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Exploring Europe By Train

I can't think of any single part of the world that holds more fascination for a traveller than Europe. Its towns, cities and villages are steeped in history, its museums filled with masterpieces, its varied landscapes breathtaking; there's an abundance of gourmet cuisine to enjoy and quaint treasures to lug home...

For the free-and-easy traveller, Europe's excellent rail system is perhaps the most convenient and affordable way to take in as many of the continent's multi-faceted sights as possible. However, you'll need good planning to get the most for your travel buck.

Buying Your Rail Pass

  • Purchase rail passes before leaving for Europe.
  • Plan your itinerary first. If you are adhering to a holiday budget and leave schedule, determine which countries, regions and places you would be able to visit.
  • To do this, carefully examine your itinerary, and the options of travel routes and rail passes available. This may be a little tricky, as you'll need to decide on the duration of your visits, the number of places you'll be visiting and their locations, in relation to each other.
  • Check the Internet for current rail pass promotions. Shop around for the most economical package: Take advantage of any student and age discounts available; purchase separate tickets for shorter trips.
  • You can also check with authorised local sales agents who may offer travel bonuses, advice and planning maps.

Catching Your Train

Here're Some Tips To Get You Chugging Along In Europe With The Least Fuss And Fewest Hitches

A rail pass does not guarantee you a seat. It would be wise to make reservations in advance to secure seats or couchettes (bunks for sleeping on night trains), especially during holiday seasons (late July and August). If you know how long you want to stay in a place, it is a good idea to make your outbound reservation upon arriving at your new destination.

Many European cities have more than one train station; Paris, for example, has six mainline stations serving different regions of the country. Make sure you know which station you have to board your train from; don't assume that it is the same station that you arrived at.

Leave for the train station early. Being in a strange land means you need more time to find your bearings and arrive at your destination on time. Better yet, recce the location beforehand if you have the opportunity to do so. This way, you can avoid forking out exorbitant taxi fares or worse, missing your train!

All tickets must be validate before boarding your train by punching them in the machines at the entrance to all train platform. You risk being fined otherwise.


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