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Fine Tune my trip

  • 14 December 2023
  • 27 replies
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Hi, I am planning our trip to Europe and need some guidance with booking times. I’ve purchased two Eurail passes and worked out, as best I can, the trips I need to make. Where there are many trains each day, I have chosen the one that is most likely to be suitable. What I am after is:

  1. a reality check – i.e. is there anything that’s obviously wrong or isn’t going to work
  2. Which trains do I need to book in advance, versus those I can reasonably leave till later
  3. Which ones should I link to my Eurail pass and which ones should I just pay separately.

 

Any help would be appreciated

13/4 Rome Accom to Roma Termini - main train station.

13/4 Roma Termini - Firenze Santa Maria Novella 09:25 1h 36min High Speed Trains FR 9308 to Torino Porta Nuova 11:01 Firenze S.M.N. (170m to accommodation)

13-17/4 Florence day trips to Bologna, Sienna & Pisa to be worked out later

18/4 Firenze Santa Maria Novella (170m from accommodation) to Monterosso; Reservation required; cost 15 Euro; 07:34 – 10:17 2h 43m · 2 changes. (1km to accommodation)

19/4 Cinque Terre – Monterosso - Milano Centrale - Fri, Apr 19 · 12:55 – 15:53 2h 58m · Direct

20/4 Milano Centrale – Brig 08:20 - 10:14 Duration:1h 54min

20/4  Brig – Andermatt 10:18 – 11:46 Duration:1h 28min

20/4 Andermatt - Disentis/Muster Mon May 20, 2024Travel time 1 hour 6 minutes

20/4 Disentis/Muster -Chur Mon May 20, 2024Travel time 1 hour 18 minutes (to Accom 9 minute walk)

21/4 Chur – Tirano 06:28 – 12:49 PM

21/4 Tirano – Varenna 15:08 – 16:34 Duration:1h 26min (1 Minute walk to accom)

24/4 Varenna – Milan 11:08 2h 32m 13:40 Milano Centrale

24/4 Milan – Venice 14:15 2h 27m 16:42  Venezia San Lucia (to accom 6 min walk)

27/4 Venice – Pordenone 12:35 –18:46 6h 11min 2 Transfers (12 – 14 minutes to accommodation)

2/5 Pordenone – Vienna 11:07  6h 22min High Speed Trains RJ 132 / RJ 132 to Wien Hbf 17:29  Wien Meidling  7min Transfer  17:36   Wien Meidling  16min  S-Bahn S 1 to Marchegg  17:52   Wien Praterstern (750m 10 m walk to accom)

6/5 Vienna – Prague 10:51  Wien Praterstern 10min     S-Bahn  S 3 to Wiener Neustadt Hbf    11:01 Wien Hbf (Bahnsteige 1-2) 9min 201m Walk (approx. 8min) 11:10 Wien Hbf   4h 3min High Speed Trains  RJ 74 / RJ 74 to Praha hl.n.  15:13    Praha hl.n.   (Accom 9 min, 750 m) 

9/5 – 10/5 Prague to Zurich  EN 50466 overnight train  6:20PM Arr 8:20 AM

13/5 Zurich – Dijon 09:34 – 11:59   Duration:2h 25min (Car from train station)

19/5 Massy – Paris – No trains found????

22/5 Paris – Richmond (Surrey) 13:12 – Planned arrival 15:36 Duration:3h 24min1 Transfer

27/5 Richmond (Surrey) – Heathrow 07:16 – Planned arrival 08:40 Duration:1h 24min2 Transfers

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Best answer by thibcabe 14 December 2023, 06:27

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A few things :)

Between Florence and Monterosso you're paying a lot to save a few min (+ extra change). Take this itinerary instead :

- RE Firenze S.M.N - Pisa Centrale 07:28 - 08:28

- IC Pisa Centrale - Monterosso 08:57 - 10:31 3€

IC trains timetables have not been yet added to planners (only Trenitalia). Check back closer to travel date.

Shorter option available : departure 10:28, arrival 12:53. Also possible to stop for an hour or two in Pisa if you'd like to see the leaning tower.

Don't expect to take the 10:23 train out of Brig. The EC from Milan will probably be delayed by 15-20 min. Take the 11:23 train. For example to a supermarket next to the station to get things for lunch.

I believe the Bernina Express leaves at 08:28 and not 06:28.

Timetables for regional trains around Venice have not been published. The journey to Pordenone takes an hour and not 6 !

