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Train vs Plane

No, this isn’t a “Freddy vs. Jason” or “Alien vs. Predator” kind of blog post. It is just a comparative venture of European transportation options between Praha (Prague) in the Czech Republic and Strasbourg, France.

Cost: Since Europe has many low cost carriers and the distance traveled today is long, using Vueling or Ryan Air or Easy Jet would be inexpensive compared to train travel. Kathy and I have flown one way in Europe for less than $50 (for both of us!). Here are the caveats: 1. to get a cheap airfare, you must get your ticket at least two months in advance; 2. not all cities are served by the low cost carriers, although most are; 3. not all airports are the major ones in the city, although many are. Using one of the Eurail passes, sold only over the internet in the U.S., costs between $55 and $75 per person per day of travel used. The cost depends on the type of pass purchased– the number of travel days purchased, travel in one country only or multiple countries, age and 1st or 2nd class. Point to point tickets can be cheaper than a Eurail Pass day ticket, depending on the length of the trip. On this trip, a point to point ticket for two would have been in excess of $400. One advantage of a Eurail Pass is that a travel day is for the full day, and as many trips as you want to take on that day. The Pass is also good for many river and lake cruises and bus systems. Bottom line, on this trip, a train is more expensive than a plane. ADVANTAGE: PLANE.

Time: On this particular long distance trip, the plane, counting time at the airport and air time, would be about six hours. The train trip would be about 13 hours. ADVANTAGE: PLANE.

Comfort: Hands down, train. Most trains’ 2nd class are as comfortable as an airplane’s 1st class, and train 1st class is better still. Regardless of class, train seats are wide, adjustable, comfortable, and there is mega leg room. Restrooms are plentiful, food cars are handy and comfortable. There is room to stretch and walk. You don’t have to crawl over anyone to get out or scrunch up in an aisle to let someone pass or keep your seatbelt fastened! The big windows can be darkened if it is too sunny, first class rooms have individual air control, and nothing can beat seeing the countryside roll by. You bring the luggage you desire. Low cost air carriers are crowded and baggage limits are strictly enforced. By the way, train terminals, overall, are nicer than airport terminals. Most of the larger ones have real malls attached. ADVANTAGE: TRAIN.

For a number of reasons, Kathy and I took the train today from Prague to Strasbourg. We used our Eurail Global Pass. We had our seating area–seats with a table between–all to ourself. No worries and no problems, alternately watching or snoozing as the country side with its autumn gold trees and rivers, lakes, hills and cities passed by. One special treat was to see the tallest church steeple/tower in the world at 530 feet, the Lutheran Munster (Cathedral) in Ulm, Germany, as the train passed. Our only interruptions were the conductor checking tickets as we entered each new country and the waiters coming by our seat to see if they could bring us food or drink. It was a relaxing day. WEG

Lutheran Munster, or Cathedral, in Ulm, Germany

Lutheran Munster, or Cathedral, in Ulm, Germany



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