Train Travelers' Tips: 2000
There's more to smart European train travel than just picking up your Europass and hitting the rails. What lessons did you learn on your last rail adventure? Tips on those pesky supplements (not covered by your train pass) are particularly welcome. Here's what you thought in 1999-2000:
Do some planning, and all the "problems" will go away. Obviously all of us here have the ability to use the 'net, and all the questions are answered on the rail sites.
Do not, do not, take your first train ride in Europe jet-lagged. Take a cab or bus the first day. Then go hang around the train station and see how it's done. Takes 5 minutes to become a pro: Yellow boards are departures, white arrivals. Red letters mean fast trains, black slow. First-class cars have...shucks, folks, a big "1" on each side, second-class an equally big, yep, "2". Not hard.
Best bet for directions: fellow travelers, not the train staff in the stations.
And smile all the time, and walk slowly, and you will be o.k.
Baton Rouge, LA USA 12/18/00
Taking the train in Europe is a learning experience. There's no translation in English of the announcements being made; one has to check the posted arrival/departure signs for any changes in time and platforms, etc. The conductors are always in a hurry and so are the trains; one has to be in good physical condition to run to the right platform to catch one's train, and Murphy's Law seems to apply more to train travelers, especially first-timers.
We made reservations for 3 legs of our trip only to miss the trains. The number of the platform they print on your reservation tickets is not always the right one.
We reserved a couchette for our trip from Florence/Pisa to Lourdes, France, only to get on the wrong cabin. We were able to transfer to our right couchette only during a 15-minute layover in Nice. But then, the people who were already in the room didn't open the door for us because, according to them, the conductor told them there wouldn't be any additional passengers in the couchette. We had to wait for the conductor to open the door for us. The couchette for 6 passengers was uncomfortable and one Frenchwoman passenger was obnoxious about us joining them. I also felt claustrophobic and decided if I go back to Europe, I won't take the night train again. I didn't sleep at all during that train ride.
Should I go back, I'd combine plane rides and train rides. It'll probably
be better for my sanity.
Sierra Vista, AZ USA 12/17/00
Besides reading guidebooks, ask someone who has been there for a few transportation pointers before you go. If you've never been to a big city, it's a learning experience getting around - and as easy as it is, it's also disorienting. My first was the Paris Metro which is super-efficient IF you know how to use it. But we were disoriented, jetlagged, and culture shocked and trying to figure out how to get from place to place. Much easier to learn a bit before you go.
Next biggest tip: read Rick's segment regarding PACKING LIGHT.
Edmonton, Ab Canada 12/11/00
The Paris Metro was very clean. The trains seemed to run every few minutes,
but some lines were extremely crowded even during off-peak times.
Caryn Perlman and Robert Perlman
Forest Hills, NY USA 12/10/00
On my last trip thru Germany, Austria, and France, I was sometimes lost
during the more complicated train transfers...until I discovered: The
PRINTOUT. Go to the train info/ticket desk and tell them where you want
to go & when you want to leave. They will very quickly (if you ask) print
out a schedule of your transfer stations, what time the trains are at
the transfer, and even what track the train will be on. It's an amazing,
FREE convenience. Use it! It saved my life!
near chicago, IL USA 12/07/00
Recently, I found out the hard way about budget cuts to public transportation in Ireland (Sept. 2000, Republic and N. Ireland). Even though I made it in plenty of time for a 9:30 pm bus to Kilkeel from Newry (last one of the night per schedule), I found out the hard way that bus had been discontinued! The last bus was at 6:30 pm per the friendly station attendant.
There I sat in a deserted, dark station at 9:30 pm, 21 miles from my little country cottage in the Mourne Mtns. countryside--not a particularly safe scenario for a woman travelling alone. Luckily, I called a taxi. There is a God! Although I knew the fare would be closer to 22 pounds, I told the friendly driver all I had was 20 pounds, and asked him to take me as far as he could. He was nice enough to drop me at my doorstep! Lucky me! The 2 mi. hike from town to cottage would have been along a narrow, dark country road...not too safe for walking at night (they tend to drive those little cars fast over there)!
Even though I had every possible bus/train schedule in my pack for the areas I was travelling to/from, these were little surprises I had no control over. That 20 pound taxi equaled $35USD, mind you! A spendy surprise!
Advice: Even though you have schedules remember the possibility of cutbacks. Ask Information Desks, station attendants, drivers: "When is the LAST bus/train to my destination?" Ask, ask, ask! I was surprised to encounter this sitation more than once, but fortunately the other cancellations were during daylight hours w/another one coming along - sooner or later...Big difference!
P.S. Sit up front when riding the bus in Ireland. If the driver isn't
too busy, take time to chat. You'll get oodles of great advice, and some
great stories thrown in! Absolutely wonderful people in Ireland, North
& South! The smaller the town, the better! Enjoy!
Seattle, Wa USA 12/06/00
Updating my 14.11.00 tip, if you go to www.fs-on-line.com/eng now you
CAN buy tickets online for Italian Railways with a credit card. Their
website has been updated recently and looks great. However (there is always
a however!), you cannot buy tickets for all trains and tickets can only
be a) delivered to an Italian address or b) claimed at an automatic ticket
machine in the station itself before travel with a secure e-mailed code.
A vast improvement on what was offered before though. Happy journeys...
London, UK 12/04/00
Please believe every negative comment you've read about the British rail system! I ignored all the warnings and got on the train. Their slogan right now is "Sorry is not enough," but I didn't even hear anyone say "sorry." What should've been a five-hour trip from Scotland to London turned into a nine-hour fiasco. Luckily, I had packed some crackers and bottled water in my bag because the food car was also closed even though there was food--there was no one who knew the prices to sell it to us! Our only hope is that we've been told we might be able to get an 85% refund.
I'm sure we'll hop on a train in Europe again --just not anytime soon in the U.K.
P.S. The Euston station in London is extremely dirty and disgusting.
And is it true there is no lift for patrons with heavy luggage?
Friendswood, TX USA 12/01/00
On the Metro in Paris, there are signs that tell you, "Conservez votre billet" (keep your ticket), but I wasn't aware of it at first. I got snagged for 120FF, which is only about $20, but I was a poor student there so that stung!
(They only mean keep your metro tickets while you're underground. Once
you're outside of the station, you can throw it away. The controleurs
just want to make sure you don't jump over the turnstiles and get on the
train for free.)
Norristown, PA USA 11/29/00
We decided that the Germans should link up with the Japanese on rail
travel, so that their new motto could be "Deutsche Bahn ist Ichi Ban!"
(lame pun--"ichi ban" means "number one" in Japanese). In solemn truth,
the German trains are above reproach: clean, comfortable, and reliable,
right down to their Toiletten. Personnel is polite and pleasant, too.
Santa Rosa, CA USA 11/28/00
Sometimes even the most experienced European travelers forget common sense.
This summer my friend and I were traveling from Aix-en-Provence to Interlaken.
We had a layover of a couple hours in Marseilles since we were taking
a night train. Well, we decided to head out to a restaurant and try some
Bouillabaisse. We put our backpacks in a secured locker. We found the
amount of heavy security a bit odd but did not think much of it. When
we returned from our fantastic meal we realized the locker area was CLOSED!
Worst of all, it did not open till 7am the next morning. The lesson: ALWAYS
look for the hours of service in locker storage. If they are not posted
clearly (like in Marseilles), ASK. This could help you avoid a long cold
night in a train station.
EL Monte, CA USA 11/22/00
If you are travelling around Western Europe, and a railpass isn't worthwhile, check out the French Railway's (S.N.C.F.) site: www.sncf.com. The site is better than the excellent FS (Italian) rail website in that you CAN actually buy advance tickets and make seat and couchette reservations up to two months before travel. It's not only for French rail travel: all of Europe is covered.
The only "downside" is that you need a European address (or one of the many esoteric countries they list, sadly not the USA) to which your tickets will be mailed, but that really isn't a problem: have them sent to your first European "home" (your hotel). Or if you are visiting London first, "withdraw" them in person at the Rail Europe shop on Piccadilly.
On the website scroll down to the English-language flag at the bottom of the page and follow the step-by-step instructions after pressing the BOOK TICKETS button (press this too if you want to just look at train times). If you choose not to pay online you will be sent a confirmation e-mail with a code. This coded reservation can be checked online at any time and you have the choice to either a) pay for your tickets at the Rail Europe London shop by the expiry date given, b) pay over the phone by calling Rail Europe London, c) let the booking lapse, d) cancel the booking. Your credit card (if you choose the pay online option) will be billed in either Euros, Francs, or if paying in person at Rail Europe London, local sterling currency.
The good thing about this site too is that you can use it as an acurate
online timetable for the whole of Europe. Every country you can book a
ticket for/through has its trains listed.
London, UK 11/14/00
Based on Rick's railpass advice, I versed myself on the best choice
for my trip to Ireland in Sept. 2000. I started in Dublin and travelled
all over N.Ireland. The Emerald Pass was a fantastic investment--rail/bus
for 8 in 15 days. Frankly, I used it almost daily and for longer than
the 15 days. Most drivers or conductors just waved me on when I flashed
my card. Although I wouldn't recommend counting on something like that
happening...it stretched my dollar further!
Seattle, WA USA 11/13/00
I agree with Annalisa's earlier comments about going point-to-point
on rail tickets within Italy. My wife and I did a three-week trip last
summer, pretty much following the route in Rick's Italy book, and we figure
we both travelled on point-to-point tickets for about the cost of a single
railpass. We purchased tickets (including a sleeper from Naples to Venice)
at te be afraid to skip the railpass, and have a little extra spending
money for the trip.
