How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

We’ve just returned from Croatia.

And OMG!

Even though I’ve travelled to 61 other countries!

Croatia is the first time that I’ve ever been to the Balkan States, my 62nd country, and the first (1st) new country for 2017!

It was better than I ever hoped.

Me in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

My plans for 2017 (in alphabetical order) were:

  1. Austria
  2. Croatia
  3. Czech Republic
  4. England
  5. France
  6. Germany (of course. Ho! Ho!)
  7. Holland
  8. Ireland for TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference)
  9. Poland
  10. Romania
  11. Russia
  12. Slovenia
  13. Sweden

Let’s see how we’ve done so far.

Mozart & Vienna are adorable!

AUSTRIA:

CZECH REPUBLIC:

I went skiing!

I haven’t quite got around to writing about skiing in the Czech Republic this year yet, but this is what I previously wrote!

HOLLAND:

Dutch children in traditional costume.

CROATIA:

  • Yay!
Because Game of Thrones!
Because Game of Thrones!

Now, to be frank, most people have never heard of Croatia.

Game of Thrones?

Yep!

I love that show by the way…!

But Croatia?

Isn’t it somewhere in Eastern Europe?

Yes.

And No!

It can’t be both surely?

The Music Producer in Split. Geographically, Croatia is one of the previous communist states!

Well, geographically, it’s one of the previous communist states.

Don’t worry.

Breath!

However, in recent years, Croatia has managed to re-invent itself, so that even though it is actually in Eastern Europe, it’s marketed as Central Europe too!

Croatia has such a Mediterranean vibe, that you could be in Italy or Austria!

In truth, it has the vibe of the Mediterranean, and you’d be hard pressed not to think that in certain parts of Croatia, you could actually be in Italy, or dare I say it. Austria!

I know!

Book your hotel here!

LET’S GET A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY!

Ceremonial Officers in Zagreb – Croatia

Croatia, otherwise known locally as Hrvatska, or officially – the Republic of Croatia – is a sovereign state between Central Europe, Southeast Europe, and the Mediterranean!

Croatia covers 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles) and is on the Adriatic Sea coast, which contains more than a thousand islands!

Croatia’s population is just 4.28 million, and the capital city is Zagreb.

A traditional Busker in Zagreb – Croatia!

The Croats arrived in the area of present-day Croatia way back in the early part of the 7th century, before becoming two Duchies in the 9th century.

Croatia became a kingdom in 925 and remained so, for almost 200 years!

After World War I in 1918, Croatia was included in the unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs which seceded from Austria-Hungary, and merged into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In 1991, Croatia declared it’s independence which sadly, between 1991-1995, became a bloody war with Serbia, then known as part of the ex – Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia!

However, Croatia won it’s independence and since 2013, has also been a fully fledged member of the European Union!

WHY GO TO CROATIA?

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Why not?!

Well, Croatia is in Europe!

It’s on the map where East meets West.

It’s entwined with civilizations, history and culture, that goes back centuries!

It boasts numerous architectural jewels and a world heritage that make parts of Croatia enviable. And UNESCO locations filled with buildings, marked by world history of thousands of years, that made me practically salivate when I saw them!

It’s modern, but also traditional with folk customs, rural traditions that are still adhered to.

In fact, we were all given traditional Easter eggs and Easter cake, handed out as gifts. And I can’t even tell you how many random people (many of them old), waved and smiled at me, on passing by!

The Tall Young Gentleman at the sea in Split – Croatia!

Croatia is near the sea.

It’s pretty cheap by West European standards.

Fairly developed in services and infrastructure.

And I’ve never been to the Balkans before!

Because Game of Thrones!

Because Game of Thrones!
Because Game of Thrones!

Now when I pitched Croatia to my husband – The Music Producer – he wasn’t initially convinced.

He thought that Croatia would be too far into Eastern Europe, leading into the throngs of Albania, Romania, and Bulgaria.

He wasn’t excited at all!