The TGV between Zurich and Dijon has a 39€ reservation fee in 1st class. Could lower it to 10€ by taking a regional train across the border to Mulhouse and the TGV from there.

Massy - Paris sees frequent RER B trains. Eurail not valid.

Userlevel 3
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Thanks. I’ll pursue the other suggestions as soon as I get time, but can you clarify what you mean by “Massy - Paris sees frequent RER B trains. Eurail not valid.” In a recent question it was suggested I go to Massy or Orly, instead of Paris. Should I drop the car off at Orly instead?

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Suburban (RER) trains in and around Paris are not included. Subways aren't either. Tickets are rather cheap anyway, get them at the station.

No, Massy is better than Orly as there are direct RER to Paris city center every 8-10 min while from Orly you need to take a shuttle + RER (until the subway opens next summer).

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It sounds like your trip is coming together!

13/4 Roma Termini - Firenze Santa Maria Novella 09:25 1h 36min High Speed Trains FR 9308 to Torino Porta Nuova 11:01 Firenze S.M.N. (170m to accommodation)

I assume Turin is a misprint here?! Direct trains Rome-Florence don’t go near Turin.

20/4  Brig – Andermatt 10:18 – 11:46 Duration:1h 28min

I agree with @thibcabe that you shouldn’t expect to make a 4 minute connection from the Eurocity at Brig. Additionally, the 10:18 is the Glacier Express, which would require an (expensive) reservation which would be wasted if you miss it.

I see another train to Andermatt departing at 10:23 and doesn't need a reservation. This gives you a few extra minutes, but it’s also worth thinking you might be on the 11:23. You can still comfortably reach Chur.

21/4 Chur – Tirano 06:28 – 12:49 PM

I think you mean 08:28-12:49?

21/4 Tirano – Varenna 15:08 – 16:34 Duration:1h 26min (1 Minute walk to accom)

There’s no reason not to aim for the 13:08 from Tirano-Varenna, unless you particularly want to stop in Tirano for lunch or something? You can decide on the day.

19/5 Massy – Paris

The RER (suburban railway) isn’t included in the Eurail pass, so won’t turn up in the Trip Planner. This would be a good use for Google Maps, which will plan a route from your car hire location to your hotel, via RER B. There are trains every ~10 min.

22/5 Paris – Richmond (Surrey) 13:12 – Planned arrival 15:36 Duration:3h 24min1 Transfer

You’ll arrive at St Pancras International, then there are quite a few routes to Richmond. I don’t know which one you have found, or prefer. They all take roughly the same time, 40-50 minutes.

  1. Get the tube to Waterloo or Vauxhall (not included in pass. If you have a contactless credit/ debit card, you can just tap in and out at the fare gates.) then train to Richmond (included).
  2. Get tube all the way: Victoria Line, changing onto the District Line at Victoria. (Also not included, use contactless)
  3. Get a Thameslink train from St Pancras to West Hampstead, change onto a London Overground service to Richmond (all included in the pass, nothing extra to pay).

Tube map here. Again, Google Maps will plan the best route for you from St Pancras to your accommodation in Richmond. Remember that mainline trains, Thameslink and London Overground are all included in your pass. Tube isn’t.

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Thanks for your help. Just one more question. I plan to make the bookings where possible, however I was wondering if I am locked in once I have made, and paid, for a reservation? Or can I change my mind later, as the trip progresses, assuming there are spare seats. Or do I lose my reservation fee?

Userlevel 7
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It's a bit of a messy answer, I'm afraid, because there are different reservation types in there.

For Eurostar, you should be able to make changes via the Eurostar website (even though you didn't book there!). It will depend on availability, and cost you €15.

For Italian domestic, I think you can cancel up to 15 days before departure. There's no need to book way ahead though - there's almost always availability.

I don't know about the rest, but if you do a dummy booking on ÖBB, it will show you the cancellation terms.

