October 21, 2017

Tips to Riding the Rails in Europe!

There are many methods of traveling around Europe. You could decide to drive, fly or take the bus but one of the most sought after modes of transportation in Europe are trains.

Riding the train in Europe is often seen as a romantic way to travel. I’m sure we’ve all dreamt about seeing church spires peak out from the fog or the Alps from the comfort of our train seat, and yes it is beautiful and can be romantic but only once you’ve found your seat and are able to relax 🙂

From Glacier Express Switzerland

Here are some tips to help make riding the trains in
Europe easier and more relaxing!

I won’t get into a debate on whether it’s better to use point-to-point tickets or rail passes because I think it depends on the cost. Just remember, no matter what type of ticket you have it doesn’t mean you have an actual seat reserved unless you pay extra for a seat reservation.

Europe Train Belin Germany Station

First tip, Use websites for information on trains. My favorite site for researching European trains is the Deutsche Bahn website. This website offers all kinds of information including countries other than Germany. You can check the schedule, get connecting train information including arrival gate and departing gate, buy tickets and seat reservations. It’s important to remember to use the local name for cities, i.e. Wien=Vienna and München=Munich. Also keep in mind Europe uses the 24hour clock (1400 is 2 pm) and dates are day/month (11/03 is March 11).

Rail Ticket Vienna Austria to Budapest Hungary

From the reservation above you can see my train was leaving from the Wien West station and going to Budapest Keleti.

Which leads me to another tip – it is very important that you arrive at the correct station. Most large European cities have many rail stations.

From the reservation, you can also see the ticket was for 2nd Class (klasse) and departs August 31 at 12:49 pm. The train number is 49, car (wagen) is 22 and my seat is number 86.

Seating Chart at train station Salzburg Austria

Next tip, arrive at the station early! Some of the main stations in large cities are huge. The main station in Berlin even has multiple floors. Arriving early will allow you time to check the boards to confirm your train is on time and find the right platform. Once you’re at the platform use the seating chart (example above) to see where you should stand. Using the information from your reservation, this guide will show you where to stand making it easier to get on the right train car. If you don’t have seat reservations, confirm where the right class train is and stand at the appropriate spot.

Berlin Train Station Germany

PACK LIGHT! No matter what, you’ll be toting your bags. Usually there are stairs getting under tracks to your platform then more stairs getting up to the platform and even a few steps climbing aboard the train. Of course, once on the train you’ll be hefting your bag up to the baggage rack above your seat! Today a lot of stations have elevators (but not all) but many times I find it’s easier just to grab my bag and use the stairs than wait for the elevator to arrive.

Using the train for travel is a great experience and one I recommend everyone have! The best tip I could give you is to ask questions if you’re unsure about anything which is another reason arriving early may actually be the best tip anyone could give you!

 

What’s your #1 tip for making riding trains easier?

A Perfect Day in Warnemunde!

Perfect days don’t come along all that often.  But when everything goes right and you get one of “those” days. . . oh what a day!

Well that is exactly what happened when I visited Warnemunde Germany.  The stars and moons all aligned to give me one perfect day!Two Sailboats with Lighthouses Warnemunde Germany

Warnemunde Germany, the sister city to Rostock, is situated in northern Germany along the Baltic coast.  To say it is a city tied to the sea would be an understatement!  Everywhere you look there are reminders that this is a maritime city.

Founded in 1200, Warnemunde was purchased by Rostock in 1323 to ensure access to the Baltic Sea.  The old channel is lined with restaurants, pubs, traditional fishing boats and shops that were once cottages of fishermen.  There are two jetty’s each with lighthouses at the ends but there is also an older lighthouse dating back to 1897 which is one of the symbols of Warnemunde.

Warnemünde Germany Altstadt by Norbert Kaiser

Warnemünde Altstadt by Norbert Kaiser

To begin my exploration of Warnemunde I decided to wander through the city.  I walked past shops full of wonderful souvenirs, beautiful houses and checked out the local church a neo-gothic beauty dating back to 1866 which also contains artifacts from the older church that once graced the village.