The Tall Young Gentleman & The Music Producer were pretty excited once they got to Zagreb – Croatia!

However, one of the things that changed his mind, was the personal contact that I made with the Zagreb Tourist Board at the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin!

I was so excited to be visiting their country, and they were wonderfully helpful.

Thanks so much!

Is it any wonder that The Music Producer was caught up with my enthusiasm too!

I have a lot of things to write about, and you’ll see them all.

I promise!

No worries!

TAKE ME THERE?

Take me to Croatia by ship!

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel. However, Croatia is quite far from Germany, so we flew!

We had planned just ten (10) days in Croatia – three (3) days in Zagreb, three (3) days in Split, and four (4) days in Dubrovnik.

We wanted to spend at least 14 days (yes, please!) but school commitments meant that the German Easter School Holidays this year, only catered for ten (10) days! But as I always advocate, be smart, use all the weekends, and make it work!

It’s not possible to fly non-stop from Berlin, so we flew with Lufthansa, via Munich on the way in, and Austrian Airlines, via Vienna, on the return leg.

Our outward journey from Berlin Tegel (TXL) to Zagreb (ZAG) with a stop-over, took 6 hours and 20 minutes. Our return journey from Dubrovnik with a stop-over, took just 4 hours.

However, you don’t even need to fly, as you can either take a cruise ship in from the Mediterranean States, a ferry from Italy, take a bus-coach from anywhere you like, or simply rent a car and drive from Austria or Slovenia!

Note: There aren’t a lot of inter-city trains. In fact, there’s no train station in Dubrovnik at all!

There actually aren’t a lot of trains in Croatia at all!

If you’re on a tight budget then many bus-coach companies such as MeinFernbus FlixBus also go to Croatia. But do be aware that the fastest routes are usually only sold in Croatia itself.

We decided to use the coach-bus between Zagreb – Split and Split-Dubrovnik.

Zagreb – Split was a straight-forward ride, and took 6 hours and 20 mins. Cost: €24.00 per person.

Split – Dubrovnik proved problematic, as the coach-bus actually went backwards in the direction of Zagreb, then dropped us in the backwater town of Benkovac, at the Benkovac Busbahnhof!

I didn’t like Benkovac in Croatia, at all!

Benkovac was yucky!

As soon as I saw the “bus station,” I wanted to get the hell out of there!

It was practically deserted and every “room” was boarded up.

We had a 1 hour stop-over at 10:30, and the next decent place was a bar. So we ran to it and ordered a few (non-alcoholic) drinks there!

It’s 10:30 in the morning remember.

An early morning shot of vodka in many East European countries, is believed to be quite healthy!

Not that it stopped any of the local punters. Ho! Ho!….!

Our journey took 8 hours and 30 minutes, but the bus was 45 minutes late, so make that 9 hours and 15 minutes instead!

We probably should have rented a car, and be done with it!

Cost: Split – Benkovac €12.00. Benkovac – Metkovic €7.35. Benkovac – Dubrovnik €5.65 per person.

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Croatia isn’t crowded in the Spring – Locals in Zagreb – Croatia!

Not in the Spring it isn’t!

In fact, there were very few tourists around as it wasn’t yet “the season,” and many a restaurant were luring customers in with 10% discounts.

But in the summer, prepare to gird your loins, and fight your way through!

Plan well.

Book your hotel here!

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, and it’s very small!

Zagreb is the capital city in Croatia, and it’s very small!

Split and Dubrovnik are even smaller, and receive up to 3,000 guests per cruise ship, in the summer!

I haven’t a clue how many cruise ships sail by, but it won’t be pretty.

Having said that, if that’s the only time that you can travel, don’t let anything get in your way, as most cruise visitors are only in town for half a day, so that evenings will all be yours!

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS CROATIA LIKE?

Croatian food is most delicious!

We were only there for 10 days, but Croatia definitely made an impression on me.

It’s of historical and architectural interest, the food and wine is impressive, the waters are clean, green-blue, and crystal clear.

