Train or Car?

We're going to Haarlem, Bruges, Bacharach, and Lauterbrunnen, in that order. Currently planning on train, but since they're not big cities, there are lots (2-3) of transfers between. I prefer letting the train drive me, but I'm comfortable driving too. I'm sure my wife would prefer that I drive, especially with the luggage involved. So, maybe rent a car at the end of Haarlem, and drop it off in Interlaken just before Lauterbrunnen? Thoughts appreciated! Joe L

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17713 posts

Joe, Travel by train will be much faster, more efficient and less tiring. The fast trains travel at up to 300 kmH, so a much more efficient use of limited travel time. Also note that if you rent in the Netherlands and drop the car in Switzerland, there's often a HUGE FEE associated with that. I read your other Thread about the issues of hauling behemoth luggage on and off the trains. One other point to consider is that European cars tend to be smaller, so the size of the luggage may be an issue there too. Also, leaving your luggage in cars (ie: you stop for dinner or whatever) is more of a risk for theft. I believe you'll need a highway tax vignette for Switzerland, as without it there will be a hefty fine. You'll also have to contend with tolls on the motorways, high fuel costs, CDW charges and perhaps the occasional automated fuel pump that will only work with a "Chip & PIN" credit card. To give you some idea of rail travel, you may find it helpful to have a look at these short videos: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AxtbifeoBY www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ-ZQTEs-98 www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBLrjKFP9Xw Happy travels!

Posted by Irv
Beverly Hills, MI
367 posts

The rain will not be that much faster since the 300 KPH trains don't go to places like Bacharach or Interlaken. Actually Google Maps shows the train from Bacharach to Interlaken to be2 hrs. slower. The only real downside to a car is the drop off fee. The drive from Haarlem to Bruges is 3 hrs. Bruges is the only pace you mentuoned that is big enough to be a driving problem. My solution was to park in the huge underground paring garage at the 'T Zand, stay in one of the many tourist hotels there and take the easy walk into the heart of the old town. If you do this, 2 things: 1)The entrance to the garage that takes cash is at the southeast corner of the facility. 2) If you are using a GPS, do not forget the apostrophe in 'T Zand.

Posted by Irv
Beverly Hills, MI
367 posts

I accidentally hit post. As I was saying, the drive from Bruges to Bacharach is an easy 5 or 6 hour trip with no tolls. The time depends on whether you get off the autobahn and follow the Rhine gorge south from Koblenz past the Lorelei etc. The drive from Bacharach to Interlaken is an easy 5 hrs. with no tolls through really beautiful countryside that you may well want to stop and admire. You will however need to buy a Swiss autobahn vignette at the border. I would strongly recommend that you keep your car until you are ready to leave Lauterbrunnen. There are a lot of things to see in the area, like the Ballenburg Open Air Museum, that are a real time consuming pain to get to without a car. The advantages of a car are freedom of time and motion. If you are a minute late getting back to it, your car will be waiting for you, not disappearing down the tracks. You will not be waiting 30 minutes or 3 hours for the next one. The flexibility of motion means that you can travel door to door as well as to out of the way places. Lauterbrunnen is probably my favorite place in the whole world but I've never seen a taxi there. When you get off the train, you and all your luggage are on your own, rain or shine. Whether you take the freedom of a car or tie yourself to train and bus schedules, have a great trip.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
640 posts

Talk to the experts at Gemut.com about the car rental. They can do a price quote for you that will cover your planned route. That should help with your decision-making. The website has lots of information on driving in Europe, too. What others have said about the small cars and lack of luggage space is also true, so be sure to tell Andy at Gemut exactly how much you plan to bring and how big it is so he can help with a decision on the type of car to get. I checked the DB website and saw what you meant about the changes (2 from Haarlem to Bruges, 2 from Bruges to Bacharach and 3 from Bacharach to Lauterbrunnen.) Out of those 7 train changes, 3 are short ranging from 5 to 9 minutes. Those could be problematic with large luggage. My thought is that it seems you are trying to work the transportation around the luggage rather than the luggage around the realities of traveling in Europe.