Guest Author - Ann Carroll Burgss
London, Paris, Rome, Brussels, Basle, Bern and Strasbourg without a single airplane ride? Yes, it’s true!
Not just true but practical, and penny saving. All kinds of options await you once you have arrived in Europe. Trains, ferries, cycling, walking and busses provide plentiful options for you to transit swiftly from one city to another, city centre to city centre.
London to Paris in a mere 2 hours and 15 minutes means that you can have a leisurely breakfast in London, check out of your hotel and into the train station, zip through the “Chunnel” and be ready for a late lunch in Paris. Or, even turn Paris, Brussels or Lille into a day trip from London. At least one Eurostar train departs St. Pancreas Station for Paris, every hour between 5 am and 9 pm most are direct services. It is wise to book in advance, particularly during the peak of tourist season and for major holidays
When the high speed train from London to Paris initiated service in 1994 there were stretches of track that required the train to decrease its speed. Those 68 miles (109 Kilometers) between London and the Chunnel have since been upgraded, so it is now a truly high-speed experience.
What are some of the advantages to taking the train?
You will travel city centre to city centre, no extra transit time from the airport to the town.
No baggage fees, most of the time, some routes may have charges. No weight limits on baggage.
You can bring your own food and beverages, including wine and beer, it is allowed.
You are travelling at ground level, making it a true sight-seeing experience. Of course, on a high speed train your view may be a bit blurry.
Your carbon footprint taking the train will be a mere 5.5 kg as compared to the 60kg generated by an airplane ride.
Be forewarned – train travel can be highly addictive. It takes no time at all to get used to spending less money on travel (InterRail discounts can really maximize your Euros), you will meet people and have the time to chat with them and you will see so much more than you planned.
How to plan your trip? Start with searching various sites on the net to give you an idea of where you can go (you will only be limited by your imagination); there are websites for InterRail and individual country railways.
www.europeanrail.com , this is an independent rail company very good for advice and planning. They do charge a 5 pound fee, but this is refunded if you buy a ticket.
www.eurostar.com for the high-speed Eurostar trains.
www.nationalrail.co.uk , for information on British Railway trains.
www.thalys.com, this site is about service linking France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
www.bahn.de, the site for German state railways.
www.rail.ch, the site for Swiss rail.
www.interrailnet.com, a pan European site for passes and information.
So, off you go! City to city with no weight restrictions, bring your sandwich, a corkscrew and a good book!