And it’s very, very pretty!

I DON’T SPEAK CROATIAN.

Our guide speaks at least four (4) languages. Possibly, even more!

Not. A. Problem.

It’s amazing how many languages a typical European speaks.

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

If you speak English, German, Italian or Korean, you’re good to go.

Besides, everyone pretty much speaks English too!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

A stone house in Croatia!

Ha! Ha! Not unless you want to!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

This plate of Cevapcici was certainly pretty cheap. Ho! Ho!

Croatia isn’t cheap-cheap.

If you’re from the UK or the US, it’s as cheap as chips.

If you’re from Germany, prices are the same as in Berlin, and you can eat at gourmet restaurants, at far cheaper prices!

We pretty much spent a large amount of time drinking a few glasses of wine, whilst people watching. And a few more!

And on this trip, we decided to book apartments instead of hotels or hostels.

Book your apartment here!

Booking an apartment in Croatia is by far better, than booking a hotel!

We had great difficulty with personal space in Madrid last year, as The Tall Young Gentleman has recently turned 15 (OMG!), and is very tall. We decided to either book two (2) hotel rooms, or a large apartment instead.

Prices are low, and the quality and standards of apartments available, are exceedingly high. I’ll write more about it in the next few weeks!

Frankly, if you’re paying between €45.00 – €60.00 per night, for huge apartments with terraces, working kitchens, and a piano, you simply can’t go wrong!

Book ahead to get good prices.

Book your apartment or hotel here!

I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?

The Adventure Begins – More next week!

Absolutely!

Too many to write at the moment.

More next week!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

A vintage car, ‘cos modern cars aren’t allowed in the Old Towns, in Croatia!

All of Croatia is pretty small, so every city we visited was quite walkable.

In most cases, cars are not allowed into the Old Towns!

However, you could take the bus, the tram, or simply walk!

ANYTHING ELSE?

A Bosnian waitress - Don't forget if you're travelling to Dubrovnik, you'll have to go through Bosnia!<br /> ©Photo Adam Jones - adamjones.freeservers
A Bosnian waitress – Don’t forget if you’re travelling to Dubrovnik, you’ll have to go through Bosnia!
©Photo Adam Jones – adamjones.freeservers

If you’re travelling to Dubrovnik, note that there’s a tiny strip of road that’s actually in Bosnia! It only takes about five (5) minutes, but make sure that you have your passport with you.

The motto in Croatia is to relaaaaaax & not rush things.

I think we did that rather well!

MY VERDICT:

You know nothing Jon Snow except that Croatia is pretty brilliant!
You know nothing Jon Snow except that Croatia is pretty brilliant!

We all loved it!

Croatia has got art and culture, and has a vibrant history.

Because, Game of Thrones!

Just kidding!

Or am I?!

You know nothing Jon Snow…..!!!!

But seriously.

For many international visitors, Croatia isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, but if you’re in the Balkan area, make it a point of duty to spend a few weeks days, in as many cities as you can manage.

If you’re looking for a new destination that isn’t really on the beaten path, say hello – CROATIA!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Totally!

Croatia is a sunny dream, and I can’t wait to visit again.

Let’s do it!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

HOW TO VISIT THE BALKANS: INTRODUCING CROATIA – THE DREAM OF GAME OF THRONES!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the delightful cobbled walks that we happily rambled through, are my very own!

In April & May, I’ll be writing more about Croatia, and visiting  Sweden & Finland!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re quite mad!

April is going to be superb!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!
How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Have you ever been to Croatia? Are you a fan of Game of Thrones? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

So a fortnight (two weeks) ago, I told you about how many countries that I travelled to in 2016. And if you’re just joining us, it was 10!

I also told you how I did it, and the plans that I have for 2017. 

In 2016, I’ll be travelling to thirteen (13) countries.

Most of them will be in Europe, and plenty of them, I’ll be reaching by train!

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

But why?