West Palm Beach, Fl USA 11/06/00
For about $40 bucks apiece, a friend and I purchased the supplement
for the Czech Republic on our first-class Europasses. It covered a ton
of ground for the price and made dealing with the numerous Czech guards
and conductors relatively painless. All we did at the main Prague station
was make a reservation about 20 minutes before we boarded--very helpful
since we had to eject people out of our seats and it was a night train,
so we ended up stretching out and had the compartment to ourselves. We
watched people buying regular tickets ahead of us; it was a tough for
them, and seemed very expensive.
I found traveling by train very burdensome. You're restricted from buying
gifts and souvenirs in order to keep your luggage as light as possible,
and if you have wheels (I know, I know), it's very difficult negotiating
all the stairs. I also found the trains badly marked. I just didn't like
it. Sorry, Rick, I'm a back-door traveler, but trains aren't for me.
Before leaving for Italy we bought our Eurostar Italia tickets online
for direct travel from Milan to Florence and Rome. The tickets arrived
by express mail within two days. We had no problem figuring out validation
boxes or tracks at the stations, and the trains were comfortable and fast
and always left on time. I suppose it was more expensive to travel this
way, but it was so worry-free that I would do it again in a heartbeat!
St. Paul, MN USA 10/26/00
Don't travel in Ireland by train - the trains are dirty, inconvenient, and really don't take you to any scenic sites.
However, I highly recommend the trains in Germany - clean, comfortable,
and punctual. Of course, we were traveling 1st class due to our Eurailpass.
We also took a Rhine River cruise at no extra charge with the Eurailpass.
Las Vegas, NV USA 10/25/00
Eurail passes are valid on some urban trains that we might think of as "rapid transit."
For example, in Germany, most S-Bahn services are run by the German Railways, therefore Eurail pass is valid--just get on. Sometimes there is an option of a trip by U-Bahn (subway) or S-Bahn. To use a U-Bahn, a separate ticket must be purchased. This can be avoided by using the S-Bahn, as in Munich or Frankfurt. However, in Berlin, the S-Bahn is run by the local transit agency, so it is not free with a Eurail pass.
In Paris, line C of the RER commuter rail system is run by the French
Railway, so a trip from Paris to Versailles can be had for free with a
Eurail Pass, as described in Rick's book. However, a further complication:
because of platform barriers, you must show your pass at the ticket window
and get free tickets from the clerk. Other RER lines in Paris do not accept
Eurail. Neither does the local rail line connecting Milan with Malpensa
Elk Grove, CA USA 10/19/00
In August, I purchased a Europass, 1st class, plus reserved seats, for two adults from a US Travel Agency. The gal at the travel agency only told us it should be validated & could be done so by the conductor. When my wife and I arrived at Chamartin station in Spain, I asked a woman in the ticket office about my train and showed her my Europass; she told me the rail number for the train would be up on the board shortly. She looked at my Europass and said it was O.K. She didn't say anything about validation.
When the train arrived, my wife & I got into our assigned seats and fell asleep as the train departed. I was awoken by a punch in my arm. The conductor stood there and asked for my ticket in Spanish. I gave him my Europass, and he began screaming at my wife and me in rapid Spanish. He kept pointing at our Europass and shaking his head, "No." We only understand a little Spanish so a fellow passenger who understood both English interpreted for us. The conductor told us our Europass wasn't any good because it wasn't validated at the station. He said we would have to pay to stay on the train. My wife was terrified because she thought he might make us get off the train in the middle of nowhere. I told him I didn't have any pesetas, and he wouldn't take a credit card or American money, but he did accept our francs (about US$51). He then told me this amount wasn't even for 1st class, but he was giving us a break and would let us stay there. He would not acknowledge our seat reservations.
Later, the passenger who had interpreted told us the conductor said, "Americans have to learn." He said he, himself, thought the conductor acted in an abominable manner. When we arrived in Hendaye, France, we went to the ticket counter and explained what had happened. She said that this was happening in Spain to Americans, Canadians, and Australians.
We took trains throughout France and Italy and were treated properly.
We met other Americans and Australians who told us they were also forced
to pay again in Spain.
Gino & Gail Rocha
Auburn, CA USA 10/19/00
[Editor's note: We're sorry to hear about this unpleasant incident, but hope it will serve as a reminder and warning to other travelers that, as printed on passes, it is always *your* responsibility to get your railpass validated (usually dated and stamped, and your passport checked) by rail personnel before boarding your first train.]
Just got back from Spain and France. Spanish trains are a challange.
Try and reserve your trip from one city to the next with a local travel
agent to avoid the long lines at the train stations. Waited for two hours
in line and found the trains booked for that day.
Albany, Berkeley, CA USA 10/17/00
For our night train from Paris to Augsburg (30 mins from Munich), we
booked a whole 2nd-class couchette for two of us, for about what the 1st-class
compartment would have cost 1 person. We didn't get the private toilet
and basin that are included in the 1st-class compartment, but we managed
just fine. Matter of fact, 2 couples tried to buy the 4 empty bunks from
us. We put our luggage on 1 top bunk, folded up the middle, and slept
on the bottom. I'd go this route again if confronted with no compartment
versus sitting upright for 9 hours.
I bought a round-trip ("ida y vuelta") ticket in Madrid to Granada in
advance as Rick advised. We discovered the seats are all assigned--read
your ticket carefully to see the number and letter. And don't separate
the stapled-together tickets. I discarded the "ida" part when I got to
Granada. When I was returning to Madrid and didn't have it, they charged
me the difference of the 20% discounted round-trip fare, another 2080
pesetas or about $12.
Bremerton, WA USA 10/09/00
ALWAYS confirm your train departure time upon arrival at the train station
by talking to a ticket agent. Day-strikes by train workers are frequent
in some countries. The resultant train cancellations are not always posted.
If not for other travellers around us at the train station, we would have
never known that there was a strike and that the train we planned to take
to return from our day trip had been cancelled. After that, we always
Many of the Swiss Rail travel centres in the stations have their online
train site available with a printer to help plan alternatives for your
train/bus/boat travel. It is FREE! Go to "Options" to change language
if necessary. Try their system at home first (www.sbb.ch) to get used
to how it works so it will be easier if you are brain-dead in Zurich!
Peter K. MacLeod
Aylmer, QC, Canada, Canada 10/09/00
Find a stiff cardboard brochure folder to hold your Eurail Pass, otherwise
it will become very limp and fall apart if you use it a lot.
Peter K. MacLeod
Aylmer, QC, Canada, Canada 10/09/00
When you book your seat, be sure to ask whether both seats face forward
or at least face each other, otherwise you may spend a long time riding
backwards or staring at each other diagonally across the seats, unable
to talk with much comfort.
Peter K. MacLeod
Aylmer, QC, Canada, Canada 10/09/00
When travelling in Italy using your Eurail Pass, book your first class
seat a week early and be prepared to kick folks out of your seat when
you get on - especially Milan-Venice and Venice-Florence-Rome.
Peter K. MacLeod
Aylmer, QC, Canada, Canada 10/09/00
Buy food--sandwiches, cookies, fruit, bottles of water, etc.--before bording a train. A hot meal on the TGV in France runs about $40! On the Italy-Austria run, it's as much as $80 in the dining car!
Even in 1st class, sometimes there are limited eating and drinking options
available. My wife and I learned to shop before taking the overnight trains,
especially for bottles of water. In Milan, we took advantage of the 'Super
Mercado' in the train station and bought wonderful panini sandwiches,
a bottle of wine, water and some interesting snack food not sold in the
States. Sure enough, a honeymooning couple next to us on the train brought
nothing so we had a party right there on the train!
Dodge City, USA 10/03/00
To make train travel in Italy a lot lot easier look at www.fs-on-line.com before you go for timetables galore and in English, Italian, French and German. It is updated regularly with the new half-yearly timetables AND trains do keep to these schedules, amazingly enough (allowing for strikes, weather, no carriages, etc. etc.)
You can work out the price of your journey and supplements here too. This way you can judge the cost of point-to-point tickets versus rail passes.
Buy your tickets/supplements/seat resrevations once in Italy at the
automated multi-language machines at all the big stations and avoid pesky
queues/potential language problems. I've done Italy with point-to-point and pass-based
, and if you are travelling just within Italy, point-to-point
are always cheaper. Hope this helps!
London, UK 10/02/00
While traveling in the Cinque Terre last week, we noticed that the trains can be almost whimsically random with respect to the towns they stop in and how frequently they show up on time (our 1217 train in Vernazza, for instance, was a half hour late).
Even if you find yourself "stranded" in one of the towns with no trains
scheduled for two or three hours, you can still find your way home by
being a little creative. For instance, our lodging was in Riomaggiore
(town #1). We ate dinner in Vernazza (#4) returning to the train station
sometime after 8pm, not realizing that we had just missed the train back
to #1. Even though there was a later one scheduled for after 11pm, we
were tired and didn't want to wait that long. One of the people in our
group studied the train schedule for a few minutes and discovered that
there was a train arriving in Vernazza in a few minutes on its way to
Monterosso (town #5). This was the opposite direction of where we wanted
to go, but further study of the schedule revealed that shortly after our
arrival in #5, we could catch another train which was headed back south
directly to #1. This train didn't stop in towns 2, 3, or 4. It worked
perfectly. We were in bed asleep in town #1 an hour before the last train
would have departed from #4.
