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Euro Rail Beckons

Want to get from here to there in record time and enjoy Europe’s scenery? There’s an easy solution.

I should begin by saying I always have a valid Rail Pass [1].
It gives me the get-up-and-go freedom I crave when I want to travel
“from here to there.” Driving in France, unless you have a cast iron
stomach, can be a killer. Plus, there’s nothing worse than chafing in a
traffic jam that moves an inch an hour. Lord help you if you happen to
hit a jour rouge when it’s practically guaranteed your car journey will
take three times the usual time.

when you factor gas and tolls (and those stops for a little something
to eat) on the autoroute, more often than not, it’s cheaper to hit the
rails where you can pack a gourmet lunch and a bottle of wine since
you’re not the one who’s doing the driving.

of air deregulation, there are now some no-frills airlines flying
within Europe. However, be aware that the cheap prices are only valid
if you reserve at least two weeks before your day of departure. And
generally, these little planes fly in and out of airports that are so
far out of the city center that you save neither time nor money when
you arrive at your final destination. On top of that, there’s early
airport check-in and increasingly time-consuming security checks. I
must have something written on my face that screams “search this woman”
as I seem to be stopped at every turn.

silver lining on the European travel cloud is the railway. What makes
train travel even more attractive is that this is a REAL bonus year for
U.S. travelers.
Rail Europe [2]has
trimmed its prices and added new packages to meet myriad demands.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the Rail/Drive plan that offers the best
of both travel worlds.

Train to
the city or town of your choice and then pick up a car so your can tour
the surrounding area. It’s an ideal way to escape the city and explore
the neighboring countryside. Many of the “most beautiful villages of
France” necessitate visiting by car.

of you have noticed that the dollar has plummeted against the Euro. But
because Rail Europe is billed in dollars, you’re still ahead. Even if I
don’t use every day allocated in my plan, I’ve done the math and know
I’ve saved money. I’ve also been able to enjoy the scenery, get up and
walk around, read a book and perhaps even write an article or two.

passes must be shipped to a U.S. address. As I’m currently in the
States, I’ll order two; the passes require validation within six months
of purchase.