Why the train?

Why not fly?

Why not fly?
Why not fly?

Well, to Russia, I’m thinking strongly of taking some sort of ship or cruise, and to England and Ireland, perhaps flying would be quicker….!

And then again. Perhaps not!

But the fact remains.

I live in Berlin.

In Germany.

Germany - my adopted country!
Germany – my adopted country!

And Germany is right in the center of Europe.

It has airports, train stations, bus stations, bicycle stations, cars and every possible means of transport.

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure, and many a time, the adventure is in the getting there rather than the destination itself!

Book your hotel here!

Zoooooop! Don't say it! @eatdrinkandrun.com
Zoooooop! Don’t say it!
@eatdrinkandrun.com

And let’s not forget the hassle, long queues and stringent baggage requirements that airlines require these days. Quite frankly, for a 1.5 hour flight you’re looking at arriving the airport (if flying to the UK) at least 2 hours before, if flying inter-continental, at least 3 hours. Not to talk of actually getting to the airport itself!

Luckily for me, Berlin has excellent local public transport that is cheap, efficient, clean, and reliable. I can’t say the same if you’re trying to get to London Heathrow, which is the busiest airport in the world. And equally as complicated, if you don’t know your way around London.

Me!
Me!

Being that I live in Berlin, makes it an extremely easy way to travel.

In fact, travelling by train through the European continent is one of the most comfortable ways to travel with ease, from one country to the other. And by far, one of the cheapest!

Is it any wonder that one of my favourite forms of transport is the train!

WHY TRAVEL BY TRAIN IN EUROPE?

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

There are many reasons why travelling by train in Europe is a most excellent idea, here are some below:

  • It’s cheap:
Travelling by train is a cheap as a bunch of locally grown flowers!
Travelling by train is a cheap as a bunch of locally grown flowers!

I bought a twelve-hour (12) direct train ticket from Berlin to Budapest. In first class for €69.00. Second class was just €10.00 cheaper at €59.00! I couldn’t believe it, so I bought it! My child was free of charge!

I bought a seven (7) hour train journey (second class) train ticket via the Hungarian Railways or MAV at a cost of 11,780 Ft or €38.40 to travel from Budapest to Prague. Child included in the cost!

A five (5) hour train journey ticket (second class) to travel from Prague to Berlin in August, was just €29.00! My child cost nothing at all!

Over the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland. ©Michaa Ludwiczak / Getty
Over the Landwasser Viaduct in Switzerland.
©Michaa Ludwiczak / Getty

For Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Lucerne – Berlin, including reserved seating in July. Cost just €98.00. My child was free!

As a matter of fact, our return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was a mere €58.00! And even though we actually missed our connection on the way home, and had to buy another ticket…it was still a sweet deal!

  • Kids travel for free:
Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!
Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!

Throughout last summer, I took an international train every weekend, and the price for our son – The Tall Young Gentleman was nothing at all!

His fare was completely and utterly free.

Yep!

Free of charge.

Nada!

Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!
Children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their relatives, usually travel on the European train, for free!

In Germany, children under 15 travelling inter-city or inter-country, with their parents, grandparents, or relatives, travel on the German Rail, otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn (DB), train for free!

Note that if you book Spar Preis Europa trains with the German Rail on this version, your children will be free of charge too!

Other European countries do the same and either have free transport for children, or special prices for families too.

Book your hotel here!

Our son as a baby - 20 months old!
Our son as a baby – 20 months old!

On our last visit to the UK, we bought an Advance Single train ticket – via the National Rail – from Manchester Oxford Road to a station in Cheshire. Our adult tickets for a 30 minute inter-city train were £3.00 each, and £1.50 for our child. Our Express Train tickets from Manchester Airport to Manchester Oxford Road (in the city) were just £5.00 each per adult, and £2.50 for our child.

  • Delays are minimal and compensated:
The German Rail / Deutsche Bahn train leaving Berlin.
The German Rail / Deutsche Bahn train leaving Berlin.

