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The Joy of Train Travel

At the risk of sounding completely strange, I’m going to go ahead and say it: trains make me a better person. No, seriously.

Long train rides teach me patience and the usually quiet journeys bring my hectic spirit peace.  Watching the landscapes roll by through my window make me contemplative and reflective and I read a ridiculous amount as the train chugga-chuggas  (yes, I just made that word up) along to its destination.

And then, there’s just something about European train travel in particular that is… glamourous, romantic.

For this reason I started the first leg of my epic summer journey with Eurail with a broad smile on my face. In Vienna,  Austria, I boarded the slick OBB train that would take me most of the way to my final destination, Ljubljana, Slovenia.  I settled into my first class seat and all the stress of the morning’s journey ebbed away.
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Armed with my trusty Kindle and a handful of snacks, I inhaled deeply and leaned way back into the plush chair.  You don’t get this much space in a plane… ever.

 

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After struggling to read the drivel that is 50 Shades of Grey (I downloaded onto my Kindle because I was curious as to what all the hype was about- don’t make the same mistake!), I perused the food menu and ordered a lovely chicken curry.  At $13 USD for a a curry and a Diet Coke, it wasn’t cheap, but by Jove it was tasty(!)- so I didn’t mind parting with my hard earned farthings.  As I ate, the green Austrian countryside sped past my big picture window.  It don’t get much better than this, folks.
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Unlike planes, boats, and buses, on trains I actually enjoy the “getting there” portion of the journey.  Trains are simple and cut out all of the rigmarole of  air travel: save the Eurostar, there’s no need to arrive early in order to check in.  You just show up before the train leaves and you’re golden. Trains rides don’t induce the stomach-clenching nausea that overcomes me on a bus or boat ride (you may recall I wrote about the terrible motion sickness that I suffer from on a constant basis, what a drag).

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Are you a fan of train travel?  Have you ever done any Europe train travel? What’s your preferred mode of transportation?

Eurail.com provided me with their Global Pass but did not ask that I write a favourable review or gorge myself on their very yummy curry chicken dish.

 

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65 Comments

  • Reply
    Julika
    October 26, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I love taking the train in Europe! Although it may be slower than going by plane, it’s way more eco-friendly and you don’t have to worry about luggage weight or putting a bottle of moisturizer in your purse 🙂 What I adore most however, is how you get to see so much more of a country’s landscape… must have been such a great experience traveling through gorgeous countries like Austria and Slovenia by train! 🙂

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Ha! The packing aspect is definitely a consideration, though I’m so conditioned from taking carry-on luggage on planes that I almost never bring vials of liquid bigger than 100ml 🙂

  • Reply
    Béatrice
    October 26, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I took the train in Spain, although I found out later that the bus is cheaper and it some cases the same amount of time! I enjoyed my experience with Renfe it was comfortable and very enjoyable. also a lot of fun!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      Even if the bus is cheaper I tend to go with trains while I can. Can’t beat the space (and the lack of motion sickness) lol.

  • Reply
    Emily in Chile
    October 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I love taking the train in the UK. Like you said, it’s so nice to just show up a few minutes before the train leaves and then be able to relax and enjoy the scenery. And that curry looks surprisingly edible!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      It was really really good! Shockingly so!

  • Reply
    Crystal
    October 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I heart train travel too. I get considerably less stressed on the train than when flying, and I love watching the countryside roll by. And train rides give me an excuse to sit back, relax, and read 🙂

    Now if only there were trains from France to Canada….

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      LOL! You wish!

  • Reply
    Erica Duncan
    October 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I’ve definitely come to appreciate train travel since moving to London 2 years ago. Great article! ~e~

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      Thanks!!

  • Reply
    D.J. - The World of Deej
    October 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve only really traveled by train once, from Paris to Barcelona, and it was one of the best experiences in my travel “career” Great stuff:)

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      That sounds like a pretty epic journey! I’ve done the train from Nice to Barcelona and it was awesome.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    October 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Ha, that doesn’t sound so strange at all! I’ve always thought the same thing, I prefer trains over planes or buses anytime.The best experience for me was train-traveling through the south of Spain. Their railway system is amazing! Cheap, fast and luxurious compared to Holland. Eurailing Europe is still high up on my bucket list!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      I love the Renfe system in Spain! I’ve taken the high speed AVE train from Madrid to Seville. That’s funny about Holland, though, I would have assumed that the system was really nice?

      • Reply
        Michelle
        November 4, 2012 at 10:48 am

        It’s not that bad, just disappointing if you compare it to a system like Renfe. NS (The Dutch trainsystem) is expensive, trains are late very often, and depending on what time you travel they can be overly full or dirty. But… maybe I’m just biased because NS has caused me to be late for work or school for years now 😉

  • Reply
    Travel_The_World
    October 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    My sister and I took the Eurostar train in Italy from Rome to Florence. I must agree with you that it was relaxing. However, we didn’t do first class. Will have to try that next time.