Then it was off to visit the local fish market where you can buy all kinds of local delicacies from the seas – even smoked fish!Smoked Fish Warnemunde Germany

Now it was time to stroll along the promenade to the lighthouse, sand and sea! As I wandered I was amazed at the number of boats heading out of the harbor for a day sailing the Baltic.  The day was mostly blue skies with puffy clouds, sun and wind! A perfect day for sailing.Red Lighthouse with sailboat Warnemunde Germany

Once I made it to the end of the promenade, I sat for awhile on the rocks just to watch the ships and enjoy feeling the sun on my face!

After awhile I noticed my stomach was growling which meant it was time for lunch!  But first I needed to walk along the broad sandy beach that is the largest on Germany’s Baltic coast and even place my feet in the water!  As I walked, I noticed families with young children playing in the water, many other tourists like me and children of all ages flying kites!Moody Coast Warnemunde Germany

It seems like a lot of people thought this was a perfect day!

Arriving at the Teepott restaurant, an example of East German architecture, I opted for a table outside overlooking the sand.  As I relaxed I enjoyed a wonderful bowl of lobster soup, salad, and, of course, a Rostocker Beer!Rostocker Beer Warnemunde Germany

It was now time to make my way back to the train station stopping by many shops looking for that perfect gift to bring home with me!

As the train whisked me back to Rostock I was able to sit back and savor my day –  the sun, the wind, the salty sea air, the sound of the sea gulls, the boats, the peace and calm that comes from the sound of the ocean!

Yes it was a perfect day!

 

Tell me about your perfect day in the comments below!

Tidbits from the Historic Highlights of Germany!

Germany is one of my favorite countries to visit so it was with great excitement that I set out on a whirlwind 6 city tour of Germany!  Every trip to Germany is exciting but this one was especially so since I was going to explore cities and regions I have never been to including 3 in former East Germany.

Map of my German trip

by David Liuzzo on Wikimedia

As the wonderful Deutche Bahn trains carried me far and wide, I was amazed by the green beautiful scenery passing by my eyes.  The rolling landscape is full of green meadows, dense forests, farmland and the ever present church steeple!  Even as I neared the Baltic coast the landscape was still rolling just not quite as high.

German Countryside from Train

German Countryside from Train

Today I’m sharing a few interesting tidbits I learned as I explored these historic highlights of Germany!

Cecilienhof Palace Potsdam Germany

Cecilienhof Palace Potsdam Germany

In Freiburg I enjoyed a guided tour by the monk, Berthold Schwarz, who invented Black Powder during medieval times in the very same city!

During a tour of Mainz my guide told me that Germany has a population of about 83 million people and is roughly the same size as the state of Montana, which only has a population of about 1 million people.  Interestingly, I’ve never thought of Germany being that crammed full!

Erfurt was the first city I visited that was once part of East Germany. While wandering the medieval streets I was struck by the number of pregnant women I saw (they were seriously everywhere!).  Matthias, my guide, said it was true and felt it was due to the fact that people are finally feeling they have a future!

Beautiful Potsdam was where I discovered that President Truman first learned the tests on the atomic bomb were successful at the beginning of the Potsdam Conference and approved the order to drop the bombs while still at the conference held at Cecilienhof Palace.

Dostoyevsky Bust Wiesbaden Germany

Dostoyevsky Bust Wiesbaden Germany

I really enjoyed the funny dry sense of humor my guide in Rostock possessed and had to chuckle when he explained that Rostock was once part of the German Democratic Republic of which they were neither Democratic nor really a Republic.  Times have definitely changed here!

My last stop was Wiesbaden which has been a town attracting the rich and famous for decades.  Originally drawn to Wiesbaden by its spa, the casino helped keep the rich entertained.  In fact, the casino in Wiesbaden is where Fjodor Dostoyevsky lost his fortune and subsequently became the inspiration for his novel, The Gambler.

During the next few weeks I’ll tell you more about the amazing cities I’ve visited and hopefully inspire YOU to explore some of Germany that is off the normal tourist path!