When travelling by European train, there is very little fuss to it, and far fewer delays than flying

In fact, European Regulation (EC) 1371/2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations (2009), state that passengers are entitled to standardised rights in the rail sector in Germany and in Europe.

If there are delays of at least sixty (60) minutes or more, you are entitled to compensation, and if you were to take a taxi, or another mode of transport up to €80.00, you could have that refunded too. Make sure you get the correct documentation at either the train station concerned, from another station, or from the train staff!

  • Luggage:
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

Train travel means that there is plenty of room for your luggage. And if you wished to take the kitchen sink with you (within reason), you probably could. No need to worry about how heavy your luggage would be and how much. There is relatively little or no fuss. In many cases, the railway staff would even help you carry your bags!

No when was the last time that you saw airport staff carry luggage for anyone!

Book your hotel here!

  • Personal space:
You can strech your legs in the corridor of the Polish Train.
You can stretch your legs in the corridor of the Polish Train.

Unlike air or bus travel, there is room to move around, and really stretch your legs. And depending on how long the journey is, they sometimes have some dedicated time for passengers to go outside, buy some refreshments, get some fresh air, take photographs, or get some WiFi!

  • The social factor:
On the Czech-infused train from Berlin to Budapest!
On the Czech-infused train from Berlin to Budapest!

The European train is a little like the Indian train in the sense that you actually get to meet people. And talk to them.

I mean, you’re sitting elbow to elbow, you’re probably going to an international country, the passengers are either locals or tourists themselves, and to be frank, everyone is quite interested in your journey. And if you’ve got a bottle of booze somewhere.

All the better!

So now to the real McCoy!

HOW TO USE THE TRAIN IN EUROPE: 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

Depending on where you are coming from, you need to:

1.  Get a train ticket:

Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

The cheapest way to ease into buying train tickets through most European countries (not all), is to actually book through the Deutsche Bahn portal on the local German English version not the UK or USA version! Note that for Germany, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland, if you’re going by train, I don’t recommend that you do so by InterRail or EuroRail passes, if you’re only travelling to one country, as the prices are ridiculously expensive and children have to be paid for!

The snag is to book tickets with the national train companies, directly. On their own websites, or through the German Rail otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn. Most websites have an English version. Some can be admittedly slightly hidden, but persevere, or contact them directly by calling, or via Email!

Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!
Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

But don’t forget. Not all train companies allow you to pay online, or even to buy local tickets at local prices! Some train companies only allow you to buy a Eurail ticket if you’re buying from abroad, and which you can only pay for with a credit card. For more info on that check here..  And some do, but you either have to buy the ticket on the train, or have to pay online and then collect the train tickets once you’re in the country itself, or change the language of the website!

For train travel all around the world check out the website of The Man in Seat Sixty-One . . . or Deutsche Bahn.

A goat on the train? Ah well, anything can happen. I've seen worse. Swans for example!
A goat on the train? Ah well, anything can happen. I’ve seen worse.
Swans for example!

But remember, if you’re using the Deutsche Bahn website, change the location to Germany and use the English word for Deutschland which is Germany! NOT the UK/Ireland one! And then change the language to English!

2.  Check online for best routes:

A map of the European High - Speed Train Network!
A map of the European High – Speed Train Network!

Many train companies have their own website which you can access for routes so that you can see where you want to go. Or better yet. Where they actually go, and how to get there!

3.  Do your research:

Do you need to get a bus and then the train? Or vice-versa in Barcelona. Spain?
Do you need to get a bus and then the train? Or vice-versa in Barcelona. Spain?

I live in Berlin and the Polish border is just under two hours away as such, there are discount prices from the German Railway Service known as Deutsche Bahn or DB. You can get a one-way single ticket from Berlin to Stettin or Szczecin in Poland, for just €11.00. Reduced tickets for €8.30. If you want to make a day of it, a day ticket would be €22.00 and €16.60 respectively. You could use it for every local transport in Stettin and the ticket is valid until 03:00 the next day!