Seattle, WA USA 09/26/00
Some French TGV's don't require reservations on the non-high-speed lines like from Bellegarde(Ain) to Geneva. You may have to wait about an hour longer after the reservations-only train has left for the next one. Otherwise a reservation of 20 FF is required.
You can get reservations for the Eurostar Italia in Switzerland for
only CHF 5. The reserved trains are well worth it, saving for instance
one and a half hours from Milan to Rome (six without as opposed to four
and a half with reservation).
Foster City, CA USA 09/24/00
If you go to Liechtenstein by postbus, you will have to buy a bus ticket
for CHF 7.20 round trip (approx $4), since Eurailpass isn't accepted on
the Liechtenstein post bus. It is worth it to spend the money, to go halfway
through Liechtenstein and see its countryside. You could also go through
Buchs to Schaan but I don't know if there is an extra charge with Eurail/Europass
for the section between Buchs SG and Feldkirch (Vorarlberg, Austria).
Foster City, CA USA 09/24/00
If you have to get from Milan Malpensa airport directly to Centrale
FS, take the bus instead of Malpensa Express, if you aren't too concerned
with time, rather than go to Cadorna and take the Metro line 2 to Centrale
FS. I took the Malpensa Express, completely unaware that there was a strike
planned in central Milan for the bus, tram and subways that day. When
I arrived in Cadorna station, I was stuck taking a taxi (although I shared
with two other people wishing to go from Cadorna to Centrale FS). Once
I got on my train, I found two people who went from Malepensa directly
to Centrale, because they took the bus.
Foster City, CA USA 09/24/00
Re: getting a paper timetable for rail travel. Use the Net. We go to Europe every summer and use the trains - nothing else. Figure out generally where you are going, and then look at, and print out, the schedules for that route. They do not change, ever. I had an old printout from SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) from 5 years ago that was still good to the minute. Here's where to find them:
Swiss Federal Railways: www.sbb.ch
German federal railways: www.db.de
Once you are on either one (I prefer the Swiss), you have links and language choices for schedules to anywhere in Europe. Plus, if you do it like we do, and headquarter in a nice central city, then you can take daytrips on the train for next to nothing--in fact, nothing, if you have a Swiss Pass or Eurailpass.
We headquartered in Chur(pronounced "Coor" like the US beer), Switzerland.
Try the 4-star ABC Hotel, right across the street from the train station
- great hotel, nice folks, a breakfast that will stay with you. From Chur
it's an easy daytrip to St. Moritz, Arosa, Davos, etc. Hotel rooms up
in the mountain resorts cost a fortune, but not in Chur. While in Chur,
try the restaurant at the Hotel Stern - best veal with black Morel mushrooms
I've ever had, and I've had a few. Chur in fact is one of the finest little
cities in Europe.
Baton Rouge, LA USA 09/22/00
In Italy, buy tickets at travel agencies, and if you know when and where
you'll be going, buy as many as you can in small-town travel agencies.
In Varenna, the travel agents both spoke very good English and were extremely
friendly and helpful. The travel agency in Venice was inpersonal, rushed
and not very helpful. In Siena, agents at Palio Viaggio spoke a little
English but were intent on helping us and making sure we understood what
we were buying. Palio Viaggio is on Piazza Gramsci, where you can also
buy bus tickets and get free bus schedules out of a vending machine!
Eve & Brent Rutherford
Seattle, WA USA 09/22/00
For anyone who heads into northern Norway & anticipates heading back
south via the railway from Narvik, be aware that there's generally about
45 minutes from the arrival of the bus from the north at the Narvik station
and the train's departure. No more than a 5-minute walk uphill from the
station (turn right after walking out the main entrance), there's a large
brown-brick (I think) building on the lefthand side of the street, that's
actually a mall with a couple dozen shops including a supermarket. Great
place to get provisions for the 18-plus-hour trek to Stockholm. Happy
Baltimore, MD USA 09/19/00
For train travel in Germany's Bavaria (Bayern) there are two special tickets: Schoenes Wochenende (Good Weekend) is valid Saturday through Sunday for a family of four. And the Bayern Ticket is valid Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and again from 6:00 pm to midnight. Check the Bayern Ticket, it could be a summer special? But if available, both of these tickets may save money for even one person.
The trains that carry bikes are marked in the schedules and there is
an additional ticket for the bike. The bike car is marked with a graphic
of a bicycle on it. The signs inside ask that you remove your paniers
but I noticed that many people ignored this.
Campbell, CA USA 09/16/00
Trying to save time in Paris, I purchased my museum pass and asked for
a train ticket to Versailles. They sold me a combination train ticket
and entrance fee (99f). So I paid dearly for the biggest disappointment
of Paris. Rick takes you to other locations in Europe where you can see
similar ceilings, furniture, art, etc. without worrying about the pickpockets
and the wall-to-wall smash of people. Make cheat sheets for each location.
If I had reminded myself that the train ticket was only ~30f, I would
have caught on that I did not want that ticket. Get rid of your suitcase
first and wear your moneybelt.
Miles City, mt USA 09/15/00
We have been looking everywhere for the Thomas Cook European Timetable
(Rick talks about this as a great guide in his railpass video). We finally
found them online at www.forsyth.com. They have new and current ones and
back issues at a discount. Delivery was prompt, less than a week from
submitting the order.
Santa Rosa, CA USA 09/09/00
The bus may be a great alternative for the train! In transit from Rome to southern Italy, we always take the bus. It arrives faster, is very clean, we were guaranteed a seat, it was cheaper, and there was absolutely no smoking allowed!
I like to take a thin, old pillowcase with me to put on the back of
the seat, under my head. This is for trains as well. I always wonder how
often they wash those seats and how many greasy, dirty heads have been
Los Angeles, CA USA 09/07/00
Never expect to get anywhere on time in Italy if you're on a bus or train. Period. If you learn to sleep on the trains, this actually becomes a bonus.
We used the lockers at the train stations a lot, and that made it great
to spend the day without worrying about our baggage, and then we only
had to walk a few steps to get on the train to leave.
West Lafayette, IN USA 09/06/00
What we learned this summer: If you have a Britrail-plus-Ireland train pass and there is a train strike in Ireland, you're out of luck and have to purchase bus tickets for travel there. There is no "refund" for losing this portion of our train pass. The buses took hours longer on long hauls (2 hours longer from Dublin to Tralee) and are quite cramped, which is why we like the trains. The plus is, there is no smoking on the buses, unlike the "non-smoking" train cars. Next time, we'd do Britrail in Britain only, and wing it in Ireland. All told, we had a lovely time in Ireland, our B&B owner endeared herself to us, and cooked our huge trout that my son caught in a stream.
Our Britrail experience in Scotland was great. We took Scotrail Caledonian
sleeper for the 2nd time from London to Inverness and enjoyed the expereince.
Taking a shower at the train station before embarking enhances your relaxation
in a small bunk, especially after a day of sightseeing. Also, keep everything
you are likely to use on the night train in your daypack as the compartments
are small and it's not easy to dig thru your whole pack to find your toothbrush
or whatever. Saving the travel time is worth taking the sleeper. And kids
houston, tx USA 08/29/00
As a senior traveling solo in Great Britain (following a week with my husband w/an ETBD tour in Scandinavia), I fared quite well. Using the point-to-point cost of train travel you offer on this website, and comparing it with the price of a pass, I found I did come out ahead buying 2nd-class tickets as I went, even though I did change plans midway and added an additional leg to my trip.
After flagging down the train to leave Conwy, Wales, I became engrossed,
chatting with the person sitting across from me. I suddenly realized I
had completely missed the stop at very nearby Llandudno Junction, where
I had planned to seek help in getting to the Cotswolds. I told the conductor
what I had done and asked his advice. He wanted to know where I was heading,
wrote down the information and said he'd be back soon. He returned to
say he had gotten me the cheapest seat possible, including 2 train changes
(and later a bus). All went smoothly with good timing for catching the
next train. After this positive experience I followed this for 2 more
changes of areas I visited. What flexibility this allowed.
Shoreline, , WA USA 08/27/00
Bought a Eurostar Chunnel ticket about 3 weeks ago in London at an American
Express office. I asked specifically for the cheapest fare, one-way or
roundtrip, and he sold me a roundtrip ticket for about 45 GBP (and I threw
out the return portion). While I was waiting, a guy came to the register
next to me and asked for the same thing except he did not say "or round-trip,"
and the clerk sold him a much more expensive one-way ticket.
Book reservations where you can. We went to and from Edinburgh and both
times the train was full. Luckily we had reservations. On a train from
Bath to London the train was almost full, too.
Hamilton, oh USA 08/22/00
Stop by any newsstand and pick up the invaluable "In Treno" Italian train schedule (Tutto Italia or Italia Nord versions). Look at the map in front for your planned voyage, find the corresponding line numbers in the book, then pick your times. Best seven bucks I spent all summer.
Also...book your supplement and seat reservation as many days in advance as possible or risk having a train with no seat to sit in. Eurostars have one or two cars set aside for people without a seat reservation, but it's a free-for-all. When all else fails, the restaurant car is a good alternative, as long as you buy something to eat/drink. Book in smaller towns or use the automated machines to avoid the big headaches/lines at the major stations.
