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What's the most economical mode of travel through countries?

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Oct 4th, 2007, 05:11 AM
  #1
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What's the most economical mode of travel through countries?

Well, I finally got my agenda down:Frankfurt to Amsterdam,
Amsterdam to Paris, Paris to Colmar (Strasbourg), Colmar to Heidelburg, Heidelburg to Frankfurt, then home.
I checked rates on rail site, and best I see is each trip is around $100.00 That sounds like $500.00 for all, is the bus more reasonable? Any suggestions? Does that sound high to anyone besides me? Yes, I'm n a budget, unfortunately.
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Oct 4th, 2007, 05:46 AM
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ira
 
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Hi V,

What rail site are you using.

For travel to/from and within Germany, use www.bahn.de. It shows 39E for Frankfurt to Amsterdam.

For travel to/from and within France use www.voyages-sncf.com.

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Oct 4th, 2007, 06:23 AM
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Thanks ira: I'll check them out later. I just bought a ticket for the Les Vedettes du Pont boat tour, and now I see it's only valid for today! After I purchased is when the date is shown, now I have to try to change that.
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Oct 4th, 2007, 06:39 AM
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There is no need to book the Vedettes tour ahead of time. I've been a few times and it was never sold out.
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Oct 4th, 2007, 06:49 AM
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There are four firms running sightseeing trips in Paris every half hour. Their capacities probably add up to over 4000 passengers per hour. They will never be sold out.
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Oct 4th, 2007, 07:06 AM
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If doing that by rail investigate the Eurail Select Pass where you can chose any three of the 18 Eurail countries for your pass to be valid in - same exact benefits as Global Eurailpass but cheaper because geographic scope is limited. (also good on the Rhine K-D cruises; www.k-d.com) which you could do from Heidelberg or Frankfurt.
The Eurail Select Pass starts at 5 days of travel - any five days - in a 2-month period ('flexipass) and currently costs $370 p.p. (saverpass, two names on one pass) and comes in 6- 8 and 10-day versions)

you have five expensive train trips so look at the five day pass.

www.bahn.de has fares for Germany and trains between Germany and Amsterdam

www.voyages-sncf.com has fares for France trains and the Thalys train Amsterdam-Paris (or www.thalys.com)

that said though you cold scurry for online discounted fares if you want to navigate each site and get these often elusive fares even then i think the pass could be a better deal - especially in first class which IMO has immense benefits over 2nd class - always empty seats IME and lots more room for luggage - and in Germany the train conductor will even bring drinks and snack to your seat (only in 1st class)!
But you have all the fare info at those sites to make an intelligent decision. One value of the pass is that it can be used on any train any time - total flexibility and these type of tickets often cost a fortune at the stations.
These passes are not sold in Germany or Benelux i believe. In the U.S. i always refer folks to some great sources like www.ricksteves.com as his site has lots of interesting stuff on trains in these countries and www.budgeteuropetravel.com where on their home page you can get their well-done European Planning & Rail Guide that is a great primer on using European trains and has chapters with rail maps, etc. on each country you're going to. Forodites like Ira are a wondrous font of information IME so always ask questions on this forum and you'll get some great info unavailable anywhere else. If wishing to investigate the online discount fares (which are usually non-refundable, non-changeable so know your schedule) then Ira and TimS and others are well versed in using at times difficult for some sites and generously walk you thru it.
BTW the train is a great way for this itinerary
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Oct 4th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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virgi- Are you maybe using a rail website travel service that has a mark-up on the tickets? Some have a significant one.
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Oct 4th, 2007, 11:41 AM
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Hi PalenQ: I appriciate your advice and I have been attempting to purchase the selectpass for 3 countries (from the ricksteves site)-$370.00 Germany-France-Netherlands. The thing is , I'm traveling solo and when I went to purchae the pass, that pass is based on 2-people puchase. So, what do I do now? Also am I to understand a rail pass purchased here in the Us is good for local travel, like from Paris to Reim or Colmer to Strasbourg/ And I will only be staying in Frankfurt overnight, so Do I activate the pass(whichever I get ) for the short ride in Frankfurt from the airport to the hotel, or activate it for the long trip? Oh-by the by, I'm 60, and seems to carry a discount. I feel like I owe you for all your help. Thanks.

DenisParis the reason I bought the tour-boat ticket in Paris is because they offered a 3. ($) discount. But thanks, looks like I goofed!
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Oct 4th, 2007, 12:16 PM
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You cannot get a Saverpass rate as a solo traveler - the same 5-day select pass is $534 for a solo traveler (prices went up about $8 on Oct 2, 2007)

unless you're under 26 then you can get a solo second-class pass for $284 but there are no senior rates on the Select Pass.

In any case i always recommend BETS (800-441-2387) whom i use for passes because of their great customer service (you can talk to someone and ask questions like you just did) and expertise - you will also save ricksteves.com mailing fee of $15-20 or so (i believe) Passes are the same price anywhere - set by Eurail committee in Utrecht, Holland i believe. Mailing and handling fees can be added on but pass prices are the same everywhere.