Userlevel 3
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Thanks for the support. I’ve tried to integrate your comments (and one’s I’ve extracted from earlier messages) so my amended plan is as follows. At this stage the plan is only a list, not entered in any planner or booking site. What I need to know now is:

  1. Which ones should I book now vs later vs on the day.
  2. Which web stie should I use to book? I’ve dug out this info by looking at the Italian and Swiss train booking sites, not Eurail.
  3. Which trips should I us my Eurail pass for, and which should I pay for?
  4. Should I try to convert my Eurail pass to advance purchase since I have such a detailed plan, and it seems I need to make so many reservations in advance?
  5. I have some Specific questions on some trips

 

13/4        Roma Termini – 09:25 - 11:01 Rome Termini - Florence S. M. Novella Duration: 1h 36m Train number: 9308

13-17/4   Florence day trips to Bologna & Sienna to be worked out later

18/04 07:28 - 08:28    Florence S. M. Novella - Pisa Main Station   Duration: 1h 0m    Train number: 4013   (keep large luggage at the Pisa railway station)

18/04 09:56 - 11:17 Pisa – Monterosso al Mare   Duration: 1h 21m, 1 change.  You said “Shorter option available: departure 10:28, arrival 12:53.” – I couldn’t find the 10:28 departure on either Trentialia or interrail web site. The 9:56 might be a bit tight

19/04 Cinque Terre – Monterosso - Milano Centrale - Fri, Apr 19 · 12:55 – 15:53 2h 58m · Direct

20/04 Milano Centrale – Brig 08:20 - 10:14 Duration:1h 54min

20/04 Brig – Andermatt 11:23 - 13:20   11:23  Brig Bahnhofplatz   1h 57m    R 43 530    13:20  Andermatt (????? Is this the one? https://www.thetrainline.com/book/results?origin=urn%3Atrainline%3Ageneric%3Aloc%3A17537&destination=urn%3Atrainline%3Ageneric%3Aloc%3A18564&outwardDate=2024-04-20T10%3A00%3A00&outwardDateType=departAfter&journeySearchType=single&passengers%5B%5D=1990-12-17%7C5328ef20-6612-4353-b845-ad567267a758&directSearch=false&selectedOutward=q6PmbPbfX2w%3D%3AZgGUl0zBupo%3D%3AStandard)

20/04 Andermatt - Disentis/Muster 14:28 Andermatt 1h 11m 0 changes 15:39 Disentis/Muster

20/04 Disentis/Muster -Chur 16:28 Andermatt 1h 11m 0 changes 17:39 Disentis/Muster

21/04 Chur – Tirano 07:58 Chur 4h 25m 2 changes 12:23 https://www.thetrainline.com/book/results?origin=urn%3Atrainline%3Ageneric%3Aloc%3A6378&destination=urn%3Atrainline%3Ageneric%3Aloc%3A18820&outwardDate=2024-04-21T06%3A00%3A00&outwardDateType=departAfter&journeySearchType=single&passengers%5B%5D=1990-12-17%7Ce5657a97-e376-40d6-b03c-399b3b4d0791&directSearch=false&selectedOutward=q%2Ben3G0B%2BIA%3D%3A%2FW5TBRrggVc%3D%3AStandard

21/04 Tirano 21/4 Tirano – Varenna 15:08 – 16:34 Duration:1h 26min (1 Minute walk to accom)  Is Tirano worth a 2 hour stopover, or is my time better spent in Varenna?.

24/04 Varenna – Milan 11:08 2h 32m 13:40 Milano Centrale

24/04 Milan – Venice 14:15 2h 27m 16:42  Venezia San Lucia (to accom 6 min walk)

27/04 Venice – Pordenone 17:13 - 18:46 Venice Santa Lucia – Pordenone Duration: 1h 33m Train number: 16812

02/05 Pordenone – Vienna 11:07  6h 22min High Speed Trains RJ 132 / RJ 132 to Wien Hbf 17:29  Wien Meidling  7min Transfer  17:36   Wien Meidling  16min  S-Bahn S 1 to Marchegg  17:52   Wien Praterstern (750m 10 m walk to accom)

06/05 Vienna – Prague 10:51  Wien Praterstern 10min     S-Bahn  S 3 to Wiener Neustadt Hbf    11:01 Wien Hbf (Bahnsteige 1-2) 9min 201m Walk (approx. 8min) 11:10 Wien Hbf   4h 3min High Speed Trains  RJ 74 / RJ 74 to Praha hl.n.  15:13    Praha hl.n.   (Accom 9 min, 750 m) 

09/05 – 10/5 Prague to Zurich  EN 50466 overnight train  6:20PM Arr 8:20 AM

13/05 Zurich – Basel 09:34 10:28   54m, 0 changes

13/05 Basel – Mulhouse Not Yet Available

13/05 Mulhouse – Dijon  Not Yet Available (I’d like to get to Dijon by about 1PM if possible)

13/05  Dijon (Car from train station)

19/05 Massy – Paris –. Eurail not valid. There are direct RER to Paris city center every 8-10 min.

