June 2013 train schedule help ): need bookings for Schengen visa

Hi everyone, I am planning for my first trip to Europe this June. Because of my nationality I need to apply for the Schengen visa. This requires me to make all bookings: plane into 1st European country and plane out of Europe, accommodation throughout length of stay, and all train/ flight bookings that connects me to the different cities. The visa application processing takes a lot of time (from what I've heard from people similar to myself) something like 2 weeks and you may have to try several times. So I would like to start early. But I understand that the train schedule changes in June. I had asked the relevant embassy regarding this but they said they need to see my connecting tickets. Anyone has any advice for this? Also, when are train tickets for June usually/ approx. open for purchase? I really appreciate any help. Thank you.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

litathefarmer, Your questions are a bit "specialized", so probably not something most of us here have much experience with. However, I'll try to offer a few suggestions. There's a long list of countries that require a formal Visa to visit the E.U., but I didn't realize the requirements were so specific and detailed. It would help to have some idea which countries and cities you plan to visit, as the rail systems vary a bit from country-to-country. While there will be new rail schedules in June, they likely won't change much from the current schedules. AFAIK, it's possible to buy tickets at least 90-days in advance, but that may vary by country (hopefully one of the others can confirm that). That should still allow a lot of time for processing your Visa. It would be easier to provide more specific advice if I knew which countries you'll be visiting. One point to note is that if your connection to a particular city is via a "local" train, you usually won't be able to pre-purchase the ticket in advance. One good example is the Regionale trains in Italy, which can't be purchased more than seven days in advance. One other point to note is that some legs of your trip may be easier via budget airline, and it should be possible to purchase tickets for those now. Again, that's difficult to say without having more information on your proposed Itinerary. Good luck with your planning and Visa application!

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6699 posts

A couple of thoughts. The Italian train schedules are u-p-dated twice yearly in mid-June and mid-December. In reality, they don't change much. I realize that you are concentrating on your visa but it would really help if can reveal where you intend to enter Europe and where you intend to exit. Also, if you can let us know where you intend to travel, we can provide quite a bit of train and other information. You can easily see train schedules now if you simply look at a date over the next 30-60 days. Again, in Italy, the train runs won't change much. When can you buy tickets? It varies between countries. Again, please let us know where you intend to travel. We can help.

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

Hi there, As others have said, you need to provide us with more details about your trip before we can help you. I would also like to know where you got this list of requirements for the Schengen visa as it seems a little bit off - perhaps a travel agent? If there really is no way around the train tickets issue, I expect a rail pass may be acceptable or alternatively take budget flights. But before going that way lets explore it a bit more. Jim.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

@Jim, This seems to be a relevant part of the post... "I had asked the relevant embassy regarding this but they said they need to see my connecting tickets." If I'm reading this correctly, the Visa requirements were specified by an Embassy. The amount of specific detail required seems to be a bit odd to me as well, but it's difficult to know without having some idea which Embassy the OP is dealing with on this issue. Cheers!

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

@Ken Yes each country makes it's own procedural rules and while I've come across the requirement for paid accommodation before, I've come across the train tickets one before. Jim.

Posted by litathefarmer
SIN
3 posts

Hi everyone, Thank you so much for the kind replies! Really appreciate it. I will apply for the Schengen visa at the Italian embassy since I will be spending the longest time there during my trip. The requirements are specified on their website- but I also called to double check. A friend with the same situation last year also got his visa rejected at first try when he didn't have the train and flight tickets for in between cities. I checked the French embassy too, same thing. I guess no way out of it. My itinerary briefly looks something like this as of now- I am going for close to a month Start June 2 Paris (4 nights) Zurich (2 nights)- includes Lucerne Interlaken (1 night) Zurich (1 night) Salzburg (1 night) Vienna (2 nights) Venice (1 night) Milan (2 nights) Pisa (1 night) Cinque Terre (2 nights) Siena (1/2 nights? not sure) Rome (2 nights) Capri (2 nights) Nice (1 night?- not sure) Barcelona (maybe- in which case 2 nights)
Paris (last night) From what I understand budget airlines don't do Paris-Switzerland route? Only full-fledged airlines? I also have trouble finding flights from Austria into Italy. Maybe I am looking wrong. As of now, friends from France, Italy and Switzerland have offered to write invitation letters declaring that they will host me. So intra-country train tickets may not need to be booked yet. But I would definitely need inter-country ones. Do you guys have tips for searching for flights? I have tried the Ryanair website and the flight searchers: Easyjet. Also if my itinerary needs improvement please let me know. I am usually a spontaneous traveler haha but this visa definitely forces me to plan in detail. Thanks for your time! (:

