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hi, i think we got off to a bad start. i have only had my computer for about a year,and haven't had a lot of time to use it ,and no one said until now that it was hard to read. i told you about my life so you would know that i am not too lazy to look for the information. we are flying into Geneva because that was the only available place we could use our airline miles for. the resort outside of Koln was given to us, and we booked the cruise 18 mos.ago. we are thinking of taking a train from Geneva by way of lake Geneva,and a short river cruise to see some castles. Berlin will be at the end of the trip and from there a train to Venice. train back from Venice to Geneva.the reason we were going to get a four country rail pass is that we will be going through 4 countries.Germany,italy,switzerland,and austria. when we checked some of the prices,it seemed that they were high on an individual basis. we tried to decifer the rail schedule,but we don't spek greek. my sincerest apology, thanks shiela

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
6808 posts

Hi Sheila: Click below and the link will take you to the best Europe train schedule website:http://bahn.hafas.de/bin/query.exe/enYou won't use the website to buy tickets but rather to see the schedules, travel times, and other details. You only have to input the city/town name, not the country. This doesn't answer all of your questions but it will get you started.And click on the link below to go to Rick's "Railpasses 101" where he explains about railpasses:http://www.ricksteves.com/rail/rail_menu.htm

Posted by Laura K.
Ohio Valley, USA
123 posts

Geneva- Koln- Berlin- Venice- Geneva...is this right?

How many days in each place? Where is the cruise? You will be better off buying a rail pass select if you want to visit more little towns. Remember even if you decide on the rail pass you will also have to pay for reservations, especially long distance trains ex. Berlin to Venice. The reservations can be quit pricey. Look into purchasing point to point tickets.

I agree the websites can be a little confusing but select English and you will be able to figure it out. Put in your place of departure, where you want to go, and the time and date and it will give you the options. There will be several options for things like first class, second class, flexibility, and night trains. You can read about all of the different options on their website or browse around here.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3409 posts

Very gracious of you, Shiela. I hope you get all the help you need.

Posted by Jed
Seattle, WA, US
345 posts

Shiela,

Is it possible for you to fly at all instead of rail for some of the longer trips? Perhaps Berlin to Venice? Not sure of the routing, but it might save you a bit of time in each city and maybe even some $$. When I quickly look at the link above from Kent, I think it's about 15 hours by train. Never gone to Venice, so I may be wrong in inputting info.

My wife and I flew from Stockholm to Zurich and also from Paris to Stockholm all well under $100 per person. The time saved was enormous and even if it cost a bit more than the train ticket was well worth the time saved. Easy Jet (from Schoenfeld) and Tuifly (from Tegel) fly to Venice. Check out http://www.whichbudget.com/ for budget airlines that fly in Europe.

Posted by Cate
Tacoma, WA, USA
667 posts

I found individual tickets cheaper than passes. The bahn.de is the best website for finding routes and fares. Second class cheaper than first and some of the specials are really good!

Good luck with the computer use! My mom has evolved into a pro on-line in the last couple years!

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1414 posts

Consider checking to see if you can change your flights. You mention that Geneva was the only place that you could get tickets using your air miles. I suppose that might be true, but I've been using air miles for pretty much all my international travel for decades, and I'm fairly skeptical that this is your only choice. If it were me, I would investigate additional flight options (yes, using your air miles). Details vary from one program to another (you didn't mention what airline/program your miles are in), but typically you can switch to different flights for a fee (I've done this more than a few times - in my experience it typically costs $50 - $100 per ticket). That's a significant cost, but consider the benefits: if you can fly in to one city where you begin your trip, then fly home from a different city where you end your trip, and you will save both time and money: there's no need to double-back to "close the loop", you save the cost of getting there, plus probably a hotel and meals for that day. Best of all, it saves you a day that might otherwise be "wasted."

Keep in mind that you can (probably) use your air miles on multiple airlines, not just the one that you earned your miles on. Also be aware that if you simpy call the airlines' customer service agents, you will NOT get the full picture: the agents often are clueless, lazy, pressured to just get you processed (or all three). The airlines deliberately make it hard to discover all your options, so if you call them and they tell you "your only option is X" you probably have many other options. Call back and try a different agent. The key is to be a little flexible, in terms of dates, routes, and destinations (there are a LOT of places in Europe where the airlines fly to!). And you do need to be somewhat determined in order to ferret out the real truth, which the airlines do their best to obscure. But it can be done. I suspect you probably have many more options for flights than you think you do.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7209 posts

Two things to look at. I think your plan from Geneva to Koln then on to Berlin works. Berlin to Venice is a long haul. I would consider taking a hop on a low cost airline (if you can pack light) for that leg. If not by air, a point to point for that leg may be cheaper than adding a fourth country to your train pass.

I agree with the open jaw comments. You may save as much reducing your train passes by a day as you will have to pay extra to fly back open jaw. The other advantage is the time spent enjoying rather than backtracking to make your flight.

If you keep the same flights, spend most of your planned Geneva time at the end rather than the start of your vacation. If something upsets your travel plans (such as a train strike) you will have a little flexibility built in to still make your flight.