Or you could get the German Regional tickets also known as the Länder-Tickets. These are fantastic bargains as the Berlin-Brandenburg regional one day ticket is only €29.00 and can be used by up to 5 people! That’s right! 5 people can travel on this ticket and they don’t have to be related! This ticket is valid from 09:00 to 03:00 the following day, and on the trams and buses in Stettin (Szczecin), and can be used to get to the Polish border!

Book your hotel here!

Yeah well, no promises on the Bogus Bus!
Yeah well, no promises on the Bogus Bus!

You sometimes see people hustling for ticket holders in Stettin (Szczecin) ‘cos if you have 5 people travelling together that’s €5.00 each. A bargain if ever I saw one!

You can get this ticket from the VBB Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg website or DB online. For more information check here and here.

4.  In fact, if you are in Germany, why not hop to some of our neighbouring countries too:

"The Tall Young Gentleman" didn't look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” didn’t look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!

It might take you a while, but you can take the train from Berlin to London for as little as €59.00, to Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, Denmark, Croatia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Poland for as little as €39.00 per single ticket or one way trip!

And if it’s not too far away. And being that this is Europe we’re talking about, so it isn’t! Fares can sometimes go as low as €19.00 for destinations such as to Prague for example!

The Deutsche Bahn building in Berlin!
The Deutsche Bahn building in Berlin!

For more information check here.

5.  Reserve your seat:

Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards.
Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards.

Now as a blogger, I’m always online in some form or the other, and it really surprises me how travellers and tourists leave their train bookings until the very last minute!

Believe me. Don’t do that!

It was lovely having a Bristol cab and driver waiting for me!
It was lovely having a Bristol cab and driver waiting for me!

Trains are popular in Europe. And if the destination is on a well-worn track, then the trains will be packed. And if it’s the weekend or a public holiday, you won’t get a seat, and will be forced to stand….!

In the summer, it’s not unknown for teenagers to be sitting on the corridor floor with their mates for a few hours.

But they can cope. Can you?

Try to reserve a seat on the European train!
Try to reserve a seat on the European train!

Now if you really don’t want to pay for a reserved seat, then the trick is to either go to the very front of the train, or the very back of it. And be quick about it!

However, if you’ve got luggage or kids, somebody from your party ought to sprint in and bagsy a couple of non-reserved  seats, or you might as well do the decent relaxing thing, and reserve the seat of your choice, in a compartment that you prefer.

Our tiny Czech train in the middle of no-where!
Our tiny Czech train in the middle of no-where!

Having said that, lots of small rural or regional trains have no possibility to reserve seats at all, so either jump in and turn left, or go upstairs!

6.  Take some refreshments with you:

Take some refreshments with you!
Take some refreshments with you!

If you’re on a regional or rural train, no refreshments will be sold on the train. And don’t even think that you can buy “something” at the next station as countryside train stations are either tiny little things, or simply non-existent!

Generally, super-clean-fast-efficient-modern-high speed trains have restaurants and trolley service throughout the train, but you can’t be sure that you’ll like either what they’re offering, or the prices!

Refreshments on the European first class train usually include a small bottle of wine or beer. But not always!
Refreshments on the European first class train usually include a small bottle of wine or beer. But not always!

‘Best to bring your own stuff if travelling in second class. Refreshments are usually given for first class customers and usually include a small bottle of wine or beer. But not always!

7.  Talk to the locals:

Don't be afraid to talk to locals or your fellow travellers on the European train!
Don’t be afraid to talk to locals or your fellow travellers on the European train!

My fellow travellers were always very helpful and we usually spoke in a mixture of English or German and a splattering of whatever the local language happens to be. With a lot of hand gestures, acting, drawing, and generally making quite a fool of myself, they usually understood what I was asking! The local travellers always helped us get off at the stop that we usually required too.

Many a time just looking anxious, or “other,” tends to open a conversation. And really, you don’t ever have to worry. The locals will help you. Just ask. Promise!