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4869 posts

Wow! You are moving around a lot!! It looks like you will be in most of your destinations one full day (2 nights) or less. You might find this easier to manage if you move around less. That will mean few train tickets to purchase.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2826 posts

To search for flights within Europe, use www.skyscanner.com. This will pull up multiple airlines; you then buy the ticket from the airline itself.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6699 posts

I really don't think that you have factored in the train travel time for all of these destinations. It's longer on the train than you migh imagine. For a starter, I would pass on the night in Pisa and add it to another city. Nothing there but the Leaning Tower and adjacent Field of Miracles. 2 hrs and you are out of there. Meanwhile, I have to look at this a bit closer. Back in awhile.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

lita, Thanks for the additional and more detailed information. It will take some time to work through it, but I have a few initial thoughts and questions..... > Is June 2 the day you'll arrive? You didn't indicate where you're flying from, but in some cases you'll arrive in Europe the day after departing from home. > IMO, you have too many one-night stops. Keep in mind that each change of location will use a minimum of about half a day (more or less), that only allows one evening to explore a new location. Hardly worth the effort in some cases. > I'd suggest skipping Zürich and starting in Lucerne, and add one night to Interlaken. You could also consider staying somewhere in the Lauterbrunnen Valley rather than Interlaken. > The trip from Rome to Capri will take the better part of a day. You could also stay in Sorrento and just take a day trip to Capri. > I'd skip the one night in Pisa and add to either the Cinque Terre or Siena. > The trip from Capri / Sorrento to Nice will be a longer travel day. EasyJet flies Naples-Nice, but they don't have flights every day (currently listed fares as low as 39.99€). > I'd highly recommend skipping Barcelona and adding the time to Nice. That will also facilitate your trip back to Paris for your return flight. > Using open-jaw flights would have been a better option rather than returning to Paris, but I imagine it's too late for that now? I'll try and look at this in more detail later tonight (almost time for my weekly Italian lunch). Cheers!

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6699 posts

I've looked at this schedule and I offer my thoughts and suggestions. First, the schedule is way too ambitious. You won't see much except from the train or plane window. Also note that you will be spendng a lot of time traveling to and from airports and train stations. But, here goes. 1) Paris 4 nights (1-4). Looks OK. Train to Zurich morning Day 5. Travel time 4hrs 15min. Fares as low as 25E by booking 90 days out. 2) Zurich 2 nights (5-6). Looks OK. Train to Lucerne late Day 6. Travel time 1hr. Fare 24CHF 3) Lucerne 1 night (7). OK. Train to Interlaken morning of Day 8. 2hrs. No train changes. Fare 31Euro. 4) Interlaken 2 nights (8-9). Skip travel back to Zurich. Stay longer and see more of Muerren, Gimmelwald and Wengen. Travel to Salzburg early morning of Day 10. 8:30 train takes 7.5hrs with 2 train changes. 5) Salzburg (Night 10) Depart Salzburg for Vienna next afternoon (Day 11). 2.5hr travel time. 6) Vienna (11-12) Depart Vienna on morning of Day 13 for Venice. Careful here. This is an 8.5hr journey by train and bus. The bus drops you off at the Venice Tronchetto. It's another 30-45 minutes to your hotel. 7) Venice (13-14) I added a night here so you could see a bit of Venice. Depart Venice for Milan on the morning of Day 15. 2hr35min by Freccibianca train. Fares as low as 19Euro if you book early. Ordinary fare is 37.50Euro 2nd class. 8) Milan (15) Depart for CT afternoon of Day 16. Travel time is 3.0hrs. Fare as low as 9Euro.
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Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6699 posts