 

 

Many thanks to Historic Highlights of Germany for organizing this trip and to the wonderful people at all the local tourist offices that made it all happen!  To learn more about Germany off the Beaten Path, please visit the Historic Highlights of Germany website.

I’m Off to Explore Historic Germany!

I’m not indecisive but I have a hard time naming my favorite European travel destination, it just feels wrong to all the other wonderful places I’ve visited.  But if pressed, I would name Germany as my favorite destination in Europe and by that I would actually mean Bavaria.

Even though I’m bewitched with Bavaria, I’ve been feeling the need (and desire) to spread my wings and discover more of  Germany.  Now I’m being given the chance to explore more of the Historic Highlights of Germany!

Beginning Thursday morning, I’ll be spending 12 days criss crossing Germany.  Once again I’ll be using the very efficient German rail system to get me north, south, east and west in this Central European country.  Get ready for a fast paced trip in the land of my fore-fathers!

Freiburg Minster Germany

Freiburg Minster by Joachim Messerschmidt Deutsche Zentrale fur Tourismus

First off will be a wonderful excursion in the heart of a German wine region and the gateway to the Black Forest, Freiburg. Known as the sunniest and warmest city in Germany, Freiburg also boasts a lovely medieval center, inviting cafes and taverns and a varied history that is all wrapped up in a laid back atmosphere!

Mainz Town Hall Germany

Mainz Town Hall by Rainer Kiedrowski Deutsche Zentrale fur Tourismus

After exploring Freiburg, I’ll be whisked by Deutsche Bahn up to Mainz who sits alongside the lovely Rhine river.  I’ve been to Mainz before but there is much more to this city than I previously explored including Chagall blue stained glass windows, a Gutenberg printing press, Roman ruins and wine!

Erfurt Cathedral & St Severus Church Erfurt Germany

Erfurt Cathedral & St Severus Church by Toma Babovic Thuringer Tourismus

Then I’ll be going east to Erfurt where Martin Luther studied and lived.  This city of towers and spires has enough churches to be called “The Rome of Thuringia.”  Erfurt is home to one of the best preserved medieval Old Towns around and Europe’s longest inhabited bridge!

Sanssouci Palace Potsdam Germany

Sanssouci Palace Potsdam by Torsten Kruger Deutsche Zentrale fur Tourismus

Continuing east, my next stop will be Potsdam.  You know how much I love palaces and castles; well Potsdam is home to some of the most beautiful and famous castles and palaces!  Add in the amazing history and I am excited to visit this city!

Old Quarter Rostock Germany

Old Quarter Rostock by Joachim Messerschmidt

Next, I’ll be zipping up north to the Baltic Coast where I’ll spend time exploring Rostock!  Ever since I wrote “Off the Beaten Path in Rostock Germany” I have wanted to see the unique brick architecture and now I’ll get to!  I’ve never been to the northern coast of Germany so one of my goals is putting my tootsies in the Baltic!

Wiesbaden Fountain Germany

Wiesbaden Fountain by Torsten Druger Deutsche Zentrale fur Tourismus

The last leg of my trip takes me south to Wiesbaden where I’ll spend my last few days.  As I mentioned in “Wiesbaden- Worth A Second Look?I’ve spent a short amount of time here but now I will get that second look!  So I’m looking forward to wandering this elegant spa town enjoying its architecture, museums, shopping, and Viennese style cafes.  Maybe there will also be more wine in my future 🙂

Keep reading, as I’ll be sharing all my adventures with you all!  Follow along using the #exploregermany hashtag or watch our Facebook page!

By the way, I’m not cheating on you Bavaria, just seeing more of your wonderful country.  I’m sure I’ll be back but for now I’m off to explore different corners.  I hope you understand. .  .

 

Let me know any “must sees” I shouldn’t miss while in Germany!

 

Many thanks to Historic Highlights of Germany for organizing this trip and to all the sponsors!

