Europe the Scenic Route: Eurail 2012
For twenty-somethings, backpacking through Europe is the most romanticised method of transport. Those in their thirties, forties, and early fifties are drawn to the speed and convenience of airplanes for multi-city European itineraries. But as you get older, both of these options lose their appeal: standing in a long airport security line becomes just as unappealing as trying to catch a good night’s rest in a noisy, crowded hostel.</p>
Fortunately, there is an attractive alternative for older or more relaxed travellers—or those simply wanting to slow down the pace of their trip to fully experience each stop on their itinerary: take the train. There are many benefits to seeing Europe by rail, but here are some of the highlights:</p>
Europe is so well connected via light rail that you can plan a trip between almost any two cities on the map—from the beloved Brussels to Amsterdam route to the charming Pickering to Grosmont route. And while train travel is certainly slower than air travel, travel by rail has continued to make great gains: you can travel the Paris to London Chunnel, for example, in just under two and a half hours. Best of all, trains take you from the heart of one city to the next, so there’s no need to worry about extra transportation upon your arrival. You’re exploration of a new city begins the minute you walk out of the station. Trains also allow you to linger in a city as long as you’d like without having to worry about falling behind on your itinerary: most can be booked the same day you want to travel with little hassle.
Doesn’t a long trip always seem much more enjoyable when you’ve got great scenery to keep you company? There is no shortage of scenic train routes you can take throughout Europe to have a truly memorable journey: the Glacier Express passes by some stunning vistas of snowcapped mountains and deep gorges, while the West Highland Line from Mallaig to Glasgow will give you a view of the viaducts and the moorlands.
If you’re looking for a little cultural tourism along the way, you could take the Chocolate Train through Switzerland for some sweet treats or the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok (or on to Beijing or Ulan Bataar) for some encounters with the locals. The possibilities are endless. Stretch out your legs comfortably, open a bottle of wine or enjoy a nice meal, and take in the incredible scenery you’ll pass along the way.
If you’re a senior traveller, you’ll further benefit from discounted fares on your tour de Europe—even on luxury carriers. You can sit down to a three-course meal or an afternoon tea, or book a ticket in a sleeping car to get some extra rest during your travels. These perks make train travel an attractive alternative to plane travel, which involves uncomfortable seating and less-than-appetising in-flight snacks and meals. Even if you’re not a senior traveller, train travel through Europe is generally affordable.