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Travelling through Europe in winter time : plane or train?

Travelling through Europe in winter time : plane or train?

Sep 23rd, 2013, 02:51 PM
  #1  
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Travelling through Europe in winter time : plane or train?

Hi, My name is Dave from Argentina .

I am planning a trip to Europe for the two last weeks of March 2014 -.

My itinerary is:

-Rome - Paris - Amsterdam - London and then back to Rome.

My question is the following: I have been doing some research about the train fares between each city (from Rome to Paris I have no choice but to buy a flight ticket since there is no direct train).

I realized that a train from Paris to Amsterdam is a lot more expensive than a flight ( and Im not talking about something like EasyJet, I am talking about a British Airways flight)-. The same for the route Amsterdam- London.

Just to give you an example: A train from Amsterdam- London is about 250 euros , and a British Airways flight is about 65-90 euros (including checked bags) .

Also, I would need to book a flight or train from London to Rome (again, no direct train for this route)

But I am really scared about the weather conditions for the end of March in those places. How bad is weather in the places that I mentioned? What would you suggest?

I WOULD LOVE to experience travelling by train in Europe, but the fares are ridiculous. The bad thing about flying is that I have NO CLUE of how the weather is in those cities during the end of March.

Please, I need some advice

Thanks..
gdr88 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2013, 03:39 PM
  #2  
 
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<< from Rome to Paris I have no choice but to buy a flight ticket since there is no direct train >>

Not true. There is the Euronight train leaving Termini at 19:30 and arriving Paris at 10:18 - no changes.

Just because I'm curious - what is your objection to changing trains?

Why not fly into Rome and fly home from London? That would make more sense.

<< I realized that a train from Paris to Amsterdam is a lot more expensive than a flight >>

Where are you getting your train pricing from? From Paris, are you looking at prices 90 days in advance for the best fares?
adrienne is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2013, 03:44 PM
  #3  
 
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For weather research, I really like www.weatherunderground.com - the site has seasonal averages for most major cities in the world. You can see average and record temperatures, see rain and snow fall averages, which will give you an idea about what to expect.

For train travel prices, where are you getting your quotes for pricing?

I did a quick check on Thalys and saw prices around 60 euro for Paris to Amsterdam.

https://www.thalys.com/fr/en/
november_moon is online now  
Sep 23rd, 2013, 04:03 PM
  #4  
 
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It is normal to have connecting trains rather than boarding a train and remaining in the same seat for the entire trip. So don't let that put you off - transfers are scheduled to be quick among major lines, timetables are synchronized, and you'll quickly learn to appreciate the leg stretch and - at times - the few minutes for a coffee or a newspaper purchase that they provide.

Get your rail pricing from the companies that run the trains, not from some place that quotes unrealistic prices like the one you mentioned. Mostly these are governmental or semi-governmental entities - for Italy it's www.trenitalia.com (and - for a limited number of routes, www.italotreno.it/en/Pages/default.aspx), for France it's www.voyages-sncf.com and for the fast trains it's www.tgv.com and in the north, among France and Netherlands and Belgium, www.thalys.com/be/en/. In Germany (and showing trains far beyond Germany) it's www.bahn.de, in Switzerland www.sbb.ch, in Holland it's www.ns.nl/en - and so it goes.

Most of them don't sell tickets (or even show timetables) more than 60 or 90 days in advance.
Some offer discounted tickets online in advance.

Night trains can save you time that you would spend in a hotel - they have varying levels of comfort that cost extra, from couchettes to private beds in cabins. Learn much more about that and European train travel in general from this site: www.seat61.com

Flying is often an option, there are lots of low-cost airlines (see www.skyscanner.com) but consider not just a few Euros in difference but the hassle of making your way to an airport, waiting, checking in, waiting, flying (maybe on time, maybe not...), and at the other end having to find your way into the city. Trains run right into the hearts of cities - you step off the train and you're THERE!
michelhuebeli is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2013, 04:15 PM
  #5  
 
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Dave, you are getting good advice above. The trains are really not that expensive if you buy your tickets shortly after they go on sale 90 days in advance, and print them out at home. In France, for example, tickets that would cost you €100 the day of departure often are on sale as PREM tickets foe €25 or less. Just do a dummy run online at http://www.voyages-sncf.com/ from Paris to Amsterdam for tickets leaving tomorrow, and a second dummy run for tickets 85 days from now. Don't buy them, of course, but the prices will please you.

BTW, late March is really not Winter in Europe, but almost Spring,
nukesafe is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2013, 04:31 PM
  #6  
 
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"...BTW, late March is really not Winter in Europe, but almost Spring,...

Very true. Daylight saving will begin on March 31st
michelhuebeli is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2013, 06:38 PM
  #7  
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Thanks for all that information!

The truth is that I will be able to spend a few nights on each city, thats why i am not willing to take long train trips ( like the night train from Rome to Paris which takes almost 15 hs !! Thats too much time wasted to me and implies one night less in Rome -that I could save on hotel- but I would prefer that extra night there instead ).