 

InterRail: A Book Review

As I said in Four Reasons to Use a European Rail Pass, I think we all want to travel around Europe by train.  In the book “InterRail” by Alessandro Gallenzi the main character, Francesco, lives all our dreams.

As a young adult, Francesco decides to leave his home in Italy to travel around Europe using an InterRail pass. During his rail trip he meets quite a few people, some even become lifelong friends, and has an adventure full of intrigue.

Munchen Skyline Bavaria Germany

Munchen by Andrew Bossi

His first stop is Munich, Germany where he meets an interesting con man named Pierre who is the catalyst for most of Francesco’s intrigue and adventures.  It was during a party hosted by Pierre that Francesco’s intrigue begins when he is asked to deliver a package to someone in Amsterdam by Pierre’s wife.  Even though he did not know what is in the package, he agrees.

Francesco visits cities that are on many of our own itineraries:  Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, London and Rome. As he travels through Europe, the intrigue follows him and continues to build.  It heightens when an event in Amsterdam lands Francesco in the hospital and during a secret meeting with Pierre’s wife in the Père Lachaise Cemetery while winding his way back to Italy via London and Paris.

OudezijdsKolk Amsterdam Holland

OudezijdsKolk Amsterdam by Massimo Catarinells

While the intrigue of the book kept me reading, the parts that stood out for me was his ability to travel with only the clothes on his back, his trust of strangers, and the guts to show up at a station without a destination in mind taking the next departing train!

Now I don’t see myself traveling with only the clothes on my back and I don’t think I’d ever be quite as trusting of strangers as Francesco but I really like the idea of showing up at a train station without a plan and taking the next departing train.  In fact, that is on my personal bucket list.

Parliament at Sunset London England

Parliament at Sunset London England

“InterRail” is a work of fiction based on the InterRail trip taken by the author, Alessandro Gallenzi.  It’s a story about a young man who had enough courage to step out of his comfort zone to find himself and live the life he chose.  By stepping out of the safety of his home to travel he was able to gain the confidence and clarity he needed to make the choices that shaped his life.

How has travel helped shape your life?


Although I was given the book InterRail by Alma Books and asked to review it, all opinions are my own. Alma Books is also giving away a free InterRail pass to EU residents and there is still a couple days left to enter.  So mosey your way over to Alma Books to enter!

Four Reasons to Use a European Rail Pass

I’d be willing to bet that every new traveler to Europe dreams of traveling by train.

Is that because the movies have made it seem so romantic?  Or are the very expensive gas prices the culprit?  Or do we just want to travel in a new fashion?

Sevilla Spain Train Station with High Speed Trains

Sevilla Spain Train Station with High Speed Trains by Martin Kers and Eurail

Well traveling by train might not be all that romantic ( face it, the rigors of just traveling aren’t romantic!) but it is a fun, easy and exciting way to travel while visiting the many European countries!

So you’ve made the decision to visit Europe and travel by train, now comes the decision whether to buy individual tickets or a rail pass.  Here are 4 reasons to travel using a rail pass.

1. Convenience

With a rail pass all you do is hop on any train.  Most trains do not require seat reservations; just sit in any open seat.  There are exceptions such as high speed trains (TGV), scenic trains (Glacier Express) or sleeper trains that do require a seat reservation or upgrade.

2. Fits any Itinerary

Rail passes can be purchased for a single country, multiple countries or even as a Global pass covering all 23 countries that participate in the Eurail program.  Once you’ve set an outline of your itinerary, calculate the number of days you‘ll be traveling by rail to determine the best pass for you!

Furka Railway Switzerland

Furka Railway Switzerland by Martin Kers and Eurail

3. Fits any budget

You can purchase 1st or 2nd class rail passes.  Keep in mind, 1st class pass holders can sit in 2nd class but this does not work the other way around! The individual rail passes are great but if you’re traveling as a group of 2-5 you may want to purchase the discounted saver passes.  With the saver pass you must always travel on trains together!

4. It’s just plain easy!

Just check the rail schedule and go!  It really is that easy.

