Iain tours Europe

Staff member: Iain // Trip date: Jan 2010


Copenhagen Airport - Central Station

Arrived at Copenhagen airport, followed the signs to the part where you get the train.
They have ticketing windows where you can speak to someone or you can go to a ticket machine and buy your ticket there, but you have coins or credit cards as the method of payment, I went to the ticket counter and just paid for a ticket to Copenhagen Central station. It cost me about 35 Danish Kroner. The trip was about 10-15 mins and I was there in no time. Didn't bother with using a day on my pass. The train itself was okay, just about six carriages long and it seemed to just have standard class. The train was the usual standard class formation with two rows of two and in the middle they had the table with four. The had overhead racks and at either end were the baggage racks. The voice over person spoken in both Danish and English.

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Copenhagen - Berlin

My next train went from Copenhagen to Berlin. I arrived at the station at 7.15am, Copenhagen main train station has everything you want, from food, to post office to ticket machines and actually talking to someone as well. There are plenty of TV screens and clocks around to tell you the time and tell you when your departing. I headed down to my train, the platform has different sections for different carriages which made it easier to find where I was meant to be. I got on to the train and found my seat, a single window seat and I travelled backwards. The train seemed very new and only had a few carriages on it and my carriage was the last one as the next part of the train was to be separated once we got going. The seats where comfy and lots of room to move, the announcements came in Danish, German and English as we went along, the configuration of the train was the single aisle and then the 2 seats next to each other. All had a tray table, the baggage compartment was the overhead compartment that runs the length of the carriage both sides, the screen flashed when we where coming to a station and gave out general info in all 3 languages again. There where a couple of cordoned off little compartments for I guess business travelers so that they can chat while travelling. When we got to the Danish border, the train moved onto the ferry and we all headed up stairs to the deck where we all walked around and had the chance for shopping and food, the ferry was kind of small and a lot of it we couldn't get to because of the weather. The trip took 45 mins, and about 5 mins before we got there, we had an announcement come over and to head back to the train.
We then set off, the train was meant to be direct, but for some reason we had to get of in Hamburg and change trains, we then waited around 45 mins for the next Berlin train to come, and then we all jumped on, again they had set it so that you knew where to go sit. This ICE train was not as good, but still nice, grabbed what I could and sat down. This trip was fine, same configuration as the last train. We arrived into Berlin HBF, massive station with lots of stuff to do and see. Shops and a Muilti level building, it was cool, the s-bann runs out of here and also there is really everything you need in a station here. My Hostel was right next door.

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Berlin - Warsaw

My next train I took was the Berlin Warsaw Express. I had both a European East Pass and also a Eurail Global Pass, I wanted to get the Eastern Europe pass validated and use this for the train as I had purchased a passholder two fare. The staff at Berlin HBF could not validate my pass and said that I had to do this on the train, so my train departed at 6.29am and I got to the station around 5.50. The station was open and there where a few people about, the shops and bakeries started opening at 6am, there was also police about as well. So I made my way to the platform, the train came on time, not a big train, 2 first class and 3 second class carriages, there was about 2 people in first and the rest in second. There was a restaurant on board too. The train looked old and the compartments were lots of six. Numbers going from 41-46 and 51-56 and so on. The conductor came to my compartment and I showed him my pass and said they told me to validate with him, this was not true he said and told me I should have done it before I got on train, he marked a day on my pass and left. He was not happy at all.

The trip took around 6 hours and was fast at times and then slowed down. We arrived at Warsaw Central. Big station, plenty of shops, information and lockers, taxi's outside. There are boards everywhere to read what platform to go from and plenty of ticket windows and reservations. Once I arrived in Warsaw, I had to get my pass stamped, so I went to the ticket window. The person had no idea what I wanted and just stamped my pass and called the next person through, so I filled in my own dates and passport number and that was that.

