and Car question Germany-CR-Poland-Austria

There will be four of us traveling Berlin-Dresden-Prague-Warsaw-Krakow-Vienna-Salzburg-Munich in May, 2010. This is a three week trip. Our option is to do the whole trip by train, We also are considering renting a car in Vienna and drop off in Munich, stopping at Danube valley, lake district and other places along the way, can anyone comment on the traffic, signage, parking the overall negatives of driving a car in that region. Railsaver recomands the European East 5 Day 2nd Class Adult FlexiPass ($299.00 per person) from Dresden to Vienna, point to point Berlin-Dresden and Salzburg-Munich.

Our other questions:

We are stopping in Dresden for a few hours, can we buy point to point ticket (Berlin to Prague) with a stop in Dresden?

We plan to take the night train from Prague-Warsaw and Krakow-Vienna, can we use train pass for that and pay extra for upgrade to cabins?

Can any one comment on the merits of this rail pass versus point to point ticket in term of costs and flexibility.

Dauer-Spezial, we will be in Berlin for four days, should we look into that for our Berlin-Dreden and Salzburg-Munich.

thankyou very much for your help.
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Old Oct 6th, 2009, 07:41 PM
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HI
Having recently completed a Berlin-Wroclaw-Walbrzych-Berlin
trip all I can tell you is that your plan may be just a bit too busy.Berlin station is very cool.You can get all your info
from the DB info desk or at bahn.de
As for the Polish part of your jurney it helps to have tix in advance.You may not find a english speaker.Its very hectic at the Warsaw stations and totally confusing Krakow station.
Past experience and I do speak some Polish.Night train are fine if you have your reservations in first class.
I know somebody will slam me for this but I think that first class is the key to long travels .
If you have any qustions about Berlin my memory is still fresh .
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Old Oct 6th, 2009, 08:25 PM
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Thankyou Captbuzz,
Are you suggesting that we buy our Warsaw-Krakow-Vienna tickets in Berlin, we are hoping to be in sleeping-cars with 2 berths on night trains, is there first and second for sleeping-cars too?
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 01:08 AM
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Sleeping cars are neither first nor second class. The commonest type of compartment is the T3 which can be configured to have one, two or three berths. The single-berth option is obviously the most expensive. With a rail pass, you just have to pay the sleeper supplement.
People often confuse sleepers with couchettes which are simpler bunks, in six- (or sometimes four-) berth compartments, shared with people of both sexes.
You can make reservations at travel agencies. I can remember doing this once in the centre of Krakow.
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 08:14 AM
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ira
 
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Hi S,

>considering renting a car in Vienna and drop off in Munich.<

There is usually a high fee for dropping off in another country.

>...can we buy point to point ticket (Berlin to Prague) with a stop in Dresden?<
Buy a ticket Berlin to Dresden and another Dresden to Prague. Price is about the same and you can stay in Dresden for as long as you wish.

>...comment on the merits of this rail pass versus point to point ticket....<
You have to check the prices at the various rail websites (www.bahn.de for Germany) and see which costs less. Some high-speed trains require reservations. You will have to pay extra for them if you use a railpass.

Enjoy your visit.

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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 08:22 AM
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5 days of train travel for $60/day or about 40 euros - i think you probably could do it a bit cheaper by buying local tickets but not that much perhaps to justify the perhaps long waits in line that i have seen at ticket windows in Eastern Europe - and even in Germany where lines the past few years have been horrendous - and then to be confronted perhaps by a a language barrier - in any case RailSaver compares ticket prices vs pass using prices they (ACP Rail; Quebec) sells them for and not the real fare in Europe - if RailSaver tells you you do not need a pass then you know for sure you do not need a pass but not always the other way around as they are often comparing apples and oranges. But i like a pass more for the convenience of just hopping any train anytime in most of these countries - and in Germany and Austria such fully flexible fares can be sky high and pay for the pass in a few trips. Or you can go the online route like at www.bahn.de - the German Railways web portal you can get great discounts but them lock yourself into non-changeable non-refundable trains - fine if you do not like flexibility, etc. For tons of info on trains in these countries and passes i always point out: www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com - all great resources for planning your trip.
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 03:28 PM
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Thanks ira, good point about drop charges, will check that.

Plaenque, good call on Railsaver's comparison, didn't know that, i have gone into all three of the wedsites for train info which there is lots except night train, still nothing like info straight from Fodorites of this board.
To avoid long lines at train station, would it work if we go online for tickets a day or two before our departure at each city.
Thankyou both.
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Old Oct 7th, 2009, 03:43 PM
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We favor road trips unless we're staying in just one or at most 2 cities. It works for a couple who like to drive, want a relaxed trip in which we control timing and provides the serendipity of stopping anytime you see something cute/interesting.

Your trip is much busier than we usually do so you don;t have much time for serendipity - or the countryside between so many cities in so few days.

Separately, 4 people with luggage will require a fairly sizable car - and the one-way drop off charges tend to be higher on larger cars.

For your trip I would probably do train - but would also cut back some on the itinerary.

Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Munich IMHO each require 3 full days at a minimum )that would be 4 night each - so the bulk of your trip. In 3 weeks I would try to keep to 4 or 5 cities with day trips into the countryside.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 07:56 AM
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Thanks nytraveler, we tend to add more cities than we should, we might take Warsaw/Prague out to give other places more time.
Can anyone out there share their first hand night train experience with us??
Thanks.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 11:50 AM
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Can anyone out there share their first hand night train experience with us??
Thanks.>

Well i have taken probably at least 300 overnight trains if not more - and to generalize i would say whether a person enjoys or tolerates well any overnight train depends on how well you sleep - esp in Eastern Europe there is always a sometimes bothersome clickety-klack of iron train wheels going over tracks - and it depends on what type of accommodations you book - such as Geoff has outlined above.