Once you decide a rail pass is your best option, Eurail passes can be purchased at RailEurope or Eurail.

German Rail Station Platform Germany

German Rail station platform by Martin Kers and Eurail

When I am researching train options, including connections, I look at the Deutsche Bahn (German) website or OBB (Austria) website. They both have English options and are fantastic sites to help plan your European trip.

Remember, Eurail passes are only available to those living outside Europe and must be purchased prior to your departure.  EU residents have their own pass, InterRail passes!  If you’re an EU resident, Alma Books is offering a chance to win a 5-day InterRail Pass.  For details visit Alma Books.

 

What has been your experience traveling with a Rail Pass?

A Year at European Travelista

Today is the first anniversary for European Travelista!!!

It’s Been a Year and What a Year It’s Been!

As I looked back at the year, I discovered that during this time I’ve written 134 posts which received 2,868 comments.

Together we’ve visited 18 of Europe’s countries!

The countries we’ve visited include France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Along with those we’ve also touched ground in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Holland and even Estonia.Views walking up the hill to Gruyeres Switzerland

We’ve looked at food, aperitifs and experienced European wine beer and beer festivals!

Our journey has been by train, feet, bikes and post bus crossing rivers, bridges and scenic routes. We’ve taken a look at the awesome waterfalls in Europe along with some festivals, even if they are a bit crazy!Budapest and Danube River

Because I had a hard time telling the difference between Baroque, Gothic or Romanesque, we spent some time learning a bit about all that wonderful architecture found in European capitals.

I’ve shared my love for Germany and in particular Bavaria.  Heck one of my first posts was titled “Bavaria, Bavaria How do I Love thee?”.  That should have been your first clue 🙂

Hohenschwangau Bavarian Castle

View from Hohenschwangau

Together we delved into my passion for those small little quaint charming picturesque mountain villages.  Yes you know that I am a mountain girl!

We’ve spent time in castles, feasted our eyes on jewels, taken drives and just dreamed.

Cesky Krumlov Castle Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov Castle by Docsj

Yup it’s been quite a year!

And it’s not going to stop yet!

I have many more adventures lined up for 2012 but I also want to include some of your interests.

Where do you want to go?

How do you want to get there and what do you want to do once you get there?

Where or where in Europe shall we go during 2012?  Help me out by leaving suggestions in your comment!

 

Before I go, I want to send out a BIG thanks to you all for making 2011 such a great year!

Gracias.Köszi.Merci.Takk.Grazie.Obrigada.Danke.

 

Night Train to Paris

As I prepare for my trip to Europe, I wanted to share this guest post with you.  Jesse Langley will transport you with him as he takes a night train to Paris!

The sun hung hot in the late afternoon sky and my clothing clung to me with varying degrees of dampness. Even my linen pants were moist. I had escaped the cold gray drizzle of Amsterdam the month before. After a detour into Germany to visit some old university buddies for a week I had continued south through France until arriving in Montpellier. Three weeks of studying French had given me a case of verb conjugation confusion and a serious addiction to mussels covered in stinky cheese. Besides, I had played hooky long enough and had some serious academic work cut out for me in Edinburgh. But Edinburgh wasn’t going anywhere any time soon and Paris was sort of on the way. Besides, not stopping in Paris when I was this close would be a crime.

 St-Clément Aqueduct Montpellier France

Montpellier Aqueduct by jparise, on Flickr

As I walked past the old Roman aqueduct under the load of my heavy backpack I stopped long enough to wipe sweat out of my eyes and admire the aqueduct’s engineering. I looked at the sturdy Roman lines and the pristine condition of the aqueduct and briefly wondered why we still have problems building sturdy roads in the states. I limped into the train station determined to never load so much into a backpack. I guess that’ll require a smaller backpack. The gendarmerie was trying to inconspicuously scan for suspicious passengers from the balcony in the train station but the German Shepherds kind of blew their cover. The French police don’t do inconspicuous well, but at least they’re better than the Italians.