Here's more of the above Schedule 9) Cinque Terre (16-17) 2 nights OK. Depart CT for Siena morning of Day 18. Stop in Pisa to see Leaning Tower (2hrs). You can store your luggage at a staffed left luggage facility in the station (I've done it.). Overall travel time about 6.0-7.0hrs including stop in Pisa. 10) Siena (18) Depart Siena afternoon of Day 19 for Rome. Trip will take 4.0hrs by train or 3.5 hrs on the SENA bus. 11) Rome (19-20-21) Suggest 3 nights in Rome. You arrive late on Day 19 and you will depart at 9:00am on Day 22 for the Rome Airport to check in (2hrs) and fly to Nice (flight at 12:15). (I'm suggesting that you skip Capri and fly to Nice. You will lose most of a day by traveling to and from Capri from Rome). Flight time 1hr15min. Fare 69E if you book early. 12) Nice (22). Afternoon and very early morning in Nice. Go to NCE airport at 09:00 for flight to Barcelona departing at 11:45. Flight time 1hr10min. Fare is 52Euro if you book early. 1hr to get from airport to Plaza Catalunya by airport bus. 13) Barcelona (23-24) Depart Barcelona very early at 3:30 on Day 25 for only flight of the day from Barcelona to Paris-Orly. Departs 06:00. Flight time 1hr45min. Fare 39.99Euro if you book early.
Paris (25) Spend last night in Paris. Fly home on Day 26 I hope this schedule gives you some good information on how to further plan your trip. I use Excel spreadsheets to plan ours. If you want a copy of one, send me a PM with your email ID and I'll send it to you. Note that you won't see us match your kind of travel agenda but it does help us plan. We are planning a trip to Italy right now for 2 weeks in September. We know exactly where we are staying and its on the spreadsheet. This could be useful for your visa applicaton.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6699 posts

I've read Ken's message while I have been producing mine and he suggests going to Capri but skipping Barcelona. This is a very good alternative if you must see Capri. We both agree about skipping a night in Pisa.

Posted by litathefarmer
SIN
3 posts

Sorry for taking some time to reply. Been swarmed with work. Thanks for all the suggestions! I factored in travel time for the first half of the trip but I haven't really done that for the rest of the route. I will rework the schedule based on the advice given. It's finally March so in a few days' time hopefully some of the train tickets will already be available for purchase (as I checked on de bahn website which stated when tickets would possibly go on sale for each route). Will be right back to update on my progress. Thanks a lot again!

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6699 posts

Elita, I have your PM. All runs should be seen on www.bahn.de except the plane flights. However, you usually can only buy tickets from this website if the journey begins or ends in Germany and sometimes Austria. Your Salzburg/Vienna trip can be purchased on Bahn. The other train runs cannot. Nearly every country has its own train website. For your trips, you will need to visit several different websites. When looking at these websites, be sure to put in a very early time (i.e. 6:00am) to see the early trains. There's always a button to see later train runs. 1) Paris-Zurich. www.tgv-europe.com. Book and buy up to 90 days out. 2) Zurick-Interlaken. www.sbb.ch. Book and buy up to 90 days out. 3) Interlaken-Salzburg. www.sbb.ch. You can buy from thw Swiss. 4) Salzburg-Vienna. www.oebb.at or www.bahn.de. Check the prices. 5) Vienna-Venice. www.oebb.at 6) All train runs in Italy. www.trenitalia.com. Book and buy 119 days out. You won't be able to buy CT-Siena online as these are Regionale trains. 7) Rome-Nice. www.easyjet.com. Book early for best fare. 8) Nice-Barcelona. www.vueling.com
9) Barcelona-Paris. www.vueling.com On the Easyjet and Vueling flights, these are budget airlines. Carefully read their check-in and luggage size/weight restictions.