22/05 Paris – Richmond (Surrey) 13:12 – Planned arrival 15:36 Duration:3h 24min1 Transfer  You’ll arrive at St Pancras International, then there are quite a few routes to Richmond. TBD.

27/05 Richmond (Surrey) – Heathrow 07:16 – Planned arrival 08:40 Duration:1h 24min2 Transfers

Userlevel 7
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To book trains have a look at https://www.seat61.com/interrail-and-eurail-reservations.htm

Everything is clearly explained. Using ÖBB you'll get free reservations between Venice and Vienna (but 15€ passholder surcharge because ÖBB Italia wants the money) + Vienna and Prague.

I would book in advance : night train Prague to Zurich and Eurostar. Only Eurostar is available right now anyway.

The rest can wait until a few days/1-2 weeks in advance. Feel free to book earlier if you wish but you're too early at the moment.

Keep your Eurail Pass for sure. It's convenient and I'm not even sure that advance tickets would be cheaper. Then advance tickets tie you to a train while you have freedom of choice with Eurail.

Maybe buy separate tickets (on the day) for day trips around Florence : there's no 1st class on Italian regional trains and tickets are cheap.

About your specific questions :

First of all you are too early to get reliable/complete timetables, especially in Italy and France. I would also suggest avoiding Trainline : use bahn.com or DB Navigator app.

Yes this is the one : Brig Bahnhofplatz (literally station square) station lies in front of the main station building.

There is a direct Bernina Express train between Chur and Tirano if you want to avoid changes : 08:28 - 12:49.

Tirano isn't worth 2 hours in my opinion unless you want to have lunch. I'd take the 13:08 train. You can always decide on the way !

Userlevel 7
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Yep, the key trains to book are the sleeper and the Eurostar. Also the TGV from Mulhouse-Dijon if you’re taking that (see below).

Brig-Andermatt-Disentis/ Muster-Chur-Tirano-Milan - No need to decide the exact trains now. No reservations. You can decide on the day.

You seem to have long waits at Andermatt and Disentis/ Muster. Unless you want stop off here for some reason, you can take the shorter connections. Within Switzerland, it all works like clockwork.

Tirano worth a 2 hour stopover, or is my time better spent in Varenna?.

Tirano is a nice spot for lunch, and you’d be there at lunch time. There are several cafes within 30 seconds walk of the station. Decide on the day. You already have 3 days in Varenna so an extra 2 hours is of limited use!

27/05 Richmond (Surrey) – Heathrow 07:16 – Planned arrival 08:40 Duration:1h 24min2 Transfers

There are various combinations of tube/ bus/ train. Allow 1h to 1h30. Or about half that in a cab.

If you’re using Google Maps to plan, make sure you tell it which terminal.

13/05 Zurich – Basel 09:34 10:28   54m, 0 changes

This train continues to Paris, and also stops at Mulhouse at 10:54 and Dijon at 11:59. It’s free to take it as far as Basel, but you need a seat reservation (€39 in first class, €29 in second) to continue over the border and into France.

So you can either pay this and stay on board to Dijon, or get off at Basel and take the TER to Mulhouse (no reservation needed) then a TGV to Dijon (€10 or €20 reservation) and arrive at 13:12.

To be honest, I would be tempted to suggest you pay for the direct train on this occasion. Although it’s pricey, it saves two connections and gets you there an hour earlier. Simpler.

Userlevel 7
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Brig-Chur

You can make these connections - they're designed liked that, so the connecting train will be held for a couple of minutes if necessary.

No need to plan the longer connections you write above unless you specifically want to spend time at these places.

 

Userlevel 7
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Totally agree with ralderton. 5 min connections are totally easy, straightforward and guaranteed. Dozens of people will change at the same timd too.

There are also no trains between Disentis and Chur leaving at 16:28. I guess you confused times with those from Andermatt.

Userlevel 3
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Fantastic. Thanks for all your efforts helping me plan this out. I am encouraged to know that I don’t have to plan it all now and there are some trips I can even leave to the day. I’ll wait another few weeks to make sure all the timetables are up to date and then start the process of booking the ones I’ve planned. Hopefully I won’t have to ask too many more “dumb questions”

Userlevel 7
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No such thing as a dumb question! It’s better to ask now than find out the hard way.

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i refer to “13/05 Zurich – Basel 09:34 10:28   54m, 0 changes This train continues to Paris, and also stops at Mulhouse at 10:54 and Dijon at 11:59.” 