The locals will help you. Just ask. Promise!
The locals will help you. Just ask.
Promise!

In some cases, even the train driver will help you!

8.  Be prepared:

Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!
Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!

When travelling through Europe, you’re likely to go through different countries, each with it’s own distinct flavour of technology. In highly advanced countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Holland, and the Nordic countries, technical equipment will be at it’s highest, with power outlets either in between your seats, on the table, or on the side of the wall near the window!

In less advanced nations such as in Eastern Europe and even in Southern Europe, not so much!

There might be wifi and a power outlet. And there might not!
There might be WiFi and a power outlet. And there might not!

There will be WiFi, but it probably won’t work, or will be spotty at best. And there will be no power outlets! On our 15 hour train journey to Hungary, I spent hours searching the train for a plug-hole. And where was it?

In the restaurant, hanging dangerously on the wall of the heavy main train door, or in the toilet!

Er No!

Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!
Have the correct documentation with you when travelling on the European train, and be prepared!

Oh by the way. Europe isn’t a country. It’s a continent, so if you’re travelling on an international train, you must take your passport with you. Train officials never used to check people in the past due to the European law of Free Movement, but as a result of strengthened alertness due to the increased height of terrorism, and to ensure our safety, they are now. So make sure you have everything in order.

Otherwise, you’ll be escorted off the train and your holiday could end right there!

9.  If you miss your train stop, don’t panic:

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you - don't panic!
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you – don’t panic!

Once travelling through Poland, I realized that we had missed our train stop as the countryside scene that was I expecting, did not show up on my horizon!

Hmm!

I couldn’t really look outside the window as the window was blocked with passengers in the corridor.

I couldn’t check the train map that you normally see in the corridors either as I couldn’t get to the corridor, and I didn’t have an iPhone in those days.

We had missed our train stop! Oh no!
We had missed our train stop! Oh no!

A girl in her early 20’s noticed that I kept attempting to leave the compartment. She confirmed that I had missed our stop.

OK. I’ll get off at the next stop!

Oh, I’ve missed that too!

And the train is now going East further into Poland, whereas I was supposed to be going to the sea which was in the West!

Book your hotel here!

We got off the train!
We got off the train!

We got off the train.

Unfortunately, the train officials weren’t really very helpful and pointed at contrasting directions, so I decided to look around the station myself and peek onto other platforms and lo and behold, the connecting train that I wanted was still ON THE PLATFORM!

I checked and double-checked that it was indeed the right train, then we hopped on!

Then we hopped back on the train again!
Then we hopped back on the train again!

I so bugged the train conductor as per how many stops we had left, and what time we were expected to get to a certain seaside village, as there are no announcements and no destination indicators.

It was a case of watching and counting, each and every train stop…. 75 minutes later, we were there!

10.  If it all goes bananas, use your head:

Use your head at foreign train stations!
Use your head at foreign train stations!

There are 101 ways to travel through Europe, and the train is just one of them.

Sometimes it makes sense to choose another form of transport to get to your final destination.

It isn’t the worse thing in the world if you do!

HOW TO USE THE TRAIN IN EUROPE: 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

This article is not sponsored, and the excitement of using the train in Europe, is my very own!

For travelling across Europe, or from Germany, please contact: Deutsche Bahn or take a look at my country destination page and book your hotel here!

It’s January!

I’ll be making an announcement this month that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!

The 10th British Shorts Film Festival is taking place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017

The British Council Literature Seminar – #BritLitBerlin – will take place from 26.01.17 – 28.01.17

The 67th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, will take place from 09.02.17 – 19.02.17

Strictly Stand Up – The English Comedy Night will take place at the Quatsch comedy Club on 15.02.17. Save the Date!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, it’s a darn shame!

January is going to be dramatic!

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.
How to use the train in Europe: 10 tips to help you.

Have you ever used the train across Europe? What are your stories? Spill the beans!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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