Taking the Train 101

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Home Page > Features > Taking the Train 101

Also See:  Your First Trip ] International within EU ] Taking the Night Train ] Trains in Eastern Europe ]

Taking the Train 101: The Syllabus

As this website is designed to show, there are innumerable travel opportunities available in Europe.  Despite my including over 200 pages of information about places I personally have visited, this website still does not scratch the surface.  For every place I go, I hear of two or three more that I 'gotta get to'.  Well, there are Taking the Train is EASY!!!! so many weekends in a given year.

But one thing that I've learned is that most Americans will find great comfort and convenience in the many available bus tours.  My touring hobby began with bus tours, and it took only a few bad experiences to swear off them!  (Where do I begin?  Sleeping on the bus... being herded around... eating bad food... no control over the itinerary... inconsiderate fellow travelers who never meet at the checkpoints on time)

It was then that I began train trips.  First it was simple ones around Germany, such as Lindau am Bodensee.  Then, I began traveling abroad.  Not only did I enjoy the freedom, but I found I could hit more of a city in a shorter time than bus tours would allow, and overall my trips were less expensive!

But, I made a ton of mistakes during Thousands of Europeans do it daily ... SO CAN YOU!!!! my early train trips.  All of it was discovery learning.  I've boarded wrong trains.  I've missed connections and didn't have backup plans.  I took night trains that didn't afford me a comfortable sleep and found myself too weary to enjoy my destination.

With this in mind, I decided to offer the European Stars and Stripes a series of articles titled "Taking the Train 101" in the hopes of encouraging Americans living in Europe to consider train travel as an alternative means to the bus tours or driving long distances.  Each of the four 'lessons' in the series were coupled with short travelogues to lend a degree of application, while the full travelogues were posted here.

The following are the four lessons:

bulletLesson One:  Your First Trip.  This lesson covers a basic domestic train trip.  Though it focuses mostly on the German system, the principles apply to any western European train system.  Originally published with a travelogue on Leipzig, Germany.
bulletLesson Two:  International within Western Europe.  This lesson gives tips for taking an international trip within the continguous European Union and Switzerland (i.e. excluding Finland and Greece).  Originally published with a travelogue on Lucerne, Switzerland.
bulletLesson Three:  Taking the Night Train.  The night train is a worthy option if you want to go a very long distance, and want to feel reasonably refreshed when you get there.  But night trains can be tricky.  Originally published with a travelogue on Cannes and the Cannes Film Festival.
bulletLesson Four:  Trains in Eastern Europe.  Train travel is a great way to get to some of Eastern Europe's prime destinations like  Budapest, Krakow, and Prague.  But taking the train is a little different, and getting around Czech Republic, Poland, etc. can be a challenge.  Originally published with a travelogue on Slovenia, including the cities of Ljubljana and Bled.

Some time in the future, I'll add a fifth chapter that covers special topics:  taking along a bike, trains that board on ferries, restaurant cars, and other niceties about train travel in Europe!

I hope you find this series very helpful.

(c) 2002 Tom Galvin



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