Author Topic: Train travel question  (Read 4411 times)

norabird

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Train travel question
« on: July 15, 2014, 02:04:15 PM »
I am going to Germany on business in the Fall and tacking on two quick weekend trips. Flight is paid for, I am paying for my rail transport to and from the work event.

I'm heading from Frankfurt to Berlin by train overnight and there is a 39 euro option that I'm planning on taking (9 pm departure, 6 am arrival) ... it has two changes including a three hour layover transfer from 1 am to 4 am on the way. It saves on a hostel that night and also is half as much as the direct route on the fast train with no changes, which costs 95 euros (departs at 8 pm, arrives at 12:30 am).

I am having pre-buyer's remorse thinking of those early morning hours in a train station but it's also part of what makes travel fun for me, in some ways. I'm youngish, and really don't have the money to indulge on convenience here. But that said I clearly won't be sleeping much if at all on the cheaper train trip.

Think I just need a push off the ledge away from the spendier option which would be three times as much money after factoring in an extra night's hostel cost. I just don't see how I can justify spending more and don't think it will ruin my trip to have an inefficient local trip to Berlin...but, I have to admit that I'm tempted by the direct train, and I'm trying to figure out if there might be some logic afterall in  the more expensive, shorter ride since I don't know the next time I'll be over there. Then I think about my budget and realize it's that kind of thinking that got me into a hole with debt to begin with!

rujancified

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2014, 02:22:15 PM »
How old are you? Can you join any of the youth hostel clubs to get a further discount on hostels?

I'm with you on both budget travel and the adventure of it, but holy shit does a 3 hour layover in the middle of the night sound like a disaster.

Any bus options? Bahn.de covers bus options as well, I think.

How many days will you be on a train? Eurail pass might be useful (a four day pass is $241 if you're 25 or under and $300 for 25+) and most American and Canadians can purchase.

I did a search on bahn.de and airberlin.com and for a random fall weekend and the flight was 94 euro rt and the trains were 4+ connections for 80 euro. Yowsa.

How long are you in Berlin? I loved it there.


norabird

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2014, 02:35:17 PM »
I'm 30; I've had a HI membership before, but not sure it saved me much. I will only be taking the train from Prague to Frankfurt and then again to Berlin, so a pass won't help me out.

Maybe I'll think about flying instead, I do prefer to take trains and avoid security.

May end up biting the bullet and spending more, but I'll keep thinking about it. It's usually easy enough to opt for the cheaper, less convenient route, berate myself for the hassle while enduring it, and then move on unharmed without skipping much of a beat (every red-eye I've ever taken).

Will be in Berlin for two days and nights, can't wait! I've never been.

rujancified

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2014, 03:10:12 PM »
I didn't do much international travel until I was in my later 20s/30s, so I was sorta bummed to miss out on the discounts. Guess I wasn't missing much!

I do dislike airport security and the hassle of getting to the (usually poorly located) airports. Such a time suck. That being said, I flew into Tegel, rather than the larger airport and it wasn't too terrible getting to our hotel, which was located on the western side of town. If we'd been staying more central, train would have been much easier.

I went to Berlin in 2008, so my memory is foggy, but I remember walking around near the Reichstag and Gate at night and it was so stunning. Pretty sure we did a Reichstag tour at night. I was with my now husband and 4 other guys in their 20s and they all loved the German History museum - tons of military stuff. They were like school children.

Are the trains more reasonable for Prague? Prague is really lovely. We were there in mid-September 2011 and the weather was perfection. The food is SO GOOD - we found several street fairs where people were just selling cheese sandwiches and meat skewers and it was delicious.  The exchange rate is probably still in the dollar's favor (US or CDN). When we were there even more upscale places in the tourist center weren't insanely expensive.

I've only see the inside of the Frankfurt airport, but I hear good things about that city as well (in that it's cosmopolitan and modern and cool).




rocklebock

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2014, 03:24:22 PM »
I did tons of ridiculous overnight train rides like that when I was in my early 20s. It seemed like a reasonable way to save money at the time, but let's just say I was much more resilient then, and better able to cope with getting little/no sleep. If I did something like that now, I would be a total mess the next day, and would probably end up sleeping all day instead of doing fun vacation stuff. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

Definitely look into the bus option - I've found that to be a better option than trains in some countries. Not sure about Germany specifically.

galliver

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2014, 03:40:14 PM »
I know for a fact that when I get no sleep, I don't enjoy doing anything; but I don't know if that holds for you.  Either way, in your shoes I would add in the potential enjoyment of the trip in the value column when comparing prices. Because if you spend 40 euros and spend the whole day cranky and tired, was it really worth it?  I think it's dumb that we consider sleep a luxury.

Richard3

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2014, 03:57:06 PM »
I used to be completely like you, taking ridiculous train journeys or 4am flights to save a little money. Then I realised, especially for short trips, I was sometimes messing up my enjoyment of the trip.

Now I look at it "would I do the cheaper option rather than the more expensive one if someone paid me the price difference?"

So I'm getting a train from Frankfurt to Berlin overnight. That's settled. Would I wake up mid journey and spend three hours on a platform for 40 euro. I personally probably would (but then I've danced the macerena in the Irish sea at midnight for about twice that). 

Since it's a weekend trip if you only have a small bag, this option becomes much less annoying (taking big bags to the toilet is a pain in the ass). I am good at sleeping on trains and arriving at 1230am is annoying to get to the hostel etc so I'd probably take the cheaper option anyway.

Eggman111

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2014, 04:15:31 PM »
I'm not an expert on travel in that part of the world, but have you looked into taking the bus? A quick search came up with a price for 34 euros, though I don't know if the times work out well for you.

It looks like flights would be a lot more money and not likely worth it for a relatively short distance.

lizzzi

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2014, 05:08:47 PM »
Wouldn't there be safety issues with sitting in a train station for three hours in the middle of the night? I don't know Germany at all, so I'm just asking.

train_writer

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2014, 03:35:03 AM »
You could always take a bus. You have eurolines, ferienbus and many more bus companies in Germany that have good discounts if you buy in advance or just ask at the counters, it will still be cheaper than flying or taking a train.

The buses are equipped with airco and sometimes wifi and make for equally adventureous experiences with regular stops and breaks in unknown places ;)

chouchouu

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2014, 04:45:12 AM »
Personally it would depend on how much time I would be spending in Berlin. If I'm spending a week there I would probably just take the cheap option. If its only a weekend I would take the express and be well rested to enjoy my time in Berlin. Have you looked on air bnb or hotelscombined? Berlin is relatively cheap for accommodation, although my perception could be skewed living in Sydney...

Grog

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2014, 05:47:09 AM »
Germans loves their cars, try looking up to:
http://www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de/

is a car sharing website where people offer a car seat in exchange for some money. Frankfurt-Berlin is quite frequent, maybe you'll find something. I've used it one time and it was a great experience, I did have a great chat with the driver that had every kind of adventure in Asia.

You can find something for a price range of 10-25 eur depending on how many people join you.

norabird

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Re: Train travel question
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2014, 07:11:16 AM »
So many good points! I will look into the bus and the ride sharing, thanks all!