Train Travel- Complicated or Not?

Old May 5th, 2005, 11:19 AM
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Train Travel- Complicated or Not?

My husband and I are planning an 9 day trip in mid-June (coming soon!):
2 days Zurich
2 days Wengen
2 days Klosters (or somewhere near there)
1 day Salzburg
2 days Vienna (I know its a long distance- my husband is dead set on seeing Vienna!)

From reading all of the posts, sounds like train travel is the best method of transportation. However, I have been researching routes and it seems that even going short distances requires several changes and takes a long time. Am I missing something?

Thanks in advance- very impressed with advice thus far...
knelsonufl is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 11:32 AM
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I don;t think that everyone agrees that train travel is the best method. It depends on who/how many you are, where you're going and how you like to travel.

I;ve been driven almost mad by seeing something out of a train window that I wanted to stop and look at but couldn't - because we were trapped until the next stop - and changing our itinerary would have made a mess. No problem at all with a car.

It seems to me that a car might well make sense for your trip - as long as you have open jaw into Zurich and out of Vienna. If the train connections aren;t good for your trip - why not just drive?
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Old May 5th, 2005, 11:37 AM
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nytraveler has it right. It does depend on where you are going, when, and for how long. And on your personality.

On our last trip to Germany, the first 2 legs were by train--FRA to Bamberg and Bamberg to Munich. We had only one train change on the way to Bamberg, so it was easy. I would not have wanted to deal with a car in either Bamberg or Munich--and with public transportation in those cities, a car was totally unnecessary anyway.

But the rest of the trip was by car as we were visiting more rural areas and we had a lot of places/sights we wanted to stop and see along the way.

It just depends.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 11:42 AM
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Not always the "best". While I did not find the trains too terribly complicated, my itineraries have been extremely simple (Geneva to Venice, Venice to Paris for example).

For long distances sometimes a flight makes the most sense.

For what you're describing I'd definitely consider those with experience traveling by rental car.
suze is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 11:42 AM
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I agree with nytraveler. I have done both; used the train system and driven. The train system is great because you can sit and relax, and we utilized the overnight train once to save time. However, the downside is that it seems to take forever to get from one destination to another because of all the stops. With driving you can stop when you want.

I think it depends on what you like to do and how comfortable you would be with driving in Europe. It never bothered us but some get nervous at the prospect of driving in a foreign country.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 11:54 AM
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Hi knelsonufl,

I prefer taking trains in Europe, and it takes a lot to get me into a car!

It's not complicated to make a transfer by train -- just get off the train, find your next train and its platform and get on again. If you want to minimize the confusion, just ask the ticket agent (or the conductor on the train) which track your next train will be on. They'll know. Many times the ticket agent will print it out for you.

Also, you should know that the system of connections has been set up to make it easy for travelers -- and the system has been well-tested over decades. Many times, you'll be following a crowd, and many times your connection will be merely crossing a platform.

If you do decide to stick with the trains, relax. It's easy.

swandav2000 is online now  
Old May 5th, 2005, 12:07 PM
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plan routes
rent car
figure out if have enough insurance
print routes, directions,get road maps
learn how to interpret road signs
be ready to pay for fuel
be ready to pay for tolls
be ready to pay for stickers (ie. Austria)
navigate the roads
be prepared to get lost
be prepared in case roadside help is needed
find a place to park
be ready to pay parking fees
don't drink and drive

plan routes in advance
print timetables
buy tickets (or pass)
get on board
look out window
have wine if desired
get off at planned stop

(Can you guess that I'm partial to trains?)
Travelnut is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 12:29 PM
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I agree with travelnut: cars are too much hassle for too little benefit. I might rent one for a day to explore an area, but for intercity travel, I'll take the train every time.

My rule for train travel is to take the last departure in the evening that arrives before midnight. That way, I can relax after a day's touring and not miss the time as much, because evenings are typically &quot;down time&quot; anyway, and many (most?) attractions close in the late afternoon. A leisurely dinner while the landscape slides by is a great pleasure, and especially so if the wine is <i>simpatico</i>.

