Traveling: Railing Around Europe

In my last post about our Europe trip, I mention the Eurorail pass. Unlike this country, rail is king in Europe. Failing at trying not to sound like a commericial, the Eurorail is the number one way to get around Europe. It is what made our grand tour of Europe possible.

The Swiss Alps

A farm in valley of the Alps

The thing that I was most worried about our Europe trip was the trains. Getting on the right one, sitting in the right seat, hoping it was running on time were all the things running through my mind every time we arrived at the train station. Then I was worried about becoming ill due to motion sickness, using the bathroom, and getting off at the right train station.

The Swiss Alps

A View of the Swiss Alps

With the exception of motion sickness, none of my fears came true. And even the motion sickness wasn’t bad; it just felt as if I was still on the train for about an hour after we got off the train.

We did three things on our train rides. If I took I pill for motion sickness, I usually took small naps. Cristina, immune to the motion of the trains, would often journal. Most of the time we both just enjoyed the country side of Europe.

On the Eurostar from England to France, the thing I noticed most was how the church was center of the small town. The train from Zurich to Milan was probably the most beautiful of all the train trips. Weaving through the valleys of the Alps, the scenery was just beautiful especially for a southern Louisiana boy who isn’t used to seeing mountains and is still awed by them. The train along the Eastern seaboard of Italy was just gorgeous to look at with the blue Adriatic stretching out as far as the eye could see. The train ride from Pescara to Sulmona, and the one from Sulmona to Rome, gave you a glimpse of Italian country life since it was such a slow moving train.

Beautiful Switzerland

Beautiful Switzerland

For the first half of our trip, the trains and the way they were run were a thing of beauty. Then we tried to get from Verona to Innsbruck. Up until this point, we had also purchased reserved seats on all trains. Yes, the rail pass allowed us to ride any train we wanted but it didn’t mean we would have a seat on each train. Therefore, to keep up with our schedule we had to reserve train seats. Of course, we learned all about trains from Rick Steves. Luckily for us, there were few people who were traveling on this train so we were fine.

Italian Country House

Italian Country House

The best part was that because we were over the age of 26, so we had to travel first class. Yes, it cost more money, but the leg room was worth it. The few times we had to travel second class wasn’t bad, it was just a lot more crowded and louder.

The only time we truly had to panic about the train rides from Innsbruck to Prague. First of all, this was poor scheduling. It is near impossible to get from Innsbruck to Prague in that there are only two or three trains that make the trip. One comes at two in the morning. This wouldn’t have been bad if we could have booked a sleeper car in advanced but for some reason that I can’t remember we weren’t allowed to. We looked in to it but we couldn’t get it done. They had no sleeping cars when we checked at Innsbruck. In fact they couldn’t reserve us seats. We weren’t going to risk getting up at two (and lose our hotel room) on the chance they might have a sleeper. Our other option was to board a train at noon. The only problem was that it was almost 1:15 before it arrived. Luckily, our connecting train waited for us in Linz. Thank god.

That was also one of the best trips we took in my opinion. Cristina hated it because it was so slow which meant we were stuck in one room for nearly 8 hours. However, we had the room to ourselves for most of the trip. It was beautiful day and every placed we passed had people out and about doing what ever Czech people do.

This trip was also notable for the only time we were harassed. I’m still not sure why. Every stop we had to show our tickets. To the same lady. There were about eight stops. Then two rough looking police officers entered our car speaking Czech. We don’t know any Czech whatsoever. I’m bumbling and fumbling looking for our passports. Then I apologize in English for being so slow. They ask me if I’m from the UK. I replied we were Americans. They said ok and left us alone wondering what that was all about.

Some of the houses on the trip from Prague to Berlin were some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The fields were out of a certain Sting video. The trip from Berlin to Amsterdam was notable for the number of windmills you would see the closer you got to Amsterdam.

Adriatic Beaches

A View of the Eastern Italian Seaboard

I can’t wait to do it again.

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