Getting Around

West European Railways

Western European railways are known to be mostly. expensive and mostly, punctual. Or what is assumed, because they are, well, Western. I am not an expert and only give a description of what I personally experienced during my few train journeys. As creative as I had attempted to be, I heartfeltly say that my recent multi-country trip across Western Europe was a big success. With only a one-night bus connection between Spain and Portugal, all my travel was done by trains. I focused on two things; location and frequency. When using high-speed trains the main terminal may be located some two miles away from the city center or the next train in your direction goes in six hours. While it was the case in Asian countries, here in Europe, what affected my journeys were big crowds, and I was prepared for it. Trains, tubes or buses were inevitably packed with other tourists and local commuters. Again, traveling offseason would greatly affect the volume of passengers and tickets prices. The ultimate goal, however, for any sensible traveler, especially solo traveler was TIME. The train must take you to your destination. That is your aim. That is the priority of any kind of public transport, to take you safely and punctually to another destination. When selecting tickets I focused on saving time, not really increasing customer service or comfort. So long as I got my seat and enough room to have a decent meal and a folded table for my travel organiser I am all set. 

This would be the Intercity train you take for your journey from Gdansk to Berlin. The comfort and customer service is above average. Clean and not too noisy. The difference between first class and the second class is barely noticeable except for the price, of course. The train will pass the city of Poznan.
Model photo of Deutsche Bahn train I used for my ride from Berlin to Amsterdam. Pleasant journey, quiet and comfortable carriages. Snacks and drinks being served for extra pay.
This is Thalys train going to Paris via Brussels. High-speed train with nothing extravagant for this price. Just a direct and fast ride to my next destination, or what I thought.
Train Platform in Amsterdam is located on the upper floor. The train goes every one hour. There I met a lovely American family touring Europe. They came from California and were telling me some stories about the disastrous effects of wildfires. After Paris, they wanted to visit Berlin.
What a nice gesture! You grab your seat, make yourself comfortable, unfold a table, only to be greeted in French. Thank you!
Ok, I got my seat and waiting for departure. Some other passengers were very nervous and disoriented as they struggle to find their seat numbers. Before boarding, you need to check with the train conductor which car is yours.
Model photo of SNCF long-distance train. My Direct train to Barcelona. Terminal in France was very busy. Long queues, not clear directions. My train was actually behind another train and it was pure instinct or luck, I do not know, but I just run long the wagons on the platform.
Model photo of AVE train I used for my ride from Barcelona to Madrid. It is a high-speed train with service on board serving food that was included in the price. The 3.5h journey was very pleasant and short if you start to get too comfortable in your seat.
Boarding the train started 30min before departure. At first, I thought to be the only one using this service but soon later other passengers started flocking in, mostly Spanish.
The meal was served. The train service similar to the flight service. Ready-made food with a choice of drinks. I don’t know why I picked a bottle of wine with my meal. It was not the best time, so I just left it later, more relaxing moment. Once I reached my hotel in Madrid, I celebrated ‘the mission accomplished moment’.


Bus Terminal in Lisbon at 6am. The last leg of my journey was an overnight bus from Madrid, Spain to Lisbon, Portugal. The bus ride lasted 12 hours and covered the distance of app. 620km (385 miles). Always make sure you book a seat reservation with the ticket. It is a mere 6-10 Euro but could save you trouble and confusion. I selected my seat I wanted but someone had already taken it as it usually goes first come first serve basis, sort of. Once you show your reserved seat number you are good. I recommended that to the families as I saw one having had to be separated into any seats available, not next to each other. Have a safe Journey!



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