For this reason, I am trying to take advantage of my time the best way possible.

Also, I have never put a foot on a train before . Not even in my home country. Here in South America or even in North America is not common to travel internationally by train due to the large territory that the continent itself occupies -something that does not happen in Europe- I have travelled in planes of course, but I have no idea how trains work . I am more used to airports. Thats another thing that puts me down.

So, I will still take a plane from Rome to Paris. From Paris to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam to London I will take trains. But then on my way back to Rome from London I will take another flight.

Someone asked why not coming back home directly from London? Well, the truth is that the airline that I will be travelling with, offers a 12-hour direct flight between Buenos Aires and Rome. Not bad at all considering that this flight goes from South America to Europe. This airline is also very affordable.
So , I dont have any direct nor affordable option if I wanted to go back home from London.

One more question that I have is: considering that late March is almost spring , do you think that taking a plane its kinda risky due to snow fall, etc? Are there as many delays or cancellations as in December or January?
gdr88 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2013, 10:09 PM
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When I read your subject heading I thought you meant Dec/Jan but in March you should be OK. I don't think there would be snow or fog but there are no guarantees.

Two things to consider - you will find train travel a lot more relaxing than flights in Europe. Also trains start and finish in the middle of the city, but with a flight you will find yourself way out of town at an airport.

We have always been surprised at how even a one hour flight can take up nearly the whole day. You pack up at your hotel, check out, get transport to the airport, arrive a couple of hours early, go through security, wait at the gate, do the flight, queue for immigration at the other end, wait for luggage at the carousel, find transport to your hotel, check in, unpack etc.

This website is VERY useful for train travel in Europe:
http://www.seat61.com/

Kay
KayF is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 02:09 AM
  #9  
 
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I just did a dummy run for you on the Thalys site, one way Paris-Amsterdam, 3 hours city center to city center, using arbitrary date of 4 December, is 35€ 2nd class.

This would be a great introduction to train travel, for example, the 8:25 departure has you in the center of Amsterdam before noon.

Trains leave Paris from Gare du Nord, connected to Metro and RER lines, and arrive Amsterdam Centraal, walking distance to a wide selection of hotels but also direct links to trams.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 04:15 AM
  #10  
 
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I wouldn't take the train from Amsterdam to London as it is a long journey via the train and the ferry. There are plenty of cheap flights between Amsterdam and any of the London airports.
MaisonPlague is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 04:27 AM
  #11  
 
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@MaisonPlage - what century are you living in? No ferry. One change at Brussels. Total time four and a half hours, city center to city center.

@gdr88 - you should subtract sleep time from the night train time. Since you have no experience with trains I highly recommend the seat61.com site mentioned above. Think of trains as the European equivalent of the South American long distance buses, only you can get up and walk around. And if you book a couchette or sleeper on a night train you get to lie flat.
thursdaysd is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 09:26 AM
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>>>>Someone asked why not coming back home directly from London? Well, the truth is that the airline that I will be travelling with, offers a 12-hour direct flight between Buenos Aires and Rome. Not bad at all considering that this flight goes from South America to Europe. This airline is also very affordable.
So , I dont have any direct nor affordable option if I wanted to go back home from London.<<<

This makes no sense. While there might be a non-stop flight from BA to Rome, it certainly doesn't mean you can't fly home from London, Paris or Amsterdam or that non-stops don't exist from these cities also (they do). If you state your preferred airline, we can help you make a better more efficient itinerary. It typically costs about the same to fly into one city and home from another. It's a false economy to think you have to fly in and out of the same city because of a few dollars price difference. The money it costs to get back to the same departure city is often more than if you bought an open jaw (multi-city) ticket, not to mention the time you are wasting traveling back.

As for train prices, you can't really be pricing them yet as winter schedules/fares haven't been released. There are a lot of discount tickets for advance purchase, but your cities are so far apart, airlines are likely the better option. Paris/London, Paris/Amsterdam, Amsterdam/London might be cheaper more efficient by train. You have to factor in getting to and from airports (can take an hour in some cities), the check-in times (often an hour before departure) and the cost. Trains depart from the city centers.

For March, I would fly to Rome (warmer weather)and work my way north. Fly Easy Jet to Paris, train to London, train to Amsterdam, fly home from Amsterdam (you could switch Amsterdam and London and fly home from London).
kybourbon is online now  
Sep 24th, 2013, 10:12 AM
  #13  
 
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I wouldn't worry about weather in March causing flight delays, if that is the question. It's not that cold. It's not hot, not cold, just sort of in-between blah and not a lot of vegetation growing yet, so things may look dull with no leaves or flowers yet. It should be on the cooler side, but not cold, at least in northern Europe.

As for trains, I don't think it is common in Europe to use them to go to other countries, either (unless just across the border or nearby, of course). I don't think it is common to take the train from Rome to Paris, and I'm with you on not wanting a lot of transfers. It's just a hassle, that's all, I much prefer direct trains myself. IN fact, if you did it at night, it could be really a nuisance to transfer. But a train from Paris to Amsterdam isn't bad.