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Warsaw - Krakow

The next train I took was a Interegional train from Warsaw to Krakow. Due to the fact that the weather was so bad, a lot of the trains were cancelled. So when the first train arrived, everyone jumped on and took what they could find. It was a second class only train. I jumped on and found a seat and then within about 10 seconds the carriage was full. The seats where comfy and the carriages started of being warm, until about 10 minutes in where everyone had put there winter stuff back on, it was freezing! The conductor came around and checked everyone's tickets and passes; he didn't seem to mind that everyone had feet on seats and sleeping. The train took an hour longer than scheduled and we arrived into Krakow Glowny. The station itself is pretty bare, lots of pictures and advertisement on the walls. As you walk through the station, you go down the steps and walk through the tunnels and at the end, there is the entrance to a pretty big shopping centre. Once you get out the other side, there are buses and taxi's there as well.

Krakow - Zgorzelec Miasto

The next journey was from Krakow to Zgorzelec Miasto via Wroclaw. The first train left at 7.24 am and when I got to the station not much was open. There were a few shops about, but that was it. The train was an EC train and I didn't have a reservation so I went to the ticket window to reserve and the lady told me no need and told me platform 4. Well I think that is what she told me because it was all in polish. The train was waiting at the platform when I got up there and I jumped on. I found that on the entire carriages that the train only had one reserved seat, so I found myself a nice warm six berth and sat down. The train was nice, the scenery as we went was pretty much just snow and snow. But it was cool. There is a bathroom at either end of the carriage and a dinning car. The conductor came around and stamped our tickets. The journey was fine and we got into Wroclaw on time. I had to change in Wroclaw to make my connection. The station was alright, they had everything you wanted there, and I had to wait about an hour. The next train arrived on time and it was heading to Zgorzelec Miastro which is a small town near the Polish, German and Czech Boarders. The train was very nice and it was a German train, it had the DB sign on it and it was very very new with two carriages and there was about four first class seats and the rest was all second. I just grabbed a second class seat and away we went. The train has baggage racks running across the top of the train on either sides, plenty of space for backpacks and also bigger cases. The train's conductors came around and stamped our tickets and passes. The train was on time and the train station is really not a lot. Meaning pretty much just the tracks and the platforms and that is it.

Zgorzelec Miasto - Prague

This trip was via Dresden. The first train was the same train from Wroclaw to Zgorzelec Miasto, except I was going all the way to Dresden. The train was not full and once we got to the boarder of Poland and Germany, the train becomes German and the conductors change over. We got into Dresden 10mins late. My connecting train was 30 mins later, so all was good. Dresden train station is pretty big and looks like it has had a makeover, there is everything you need here and there are signs and boards to display everything for departures and arrivals. The journey picked up on the Dresden to Prague sector, this was an EC train, I had no reservation, so just jumped on with my pass and found an empty seat. The carriage was pretty empty again and I had my own 6 berth, the train had one first class and 7 second class and also a dinning cart, the train left on time and the conductor came around and checked our tickets and passes. The train ride was probably the best one I did, the train follows the river all the way down to Prague, and when you add in the mountains, snow and little villages, it looks pretty cool. I got off at the Prague station I needed and just followed the signs out, there is everything you need, here and the place is well signed posted.

Prague - Bratislava

The train ran on time and I had a seat booked on the train, it was an EC train and again I had my own six berth cabin. Again once we reached the boarders and the conductors changed over and away we went. The train was on time into Bratislava. The train was a nice train, it had two first class carriages, one at the front and at the end, and about 10 second class carriages in between, there is also a dinning cart. Bratislava train station had mainly a lot of ticketing windows and also information booth's for internationally travel, there are plenty of boards to read and also taxis, buses and trams right outside. The seat configuration on the train was like a normal carriage with a single row and then the aisle and then a row of two, I had a single seat next to the window.

 

Bratislava - Budapest

This was an EC train and was late and the train only had half a compartment for first class, the boards where updated with about five minutes till scheduled leaving time, so all of a sudden there where a lot of people on the train. I had a first class seat reservation, but the seat I got was in second class, that was fine, so I grabbed my seat and it was compartment style this time and I shared with a couple of people. The toilet was pretty basic. The train itself had 5 second class carriages and also the dinning cart, we arrived into Budapest on time.

