Planes, Trains and Car Rentals

Where do I start? There are so many modes of transportation out there that you can use to get from one place to the next. How do you choose which one to use? I am not talking about flying from one place to the next. Well, I was going to say for obvious reasons you would need to take a plane to get you to the first destination you want to visit. Then I realized that isn’t always the case especially if you already live in Europe and can take the train, bus and even plane to get you to another country.

For me, I took every mode of transportation out there except hitchhiking. Now if there was a car, plane, train, bus or metro then I probably took it to get me around Europe, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

My first experience with traveling to Europe was the trip I took to Ireland and Northern Ireland in 1998. My roommate and I rented a car through CIE Tours since we would be traveling throughout the country for two weeks. We weren’t sure where we would be headed next only that we would be starting and ending our trip in Dublin. Everywhere in between was something we didn’t plan out so we thought renting a car would be the easiest way to see all that we wanted to see while we were there. It didn’t hurt that the trip included bed and breakfast as our accommodations and we didn’t have to book them in advance. With a car, we could stay in one village as long as we wanted or make the stay a day trip and move onto the next place along the route that we were making with the map we were given with the car rental. One place that we were able to visit for the day that we wouldn’t have been able to visit without renting a car would be Curracloe Beach, County Wexford. We probably could but then we would be on someone else’s time and not our own. During the day at Curracloe Beach, we got to hang out with some people that a friend of ours from Yosemite had met and gotten us in touch with before our trip. They took us to the beach where we rode a dune buggy right on the beach and then had lunch in what I would call a forest right on the edge of the beach itself. Something I may not have been able to experience any other way but driving there myself.

When I decided to go to Europe for three months, I took many types of transportation ranging from planes, trains, busses and even ferries. I will leave most of my posting about busses and ferries to my Busabout and Haggis Adventures post.

One form of transportation that I used a lot when I was traveling throughout the United Kingdom was National Express. While I was staying in London, I would use it to get me from London to Edinburgh as well as Stratford-Upon-Avon. I would take the metro to Victoria Coach Station and leave from there. For me, it was the least expensive as well as the easiest form of transportation to get me to these cities. If you don’t mind being on a bus for nine hours (London to Edinburgh) or three and a half hours (London to Stratford-Upon-Avon) then taking the bus is a great option.

Two other forms of transportation I took while backpacking was planes and trains. I decided on taking a flight from Athens to Warsaw (Busabout didn’t go through Poland) instead of taking a train to get me there. I didn’t book the flight ahead of time since I didn’t know I would be flying into Warsaw or even when I would be going into Poland. Pretty much spur of the moment on when I decided to see certain countries…. I went to a travel agency in Athens and booked my flight with them. The flight took me to Warsaw via Milan. I flew with LOT (Polish airlines) since my final destination would be Poland. I booked one way travel since I wouldn’t be coming back through Greece after leaving Athens (the second time since the route I took was Athens, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Ios, Santorini and back to Athens).

After arriving in Warsaw, I booked the local train that would get me from Warsaw to Zdunska Wola to see my Uncle. I had to keep an eye out on when I would be getting off the train since the language spoken over the intercom for the different stops was in polish. It helps immensely if you know when your stop is on the route the train is taking. That helped me in knowing when I needed to get off the train as well as knowing when the train should be arriving at that stop. There will always be instances when the train is delayed but this gives you an idea of when you should be arriving into the station.

Other seats I reserved on the trains were from Zdunska Wola to Krakow and Krakow to Prague. Since I would be travelling throughout the night from Krakow to Prague, I ended up with couchette as part of my ticket. I slept for most of the night except when I was woken by the conductor coming through to check my passport before he moved onto the next car.

Since I had chosen Busabout as my main form of transportation I needed to make my way back to the route where Busabout would pick up from since they didn’t go into Poland. I chose Prague as my destination to pick up Busabout…..

In reserving flights or trains, you need to remember that not everyone is going to speak English. I ran into this when I was in Krakow trying to reserve a seat on the local train to Zdunska Wola. The woman at the ticket counter didn’t understand me. Someone behind me spoke a little English and was able to translate enough so I could purchase a ticket. Another thing to remember is if you are taking a local train that it will make a lot of stops along the way.

From my experience since I have only travelled through the United Kingdom and Europe; they have some of the metro systems around. They were very easy to use. I was able to find my way around without getting lost. Well, only getting lost once and that was when I first tried to use the metro in London. After the first time in using the metro overseas I was able to use it without a problem. I suggest using the metro wherever you are if you don’t plan on walking in the city.

These were some ways I used to get in between cities along with modes of transportation within the cities I was visiting. So what do you use to get from point A to point B? Do you travel by plane, train, bus or rent a car? Share your stories of the best ways you got around when travelling.