Firenze, IT 08/19/00
I just got back from France, where I had a four day France Rail Pass. Used days one and two for Paris to Avignon and Avignon to Nice, and days three and four were reserved for Nice to Avignon and Avignon to Paris return trips. Unfortunately, one of my bags was stolen in Nice, within five minutes of getting off the train. Rick's right when he warns about the Nice train station. Thieves are rampant, and the police are really bored by our problems. In the missing bag (which was attached by the way to my suitcase, and the suitcase was in my hand, but behind me while I looked down the drive for a cab) were my train tickets, videocam, regular camera, prescription glasses, trip journal, home car/house keys, etc. Thank God I'd purchased the extra ticket replacement insurance when I booked the tickets. It covers the replacement costs, and my homeowner's covers everything else of any monetary value.
What have I learned from this? First - NEVER let your bags out of your
sight in a train station. I only took my eyes off my bags for 15 seconds,
and wham - it was gone. Second - I was a victim weighed down by too much
luggage. I'll never again venture to Europe with more luggage than I'm
able to RUN with. Third - don't wear good clothes on the trains. It just
marks you as a potential victim in the stations. I made the mistake of
wearing the good pants and sport coat I'd brought to wear to the Monte
Carlo casino. Decided they'd be less wrinkled on me, than in my bag. Well,
I might have just as well worn a sign, "Rob Me".
Richmond, VA USA 08/17/00
My husband and I recently completed 20 days in Europe and used the trains. The trains are great and run exactly on time. However, as a couple in their 70's we found it very difficult and very tiring to make the necessary changes between trains while hauling our luggage, even though my luggage was not over 23lbs. Some of the connections required 2 or more changes, which means carrying luggage both down and up many steps. I would recommend any older person stay in one location for several days and take daytrips from there.
We are both healthy, I thought, but had to revise our trip because of
fatigue. It sounds quite easy in the book by Rick but when you put it
to actual use most seniors would find it very difficult. It can be done,
but requires a little adjustment to senior needs.
ny USA 08/17/00
Eurail and country passes DO cover all those extra supplements and charges.
What Eurail does not cover is the cost of a seat reservation, which is
mandatory in certain countries (like on the French TGV and for virtually
all major trains in Spain). However, in Germany, seat reservations are
virtually never required. Which returns us to the major advantage of a
Eurail pass....in Germany you can board virtually any train at a moments'
notice, or change your plans, without standing in a ticket line. You just
GO. Of course, if your trip involves only a handful of rail segments,
individual point-to-point tickets may be more economical.
Leif Erik Lange
Sacramento, CA USA 08/17/00
Caution on buying Eurostar tickets in Europe. Having read that you can
sometimes find bargain fares there I decided to wait to make our reservation
from London to Paris only 5 days prior to date of travel. It seems the
rates quoted for purchasing tickets in the States is the 7 or 14 day advance
price. We ended up paying the standard (flexible) rate! I did ask for
the cheapest and that was it, but a couple days later in London saw ads
for 50 British pounds for round trip to Paris. Ours was one-way and the
ticket agent did not suggest this as an option.
Alexandria, VA USA 08/09/00
An addition to my post below: The one-person Zomertoer pass (3 days
in 10) is about $42 (99 guilders); the two-person pass (129 guilders)
is about $55 - in total, not per person. If you compare this to the prices
quoted at www.raileurope.com for the Holland Rail Pass, you'll see that
their 3 days in 30 pass is more expensive than the Zomertoer pass. This
applies all age categories (25 and under, 60 and over and those in between).
Furthermore their two-person pass is $98 total ($49 per person) while
the two-person Zomertoer is around $55 total. It is best to investigate
and see what other options there are. I remember last year posting about
what a rip-off the Czech Flexipass was ($69 for 5 days in 15) because
it was so much less expensive buying tickets each time since train tickets
were so cheap.
Rick Steves' London 2000 book shows a 99 pound same day return fare London/Paris
on Sats. & Suns. I contacted Eurostar to reserve for a Sat. in Oct. this
year for 2 people and was told that the fare has changed.
Portland, OR USA 07/31/00
Traveling by train in Holland? Consider the Zomertoer (Summer tour) train passes. I have not seen this advertised in English over there or here in the US. They allow for 3 days out of 10 by train in Holland. They are only good from July through September 9. Last day of sale is August 31. Even the Dutch train system's website www.ns.nl after clicking on English (to transfer from Dutch to English) mentions Zomertoer, but when clicking on it, the explanation is in Dutch.
A one-person pass is 99 guilders, a two person pass is 129 guilders. You can buy them at the ticket window or at the yellow ticket vending machines at the station. Those machines take coins or cards, no bills. For a few guilders more, you can get a Zomertoer Plus (one person or two persons) which let you use public transportation in some cities.
But what's really important is you can figure out if this pass is advantageous or not. At the yellow ticket machine at every station just enter the code of the destination station and after selecting a few more things, like first or second class, full price or discount, one way or round trip the cost of the ticket is displayed. You can then judge whether it's worth getting a Zomertoer pass.
You can even determine the cost of the ticket between stations B and C if you're presently at station A. First enter 0000 then the starting station code and the ending station code. The codes of all the stations are printed on the machine. You can query for ticket prices as much you want without making a purchase.
Another way to estimate ticket cost is from literature available at train stations. A brochure shows a map of the train network with what appear to be kilometers, from one station to the next. Add up the kilometers (called tariff points) and go to the next page where you'll find a table of kilometer ranges and the corresponding prices of various types of tickets for each range.
The Zomertoer ticket consists of 3 strips. Be sure not to tear them apart. Use 1 of 3 the first day, 2 of 3 the second day, etc. But on the day of use, just prior to boarding the first train, be sure to cancel it in the canceling machine by the tracks. Fold the 3 tickets over in such a way that the appropriate day's ticket is face up before inserting. If you fail to stamp it or tear the tickets apart or cannot account for all 3 stubs, the conductor can give you problems.
If you go to another country from Holland, like Belgium, the Zomertoer
is good only to the border. This means you need to purchase a ticket from
- NOT the nearest border town in Holland (Roosendal) - to let's say, Antwerp
in Belgium, but from the border itself to Antwerp. Be sure to mention
this at the ticket window in Holland.
Earlier this month I posted the prices I paid for my train travels in Italy and here's the whole story (a few people have asked):
I went to the Roma Termini Station (this is the main bus and train station in Rome) and I purchased all my train tickets at once. The train station has a special train ticketing agency. I took a number and waited 15 minutes for my number to be called (8 PM). The ticketing agent sold me all the tickets I needed and accepted my credit card (Visa) as payment. My wife and I had all our tickets with us for the rest of our trip.
The 2nd class tickets worked great. In fact, I couldn't tell I was in 2nd class -- especially from Firenze to Venezia -- great train. The difference between 2nd class and 1st class from Venezia to Paris is that a couchette in 2nd sleeps 6 people (top, middle, and bottom bunks on each side of the cabin), but 1st class sleeps only 4. We did have reservations for a specific car and cabin for our trip from Venezia to Paris, but our car was not on the train! The conductor changed us to another car and cabin -- good thing we were at the train station early enough to get top bunks.
One last tip: The train seats do adjust. It took me a while to figure
this out, but I finally found the lever under the seat that allows the
seat to slide forward and reclines the back to a more comfortable angle!
Downey, CA USA 07/30/00
In Stockholm in late June I had to wait 2 hours to get seat reservation
for my next leg (Stockholm to Copenhagen). The Norwegian railway wouldn't
do it for me; they said I had to wait until I got to Sweden. My tip is
get your number and then go do something else in or near the train station
and check back later depending on how many numbers are ahead of you. Unfortunately,
I had done the other things (ATM, city map, check in at hotel across the
Mary from Oregon
Depending on your itinerary, you might do better and have more flexibility purchasing tickets as needed, instead of a Eurailpass. If you really have a plan, in Germany you can buy a bahn card for DM260 additional, DM 130 for spouse. For a little bit more, you can get an extension for most other European countries. That gets you 50% fares on all trains. One long train trip and it is paid for. (The discounts are about 25% for non-Germany routes.)
Also note, there is usually a surcharge if you buy your ticket on the train vs. at the window or automat before boarding. (I normally do not have to pay if I buy a round-trip ticket on the train, but with one-ways I have always been charged.)
The deutsche bahn web site is excellent for making plans: www.bahn.de
Ruth Ann Valentine
Leimen, Germany 07/27/00
I spent my teens travelling via Eurailpass in the summertime. The best thing that my parents taught me then and I still believe now....Do not travel without a Thomas Cook timetable! The schedules they hand out with the passes are general information. It is difficult to set up long-term & multi-area plans with it. The TC timetables showed every little line throughout Europe. It was much easier to get off the beaten path with it. You can plan while you're on the train and make that 3-minute connection 5 platforms over.
By the way, on leaving your baggage while visiting the WC in the train:
take valuables, leave bag on seat with camenbert/brie cheese open & sitting
on the bag. No one will probably touch it. Especially if the cheese has
been well travelled.
Landstuhl, Germany 07/23/00
Do make reservations for any trip over about 3 hours in the summer, since the tour groups tend to pack the trains.
The Eurailpass is good on all but the eastern Swiss FO and BVZ lines, which are part of the Glacier Express run. The third part of the G.E. is the RhB line, based in Chur, which honors the Eurailpass. They all honor the Swiss Pass, but only good for CH.
On the Glacier Express, the "panorama cars" are cramped and usually
packed. Do the same route - same engine chugging (actually humming, since
all trains are electric) - in the regular first-class cars, but you will
have to change cars, not trains, twice, first at the end of the RhB and
then at the end of the FO at Brig, and then to the BVZ that goes to Zermatt.
It's not real hard to do if you just calmly look at the yellow departure
boards in every station.
