Travelling by Train For those of us who have traveled through airports we’ve all experienced long delays at due to postponed flights or been held up in long queue’s waiting to check in. That’s why trains are a fantastic way to travel Europe. They’re fast, travelling at speeds of up to 175 mph or around 300 kilometers per hour, efficient, and user friendly. There’s no arriving at terminals waiting in airport lines for hours.
I remember one experience I had at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, the largest airport in all of Italy, my friend and I had just returned from enjoying a visit to the south of Italy staying at Amalfi, a spectacular scenic town on the sea-side. Believe it or not, the night we arrived, we were awoken in our hotel room by a commotion of noise disturbing the silence. Not knowing what was happening, we ventured out onto the large outdoor terrace overlooking the sea. We could only hear how the town had erupted into joyous song and partying for reasons at the time were unknown to us, but in the morning were to discover Italy, that particularly noisy night had won the World Cup in Soccer, which we had no idea was in play. Unfortunately the experience of mingling was missed as due to us staying on the outskirts of town which was up a hill, we were unable to immediately venture down to join the partying.
Still to this day, I kick myself, acknowledging we could have made more of an effort! Airport Departure Both of us, after our 2 week vacation were departing in different directions to two different locations. She was returning to Australia via London, while I was continuing on toward France. Knowing she was to go to the left at the airport entrance, while I went right, we never said goodbye, as once checked in planned to meet up again for our final goodbyes over a coffee and chat about our adventures of the past weeks.
But once I stood in my line for checking in, I was never to emerge again in time to see her off. Every time I edged my way closer to the check-in counter, a staff member would step to the front of the queue, call for passengers on a flight departing next, then those at the back of the line would come forward sending those in front (me!) again toward the back of the line. I’ve traveled a lot and stood in a lot of check-in lines, but I would have to say that was the most frustrating experience ever. I can only presume it’s the way things were done at that particular airport because people seemed to know that by turning up late they would be called, so arriving at the last minute for their flight would ensure they didn’t wait for line before being called.
For my friend and I we had to presume each of us was safe on our journey to the next destination and could catch up only once we were both in Australia. Train travel – Quick and Easy That’s one of the reasons train travel for me is appealing. Train stations amuse me especially major terminals through Europe. To me trains look like slug’s waiting for the starting gun to go off before racing to their next destination. Last year I wanted to try the Chunnel, The Eurostar high speed train travelling from Paris to London at around 185 via an under-water tunnel, which starts it’s journey in the middle of Paris, arriving in the center of London barely 2 hours later. What a fantastic way to go. Tickets start at around ?54 depending on the time of year, offering a non flexible standard deal but if you want luxury, try the business class fully flexible for approximately ?245. But I can assure you the basic standard trip is great. Seats are comfortable, carriages are spacious and there’s plenty of room for luggage. You even get offered a small snack on board.
If you travel to the terminal by local Metro, this is where the benefits start. No cars, no traffic with connections available throughout the whole city. Arriving at the Paris Gare Du Nord Train terminal in the center of Paris, it’s easy steps all the way. Clearing customs is still necessary, so make sure you have all your relevant passports, visa’s and documents handy, then it’s into a holding room until the time arrives for the train to be boarded. It’s recommended arriving around 45 mins before departure but I leave nothing to chance, always making my way a little earlier.
Entering the carriages are easy as they’re clearly numbered, seats are numbered, baggage is stored in your carriage and you’re ready to sit back, enjoy the scenery of a new country or read a book.Some people play cards, chat or simply relax before disembarking in another country at the St Pancreas International Terminal London, ready for connecting trains ready to take you anywhere you want to go. The best part is you don’t have to wait for luggage to be unloaded, standing around at a carousel watching everyone’s else’s bag circle except yours. It’s straight out of the carriage, bag in tow. Where else could you be in Paris for breakfast and shopping in London for the afternoon. If you really want you can be back in Paris or vice versa before the evening draws near. Magic! Beware of Strangers with Great Offers I’ve also learnt though to be on guard no matter how I travel or to where. I’ve experienced first hand on occasions, characters
I can only presume of not good intention, preying on those they see as vulnerable. I no longer allow myself to believe those who approach me as reliable or honest, keeping on guard for reasons I’ll share. Several years ago at the Florence train station, I was taking the train across the Italian boarder to Nice in France. Sitting waiting patiently with my baggage I was approached by a man who seemed to be giving me instructions of how to validate my ticket. This ticket I had purchased the night before and to be honest had no idea I had to validate it but also knew he didn’t have a guard uniform on and questioned myself why he would care. He would gesture for me to give him my ticket then walk to the validating machine on the platform, mimicking what I should do. Several times he tried to take the ticket from my hands, when finally I walked away. I can only presume he would have taken my ticket, ran, boarded the train as the ticket had no name, and got a free ride from this unknowing victim, being me.
Another time wanting to travel from the train station at Naples, again in Italy, my daughter and I were offered transport by whom we thought was a legitimate taxi driver. Wrong again! The car was old and dilapidated, and while I rode in the front my daughter was ushered into the back seat along with our baggage because from what I could see the boot didn’t close. Great stories to tell but it’s later you realize something could really have gone seriously wrong and erring on the side of caution is a wiser thing to do.
There’s signs clearly stating it’s illegal for non taxi driver’s to offer rides, but I’ve seen them all over the world so caution really is the way to go. Train travel in my experience allows you to see country sides in all their splendor. Views from a carriage window enlighten the traveler of the way people live in those small towns and the beauty or diversity of the landscape. I hope if you get the chance, you enjoy this scenic travel mode as much as me.