I'm opening this thread with one intention: clear up some objective, factual errors that I've been reading frequently on answers to (also) frequently posted questions. I know many Helpliners often answer to specific questions, some with great detail, but there are some information circulating there that is just out of date. Since it is very tiring to keep correcting it over, and over, and over, I decided to open this question for posting the most relevant ones.
"Trains from Milan's Malpensa airport only go to Cadorna, a commuter train station where you need to transfer to a subway; it is simpler to take a shuttle bus if you are going to take another train in Milano Centrale" WRONG Since 2010 there are direct frequent trains that link Malpensa Airport with Milano Centrale, and other trains that link the aforementioned airport with Milano Porta Garibaldi. There is no practical justification for taking a bus when a train will get you there faster at the same time, if you are arriving or departing from Malpensa's main terminal.
"For train travel between Milan/Venice/Firenze/Rome/Napoli you need to check Trenitalia website etc. etc." VERY INCOMPLETE There is another major competitor: ItaloTreno Most people giving advice on travel between major Italian cities complete ignore ItaloTreno (http://www.italotreno.it), a private operator with many daily services on the high speed lines that link those cities. It stated small, but now has dozens of trains a day on that "Y-shaped" network of high speed train.
"An Eurail Pass including x/y/z/France might be an option" WRONG SNCF has withdrawn from the Pass agreement. It is all explained here: http://www.eurail.com/france-no-longer-in-eurail--pass
Andre L., "There is no practical justification for taking a bus when a train will get you there faster at the same time" I find that the Malpensa Shuttle (Bus) is a faster method when travelling from MXP Terminal 2 (which is where EasyJet operates from). Just to expand a bit on the information you provided, AFAIK the train service from MXP is provided by TreNord which was partly the firm that operated the Malpensa Express. In addition to MXP, they operate service to Milano Centrale, Milano Cadorna and others. Cheers!
"If you are travelling to Switzerland wit a connection in a Schegen country, you will go through immigration only in Switzerland WRONG Switzerland is part of the Schengen agreement and has fully implemented its travel protocols. The fact Switzerland is not part of EU doesn't change that (hint: Norway and Iceland are also not part of EU, but a part of Schengen Area) . Flight to/from Switzerland from/to US with a connection in another Schengen Area airport will have immigration controls performed at this transfer airport.
"When arriving at Schiphol (Amsterdam) airpot, you can buy a ticket and take any train that is headed to Amsterdam Centraal station, it is only a 20-min trip" YOU CAN GET FINED FOR THAT Though that is valid for most trains, you cannot board a Thalys train coming from Belgium/France at all, and you cannot board a Fyra train without paying a supplement on top of the fare - it is less than € 1 but the fine for not buying before boarding the train is € 10 per passenger.
"To travel between Brugge and Amsterdam, you need to backtrack to Brussel and catch another train there" NOT TRUE You can travel quicker taking a train to Antwerpen and transfer there, it is almost a triangle: no point travelling 2 sides instead of just 1!
One more: "Hertz in via del Sansovinio in Florence is two miles north of the train station" WRONG Via del Sansovino is West-Southwest of the train station.
"Though that is valid for most trains, you cannot board a Thalys train coming from Belgium/France at all, and you cannot board a Fyra train without paying a supplement on top of the fare - it is less than € 1 but the fine for not buying before boarding the train is € 10 per passenger." Perhaps phrase it this way- you can ride the blue and yellow trains, but not the maroon or white and red trains.
I am with Monte and Michael. I don't remember reading any of this bad advice.
"An Eurail Pass including x/y/z/France might be an option" WRONG
SNCF has withdrawn from the Pass agreement. It is all explained here: http://www.eurail.com/france-no-longer-in-eurail--pass T o further clarify your clarification - France still DOES ACCEPT the GLOBAL Pass in 2013 - just not the Select Pass.
One I've seen: "If you're travelling to Berlin-Schoenefeld Airport, you can get the S-Bahn into central Berlin". Wrong: long-term reconstruction work at the main junction in eastern Berlin has meant that there is no direct S-Bahn service - you need to take the longer-distance trains branded "Airport Express".
@Andre - on the topic of ItaliTreno, do you know if one still needs to validate their ticket before boarding? And if so, does one use the same big yellow "ker-chunk" sounding validators as with Trenitalia trains? I had never even heard of this train system until a couple weeks ago. Thanks for all the clarifications! Monique
Not sure which message board you're reading Andre, but I have never seen anyone here give any of the above "bad" advice you are alleging?????
I don't remember seeing it either.
Even the information given in the ETBD books can be wrong. Facts sometimes change between the research and publication of the books. Look for new info on the books in this website. Be prepared to get correct info after arrival in Europe. Ask at the airport or train station. When possible, I find a website specific for a transportation system and use their info as "gospel." All the airports I've used have a website with copious info regarding getting to and departing the airport. A generality such as "it only takes 30 minutes to go from A to B," can be misleading. Frequency of buses/trains/planes has a lot to do with how long it takes and the "30 minutes" doesn't include time getting to a station, buying tickets, waiting for the bus/train/plane and finding the correct track or gate, etc. One example is taking the Heathrow Connect into London. "It only takes 30 minutes." It's best to allow at least an hour to find the ticket booth or dispensing machine, buy the ticket, take elevator and walk to the correct track, wait for the Connect train. THEN it takes about 30 minutes. Inexperienced travelers often are unrealistic about travel times because they get only part of the truth.
re: Italo AND validation I traveled between Rome and Naples round trip in October, having bought the ticket at the Tiburtina stazione in Rome. That train was high speed. The "ticket" was an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper that bore the train number, time of departure and arrival, coach number and seat number, and my name. Perhaps because my trip was set for a specific day and time and I had seat assignment, I did not have to validate. Rather, an official walked through the train and used a device to "read" the ticket. My experience with Italo was exceptional; I even benefited from Italo's introductory fare of about E45 each way. Staff is utter professional. The train leaves and arrives on time. Each coach is immaculate. My opinion of Italo is not intended to fault Trenitalia, since I have not traveled its high speed service.
ItaloTreno tickets are time/date/seat-specific and don't need to be validated.