Baton Rouge, LA USA 07/22/00
In Great Britain, if you are traveling during the busy tourist season,
and want to insure seats on a train, make seat reservations! When we got
onto the trains, almost 100% of the seats had been reserved. Also, BritRail
is running a summer special - you can check your bags on the platform
15 minutes before the train departs if you are riding the long stretches
between England and Scotland. It is very easy - just go to the platform
and check your bags at the sign. They put them in a locked car. When you
arrive at your destination, we walked down to the car and they were waiting
on the platform.
Houston, TX USA 07/17/00
Be careful using Rail Europe. They are advertising rates on their web
site (www.raileurope.com), but not honoring the prices after you make
the reservation. Recently I made 2 first class reservations from Amsterdam
to Paris on the Thalys. They quoted me a price of $193 (includes all services
charges). After they received my reservation, they changed the price to
$333, claiming their web site was in error. Even after saying their site
was wrong, they continue to list the $193 rate two weeks later.
St. Louis, MO USA 07/16/00
In Scandinavia many of the high-speed trains require reservations which
sometimes fill up. I suggest getting the reservation upon arrival. The
only way around this is to go through a travel agency, and you can't do
that if you have the invaluable Scanrail pass. It was the only downside
to having this pass; otherwise it paid for itself many times over.
Mary from Oregon
I always use a lock for my bag, and I left it at my seat when I had
to go to the toilet. Like US train travel, Europeans will respect your
seat as long as they did not purchase a reservation for it. Then they
will ask you to move. On some trains you may need a resevation. Also,
like the US, the conductor marks your destination on your spot, even if
you are using a rail pass.
Brooklyn, NY USA 07/09/00
I have just returned from a trip to France and used the TGV exclusively.
Since I'm over 60 and I travel in Europe a lot, I bought a Carte Senior
Pass (they're available at the ticket window) for about $44. I've used
it several times already this year but this last trip was a real eye-opener
for this pass. You get a 50% discount with this pass so a trip from Biarritz
to Paris, traveling first class on the one-stop TGV cost me 308ff or about
$47. I had two of these passes and recommend them.
Cedar Rapids, IA USA 07/09/00
I twice took the high-speed Thalys trains between Amsterdam and Brussels
and each time they arrived over 30 minutes late! They are supposed to
be high-speed like TGV but more often than not they went at a snail's
pace. For half the price I could have ridden the regular Inter-City trains
and arrived sooner than the Thalays!
new paltz, ny USA 07/08/00
Following an overnight flight to Zurich my wife and I validated our
Swiss Rail Passes and headed to one of Rick's favorite backdoors, the
picturesque village of Murten. I violated my first rule of travel and
checked our bags through to Yverdon, about fifteen miles down the track,
our final destination for the day. When we arrived in Yverdon that evening
with claim checks in hand, the less than helpful station agent just shrugged
his shoulders...no bags and no explanation. We checked into our hotel
for our first night in Europe with only the clothes on our backs and the
contents of our money belts. It wasn't until the next day that we got
our bags. Evidently the Swiss railways handle baggage sort of like the
big package delivery outfits here in the States, sending them to a central
location somewhere and then rerouting them back to their destination.
oviedo, fl USA 07/06/00
You can book Apex fares on the trains in the UK at www.virgintrains.co.uk/
or www.trainline.com. They can ticket any train in the country. Virgin
ticketing can also do any train in the country as well at 011-44-8457-222-333;
be prepared to hold on through the recordings. It will save you a lot
of money over waiting until you get there and missing the APEX fares.
Depoe Bay, OR USA 06/30/00
Another note regarding point-to-point tickets. We found out on our trip
that you can purchase point-to-point tickets on the train. The ticket
checkers are equipped to generate tickets - and will accept credit cards.
We never did this but always knew it was an option if we were pressed
for time. This is true for Germany and Austria - not sure about Italy.
OH USA 06/26/00
After 10 trips to Europe using railpasses many times over the last 10
years, I've come to the following conclusion. If you plan your trip carefully
and fly open-jaws when possible, a railpass can be much more expensive
than 2nd class point-to-point tickets. However, if you're a novice or
if you like flexibility, the railpass is probably your best option.
Lafayette, LA USA 06/23/00
Just returned from a 12-day trip to Germany, Austria and Italy. Do your
homework. Went with point-to-point tickets and paid less than $150 US.
The same Europass would have cost me over $300. Point-to-point tickets
are easy and can be purchased days in advance. We would often purchase
our next day's train tickets when we would arrive at a station. This way,
we could just jump on a train and not have to worry about standing in
OH USA 06/19/00
I found out (much to my dismay) that in France where you have to make
TGV reservations if you want to ride on one, there are a limited number
of seats available on each TGV for railpass holders. So as soon as you
know which TGV you want to ride, make those reservations.
Hillsdale, MI USA 06/17/00
My brother and I rode the Paris to Amsterdam night train in early June
on a regular seat car (not couchette). Two American women in the car were
robbed of passports/credit cards/cash in the middle of the night. The
next day in a hostel in Amsterdam a guy showed up having made the same
journey the following day and told the same story. Be careful! Hug your
arcata, ca USA 06/16/00
Benelux rail passes are no longer on sale in Holland - you can only buy
them in Belgium. I traveled from Amsterdam to Luxembourg City, Liege,
Bruges & back to Amsterdam and probably spent no more on point to point
than I would have with the pass so not sure you'd need it anyway but it
would have been nice not to line up for tickets all the time.
On Eurostar (very nice and faster trains) in Italy, an advance reservation for an assigned seat is required. I saw several people get bumped off right before the train left.
A good site for prices, schedules, etc. of all Europe trains is http://www.raileurope.com/us/
Dallas, TX USA 06/08/00
Berlin: The best station to land in is the Bahnhof Zoo. It is in the
center of the newest part of the city and has adequate services. If you
arrive at the Ostbahnhof, take the next train to Bahnhof Zoo immediately.
Ostbahnhof, while actually bigger, is still a work in progress. Check
back in six months. You can see the new shops, etc., by walking to the
other side, but none of that is open yet and the essential services are
located across the street in temporary buildings, inadequate and crowded.
Lakewood, OH USA 06/08/00
My husband and i traveled april 25-may 11 in italy point-to-point and
it was very easy. We purchased some tickets at the American Express office,
extremely easy. Just tell them where you are going and they add any supplements
if needed. Only crowded train was from Rome to Siena but that made it
interesting. Just know the train's end destination and find your town
on it, ask lots of people and you're on your way. It was much cheaper
than a pass--total cost for us including two taxi rides, two vaporetto
rides and other small rides was $220.
wa USA 06/07/00
Regarding the comment about showers in Paris Train stations from 05/02/00
below . I arrived at Paris Gard du Nord at about 9pm one night after walking
with my pack from Gare St. Lazarre. I was hot and sweaty and wanted a
shower in the worst way, but I found them closing as I walked up. If I
understood the attendant's explanation correctly, all showers and washrooms
in the stations were now closed. A train station with no washrooms...hmmm!?
I got from my pack my water bottle, a face cloth and a clean shirt and
went across the street and gave myself a semi-sponge bath in the toilet
stall of McDonald's. By the way, don't let anyone tell you that McDonald's
washrooms around the world are always clean and tidy.
Saskatoon, SK Canada 06/06/00
I found that all the train people that work in the European system are not equally knowledgeable about Eurail passes. I had read the information that came with my pass that said very clearly and firmly that the pass holder should have a rail official stamp the pass with the official stamp and that the passholder's passport number and date should be entered on the pass. When I went to use my pass for the first time, in a smaller station in France, I passed it to the guy in the ticket office and he looked at it as if it was the first Eurail pass he'd ever seen, and said just to write today's date on it and that would be fine. I wasn't confident about his advice, so to confirm it I asked the conductor before I got on the train if my pass was in order. He looked at it and said it was fine. But to be sure, when I got to the next bigger station I asked again about validation and there they put the official stamp on it. When I told her that the other two "officials" had told me it was okay without the stamp, she shook her head as if to say "idiots".
When you get your Eurail pass you receive a train schedule. While you can use that schedule for a rough planning guide, understand that that schedule has only the larger train stations on it and that it may be out of date. I found it most useful to go to the information or ticket counter before departing and ask them for an itinerary to my destination. They would cheerfully ask a few questions about when I wished to travel, etc. and print an itinerary showing the departure time, train number, track number, where to change trains etc. There were often trains running that were not shown in my Eurail schedule.
Also, it is very useful, sometimes critical, to make reservations, especially
for longer trips. On many of the long-distance high-peed trains, reservations
are compulsory (you can make them just before departure, I assume, if
there is still room). Having reservations assures you having a seat all
the way to your destination. If not, you might settle into a seat for
the first leg of you journey and later get bumped, perhaps right off the
train, if someone books a reservation to get on at a later stop.
Saskatoon, SK Canada 06/06/00
Remain patient. Whenever using trains, don't plan your journey with
military precision, just sort of have a vague idea in which part of the
day you wish to arrive somewhere. Over Easter we stayed at a campsite
30 miles south of Florence, which had a daily bus to the local train station.
There, one could purchase a return ticket to go into Florence. So we took
the bus one morning. Upon arriving at the local station, the bus disgorged
about 40 passengers, 10 minutes before the only train to Florence for
about two hours. When the two ticket sellers saw us all walk in at once,
one of them decided that it was time to clean the office! He left his
window open, but picked up a wet cloth and sprayer, then cleaned every
desk in the place. It was Sunday morning, the place was deserted, and
everything was already clean. He even came up to his window and cleaned
the ledge where he would have been selling tickets. Most of the people
around us were getting quite upset, but I was biting chunks out of my
lip to keep from bursting out laughing! (PS. I was the only American in
the line, not ugly at all - this time anyway). So we eventually got to
Florence and had a nice Easter. And added one more memory to the collection.