You can print out your itineraries at


Once you've picked out a trip, tick the box next to it and punch &quot;Details for selection.&quot; Then hit &quot;Printview&quot; and &quot;Print this page.&quot;
Robespierre is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 01:03 PM
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Robey--keep in mind that cars might be too much hassle for too little benefit for you, but not for someone else.

Certainly on our trip to Deutschland, the parts of the trip we used a car on were not a hassle at all--we enjoyed exploring some little-traveled back roads and stopping when something caught our interest. Parking was no problem (researched in advance), we were in civilized areas but not in big cities so navigation was no big deal, and we didn't got lost even once.

For others, it might be an ordeal. For the Flys, it worked out fine. And keep in mind that I'm not a guy who particularly enjoys driving in the first place.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 01:19 PM
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There's no need to preach at me. I agree that there are good reasons to have a car. I said as much in my previous post.

But getting from Z&uuml;rich to Wengen to Klosters to Salzburg to Vienna in 9 days by road is <i>my</i> idea of a saga, not a relaxing trip. <i>My</i> idea.

I have driven from Wolfsburg through Switzerland and Italy to Nice to Ostend to Glasgow to Liverpool. At several points, I contemplated abandoning the car at the next port and walking the rest of the way.
Robespierre is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 01:30 PM
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&quot;Complicated or not&quot; also depends on what exactly you are attempting to do. Taking a Swiss train from the Geneva airport is a snap. Making a transfer in Milan between Venice to board the overnight train to Paris... well it was a bit more of a challenge!
suze is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 01:46 PM
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I trust you have consulted a map during all of this never hurts.

Switzerland is about the size of West Virginia and sometimes train travel seems complicated when you aren't used to it. It becomes much easier once you've done it.

You are never going to get &quot;the&quot; answer to this question here as there are too many adherents to both modes of travel and both sides can advance a million good reasons why THEIR way is the &quot;right&quot; way or the &quot;best&quot; way.

Make a decision based on what feels best TO YOU..unless you are the type (hopefully not) who really depends on a bunch of strangers with obviously conflicting points of view to decide for you.

Have a great trip and let us know what actually happened. By the way, WHO will be doing ALL the driving (please don't even think that it will be shared because we all know it won't be).
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Old May 5th, 2005, 03:06 PM
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I agree with Robespierre. I prefer the train if going to a big city center.
Vienna, Munich, Z&uuml;rich, London, Dublin arre all examples of cities with heavy traffic and scarce, expensive parking.

Right now I am debating if I want a rental car this year in Switzerland. From Lauterbrunnen and higher in the direction of Wengen and M&uuml;rren, a car is virtually useless because it cannot help much. If I decided I wanted to spend a day exploring the Rhone Valley, then a car might be very nice.

By the way, for knelsonufl, you need to look at travel times.
You are 6 hours by train from Salzburg in Klosters, and about 3 hours away from Vienna by train when you are in Salzburg.

And Wengen to Klosters is 5 hours by train with 4 changes minimum.

Klosters is also a little hard to reach by car.

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Old May 5th, 2005, 03:31 PM
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A few factors not already mentioned:

The speeding and DUI laws in the parts of Europe I have had the pleasure of visiting are highly enforced, and punishments are generally severe, at least compared to the parts of the US I've seen.

Drop off charges on a rental car should be checked. I think generally if you pick up in one country and drop off in another, there is a fairly substantial charge.

While trains impress me as economical and faster than driving (and certainly more relaxing if you are the driver), if you have a group that will fill a car, the car rental could be a better buy, but remember that the cars are small, and you have luggage to fit in.

I favor trains. When we want to see the countryside, we rent bicycles, but probably not for too many more years.

There are areas where I would get a car (I think of the Tuscan countryside) but with your itinerary (largely cities and car-free Wengen, where you will pay dearly for parking), I think trains are more suited.
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