    The curry chicken looks quite yummy!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      I think in certain cases that first class is definitely worth the money! But it really depends on the country and the type of train. I took a first class train in Slovenia and it wasn’t that much nicer than the 2nd class. However, 1st class from Zurich to Paris was swanky and I breakfast was even included!

  • Reply
    Quiana
    October 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Love this post! I adore train travel as well. One of my former clients was Amtrak and I had to take a long distance trip for them and it was amazing. I went from Chicago to Los Angeles on the train and it was a wonderful way to see the country and I plan on taking a long distance trip with my family in the future. Of course US train travel has a long way to go before it’s like European train travel, but I’ve enjoyed the brief trips I’ve taken on European trains as well. I agree it definitely makes one slow down!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      Wow! Chicago to L.A.! How long did that take and which states did you pass through? Did you take the most direct route?

  • Reply
    AmericanBlackChickinEurope
    October 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Yay! Other train lovers! I also prefer taking the train over pretty much any form of transportation. When I lived in the US, I was very much a plane person, but I love not having to show up 2 hours before hand and trying to get all my toiletries into 100 ml bottles jammed into a 1 liter bag when I take a train. I just pack and show up 15 minutes or so before the train leaves….so simple.

    And I agree it’s much more relaxing. I like the fact that I can just contemplate life as beautiful scenery rolls past or get lost in a book or chat with travel companions. And the space compared to airplanes (which seem to leave less and less space for your legs) is fab!

    So long story short, I love taking trains. Boats are a close second (except on a stormy day).

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      Ugh, don’t even get me started about the lack of leg room on planes! I always feel terrible for Liebling since he is twice my size- it’s so uncomfortable for him.

  • Reply
    Caroline Eubanks
    October 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    I was very impressed with the trains in Austria and Germany! America needs to step it up.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      I agree with you there. Especially since the States are so gorgeous. Tons of people do road trips but if you don’t drive or have access to a car, being able to train it would give a similar experience!

  • Reply
    Tiffany
    October 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Love the train! Last year I took the train from Paris to Brussels…next month I’m going to check out the Paris to London ride.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      Paris to London is pretty cool since you pass through the Chunnel!

  • Reply
    naijaglobetrotter
    October 26, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I took the train from Geneva to Paris, and it was beautiful!! Stateside, I’ve taken the train all through the New England area. I love train travel. Perfect opportunity to enjoy some nice scenery, read a book, eat lots of snacks, people watch, etc. Generally awesome!

    Also, you’re sooo right with your comment in 50 Shades. I don’t know what I expected, but it didn’t live up to the hype. Basically was a glorified Mills & Boon story (anyone else read those?), and those stopped being interesting when I turned fifteen!!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      How long is the ride from Geneva? I took the train from Zurich to Paris and it was a snappy 4 hours. Great things to see the whole way through! Never read Mills and Boon but I agree that the erotic fiction genre is just so uninteresting to me.

  • Reply
    Andi
    October 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Train travel is one of my most favorite things in the world! I ams soooo jealous of you!!! 🙂

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      It’s really really fun. I hope I have the chance to ride more trains soon.

  • Reply
    Memoria
    October 26, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I have traveled through Italy (and Sicily) via train, and I absolutely love it. I never feel anxious to arrive to my destinations, like you said; I just enjoy the journey. So jealous you went 1st class, though…and that you were in Austria and Slovenia!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Central Europe has gorgeous landscapes so there’s lots to see out your window! I’ve only taken a short train ride from Rome to Sorrento and the night train from the south of France to Rome, so I’m curious as to what southern Italy would look like!

      • Reply
        Memoria
        November 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm

        In southern Italy, at least on the side I was on (the Calabria region), you see the Mediterranean Sea during almost the entire trip. It is so lovely. However, I love the views of the eastern coast of Sicily the most because of the city of Taormina.

        • Reply
          Oneika
          November 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm

          Oh, I have never been to those parts of Italy before- must be gorgeous!

  • Reply
    ElleX
    October 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    On my visit to London, my co-workers and I rode the Eurail to Paris (and back). I so enjoyed it. Eurail was clean and fast.

    Unfortunately, rail travel here in the US (unless you live in the West Coast or Northeastern part of the US) is pricey and time-consuming. It’s easier to drive or fly.

    *I live in the Southeastern part of the US.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      It’s the same thing in Canada, unfortunately. Rail is exorbitantly expensive here and not very efficient! I wish that North America would take a page out of Europe’s book!