Budapest - Zagreb

My train left at 6.30am, my hostel was very close to the station, so made it easier to get to the station in the morning. Out the front of the main station they are doing a lot of works for different things. The square that is usually there has been turned up and has a fence around it as building continues but you can still access the station. Inside the station there was not a lot of people about as it was before 6.00am. A few things where open, like food stands and newspaper stands. There was a big departures/arrival board and was easy enough to find my platform. My trip was waiting and for the first time I didn't have to race to get it. I found my carriage, but was not hard as there were only 3 and only 1 was first class, again I was the only one reserved. The first class was again the 6 berth cabins and with plenty of room to spread out, I quickly went down to one of the 2nd class and had a look and they where the same as first, I then still had time so went to check the other carriage out and it was the normal configuration for the 2nd class, 2 rows, the aisle and the two more rows. I'm finding on a lot of the trains that the bags racks are only the overhead parts. This train was an example of this. We left on time and there was lots of snow about and I was again backwards facing. I have found no consistency with the seat numbers and to know what will be forward facing and what will be window as trains are different. We got to the borders of Hungry and Croatia and waited about 1.5 hours, we had to wait for a train from Vienna to arrive so we could attach to them, then the boarder and customs people got onto the train and did a sweep. I was the only one on the first class part and they checked my passport and asked me some questions, they said enjoy your trip and moved on, then the same thing happened again, except a different bunch of them, they stamped my passport, asked where I was going and what was in my bag. I answered and they too said, have a nice trip. We got into Zagreb around 1.5 hrs late and the station is not far too walk to get you places, plus out the front are taxis, trams and also buses. It was snowing and very busy.

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Zagreb -Ljubljana

I had made a seat reservation, but there was no reference to this at all, so I just sat in the seat that I had booked,. First class was very quiet again, only a few business people in one of the other 6 berths. The journey was very beautiful, it took us through the mountains and the trees and mountain tops where full of snow. The train was an IC train and there was plenty of room. I had my own 6 berth again. We had to go through border police and customs again, all was fine. It took maybe five minutes and they asked the same questions again. The conductors changed at the borders and off we went again. The train arrived on time. Ljubljana train station is a little confusing at first, the tracks are not really close to the ticketing and information centre, you have to walk under a walkway and then proceed along platform 1. There is plenty of things at the station, like food, foreign exchange and also ticketing windows. The boards where easy to read.

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Ljubljana - Rome

The first sector was Ljubljana to Villach and it was a late night train as I was connecting with my night train to Rome. There was a little trouble at the start but we got underway about 20 mins late. I checked with the ticket window as to which platform I was leaving from and they told me, to get to the platforms from the ticket office is about a 50m walk to the walkways and then you follow the underground passage to the platform you need.
I had reserved a seat and again there was no reference to this, I marked on my pass for the 15.02 and when the ticket conductor came around, he marked for the 16.02 so I would not lose a day. We arrived into Villach around 11pm and my next train was an hour later, I checked out the station, and Villach station is big and well signed posted, there is also english signs everywhere. As we know at the moment to get from Venice to Villach and return is a bus and there was plenty of references to this around the station. I found which platform I was and headed there, it was freezing and I waited the hour until it showed, the computer showed me where I had to stand for my carriage and I was all set, the train arrived on time and I found where I was suppose to sleep. There where two ladies that were to share my cabin as well, we got to our cabin and there was already 6 people asleep in it so the conductor found us another one and we all went in. I had an upper berth and it was about 175 cms long, I'm 193 cms long and was way too small for me, but, I just sucked it up and went with it. My bags where safe and they gave us blankets, we also got breakfast and there was a shower on board. We where suppose to get woken up an hour before we arrived but the conductor slept in! We had a pastry and tea or coffee for our breakfast and it was fine. We arrived into Roma Termini on time, the station has changed a lot since I was last here, it is very well signed posted, many more shops and ticketing windows, underground shops and toilets. The station is easy to access and there are signs and English announcements everywhere. The boards are right in the middle to read for where you have to head to next.

Rome - La Spezia

The train was an IC train and I thought it was very nice, it was a little late but we made up time as the trip went on, the train was about 12 carriages long and had two of them as first class, the signs on the door said where the train was headed and what the carriage number was. My number was clear and was able to board, the carriage had the four seats together and then the aisle and the two singles on the other side facing each other, the train had a border bistro and staff to help, the seats where numbered but none said what was reserved, but everyone was able to find their seats. I had a window seat and was facing backwards, 75% of my trip has been facing backwards and its been fine. The train arrived on time and La Spezia train station has plenty of signs to get around and navigate, there are tourist offices for where you can buy tickets to the Clique Terra, when I was there, for the train and the park pass it was 8 Euro 40 euro cents. But I didn't get to do it as there was a train strike for the time I was there and the weather was crap.

