Arriving two hours early just to hang around drinking expensive coffee while waiting at the gate, security checks which insist you take off your belt and boots, remove your laptop from your carefully packed bag and limit your liquids including sunscreen and toothpaste – it’s a wonder anybody chooses to fly at all. Travelling by train gets rid of all the extra hassles, letting you arrive on time for your train, with all the toiletries you need, and all without having to go through extensive security checks or limit your baggage.
By travelling by train, you can choose to stay in accommodation close to the station, which is almost always in the centre of the action. This way, there is no need to organise that trip out to the airport, keeping everything as simple as can be. At the destination, there is no waiting around for luggage or trying to find the correct shuttle: you can simply wander along to your accommodation and get a feel of the new city straight away!
The importance of legroom
One of the major benefits of travelling by train is the space you can expect. From the first moment you board, the difference is noticeable. On a train, you have a wide, comfortable seat, or perhaps even a table. If you travel by night you may have a sleeper train, which offers a flat position to lie in, letting you get a full night’s rest and arriving at your destination ready to take on the challenge of exploring and getting to grips with a new place.
In fact, depending on your ticket, it would be fair to say that you can expect a higher class of service in general. First-class tickets on trains often allow for food and drinks to be included. You can sit back and enjoy the attention that comes from the conductor, a quiet carriage, and even WiFi on some major routes so that you can keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world. And if your legs start to go numb from lack of use? Simply take a stroll along the carriage, marvelling at the view as you go.
Tantalise the senses
A big reason for travelling through Europe is often the view – and what views there are. From Alpine heights to the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, there are landscapes to take your breath away. Train tracks pass through medieval villages, across bridges over gorges and through valleys in the shadow of mountains. Marvel at the impressive lakes on a train in Germany, experience the wonder of the Alps all from your cosy train carriage or enjoy the glistening Mediterranean Sea on a journey along the coast, for example from Messina to Catania.
From the window of a train, you can take in fields of farmland, golden wheat, bright yellow rapeseed, or the succulent red of vineyards, all bathed in the glow of the sun. The scents that arise from these fields may permeate, seeping through windows that are open enough to allow for a breeze.
The unbeaten track
While travelling, spontaneity is key. The ability to get off at a lovely little town such as Arosa simply because you like the name, or to head for Aix-les-Bains to indulge in healing waters at centuries-old spas at the drop of a hat is fantastic. With a train, you can choose to change your travel plans just because you want to, and it’s possible to change tickets or to buy new ones fairly easily depending on your needs. Hop off a stop early to have a look around even just for an hour or two, and then simply hop back on the same route to continue on your journey. Throw the planner out the window and enjoy being carefree on a train.
With trains, you have the luxury of space, speed, and scenery. You can take the time to truly enjoy the journey. Why ever would anybody opt for anything else?