European Trains Take You from Point A to Point B … and to C and D and E, too.
In an earlier post I mentioned that I’m planning a trip to Europe. So far, I’ve been trying to decide which cities to visit and how long to stay in each. Little by little, and with the help and expert advice of Matthew Foy at Railbookers in London, I’m beginning to develop an interesting itinerary.
During this process, what really struck me is that the French, the Germans and the Swiss have all got absolutely terrific rail systems. You can get from somewhere to almost anywhere else by train. And with amazing convenience, too.
For example, I was checking the train schedules from the town of Brig in Switzerland to Beaune, a smallish French city in the heart of the area that produces some of the world’s finest burgundy wines. The Rail Europe web site gave me the answer within seconds: I could take a train from Brig to Lausanne, connecting with a high-speed train to Dijon, where I would connect with another train to Beaune.
About those connections: just 10 minutes in Lausanne; in Dijon, 21 minutes. Trying to make connections like that in the U.S. would be unthinkable. In fact, I usually opt to spend the night in Chicago and continue my journey the next day rather than risk missing a connection of three or four hours!
But getting back to the Brig-to-Beaune leg of my current itinerary, Rail Europe offered me a choice of five different departure times. Instead of passing right through Lausanne with that 10-minute connection, I could opt for a train leaving an hour later, giving me time to have lunch at the station. Or, if I wanted to find one of the nicer restaurants somewhere near the Lausanne station, the next train to Dijon would be coming along 40 minutes later.
Transportation experts will tell you that the principle goal of a really good public transportation system is to provide the people with mobility. Clearly, that’s what trains do for the Europeans. They take you almost anywhere you want to go, when you want to go there … and you’ll travel in comfort.
What’s not to like about that?