La Spezia -Luzern

Today was to be a day of 4 trains from La Spezia to Luzern via Genoa, Milan and Arth Goldau. My first train was from La Spezia to Genoa, the train was due to leave at 6.40am and get into Genoa just after 8am. Considering Italy had a strike the day before, I was wondering if my trains would run, and run they did, which was fine. It was an IC train and it was on time and got into Genoa on time. Genoa train station was fine, it looks a little old, but easy enough to navigate around.
My next train was not for an hour, so I was able to find breakfast and wait for the boards to show what platform I was to go to. The train from Genoa to Milan was on time and was an IC train as well; the compartment was a six berth and was for the first time full once we had all taken our seats. Plenty of room for bags and other stuff, we arrived on time into Milan, which was good for me as I only had 20 mins to change trains. The station is under construction at the moment but was easy enough to get around, it is a very big, busy train station, there are lots of signs and announcements as well, the board told me what platform next so I made my way there. There are always little snack machines on the platform if you just feel like something light. The train was sitting waiting to go, it was a new looking train and was very nice inside, it had the four together with the table in the middle as well as the two singles facing each other, bathrooms at either end and restaurant on board, this train was going from Milan to Arth Goldau.
The train takes you up past places like Lake Como and Lugarno and the scenery on this train was the best of all of them. It takes you around and through the mountains and it is some of the most beautiful scenes you will ever see, the train took 3 hrs and was wicked. Arth goldau train station was pretty easy to change trains, I had a two minute connection time and it was on the next platform, the trains I had taken previously all required seat reservations with my pass and this train from Arth Goldau to Luzern was just a regional train so I jumped on and found an empty seat. The journey got me into Luzern right on time. The Swiss are very good with their trains and you would have to say they are up there for the best in the world. Luzern train station is big and has everything you need there for your travels.

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Luzern -Innsbruck

The train from Luzern to Zurich HB was a regional train and was an early one, it had about 15 carriages and four of the them where in first class. The train was two levels, they had the quiet zone downstairs and just normal upstairs. I headed upstairs for the best views and it was quiet busy with everyone heading to work. The train was one of the best trains I have done in terms of comfort, plenty of room and very nice and new looking inside. We got into Zurich on time and I had to wait for next train, the platforms can be confusing at Zurich HB as the train station at the time I was there was under construction and some of the platforms are underground and others are in the main terminal and others you have to follow signs to find. The place is pretty big again with everything you need.
My next train was from Zurich to Innsbruck and it arrived on time, The train was very nice, it had the 6 berth cabins, I got my own one again and it was great. The conductors came around and checked everyone's tickets and passes, another person came around with tea and coffee. There was also a restaurant on board, the train was very nice, it headed through Switzerland into Austria, it was also very beautiful going through all the mountains and seeing the snow. The train stopped in Leitenstein for about 20 mins as we went through. We arrived into Innsbruck on time, Innsbruck train station is very easy to navigate around and plenty of food shops and out the font are taxis and also trams to take you where you want to go.

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Innsbruck -Munich

My final journey was from Innsbruck to Munich. I had an early departure again and the train was on time. The train was an ICE train, these trains are very cool, they had the first and second class carriages, the train is set out in the 4 together with table, the aisle and then the two singles on the other side. The train was great to travel on, there where instructions in English and the side of the train again said the carriage number as well as where it was going to. The seats are very comfy and there are travel planners next to you to explain the journey. The train had a restaurant on board and also someone came around selling tea and coffee, there was over head space to fit suitcases and what not and also luggage storage outside of the cabin. The train arrived on time into Munich main station. Munich station is huge, it really does have everything you need to find your way around the platforms. There are food places, newsagents and lots of ticketing windows, and also access to underground Sbahn systems.

Overall the trains and journeys that I travelled on were great and it was a great way to experience them and get a much better understanding of the trains.

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