Leah's European Adventure

Staff member: Leah // Trip date: Nov 2009


Paris

We flew straight into Paris which is a new experience for me. We took the RER into Paris Nord station. There are signs everywhere in CDG showing how to reach the railway station. We caught a shuttle to terminal 3 where we then brought a ticket from the ticket window. The lady was very helpful and advised us which platform to stand on to board the train. The RER stopped at quite a few stations before arriving at Paris Nord. The train was clean safe and easy to use. I would recommend this as the way to reach Paris city from Charles De Gaulle.

We used City Sightseeing to travel around Paris. This hop on hop off bus service is a fantastic way to make your way around Paris. It stops at all the major sights such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame. The ticket was valid for 2 days so anything we didn't get to see we went and saw the next day. This bus service also has commentary which is quite interesting especially if it is your first time to Paris.


Luzern

Our next destination was Luzern which is in Switzerland. We took a TGV from Paris - Bern. We travelled in first class. This train was of high standard, it was comfortable clean and very efficient. Food is not included in the price of your ticket but an attendant does come through the carriage with a snack trolley from which you can buy coffee, drink and chips etc. From Bern we took an IC train to Luzern. This train was a duplex train. We sat on the top level which was modern, clean and comfortable. Only trouble was lugging our suitcases up the steps but of course this was our choice. As this service was only an hour there was no attendant with a snack trolley but there was a snack bar.

I must say Luzern was amazing! After being to a few other places in Switzerland, Luzern certainly did not disappoint. The station is located on the lake. It is also central in Luzern. The walk to our hotel was only 5 minutes. The station and the port for ferries are opposite each other so for people who may be doing the Wilhelm tell the pickup point for the ferry is 3 minutes from the station.

Venice

From Luzern we then travelled to Venice via Milan. The train from Luzern - Milan was a high speed International train. It was of high quality and very clean. We again sat in first class this was full mainly of business travelers. Attendants came through with a snack trolley, food and drinks were at an extra cost. We arrived at Milan station late in the afternoon. The station was extremely busy and extremely dirty. We only had a short wait before we boarded the train to Venice.

Milan station is under renovation so if you do have a quite a wait it is probably best to leave the station as there are no cafes or restaurants to sit and wait in. We boarded a Eurostar Italia train for our trip to Venice. I have travelled on these trains before. But I noticed that the inside has been updated. They are high speed with minimum stops from Milan to Venice. We were offered free tea and coffee on this train. It was a great train to travel on.

When booking trains between Milan and Venice I suggest to booking the high speed trains as I have travelled on the slower trains and they are quiet old and they stop at every station between Milan and Venice which makes the service over an hour longer.

Once in Venice our hotel was located next to Santa Maria Station on Venice Island. Our hotel was in a great position as we did not have far to walk with our suitcases. As there are a lot of steps in Venice it is much easier to stay as close to the station as possible simply for fact that it is a hard place to get around with suitcases.

Salzburg

We caught a train from Venice to Verona changed trains then caught a direct service to Salzburg. The train from Venice to Verona was easy. Even though it is only an hour we pre-reserved our seat just in case the train was busy. Lucky we did as the train was full in both first and second class.

There are trains that run to Verona that are not compulsory seat reservations but these trains again are much older and stop at every station which is very time consuming. These trains I suspect are more for locals. We then changed trains very easily at Verona Porta Nuova Station.

We boarded a high speed train. We were in a first class compartment which seated 6 people. Our compartment was empty which was good as there is not a lot of luggage space. There are racks above the seats. An Italian ticket inspector came through and checked our passes and passport. Once we crossed the border police came through the train checking luggage. We also had another Inspector come through and check our passes and passport.

This train was comfortable but not overly clean. The scenery was definitely a highlight as you go through the mountains. There is a snack bar and restaurant on board so people can sit and enjoy a meal whilst taking in the scenery.

Budapest

From Salzburg to Budapest we caught a Rail Jet train. These trains are extremely new and extremely fast. We again were in First class. Seats were leather and once we boarded we were handed a bottle of water and a small snack of biscuits. We were also offered papers but no English papers were offered. There are tv screens in each carriage advising how fast you are going and a map of the journey. It shows each city and town you pass through. Also onboard there is an information desk along with a snack car.

An attendant does come to your seat with a menu in which you can order hot meals. I ordered a hot lunch and it was served to me in my seat. It was of high standard and cost around 9 Euro. This train was by far the most modern train I have travelled on in Europe. I definitely recommend it. Seat reservations are compulsory with a Eurail Pass.

We arrived in Budapest at 6pm and it was dark. Budapest station was an eye opener to say the least. There were a lot of people there and it was not overly safe. We changed our money then took a taxi to our hotel. There a lot of taxi drivers around the station some waiting for you when you hop off the train. You need to be very careful as some are not registered and will rip you off. You need to bargain with them for the cost of the fare. I would suggest not staying long at the station at night and you need to really watch your luggage.

Munich

Our last destination was Munich. We caught a train from Budapest to Vienna then onto Munich. Seeing Budapest station in day light was slightly different. They have a lot of security and you cannot access the platforms without showing your ticket to security. This is great as it means people who are not traveling on the train cannot be on the platforms.

Our train was a high speed train. It was very comfortable but very old. The interior in First class was very outdated. There was a snack bar onboard and a restaurant. There was no attendant who came through the carriage offering coffee etc. If you wanted something to eat or drink you had to go to the snack bar.

We then changed onto another Rail Jet train in Vienna. The train was exactly the same as the previous Rail Jet I had travelled on. Munich train station is a very big station. It is modern and luckily for us our hotel was directly across the road from the station. This was good for two reasons. One, we didn't need to walk far with our luggage or pay for a taxi and two because we took tours which started at the station so it was very convenient. We also took an underground train straight from the main into the city centre. It was very easy and the station is clean and there are information desks throughout the station.

Our last train journey was from Munich main station to Munich airport. So we purchased a ticket from the ticket office in Munich main station which was around 10 Euro. We then went to the underground station and went straight to the correct platform as the lady in the ticket office told us the platform number. It also shows to the airport on departure screen on the platforms. Okay so this was a little confusing as an announcement is made for all passengers travelling to the airport to board in the last carriage of the train.

Of course then train came and we then couldn't make it to the last carriage as it was so busy. We just hoped on the train anyway in something like the 3rd last carriage. We were not sure why we had to be in the last carriage until we continued on the journey. What happens is the train separates at 3 major stops and then goes in a different direction. We asked another passenger on the train who explained this.

On the second last stop before the airport we got off the train and moved to the last carriage. A lot of people did this. So when taking a train to the airport it is important to be in the last carriage always. The train was modern and comfortable, it was just a local train so nothing fancy but very comfortable. This trip took all up around 45minutes. A very easy way to get to the Munich airport.


Overall our (I travelled with my mum) trip was fantastic. It was a great time of the year to travel as it was not too busy and it wasn't surprisingly that cold. I travelled for two weeks in total. A little more time would've been ideal but for what we did two weeks was just enough time.
Trains in Europe are amazing, they are so fast and efficient and the best part is they take you straight into the centre of the city which means no airports, queues, taxis. I wouldn't travel Europe any other way.

Click here for an interactive map of Leah's journey!

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