Yes the pass can be used on any train in the countries covered - including all your journeys. Since this is a flexipass (five days out of two-month period that you chose as you go along) you would not want to use a day just to go from Frankfurt Airport into Frankfurt but just buy the $5 or so ticket there to do that. Use the pass for you long and expensive train trips but not short rides.
As the pass is good midnight-midnight you can use any train during that time so if you had say come to Frankfurt from munich you could go onto the airport that same day with the pass but otherwise in your case just buy at train station (no problem)
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Oct 4th, 2007, 01:31 PM
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Hi again Palenq: Ok I just cvalled them and I'm waiting for Brian to call me back. Thanks. So, when you say the pass is the same fee all over, what if I just bougt the ticket when I was ready to go in Europe, from Frankfurt to Amsterdam, etc?
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Oct 4th, 2007, 01:34 PM
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P.S. PalenQ I hope I'm not infringing on your generousity. I mean when I got to Frankfurt and "Brian is at the 800-number you gave me.
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Oct 4th, 2007, 02:10 PM
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Hi again PalenQ: O.k. I just finished talking to "brian" at that 800 number and yes, very informative. He said my ticket would be around $425 whether I purchased it here or point to point over there. He said all the trains have different prices, depending on time of travel and route. And also, he said the bus would be significantly cheaper. the sacrifice being the time, i.e. 4 hours vs 8 by bus.So I;m going to just wait til I get there, check out the board and decide then. The only schedule I'm tied to now is the reservation for 1 night in Frankfurt and 5 in Amsterdam, Once I get a good nights sleep I can take my time and decide on money spent or time spent.

Your advice has been invaluable to me. I so appreciate all of it. I may have some more quanderies - hope I didn't wear out my quota. Thanks again-made my planning a whole lot easier.
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Oct 5th, 2007, 07:37 AM
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virgi - thanks and yes keep asking.

As for a pass if the price is about the same as individual tickets i'd go for the pass - no having to buy tickets and lines can be long at ticket windows in Germany and Holland IME (automatic ticket machines, at least in Holland, want not to take credit cards from U.S. so you must go to window.
Bus service is very limited - one or two a day and only between big cities - and these buses when i've taken them seem jammed pack with seats not nearly so comfy as trains. Very limited schedule and i'd rule them out. Most Europeans go by train or plane so buses often only fill in the gaps where trains don't go.
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Oct 5th, 2007, 07:48 AM
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I'm no transportation expert, but that was my thought when I first read your question, Virgi.

To wait until you are in Europe, then use a combination of bus and train, buying point-to-point tickets as you go along.
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Oct 5th, 2007, 09:17 AM
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Thanks again PolenQ & suzi: Last night I was ready to cancel my reservation in Amsterdam & forgo the deposit, then just stay in Germany. This morning I digested the train rates, decided to just grin and bear it. That 800 number you gave me for train info also informed me that mid-week and mid-day travel has special rates, I should just get to the station early because they go fast and as far as standing in lines, o.k. then I'll people watch -after all I'll be there 21 days. And, if after a few days in Amsterdam, If anything, I'll skip Paris, probably not - I get a who cares about the cost attitude when I'm traveling and haven't regretted it this far. Also without an arranged schedule after amsterdam, if the point-to-point ticket cost more, well so be it! I figure I can cut out fancy restaurants and grab a street fare. Well that's where I'm at now. Your encouragement surely helped tremendously. Until next questions, gratefully , virgi
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Oct 8th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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Virg- one ticket you may well want to book before time and well before time is the Amsterdam-Paris ticket as on these Thalys trains you can literally pay $100 or more by just buying once in Amsterdam

that's because there is an airline-style fare structure on these trains - no flat fare and you should try to track down the elusive SMILYS fare, which though sold only in round trip is actually cheaper than any one way fare so you throw or give away the return ticket.
Yet these are sold in very limited numbers and though there are other advance only discount fares these too are sold in allottments - so to save on this trip go to www.voyages-sncf.com or www.thalys.com and try getting a SMILYS fare or in the U.S. call Brian 800-441-2387 who you talked to before and is an expert at booking Thalys. But often you'll get cheaper fares at the two european sites referenced above but not always so check both sources in europe and U.S. IMO.
If you did have a railpass it would cover the Thalys fare except for a reservation/small supplement and then you could wait until Amsterdam to book the train as you'd only pass the passholder fare of about 12euros i think. One value of a pass i guess.
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Oct 8th, 2007, 09:59 AM
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Again, thank you PalenQ: How right you are, once again! I just visited both sites and made a note of the thalys.com because they offer last minute 50% off-sales, for a booking a week before the travel date and they set the date for between e23 & e37-round trip.
So once I'm in amsterdam a couple of days, I'll know then when I want to go Paris, so I can buy the last-minute 50% off ticket there and get it via the internet.

You have been most helpful to me through this adventure of mine. Maybe I might know something of a place your going to that I've been and I can repay, other than that, I thank you most sincerely.
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Oct 9th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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virgi - i may be headed for Greece and Meteora, Kalambaka and the Peloponese and Olympia - any knowledge of that.

thanks for your compliments.
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Oct 9th, 2007, 04:12 PM
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PalenQ: Gee, I wish I did to repay if nothing else, I've been to Czech Republic in the late '80's when it was still Czechoslovakia, & there relatives toured us, also Italy in '01-did that planning as I go, was great. I've been to all the islands here, Costa Rica several times, & many U.S. states. Now I'm planning on more Europe travel, may even house swap when I get back, first in Calif. though, as suggessted to swap with U.S. on these sites,first. Ever been to N.Y. or Vegas, I know Manhattan well & Vegas somewhat-hear Vegas changed alot lately, more like Disney-World now. Many U.S. states, should you want my input.
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