I waited for the one o’clock to Paris in the shade of the station. When it pulled in and was ready for boarding I was the first one in. I had learned the hard way on the stretch from Cologne to Montpellier that stragglers with enormous backpacks will always suffer if the luggage rack in the corner of the train car gets full. There is no humanly possible way to stuff seventy-five pounds of pack in an overhead bin. I got my backpack securely stowed, found my seat and plugged in my headphones. As the train left the station Bob Dylan was mumbling his way through Stuck in Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again and Montpellier began to recede into the distance.

Eiffel Tower Paris France at sunrise

Eiffel Tower by Tristan Nitot

I fell asleep and when I woke the sun was hanging just over the mountains to the west painting the peaks in brilliant shades of oranges and pinks. I made my way to the bar car for a drink and sat near the bar sipping a glass of wine and watching the sun through the bar car window as it slowly sank below the mountains until they were silhouettes. I finished my wine and made my way back to my seat. The train car was quiet except for the soft snoring of passengers so I worked for a while with my dissertation on Joyces’s Ulysses until my eyelids got heavy again. I opened my eyes as the train began to slow coming into the Paris Gare du Nord station.

I collected my backpack and hailed a cab. The taxi driver’s English was actually worse than my French, and I was pleased that he understood the hotel directions I gave him on the first try. We chatted as much as my horrible French would allow until we got to the hotel. Upon arrival I paid him an extra four Euros for putting up with my mangled conjugations. The interior of the hotel lobby was high-ceilinged and airy. I waited while the young woman behind the counter checked my name against the reservations before producing a gigantic old fashioned skeleton key. I thanked her and headed for my room. Inside the hotel room large windows were open outwards and a light breeze blew softly and rustled the pulled back linen curtains. Just visible in the distance the Arc de Triomphe glowed against the night sky lit from underneath with spotlights.

Arc Triomphe Paris France at night

Arc Triomphe by Benh LIEU SONG

I took a quick hot shower and wiped the steam off the mirror for a quick shave. I rooted around in the backpack until I found a pair of linen pants with the fewest wrinkles. I put on a clean white oxford and stepped into a pair of bright red espadrilles. After a quick look in the mirror I wiped a wisp of shaving cream off my ear and put the skeleton key in my left pants pocket where I noted with disapproval that it caused the pocket to sag under its weight. I walked out past the check-in counter and noticed that the young woman who had given me my key had a pixie haircut and looked like a young Audrey Hepburn like so many French women do. I had a hankering for a croissant and a good cup of coffee, so I continued out the lobby into the balmy Paris night to look for a late night café and a conversation.

 

Ah Paris, Tell us about a favorite memory you have of Paris!

 

Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing and family life. He is an advocate for online education and has a keen interest in blogging and social media.

Musings on European Rail Travel

There are many ways to travel around Europe.  One of my favorites is using the train!  Train travel evokes mythical and magical feelings in me.  Train trips always seem so exciting, serene and romantic but why?

I suppose it has to do with the fact that there isn’t much opportunity to travel by train in California.  Yes I have been on the Amtrak train from Orange County to Los Angeles (yup that was a long trip) but somehow Amtrak just doesn’t seem to compare with trains in Europe.

This infatuation could be due to all the movies and books portraying train travel as adventurous, daring and romantic.  Doesn’t everyone find love on a train?  Spies abound on trains, right?  What about those long lustful goodbyes on the platform?  Or even chasing the train to have one last glimpse. . .

European Rail Travel

by Wootang01, on Flickr

No matter where it comes from, I relish the opportunity to travel by train in Europe!

So I am very excited to be traveling this summer solely by train.  In preparation I have been thinking about past train travel and the tips I have learned along the way.

The first tip is to PACK LIGHT! I learned this lesson the hard way on my first trip to Europe way back in 1981.  For a 3 week solo trip I had one LARGE suitcase, 1 hanging garment bag, 1 overnight case and a large bag/purse plus the bags of souvenirs I collected along the way.  I swear my arms are longer today because of this trip!  The thing I didn’t know about train travel is there are a lot of walking and stairs involved.  Stairs that go down under the track, stairs that go back up to the platform and then more stairs to get on the train.  Ugh, I’m tired just remembering this.  Some of the newer trains are actually at platform level so that makes it a little easier but there is still quite a bit of walking and stairs.  So PACK LIGHT!

