This Rail Europe blog post has been written by our Mexican representative, Mochileros.com.
So many travellers around the world know about the advantages and joys of train travel. However, with almost no rail network in Mexico, train adventures are new to many. We are delighted to share Mochileros’ words about train travel as seen through the eyes of those who are new to something many of us take for granted.
One of the greatest experiences while travelling through Europe is using trains, a mode of transport which is an essential part of European culture and which lets us discover the ‘Old Continent’ in a new way. Here are our main reasons why.
You will be part of another world
Half of the team of Mochileros.com.mx is based in Mexico and, in our country, passenger trains are practically extinct except for some tourist train routes. This is one of the reasons why Mexicans feel something magical when travelling by train in Europe. It is a reality quite different from what we have in our own country and makes us feel as if we are having an almost movie-like experience.
A safe and fast way to travel
There are so many train routes in Europe which means that you can use the train to get almost anywhere. For example, you can travel on direct, high-speed trains to all the great capitals, which not only saves you travel time but also gives you more time to enjoy the places when you get there.
Train stations in central locations
When travelling by plane, you need to arrive at the airport at least 2 hrs before the indicated flight time. You spend more money on public transport to get there and a lot of time at security. When travelling by train you can avoid all of these inconveniences as most major stations are located at the centre of each town or city. You just go to the station, get on the train and go.
Unlike airports, there’s almost no waiting time in the world of trains. Once you have your ticket, you can get to the train up to 3 mins prior to departure (or one minute if you love adrenaline). We recommend arriving 15 mins in advance, however, and being at the train platform 10 mins prior to scheduled departure to make sure that you don’t miss the train.
It depends on the train route, but you can usually find several departure options on the same day. So, if for any reason you miss your train, don’t worry because you can often find other trains leaving in the next few hours.
Inside the train carriage there is generally a good amount of space between seats. Forget about knee pain or feeling crushed, like on an airplane. There are even sleeper trains crossing Europe, where you can book a fold-out bed.
There is more flexibility about luggage size and weight when travelling by train and you can carry all the liquids you want too. You can also place luggage easily in racks above your head or in the designated areas in each carriage.
The best sights
Views from the train are one of the best things you can enjoy from your seat. Sit back and enjoy beautiful landscapes as well as some peaceful moments of reflection.
Goodbye anti-nausea pills
If you suffer from motion sickness, the train is a good option for you. The steady speed and smooth tracks allow passengers to enjoy a happy tummy journey. Note that on European trains, seats face either in the direction of travel or away from it. For a better travel experience, we highly recommend choosing seats that face in the direction of travel, especially on your first train journey.
Restaurant and bar onboard
Many trains have a dining car which is great for long journeys or departures at lunch or dinner time. Many also have train assistants travelling through each carriage with snack carts. Train stations have shops and cafes too, so you can bring a picnic with you instead if you prefer.
Soak up the culture
When travelling by train, enjoy listening to local people speaking in their own language and gain an insight into everyday lives. With table seats, which seat four people around them, you have a great chance to start a conversation, make new travel companions, and practise your language skills.
As you can see, travelling by train is effective, fast, safe and fun. Whether you are travelling to Rome or Barcelona, the Swiss Alps, the French Riviera, London or the Loire, we think train travel is an experience you should have at least once in your life.
Image credits top to bottom: Train on viaduct in Switzerland iStock ©Oleh_Slobodeniuk, King's Cross Station Flickr Commons (cropped) ©It's No Game, Friends on train ©Mochileros.com, Woman looking out train window ©Mochileros.com, Family having fun on train ©Mochileros.com, Family group photo on train ©Mochileros.com, High-speed train iStock ©Enzojz
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