Derby, UK 06/01/00
My wife and I got to the Rome train station, Eurail tickets in hand on our way to the Venice/Mestre station. No one had told us how to validate our tickets. We asked a uniformed station worker who told us to just punch the tickets in the yellow validating machines. The machine stamped out Eurail tickets with the date, time and station location. This looked official enough for me, so off we went to board the train. Once we were on the train bound for Venice, the ticket-taker guy came by and checked our tickets. He hand-wrote our travel date onto each ticket and as he handed them back to me, he said, "you did not validate your tickets properly, when you arrive in Mestre, go to the ticket counter and have the the problem corrected. There will be a $100 fine for your error ($50 per ticket). I skipped the ticket office in Mestre because we had only a few minutes to catch the next train to a smaller town north of Venice where we were meeting friends (Pordenone, IT). Luckily, the fellow was very nice at the small-town train station in Pordenone; I also kept him busy while he was validating my tickets with small talk about the region. I think he did not notice the original "yellow machine" day, date and Rome train station stamp on the Eurail tickets and he proceeded to ink stamp the blank square box on each of our Eurail passes. His oversight (or helpfulness) saved us a $100 fine!
So, be sure and validate your Eurail Pass tickets correctly. I beleive
1) present your railpass and passport to a railway official at a ticket window who will write in the first and last dates of your travel period.
2) hand write the travel date on the bottom left area of the ticket for each day you use your Eurail ticket (if you travel after 7pm (i.e. night train), you may write in the next day's date, thus giving you essentially 29 hours of train travel instead of 24 hours).
The ticket-taking guy on the train was nice but direct and firm about the fact that we had made an error and it would cost us the fine at the next station. Arrive early for your first train trip so that you nail down these three crucial items on your Eurail ticket.
Albuquerque, NM USA 05/30/00
If you are like me and like to "plan" your trip on the fly, you may
find this a useful source: talk to the "travel planners" in the train
station when in doubt about where to go next. They are natives and know
which places are tourist traps and which ones are worth the trip. For
instance, I was stuck on a layover in a train station in southwestern
France and was debating between visiting Rocamadour or Cahors. I wanted
to stop short of flipping a coin and, thus, asked the guy in the rail
travel planning office at the station which he recommended. He said "Rocamadour"
without hesitation and told me how great it was. I took his advice, hopped
the next train to Rocamadour (which left in 4 minutes) and would have
hugged him for his wisdom, had I happened back through his station.
Dallas, TX USA 05/28/00
In Naples, use extra caution at the train station. I heard the warnings and thought I was traveling smart, but still was robbed. PLEASE listen when Rick and others tell you to beware in the Naples train station.
First, the place is teeming with professional thieves. Someone took
my backback without me knowing while it was literally pressed between
my ankles and I was fishing out my Eurail pass from my neck pouch (I know
what you're thinking--I am not (usually) an idiot!). Moreover, the train
station staff was extremely rude (both before and after I was robbed).
Also, the layout of the place (especially getting from the regional to
the local trains) is fairly complicated. Bottom line is, you may be discombobulated,
tired and/or hungover and let your guard down, like I did. Sure, I thought,
between my very own feet is a safe place for my daypack--wrong! Hang whatever
you're carring from your arm, if necessary, but don't leave it on the
floor! If this saves one person my heartache (I lost my journal, addresses
of new friends, my puppy's picture and my photos of Pompeii and Sorrento,
among other things), I will feel much better!
Dallas, TX USA 05/28/00
Contrary to what is published in many places, it is possible to purchase
the Italy Flexi Rail Pass in Italy. Using info from the FS website, I
bought mine at the station at the Rome airport. As I recall, it was about
L278,000. Not sure how much I saved, but it adds some flexibility if you
decide to do it.
Park City, UT USA 05/23/00
We found our couchette between Paris and Venice to be a clean, comfortable
bargain. I would do it again in a heartbeat. The compartment was well
ventilated, and the bunks roomier than I expected. I slept like a baby
and so did my traveling companions. I can't imagine spending the night
in a regular seat and feeling as rested the next morning as we did.
Hanford, CA USA 05/23/00
My husband and I vacationed in Spain for 3 weeks last year. We took
an overnight train from Barcelona to Granada in a cochette. We found that
to be a very bad experience. If you're at all claustrophobic, it's not
a good idea to choose the couchette. We would have preferred sleeping
in regular train seats. The train we rode on was very slow and the tight
quarters of the cochette was almost unbearable for me. The cochettes are
about 7'X6' and sleep six bunked individuals. Other than this train ride,
however, our experiences on the trains in Spain were excellent. The AVE
is sleek, fast, and superclean. Overall, the trains were also very clean.
If you're in Andalusia, make sure to sit by a window and enjoy the scenery.
It was incredible.
Dallas, TX USA 05/21/00
Used Europass through France and Spain. There was not one train that
I took that I didn't need reservations that did cost extra. I would say
for the 5 day pass we spent about $50.00 or more extra on reservations.
France first class seats were no problem. However, in Spain we never saw
first class seats. We could have purchased them for the AVE trains(which
are wonderful) but it was quite a bit extra. 2nd class was fine anyway.
Almost every train we took was full and every seat taken. In Spain, except
for AVE there was no room for luggage. Would really recommend that people
make reservations as soon as they get into the country or town (if they
have a few extra days)However, don't think they need to be made in the
Fairfield, CA USA 05/08/00
Keep your railpass in your moneybelt! I had purchased a first-class Europass
for my trip over this past Christmas break. Somewhere in Florence, our
pass must have slipped out of my rather shallow inside coat pocket, because
when we went to board our train, it was gone! We missed our train and
had to wait 5 hours for the next one, not to mention the additional hassle
and cost of waiting in line and buying point-to-point tickets. The railpass
insurance is well worth it--it would have reimbursed me for the 4 unused
days on the pass.
Milwaukee, WI USA 05/03/00
In Paris, if you need to freshen up after an overnight train ride, Gare
de Lyon, Gare Montparnasse, and Gare du Nord all have showers. If you
just want a sponge bath, you can also pay for a private space with a sink
(it's big enough to bring your bags in, so you can change clothes too).
I don't know about the other 3 Paris train stations. I don't recall seeing
showers in Nice (but then I wasn't looking for one); it's sort of a no-frills
station considering the importance of the destination, so I doubt they
CO USA 05/02/00
This is kind of tacky, but it worked well. On a recent trip on Italian
trains, my sister and I were very tired and had a long way to go on the
train to our next destination. We were the only 2 in our compartment until
the train stopped at a station. Several people got on and each time we
saw someone about to enter our compartment, I told my "smoker" sister
to start coughing. Obviously, no one wanted to ride with us! We were able
to stretch out and sleep with no more interuptions. There were plenty
of other seats on the train, so we didn't put anyone out in the aisles.
Like I said, tacky, but it worked.
Huntingdon, Cambs, England, UK 05/02/00
On the Italian train website, you can put in the cities that you want
to go to/from and find out all about the trains for a particular day.
This helped us find out train numbers, if reservations were required,
and if there were any transfers required. Printing out the screen and
carrying it with us made for easy work at the train stations. Cautions:
It won't understand the English translations of cities (e.g., use "Firenze,"
not "Florence"), and be careful about days--many schedules change on weekends.
Santa Clara, CA USA 04/25/00
We just returned from 7 glorious days in Paris and 3 wonderful days in London. We connected these two cities via the Eurostar Chunnel Train! If you only have a limited amount of time and/or money to see some of Europe, do what we did! We flew directly to Paris and spent 5 days (Hotel Le Valadon) exploring the city in minute detail. When it was time to trek to Paris Nord station in Monday morning rush hour to catch the Eurostar, we were masters on the Metro. Barely 3 hours later we were in downtown London ready to drop our bags at the hotel (5 Sumner Place Hotel is FANTASTIC and worth the splurge to be in the thick of London) and hit the city. Three wonderful days later, we caught the Eurostar back to Paris for a couple more nights before flying home.
Buy all the stuff for an "ethnic" train picnic, always considered good form by the Brits and the French. Stink up the entire car with some Camembert, pick up some cheap Bordeaux at the price leader grocery (it was only 10 ff=$2.00!!), cornichons (those cute little French pickles), a couple baguettes, and share with all your neighbors. Total price for the picnic for 7 of us was less than 1 sit-down Eurostar meal.
Try the Eurostar, you'll love it.
Tiverton, RI USA 04/23/00
Before buying a train pass for Britain, which costs $235 for 4 days out of a month, check on advance ticket sales, such as APEX and Bargain Returns. For example, you can get to Edinburgh from London for 37 pounds (about $60) return. If you want to make a stop in York on your return trip, don't buy the 79-pound ($126) ticket that officially allows you to break your journey. Instead, buy the bargain return from London to Edinburgh (37 pounds/$60) and an advance single from York to London (23 pounds/$37). Just get off of the train at York on your way back to London. That saves 19 pounds ($30) over the "official" ticket.
If you want to go to Bath, you can get an APEX return ticket for 17 pounds ($27).
This is 5 days of travel for $124 instead of the 4 days of travel on
the pass for $235. All of these tickets have to be purchased one or two
weeks in advance. To check out train schedules and fares, I've been using
thetrainline.co.uk., which was suggested by someone else on this board--thanks,
it's a great site!