I think you are getting some unusual fare information on trains but I wouldn't take one from Amsterdam to London, anyway, why do that, there are cheap and quick flights. But even Raileurope, which usually marks up tickets a lot, quotes Amsterdam to London as US$132 to about $200 (depending on time of day) in October, for second class. That is a lot different from 250 euro. IF you are only wanting first class, that could be different, sure. The Eurostar website www.eurostar quotes a fare at only 50 euro from Bruxelles to London in October. I'm sure it doesn't cost 200 euro to take the train from Amsterdam to Brussels.
Christina is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 10:56 AM
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"As for trains, I don't think it is common in Europe to use them to go to other countries"

What nonsense. (I see you live in Washington, DC, how many trains have you taken in Europe?)

You can travel from Rome to Paris, or Paris to Rome, at night, WITH NO TRANSFERS. (You have to transfer in Paris if you want to go on to London.)

See: http://www.seat61.com/Italy.htm#Opti...leeper%20train

and: http://www.seat61.com/thello-train-f...s-to-italy.htm

"I think you are getting some unusual fare information on trains but I wouldn't take one from Amsterdam to London, anyway, why do that, there are cheap and quick flights."

Did you read my post above? Quicker than four and a half hours city-center to city-center? With less hassle?

Please don't confuse Eurostar with Amtrak.
thursdaysd is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 11:13 AM
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http://www.voyages-sncf.com/promotio...GV_-2084035043

Cheap fares are starting to appear.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 11:18 AM
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You say " the night train from Rome to Paris which takes almost 15 hrs !! That's too much time wasted to me and implies one night less in Rome"

Not wasted - flying is wasting time, taking the night train saves you a night in the hotel in one place or the other - you leave Paris at night and you're in Rome the next morning.

You say that you have never traveled on a train. You have to realize that taking trains is the normal way of traveling in Europe - flying to everywhere on low-cost airlines is only a new option of the last 15 years or so, and for many routes the train is still a better solution, for reasons of cost, sightseeing, relaxation (get up and walk around, go have a meal in the restaurant car even), taking luggage for free, arriving in the city center - and many other good reasons.

Trains are fast and punctual, flights are often unreliable and wasting time.

Flying into one city and flying home from another city is smart and saves time and often money. Why travel a thousand miles just to go board a flight in a distant city?
michelhuebeli is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 11:20 AM
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<>

Are you kidding? People use trains ALL the time in Europe to go to other countries.
StCirq is online now  
Sep 24th, 2013, 04:08 PM
  #18  
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@kybourbon << This makes no sense. While there might be a non-stop flight from BA to Rome, it certainly doesn't mean you can't fly home from London, Paris or Amsterdam or that non-stops don't exist from these cities also (they do). >>

No, there are NO direct flights from London, Paris or Amsterdam to Buenos Aires. There is NONE. All of the airlines have a stoppover in Madrid, Frankfurt, etc. I prefer direct flights rather than stoppovers because I feel like my luggage is safer if I take a plane with NO connections or stoppovers. Not to mention that I forget about getting off the plane and getting into another one, etc.

The airline that I am travelling with is Alitalia and I already purchased my ticket. The reason why I already purchased it is due to some economical changes that are coming in my country soon after the parlamentary elections that will take place next October, so it is cheaper to get them now that in 3 or 4 months.

@Christina A lot calmer right now. I knew the weather was not going to be that cold, but you never know.

@michelhuebeli You say " the night train from Rome to Paris which takes almost 15 hrs !! That's too much time wasted to me and implies one night less in Rome"

<>

Michel, I dont want to save a night in the hotel . The train from Rome to Paris does not even leave at night, it leaves at 19 hs or so. For an Argentinean thats not night, thats afternoon . For us the night begins at 21hs - 22hs. If the train would leave Rome at 23hs or midnight and would take less time to get to Paris (lets say 9 or 10 hours so that I can get to Paris by 9 or 10 am) I would consider it. But 15 hs on a train during a pleasure trip, no way.

Like I said before, I am not interested on saving money on one night in the hotel . I will spend a few nights in every city so not spending that night in Rome leaves me with less time to get around there.
Instead, I prefer to spend the entire night in Rome and get an early flight next morning and arrive to Paris in 2 hs. Once in Paris, catch a taxi or shuttle (wich I always do, I never never get on public transport to get from the airport to the city centre because I dont even know the city ) and thats it!

And yes, I never travelled by train. For this reason, I would not feel comfortable travelling to a city that I dont know and changing trains multiple times. I can easily change trains once, but more than that, no thanks.
gdr88 is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 04:23 PM
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Just for future information, British Air has a direct flight between BA and London. Not meant for now, just putting it out there.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Sep 24th, 2013, 04:35 PM
  #20  
 
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Also Air France direct from Paris.
thursdaysd is offline  

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