The last time I traveled solely by train was in Switzerland and for this trip I had a rail pass.  The pass made it extremely easy because I didn’t have to arrive early to purchase tickets so I just got on what ever train I wanted.    Just as a train ticket, the pass doesn’t guarantee me a seat.  If you want a guaranteed seat, then you need to purchase a reservation.

European Rail Travel

by Hunter-Desportes, on Flickr

The pass I had allowed me first class seats but I could sit in 2nd class if I wanted, however, it doesn’t work the other way around!  Also some trains require seat reservations so make sure to check this if you are traveling with a rail pass.

This summer’s trip is pricing out quite a bit less if I buy point-to-point tickets so that is probably what I am going to do.  The one thing I haven’t decided is if I will purchase some ticket prior to departing the US.  Any suggestions?

There is a price difference between 1st class seats and 2nd class seats and sometimes this difference can be quite a lot.  The differences between the classes are pretty much the same as in airplanes – roomier seats, more comfortable seats etc. It is my experience that if you want to travel with locals then travel in 2nd class.  One note to mention, 2nd class can be very full during rush hours so a seat may not be found.

European Rail Travel

by Hunter-Desportes, on Flickr

My last tip is to arrive early at the station so that you have time to find the platform your train will be departing from.  I hate rushing around at the station at the last minute.

Here are a couple websites I find useful for looking up train schedules and even pricing.

Deutsche Bahn (Germany)

Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) (Austria)

 

What train experiences have you had?  Any tips you’d like to share?

Swiss Post Bus – An Adventure to Remember

There are many ways to travel in Europe – boat, train, car – but in Switzerland the PostBus looks to be an exceptional way to see this beautiful country.

I have not yet taken an excursion on the PostBus but this has been something I have wanted to do since the first time I heard that distinctive toot of their horn!  At that moment I was sold.

Swiss PostBus on Susten Pass

PostBus on Susten Pass by Norbert Aepli, Switzerland (noebu)

The Swiss PostBus service began in 1849.  There were no cars just horses at this time.  It wasn’t until 1906 that the horses were replaced by motorized vehicles.

Today the PostBus has 13 tourist routes criss-crossing the country.  These routes venture into each nook and cranny of Switzerland and travel into places trains just cannot go and sometimes on roads that are not much wider than the bus!  This system has more than 2,000 vehicles in service that carry over 118 million passengers each year.

Glaciers along PostBus route Switzerland

Glaciers along PostBus route by ActiveSteve, on Flickr

On your journey via PostBus you will wind your way up mountains, through passes and tunnels, the Swiss National Park and many splendid valleys.  You will see medieval villages, UNESCO World Heritage sights, castles, ski resorts, glaciers and glistening lakes.

One of the tourist excursions, the Palm Express, is a trip that has many contrasts.  Beginning in the Engadine and ending in the Ticino canton, this trip will take you from the Alpine region full of glaciers to the region known for its Mediterranean climate complete with balmy weather and palms.

Susten Pass along PostBus route Switzerland

Susten Pass along PostBus route by ActiveSteve, on Flickr

Or if Alpine scenery is your style, enjoy a trip on the Central Alps Passes: Grimsel–Nufenen–Gotthard–Susten Pass Route.  On this journey you will enjoy views of glaciers, deep valleys and quaint villages.  The route travels along Switzerland’s highest road  and traverses 4 mountain passes and crosses the Devil’s Bridge over the Schollenen Gorge.

Devils Bridge Switzerland

Devils Bridge Switzerland by de: Benutzer:Markus Schweiss

Not sold yet?  Watch this video and I think  you will be making your reservations.

 

If you can’t view the video, click here.

 

There are many more routes and ways to access the Swiss Post Bus.

Is this an excursion you would like to enjoy?  Tell me why or why not.