  • Reply
    Travelwriticus
    October 28, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Thanks for this photo set. I know this train well as I am generally using this train for crossing the Semmering area between Vienna and Graz. How did you like all the mountains and castles at both sides of the railroad? There are some photos of that region taken through the train windows at my blog. Just search for ‘Semmering’

    • Reply
      Oneika
      November 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Will do! thanks!

  • Reply
    jen
    October 28, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    The train seats look extremely confortable. it appears i just typed that in french! but to answer your question, train travel is my favourite. much more laid back than airline, but direct and easy and always a toilet on board!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      November 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      Haha. Tres bien!

  • Reply
    Brendan
    October 29, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I want to love trains. I want to support trains. I spent two days on a train from Minneapolis to Portland and every subsequent trip chose the bus instead. If I have to sit down for that long I need breaks every hour, and Amtrack is not so keen on letting you hop off for fifteen.

    I really want to love trains. I really do. But it’s hard when they’re so expensive flying makes more sense. And it’s hard when they’re just… too much culture for me. Taking the overnight from Przemysl to Kyiv was such an amazing experience I stayed an extra day and booked last minute tickets on a flying death trap to Katowice for my return.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      November 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      lol at Katowice being a flying death trap! I’ve ridden the train through there but didn’t stop over!

      • Reply
        kami
        November 15, 2012 at 5:11 pm

        Katowice and the whole Silesia region is really interesting if you like the industrial places. And they have a brand new train station there, opened just 2 weeks ago 🙂

  • Reply
    Lu-Gerda
    October 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    My mom and I traveled through Switzerland by train. It was great and saw the most amazing scenery and rode through pretty mountains. We don’t have a lot of public transport in South Africa. It took us a while to get use to trains that are on time and to not worry about our luggage. I hope to do some more train traveling in Europe sometime.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      November 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Summer train travel for the win!

  • Reply
    Ayngelina
    October 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I am on the train right now in Canada! I love the train and would much rather take the train than fly. I had a blast in Europe with Eurail – although I have to say some countries are much better than others 😉

    • Reply
      Oneika
      November 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      Haha, do tell which ones!

  • Reply
    Emm in London
    October 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    I love train travel! It’s my most favourite mode of transport and I’ve clocked up dozens of long distance trips in Britain alone.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      November 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      I wish trains weren’t so expensive in England, though!

  • Reply
    Xenia
    November 4, 2012 at 2:10 am

    I LOVE train travel and it is my favorite mode of travel. I find it extremely peaceful as well as a great way to see the country. I really do not mind the extra travel time it takes. Amtrak does need to step up its game but it still is not bad. The Canadian rail system is much better. When you travel first class in Canada you get to board the train before everyone else. So far the longest train journey that I have taken was from New York to Miami Florida. It was a long trip made even much longer back when Amtrak was notorious for always being late. Amtrak has improved quite a bit in that area.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      November 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      The only problem is that train travel in Canada is crazy expensive!

  • Reply
    Christine
    November 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I like to use both train and plane to travel. It really depends where I’m going. Sometimes it’s better to take the train because it’s less hassle to check in and you don’t have to wait around at the airport. You can have an oversize suitcase and not pay an extra charge. No security checks, etc. Just bring lots of snacks and drinks 🙂

    • Reply
      Oneika
      November 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      Exactly! Taking the train is so much more relaxed!

  • Reply
    kami
    November 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I’ve traveled across Europe by train couple of times and I loved every second of it! It’s the best way to see Europe as you can admire amazing views from the window! Sure, sometimes, mostly in Eastern Europe, it’s really slow but still worth it. I appreciate flying but still trains stole my heart already when I was a little kid and I’m more than lucky to work in the railway company (and have a free train ticket around Poland and once a year in Europe:))

  • Reply
    Rhonda
    November 15, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    I arrived back home from Italy a few days ago. Although I didn’t travel to Venice on my free day as I wanted to, your post wish I had. I would have taken the EuroRail… More reasons to go back in the near future and do it next time..

  • Reply
    Soroya
    November 22, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Love to travel by train: one of the most memorable experiences was on the overnight train from Nice to Venice. And of course can’t beat the Eurostar from London to Paris

  • Reply
    Noorashikin
    January 19, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Me with 2 sisters travel on the trans Siberian train from Beijing to st Petersburg with stops along the journey. It has indeed open my perception of people I met & places I travel. Truly worthwhile

    • Reply
      Oneika
      January 24, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Wow. Now THAT’s a trip I’d love to do.

  • Reply
    Noorashikin
    January 22, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    I enjoy train travel

    • Reply
      Oneika
      January 24, 2013 at 10:38 am

      Yay!

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Dolores Dace
    May 5, 2015 at 7:11 pm

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  • Reply
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