Pittsburgh, PA USA 04/19/00
We just returned from a trip to Europe using the Europass Saver Passes. We were very happy with our train accommodations. Traveling on the ICE trains at speeds over 150 mph was amazing. However we did run into a problem. We traveled from Mannheim, Germany to Rome on three trains. We left after 1700 so that we would only be charged for one day on the pass. However we didn't read the small print on the pass agreement. It seems that the savings doesn't work if it's your first day of travel. In addition we changed trains before midnight so were charged for the additional day also. So we lost a day of travel on our planned itinerary (for two reasons) and had to pay for one leg of our trip.
Also, we had seat reservations on an ICE train from Fulda to Mannheim
on the final leg of our trip. Since the DB put on an erzatsflug train
they didn't recognize the reservations.
East Moline, IL USA 04/17/00
Just returned from Italy. Recommend 2nd class reserved seats for travel between Milan, Venice, and Florence. Without reserved seats you may stand.
In Milan, stay by the Cadorna Metro stop and you can take the Malpensa Express train to/from the airport (quicker than bus from Centrale Train Station) and you can walk to the Last Supper and Duomo area. If you come to Milan on the train, to get to the Cadorna Metro stop, take the Metro Green Line (#2) in the Famagosta direction and get off at the fifth stop. (Be sure to call from the US for your Last Supper reservations and also ask for an audio tour guide.)
Agree with Rick on staying in Siena while visiting Florence and Assisi.
It's an easy bus ride from Florence.
Chaska, MN USA 04/16/00
Just returned from Italy. Required advance reading is the Italian railways web site, fs-on-line.com--it was invaluable. It will give complete information about which trains are "locale," which are "rapido" (intercity) and require a supplement, and which are Eurostar Italia (Pendolino) and require a supplement on top of the rapido supplement and include the cost of a seat reservation.
Tickets do cost more if bought in advance but this must be weighed against the stress of buying tickets in the Rome train station after a long plane trip; the station is very busy and confusing. We split the difference and bought tickets for trips on the Pendolino in advance, but bought the remainder in the small and stress-free tiny station in Orvieto. Had a great laugh with the official as we passed post-it notes back and forth explaining what we wanted.
Important: train tickets in Italy are sold as vouchers: you must validate
them with the date and time of travel by sticking them in a yellow machine
in the station to be stamped just before you board the train. If you fail
to do this the conductor can legally charge you; see the web site for
nova scotia can 04/15/00
I was in Germany & Denmark during early December, 1999. Ticket agents
attempting to use the new computer systems for tickets and reservations
had a lot of trouble booking my travel, even when I could show them train
numbers and schedules I had downloaded from the internet just prior to
my travel. Even after consulting operating manuals and their colleagues,
some agents just gave up. The one exception was the people at the Stuttgart
Hbf. More experience or more imagination? I don't know.
Portland, OR USA 04/09/00
You must validate your Britrail Pass before you can board the Heathrow Express out of Heathrow airport. When our flight from the US arrived at Heathrow I thought I could just hop aboard the Heathrow Express and, voila, I'd be in London in 15 mins. flat. But first you have to have your pass validated at the train pass information counter in Terminal #1--which is quite a hike from Terminal #3 where our flight landed. Not many people who work at the airport seem to know about this place which is tucked back in a corner. Anyway, we were delayed about 2 hrs. trying to figure this all out.
Other than that, our Britrail passes worked great for our family of
six throughout England and Scotland and I'd recommend train travel as
the way to go.
Cedar Lake, IN USA 04/07/00
Loved the Deutsche Bahn trains! If you want to secure your bags on the
train, but don't want to hassle with a chain and lock, try a nylon cable
tie instead. These are one-time-use plastic straps, available at hardware
stores in packages. Fastens your bag to a rack without tools; to remove,
just cut with knife. A thief could snip it too, so turn the bag handles
to the wall and fasten them on that side. Cheap, fast, and effective.
Washington, DC USA 04/04/00
Just returned. The Italian trains were no problem. If you buy a 2nd
class ticket and not a reserved seat, you must sit in the 8th or 9th train
car (#'s are on the side)--if you sit in the wrong car, you'll be asked
to move and chances are there won't be any seats in your assigned car.
Get on your train immediately when it pulls in to guarantee yourself a
cincinnati, oh USA 03/31/00
The trains in Switzerland are fabulous. They are always on time to the
minute and are always clean and comfortable. I have never bothered making
advance reservations in Switzerland, and if I am not mistaken, it is more
expensive to reserve from the US. With a railpass, you probably won't
need reservations unless you are traveling by high-speed train. I would
check a Thomas Cook Timetable to see if the routes to the cities you want
to visit require reservations--if they do, it will be indicated by an "R" on the far right column. Good luck and happy travels!
Sacramento, CA USA 03/21/00
In buying rail tickets for Europe, I have found you get a better price by buying them in Europe and avoiding the U.S.-based tcket agencies. Rail Europe, at least, admits fairly freely that its prices are higher. Sometimes they are much higher: they once quoted me a price of about US$100 for Vilnius to Riga, when the same ticket cost less than US$20 at the station in Vilnius.
A US-based agency selling Italian train tickets swore that their price was the same as at the station in Italy other than a small fee for mailing the tickets. I made the mistake of buying from them, only to find out that theirs were significantly higher. They had also told me I should have seat reservations for every segment, which I found out was completely unnecessary (except for the Pendolinos) and added to the cost. That Italian trip also went into Croatia and Slovenia and they sold me those tickets too, which included selling me a first-class ticket on a train that did not carry a first-class car, seat reservations on an unreserved train, and a reservation that was not on the conductor's list and therefore useless!
I'll stick to buying my point-to-point tickets in Europe when I get
Greenville, , NC USA 03/15/00
My wife and I had no problem using the trains in Germany last week. The schedules are easy to read and understand and the trains are ON TIME. Even the ticket vending machines are easy to use if you take the time tp check them out. And most trains have comfortable seats and the cigarette smoke wasn't too bothersome.
Almost a month before we were to arrive in Germany, we made reservations
for the high-speed train from Koln to Paris. The reservations were made
online at the Deutsche Bahn (DB) site, confirmed by e-mail, and charged
to my credit card. But the day we arrived in Germany our daughter called
from the US; she told us that there was a registered letter from Germany.
Lo and behold it was our rail tickets to Paris! Our hosts called the DB
to see what could be done. We had to buy new tickets even though we had
a copy of the ticket that my daughter faxed to us. We will eventually
be credited for the tickets when we mail the unused and the canceled/used
tickets back to them. Maybe one should order the tickets even further
in advance and communicate with DB as to whether they are mailing the
tickets to your home or not. It might save you a moment of panic in a
Weeping Water, NE USA 03/14/00
The trip from France to Spain isn't too fast (yet!). The fastest train from Paris to Madrid is around 12 hours and the fastest from Paris to Barcelona is around 9.5 hours. The French part of the voyage zips along via the TGV (high-speed) train, but the Spanish part is a lot slower. The Spanish are building some new high-speed trains, but that won't help you in northern Spain.
For anybody who'll be doing more than a few legs of train travel, I
highly recommend getting the Thomas Cook European Timetable. It's a little
bulky, and it takes a while to decipher it, but if you can deal with that,
it's invaluable. It lists every scheduled train (plus some ferries & buses)
in Europe. It has saved me numerous times, and really helps you feel confident
about being spontaneous because you always know that "you can get there
from here." (You'll also make a bunch of new friends when you pull it
out of your bag in a crowded train station!) Last I checked, it was around
$28 from www.forsyth.com, and sometimes you can get a special offer on
one through Rail Europe (www.raileurope.com). Good luck!
CO USA 03/13/00
If you plan to use trains in the UK but not extensively enough to warrant
a railpass, consider buying advance tickets via the Internet. Although
regular walk-up ticket prices in the UK are among the most expensive in
Europe, there are wonderful bargains to be had, too, that in some cases
are cheaper than the bus. (For example, London-Edinburgh on Great Northeastern
Railway for 19 pounds). You can check the range of prices at this Web
site: http://www.thetrainline.co.uk. [Editor's note: You can
also use Rick's railpass guide
to compare ticket prices vs. railpasses for your route.]
Seattle, WA USA 03/11/00
Don't believe Rick when he says you need a reservation for your train
as much as a reservation for McDonald's...at least on Friday afternoons
in Italy in the summer! The Italians pour out of the cities by train and
we had to spend a long hot night (6 hrs!) standing in the train "hallway"
(until we just collapsed on the dirty floor) between Roma and Sicilia.
It was hell! We got reservations for the rest of our train travel. BTW,
French trains are much cleaner than Italian trains.
Tampa, FL USA 03/09/00
I was glad riding the overnight train to Italy that we brought a bungee cord to secure the door. Somehow the door came unlocked (maybe the vibration, maybe not) and someone tried the door. This came in handy more than once.
Be sure to reserve an overnight compartment 24 hours in advance. We
couldn't get on the first train we wanted to take--it was full even in
WETUMPKA, al USA 03/05/00
Before taking the train, go to the train station to see where your train
will depart from. Also, reconfirm your reservation, or you can purchase
your tickets the day before. If you have rented a car, go the day before
and see excatly where to return it. On the day of departure leave your
hotel 1-2 hours if driving or taking a taxi, or 1 hour for metro. (Paris
has 5 rail stations so be aware of what station you are going to.)