I tried searching that direct run but it says it’s not available. I assume that means I have to book the steps anyway. Is that right? 

https://fahrplan.oebb.at/webapp/?context=TP&SID=A%3D1%40O%3DZurich%20Main%20Station%40X%3D8540211%40Y%3D47378177%40U%3D181%40L%3D8503000%40B%3D1%40p%3D1702631983%40&ZID=A%3D1%40O%3DDijon%20Porte%20Neuve%40X%3D5055183%40Y%3D47322786%40U%3D181%40L%3D8700429%40B%3D1%40p%3D1702631983%40&date=13.05.2024&time=07:00:00&timeSel=1&returnTimeSel=1&journeyProducts=7167&start=1&#!P|TP!H|763316

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Ignore last message. It’s obviously Dijon Ville I am meant to go to

Userlevel 7
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Yes, it’s Dijon Ville.

That train doesn’t show up in a search on ÖBB - or at least it doesn't for me. It shows up on DB though,

https://int.bahn.de/en/buchung/fahrplan/suche#sts=true&so=ZURICH&zo=Dijon%20Ville&kl=2&r=13:16:KLASSENLOS:1&soid=A%3D1%40O%3DZURICH%40X%3D8540534%40Y%3D47378968%40U%3D81%40L%3D8596008%40B%3D1%40p%3D1702929024%40&zoid=A%3D1%40O%3DDijon%20Ville%40X%3D5026130%40Y%3D47322912%40U%3D81%40L%3D8700021%40B%3D1%40p%3D1702929024%40&sot=ST&zot=ST&soei=8596008&zoei=8700021&hd=2024-05-13T07:54:55&hza=D&ar=false&s=true&d=false&hz=%5B%5D&fm=false&bp=false

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Is Frecciaargento included on Eurail pass? I am considering the following train so as to get the most value from my limited time in Cinque Terre but it looks like its priced way above the others. I am using the OBB site. Is this correct, or am I doing something wrong?

 

Firenze Campo di Marte › Monterosso

 

Userlevel 3
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Or will one of the slower trains give me a better overview of Cinque Terre than trying to walk it or otherwise get around it anyway? In other words, is a 3 ½ hour journey going to give me a better experience than getting there quickly and trying to figure out what to do/see? Never been there before so I don’t know what to expect.

Userlevel 7
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Yep, Frecciargento is included. €26 is the correct price for two passengers on most high speed trains in Italy. 

Userlevel 7
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From memory, there’s a lot of tunnels. You won’t see much from any train, you’ll need to get out at one of the stations.

The walks are well worth doing

I picked up a map and paid my trail fee from the National Park office in Monterosso station, then did the walk from Vernazza to Monterosso later that day. It’s a couple of hours. I then caught the train back to my accommodation in Vernazza.

The Park office will give you good advice about which are the best trails, and I assume advise on bag storage if necessary.

Userlevel 7
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I guess you’re in Florence now, if the itinerary above is still correct. Hope the trip is going well, and all the planning is paying dividends now!

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The trip so far has been brilliant! We’ve only caught one train so far, Rome to Firenze. We’ve decided to skip the train trip to Bologna in favour of a ½ day small group wine tour to the Chianti region, which was great, but will likely go by train to Siena tomorrow for a day trip.

 

Thanks for the confirmation about the trip to Monterosso. We’ll see if we can make the early train direct to Monterosso and go walkabout from there for as much time as we can. 

Userlevel 3
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BTW, I didn’t actually do any trips on days 2/3 (below), instead I turned off the switch, Did I do it wrong and lose 2 days of my travel pass?

 

Userlevel 7
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If you slide the switch off before midnight, you get your day back. If it’s after midnight, the day is already used, unfortunately

Edit: as @rvdborgt mentions below, you also need to another step to cancel the travel day.

Userlevel 7
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BTW, I didn’t actually do any trips on days 2/3 (below), instead I turned off the switch, Did I do it wrong and lose 2 days of my travel pass?

You activated a travel day (well, you activated 13 of them) and you didn't cancel it. "Turning off” the yellow switch DOES NOT cancel a travel day. To cancel a travel day, first select it and then tap on "Cancel travel day” (that should be the button now hidden by the dark "Where will you go first?” bubble. Cancelling is only possible before validity starts.

Please now cancel all future travel days and only activate them when you're about to board the first train of the day. That minimises the chance of mistakes.

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