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Old 01-22-2005, 08:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
beauty in the breakdown
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Traveling within Europe

Im looking at going to Europe for my spring break. I need to go look at some study abroad locations before I commit to spending a year in them, and then Im going to go visit some friends in Florence.

Anyways, Im trying to figure out the best way to get around Europe. Ill be flying into Stuttgart as it is one of the cities I need to look at. From there, Ill take a train to Tuebingen, Germany, and stay there for a night. Then, I have to get to Florence. I figure that a train ride would be great, if for no other reason than its having to go through the Alps, which would be absolutely gorgeous. However, if a plane would be significantly cheaper, thats also an option. Then, I have to get back to Stuttgart from Florence to catch my flight back to the states.

Should I take the train from Tuebingen to Stuttgart? Should I get back to Stuttgart from Tuebingen and catch a flight to Florence? Would it just be easier for me to get my home (USA) flight leaving from Florence rather than Stuttgart (this would be more expensive I suspect).

Keep in mind that Im only there for a bit longer than a week (9 days) and that money is of absolute importance.

Also, are there any websites where I could check on typical fares like this?
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Old 01-23-2005, 07:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: Lion City
Get a Eurail pass... there are various types of pass but most give unlimited travel over a certain period of time...

http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/pa...&q=eurail+pass

Make sure you buy it before you go because you can't get them over there...
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Old 01-23-2005, 10:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
beauty in the breakdown
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Ive heard about them, and thought about getting one, but they arent cheap... The cheapest one is gonna set me back $250.

Anyways, how do they work? Will it cover me on any route? For example, the route between Stuttgart and Tuebingen is pretty small--will that pass still cover me?

I looked at some fares last night, and it definitely looks like the Germany > Italy leg is going to be the expensive one... The cheapest fare I can find for that is $150. Id love to take that trip at least one leg because I think it would be a good experience, but man... Talk about money issues.
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Old 01-23-2005, 05:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I am not sure about the routes but can tell you that the way to do this the cheapest... by train anyway, is to do it in advance with a travel agent... they can quite often get better rates...

Make sure that you get them to quote you some prices and then check out some the deals on the web as they can be cheaper...

I don't know about the route between Stuttgart and Tuebingen at all... sorry.

Is that 250 for unlimited travel? If it is that sounds like a pretty good rate.
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Old 01-23-2005, 05:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The train is going to be cheaper than the plane, except that there's a new airline GermanWings in Germany that sometimes is a tad cheaper. There are always deals too, like someone else said, so talk to an agent before buying.

The train through the Alps is spectacular. I take it every July from Munich to Zagreb.

I don't see any reason to buy a Eurail pass if you're only going to be there 9 days.
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Old 01-23-2005, 09:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Ok, Here's how the Eurail pass works.

Buy it before you leave the country. Plan your trip by train so you know how many days you will be on a train. Then buy it for that many days. You may also want to consider buying for an extra day so you have some insurance against poorly planning how many days it will take. Also determine which countries you will be travelling through. In your case you would need to get the pass for Germany, Austria, and Italy OR Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.

Once you are in Germany and BEFORE you board any train. Have your pass validated at the train station. If you do not validate it before you board a train, you will have to buy at ticket at a premium rate and possibly pay a fine as well on the train. You only need to validate it once.

Once validated, it will be good until the expiration date which is written when you validate it (You usually have a month, sometimes longer). It will also be good on most trains. The only exception I've run into are the commuter trains within cities, such as a U-Bahn in Germany. Once on the train, when the conductor comes around to check for tickets, show the pass and your passport.

The Eurail pass is far cheaper than buying tickets as you go. The money I spent on a Eurail pass would have only bought me train tickets for round trip between Frankfurt and Osnabrück. But by going with the pass, I traveled all over Northern Germany, from Osnabrück to Berlin.

You should also be knowledgable on the train precedures of the countries you will be travelling in. In Germany you will not be guranteed a seat on the train unless you pay a few Euros in advance for a reservation (I spent many trips on the floor between train cars). And another example is that in France, you must buy a reservation even with the pass before boarding a train.

You may only be there for 9 days, but it seems with the amount of travel you will be doing, a Eurail pass would be to your benefit.
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Old 02-03-2005, 04:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: BC, Canada
I went through Europe using a Eurorail pass and it was great. You can also "upgrade" by paying extra fees if you want a sleeper or even the high-speed trains that run on specific routes. Trains are a great way to meet people and also enjoy the country as you travel.

Florence is the most amazing city I've ever been in. I'm not sure it'd be that great to live there, but oh god.... what a city. I think I just had an orgasm.
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Old 02-07-2005, 09:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Location: Cornvalley, Oregon
With a Eurail pass you do not always need a reservation, even in Germany. Get ahold of some pamphlets at the train stations, or look online at schedules, and often they will tell you whether a certain leg or certain time-frame on the leg needs a reservation. Sometimes, even when it says you need to reserve a seat, the train is empty enough that you can get away without one, but its best not to gamble.

When I went, we bought the 21 day unlimited travel Eurail pass, and we even managed to get 23 days out of it because the first attendant who checked the pass wrote the wrong dates on the pass. If the attendants on the last couple days had looked closer and done the math they could've figured out that we were over our time, but often they just glance at it and hand it back.


Oh, and while you are in Florence (Firenze) I would suggest heading down to Siena. It is so much nicer. Its about a 45 minute trip, but you often have to change trains at a small town between Pisa and Florence (forgot the name).

Vietato atraversare il binario! and have a good time!
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Old 02-07-2005, 12:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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For what it's worth, probably not much as doesn't help you with the travel thing (though check the low cost airlines, like ryanair, air-berlin, germanwings, easyjet, deutsche ba can't think of any more but there are few others.) Anyway what i wanted to say is Stuttgart isn't that great of place to stay so if you're spending a long time there then you'll probably want to consider your other options more seriously.
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