Saratoga, CA USA 03/05/00
Was able to buy a 1st class train ticket from Milan to Florence at Malpensa
Airport...where you get the bus ticket that takes you to the central train
station (about $6.50 a bus ticket one way). The train and track number
didn't appear on the big board until minutes before it arrived...I made
a mad dash to the cars! I was not told that my ticket actually reserved
me 2 specific seats on the train. On many US trains you just get on and
sit in a seat...I had to lug my stuff 8 cars to the seats I had purchased!
You really get stiffed if you don't pay for supplements before getting
on trains. American Express is great for reservations and making these
payments in Italy.
Alyadena, CA USA 02/25/00
requested "sleeping car" in French, got a four-person couchette, Paris to Vienna; two very tired women did not want to share with two nice gentlemen. kind car personnel found empty couchette..showed our "appreciation" with 100 francs apiece..he spoke English, was entertaining and we didn't have to share.
same trip, different situation: GOT sleeping car--very expensive--to Zurich, changed to TGV, decided not to get off in Lyon, and head to Avignon instead. Conductor very accommodating: just sit still, if someone with our seat assignment gets on, find another first-class seat. we noted locals all get on in first class without assignment...just take their chances.
stayed in avignon, then used rail pass for day trips all around Riviera,
Arles, etc. (hit ALL the markets...Arles best) with cheap room in Avignon.
Took TGV back to Paris from Avignon..wonderful! loved TGVs for comfort,
views thru Switzerland.
Gig Harbor, WA USA 02/20/00
Generally you do not need reservations during off-peak periods. However,
on busier routes (e.g. Brussels-Paris or Vienna-Frankfurt) it could be
necessary. If you are sleeping on the train it could save you having to
stand for a couple of hours or have to sleep in the hall.
Brooklyn, NY USA 02/20/00
I have to disagree with Lloyd (below) and recommend the Eurostar. If you
check the British website before leaving the US you'll be able to check
out the various ticket options available and then buy your ticket in London.
I've been living in London now for over a year and a half and the Eurostar
is the easiest, fastest, usually cheapest and most convenient way to get
to Brussels or Paris. It seems, by my calculations, that Lloyd ended up
spending just as much going train-ferry-hotel-taxi-train as the Eurostar
(and what a headache!). When you can get from London-Paris for £75($120)rtn
in three hours that's usually the option to take.
London, UK 02/08/00
For travelers under 26, in June and July a 1st class pass is well worth
the money. If you want to meet more people there's nothing stopping you
from going to 2nd class for a while. But first class is easier to sleep
in and if there are 2 of you you will save 15% each with the "saverpass."
Vancouver, bc ca 02/06/00
We recently traveled between London and Paris. First the only options
we could find were L140 each for the Eurostar train to Paris--or maybe
the L100 round trip (go figure). It's assumed that everyone wants to take
the Eurostar, and we had difficulty getting information from even the
HoverSpeed people--they kept me on hold until I ran out of change! Finally
found a Connex train ticket to Dover, P&O Boat to Calais, train to Paris
for L49. Got to Calais after the last train to Paris so we stayed at a
nice hotel (Metropolitain) next to the local train station for 300 FF
($50) . Due to confusion about the two train stations we just missed the
early (local) train from that station, but for 100 FF were able to get
a cab to the Calais station and for only 40FF more we were upgraded to
the Eurostar train. This got us non-stop into Paris Nord by 10:30am.
Baton Rouge, LA USA 02/03/00
My husband and I were in France this past Fall traveling with Europasses.
Wanting to go from Paris to Versailles without having to buy an extra
ticket (we already had Metro passes for Paris) seemed impossible, until
a Japanese couple showed us how: Getting on the train was no problem but
exiting without a ticket was impossible. We followed them to the information
desk, where we showed our passes, and were given a yellow ticket called
a "contremarque gratuite" at no charge! We tried it again on the way back
to Paris and it worked like a charm!
Troy, OH USA 02/03/00
In Switzerland, one railway carriage per class has been designated as
'cell-phone free', so you don't have to have your sleep, work and reading
interrupted by beeping and loud, at times intimate conversation.
Montréal, Québec - Canada 02/01/00
On my first trip to Europe, I got accustomed to the automatically-opening doors on many Spanish and French trains. However, it was a different story in England.
I rode a ramshackle old local train to a Manchester suburb to meet relatives. Train stops--especially at small towns--are often brief, so I had my rucksack on and made my way to the door before we pulled into the station. The train stopped, and there I stood, waiting for the door to slide open--or at least to be opened by an attendant on the platform. And there I continued to stand, with a look of horror on my face, as the door remained closed, no one came to open it...and we pulled out of the station!
In Manchester, everyone got off, and I just followed the crowd (and
page my relatives!). And I learned from the locals: on low-tech older
trains, be prepared to wrestle open the door's window, reach outside,
and get yourself off that train!
Margaret Cassady, ETBD
Edmonds, WA USA 01/30/00
For our last European vacation we purchased a railpass here at home for 8 days of unlimited travel, good for a couple of months. We planned to ride our bicycles in an area for a week or so and then hop on the train and ride the rails to the next area. It was a great idea except for one small flaw: Bicycles are allowed on local trains only! For international trains (such as ICE) the bikes would have to be packed as luggage. This really messed up our plans!
We ended up taking a local train to the border and then crossing the border over to the next train. Getting from Zurich, Switzerland to Oberstaufen, Germany was neat. We took the Swiss train to St. Margreten (sp?), hopped on an Austrian train to Lindau, to hop onto a German train to Oberstaufen. And all the stairs at train stations are quite a bit of exercise with two bikes loaded for camping!
Also note that Eurailpasses do not cover the cost of the bicycles. We had to purchase tickets for the bikes every time. Once we had to pay the conductor in Austria and since we had not planned on going to Austria we had no local currency. Always have some handy!
The other bike-on-train adventure occured when we took the overnight train from Paris to Rotterdam. The bikes couldn't be taken on board so we had to check them as luggage. As we were waiting to board the 11:00 PM train we saw our bikes taken to the luggage car, so we were certain that we were on the same train.
We arrived at Rotterdam and when we got off the train we thought, "Gee,
they must have unloaded the baggage pretty quickly, since the train is
leaving already." We waited till 8:00 AM when the baggage office opened
and went to pick up our bikes. The agent said that all baggage goes through
the central hub first, in Utrecht! So we took a bus to the campground
in Rotterdam and relaxed, waiting for our bikes. It was a very enjoyable
couple of days, proving again that it's the unexpected that makes traveling
Redwood Meadows, AB Canada 01/22/00
If you have a European passport, or you have a residence permit for Europe and have been there for 5 or 6 months, you can buy an Interrail instead of a Eurail pass. The Interrail is a much better pass and MUCH CHEAPER. For example: The global pass is good all over western AND Eastern Europe and Greece, offers basically all the same perks as Eurailpasses, and it costs 636 DM (about US$315) for unlimited travel for 30 consecutive days. The pass must be bought in Europe with a passport on you.
I'm a Canadian living in Germany and I do this regularly. It's no-worry
travel for a month and it always pays for itself. You can check out the
details at the following site: http://www.bahn.de/home/db_reise_touristik/englisch/db_rt_offers_europeans.shtml
- or navigate from the site www.bahn.de
Sault Ste. Marie, ON Can 01/21/00
When in Italy, reserve your seats in 1st and 2nd class, at all times, on all the trains (Eurostar and regular). We found out the hard way and ended up on the the 5-hour commuter train from Milano to Florence after our 14-hour plane ride...and we did not have seats on this packed train. This was off season, so I can only imagine what busy season would be like. It was interesting to say the least.
Also, if you don't like smoke, reserve your seats in the non-fum (non-smoking) trains...unless you want to be stuck behind some smoker who smokes for 5 hours on a train (I don't know many American smokers who can even take that).
We figured out quickly to make reservations a day ahead and this worked
out great. We also must have hit Italy at a good time because all the
trains were on time every time we traveled.
san francisco, ca USA 01/20/00
We travelled from Munich to Salzburg to Vienna last June. We bought
all our tickets from Deutsche Bahn (DER Rail in the USA) and took a DB
train to Salzburg. We stayed the night, then took an SAS (Austrian) train
from Salzburg to Vienna. However, after the train left the station, the
conductor said our DB trickets were not valid on SAS. It took a few minutes
explaining DB only ISSUED the tickets and that the tickets WERE for SAS
travel. What saved us was our reservation. We had reserved the 1st-class
seats before we left the USA. So, if you use point-to-point tickets...get
Norwood, OH USA 01/17/00
My advice for train travelers or ferry travelers is to plan properly for your time of arrival at your destination hostel. Hostels generally will not let you get a bed until after noon.
I arrived exhausted in Munich in the early morning, and found my hostel,
only to learn that I would have to wait five hours to get a bed. I staggered
around Munich until I could finally rest. This also happened after taking
an all-night ferry from Crete to Pireaus (Athens). I arrived at the port
bleary-eyed at 5 A.M. I had a long, dark, solitary walk with a heavy backpack
to the metro station. I took that to the Plaka area and walked around,
totally lost (asking help from kiosk and store owners opening for the
day) until I finally found the hostel--only to be told I would have to
wait several hours for a bed or shower. So, please be aware of when you
will arrive and plan accordingly. Happy travels!
dallas, TX USA 01/17/00
Hopefully I'm the only bonehead who will ever need this advice, but
just in case...If you leave a bag on an English train, inform the stationmaster
where you are immediately! It helps if you can somehow identify your bag
as well, instead of saying it's the black one with wheels, and there are
12 others just like it. If you don't proceed as recommended, the bomb
squad WILL be called.
Kingwood, tx USA 01/16/00