Couchettes can be a crapshoot as you are in with strangers - perhaps loud snorers or inconsiderate folks who make noisy, etc. and there is always folks going out to the loo, etc. at all times of night. If you have never taken an overnight train then i would admonish you to pay more for a private double - actually two doubles as few trains seem to have private quads (though they might) - and this will minimize any obnoxious noises, etc except those from your traveling companion, which you probably already know about. If you have a railpass - and i would not dismiss the Eastern European pass out of hand for your previewd travels - then you must pay extra for the sleeping accommodations - the pass will pay for the train fare but not sleeping accommodations - a double could run $50 or more p.p. above the train fare - but still often cheaper than the average hotel fare.

Any specific questions i can try to answer on overnight trains - or others like Geoff, who has shown to be extremely knowledgeable about European trains in his many previous posts - and others as well.
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 12:50 PM
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hi samuell,

I agree that even in 3 weeks, your trip might be a bit busy. to give each place its full dues, you might divide it up like this:

Berlin- 4 nights
Dresden- 2 nights
Prague- 4 nights
Warsaw- 2 nights
Krakow-3 nights
Vienna- 4 nights
Salzburg-2 nights
Munich 3 nights

which is 3 nights too many. it's also a hell of a lot of cities and not a lot in between.

your idea of driving between Vienna and Salzburg is IMHO a very good one and gives you the opportunity to give yorselvse some down-time in the midst of all this culture.

so this is what I might do:
Berlin- 4 nights
Dresden- 2 nights
Prague- 4 nights
Vienna- 3 nights

pick up car, drive down the donau [wachau valley is the famous road] to salzkammergut, stay at St. Wolfgang [or similar for 4 nights] use car and boats to tour area,

drive to Salzburg and return car,
Salzburg- 1 night
Munich 3 nights.


Sorry that you lose Poland this way, but you can't see and do everything in one trip, and they are somewhat out of your way.

have a great trip,

regards, ann
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 04:01 PM
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Palenque - we did Budapest/Prague on night train once and had no problem sleeping, we were waken up twice by border control, wouldn't mind doing it again.

can we buy these night train tickets as we go, or must be reserve ahead? We bought our ticket last time at Budapest train station when we arrived.

Ann - we have been to Prague (4 nights)and Vienna (3 nights)three years ago, we dropped Krakow last time, (too many cities), Dresden is on our way to Prague, shall we lose Prague and Vienna?? If we do, there is no night train from Dresden to Warsaw/Krakow.
Thank you so much.
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Old Oct 9th, 2009, 12:53 AM
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ok - I need a map to think about this- back later!
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Old Oct 9th, 2009, 06:41 AM
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sam - i always arrange my overnight trains as i go - when i get to a country i make my night train bookings at the first train station - but often you can only do this from inside the country IME - rarely have any problems - and if booking doubles these IME are more readily available than couchettes - i would say always available IME.
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Old Oct 9th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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sam - usually the conductor will, on an international overnight train ride, take your train ticket (or railpass) and passport and keep it and return them to you shortly before arrival - this means you are usually not awaken during the night for Customs controls as the conductor shows the documents to the Customs officials, who then rarely investigate further IME

But in Eastern Europe yes sometimes you are indeed awoken by a loud rap on the door at the worst of hours.
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Old Oct 9th, 2009, 08:52 AM
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Ann - how about if we day trip Dresden from Berlin, (although I don't like to back track) night train to Warsaw.....

Berlin 5 nights - day trip Dresden
Warsaw 2 nights - night train from Berlin
Krakow 3 nights
Vienna 2 nights - pick up rental car, road trip as you have suggested 3 nights
Salburg 1 nights
Munich 3 nights

Palenque - I feel much better now that we can draw on your night train experience to buy ticket as we go, we do plan to buy two doubles, tks
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Old Oct 9th, 2009, 09:01 AM
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Palenque - on our trip from Budapest to Prague, we were waken twice. We were so tired that we went right back to sleep. We woke up to instant coffee served by our conductor which was totally un-expected. Sleeping car was new and bedding was comfy and very clean, wonderful experience, not to mention time saved.
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Old Oct 9th, 2009, 11:44 AM
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samuell - i always enjoy overnight train travel and usually have a good sleep and wake up in a new city - whether you get a comp coffee and roll perhaps in the morning depends sometimes on whether you are in the sleeping car (singles, doubles and triples) or in the couchette wagons, where you often do not.

Night trains tradtionally have a sleeper car (aka Pullman) with only singles, doubles and triples and couchette cars with only couchette berths and then usually a car with regular seating though these are declining and many night trains only have sleeping cars and couchette cars these days - so-called Hotel Trains with no regular seats.
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Old Oct 9th, 2009, 12:51 PM
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Palengue - I assume this (sleeping car) will apply to my intended routes as most European trains, is there way of confirming this? Sleeper vs Couchette!

Thanks again for all your help, if I remember correctly, you were very helpful with our Spanish trip last year, and we had a wonderful time, we ended up taking the bus most times, did train from Madrid to Toledo and El Escorial.
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Old Oct 11th, 2009, 07:09 AM
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hi sam,

much better.

the only change I might make is taking a night from Vienna, where you have been before, and giving it to the Salzkammergut, so you have a really good rest.

otherwise, a good plan.

regards, ann
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