I'm an American from a small town in South Carolina, presently living/working in Khartoum, Sudan. I've lived over half of my adult life overseas (16.5 years), between living, working and traveling to a total of 41 different countries. I'm planning a solo Global RailPass trip, starting in Frankfurt, Germany on 15 July 2009. I want to cover 14 new countries (Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovenia & Switzerland) and revisit another 15 countries, (Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Spain, Sweden & United Kingdom), all in 75 days. Would that be possible and still come away with a unforgetable experience. Any and all responses are welcome. Thanks, Rubster
Whoa, 2 days per country? That is crazy, you are going to spent almost every waking hour (and every night) on the train! Working out the schedule alone will be a nightmare and the unforgettable experience would be a sore behind for sitting around so much. (In other words: Only recommended for the true train enthusiasts who are more interested in rolling stock, engines and time tables than in seeing places.)
You have travelled before, you know it is impossible to cover UK, France, Italy and Greece in 10 days like so many first-time tourists from the US try to do. Get real, either try to cover geographically close areas or at least connect night trains together (at night on the train sleeping and rolling, during the day exploring the city). You could also throw in a flight or two to cover large distances that would eat up two travel days on a train.
www.seat61.com is a good source for international train travel, follow the recommendation there and grab a copy of the Thomas Cook international time table. Deutsche Bahn has the best online database covering trains, go to http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en to figure out the best way to go from A to B. Also read
Or if you go by geography, I would visit Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland.
There are also two countries missing from your list: FYROM aka Macedonia and Albania. They have become safe to travel to in the last few years, even if infrastructure is a bit sketchy compared to other countries. (Though if you are living in Khartoum I bet you got other standards of "safe to travel to" and "good infrastructure" than the average tourist.) If you follow my suggestion above and focus on Eastern Europe you could add them to your collection too.
One more thing: compare carefully before you buy the Global Eurail Pass. When travelling in Eastern Europe by rail it is in 85 % of all cases cheaper to buy point-to-point or to make use of local special offers than to buy a Eurail pass.
[ Edit: Edited on Nov 7, 2008, at 7:44 AM by t_maia ]
haha, got to agree with t_maia
Though it sounds awesome in theory, basically all you get to do at each stop is stick your head out of the train and yell "HELLO!" before having to get back on it again.
You really should shorten the amount of countries you stop in/visit, and spend more time at the various places. You can also spend less time in expensive countries and more in the cheap ones (prices vary a lot in europe), if you want value for your money or if you're on a tight budget.
On a personal note, I think Norway is all about landscape, and a place you need to devote some time into if you really want to experience it (go to some remote areas, climb some mountains, go skiing, camping etc.). If you're just planning to sleep and eat there, it's going to be expensive and boring. So personally, I think you might as well just skip it all in all. Sweden offers the same thing if you're just passing through, but it's cheaper and has a larger population.
Also keep in mind that in such a trip you'd probably only have time to see the main hubs ie. big cities - which are more cosmopolitan and globalised that in essence they may not seem like a good example of a country much at all. London is not like the rest of England, Prague is probably not like the rest of Czech Republic, etc.
Another thing is the EU's borders are slowly dissolving as the countries share trade/tourism/communications - you won't even be able to get a passport stamp for each country! And it may not feel as different as you'll be following common routes by many other travellers.
So my opinion is spending 2-3 days in big cities to give yourself another "point" for seeing one more country seems a bit silly - given that it will be such a whirlwind between main cities, and you won't have time to see the rural places which are a better example of what a country is like (or was like traditionally).
I think the list of countries should be halved at the very least, so you get the time to immerse yourself in each country more, and see smaller and more exotic sights within each country to get a proper feel. So when someone asks you what the country was like, a dozen words and feelings slip into mind - rather than scrambling through your brain to try and remember how the country was!
Some people spend two weeks in Orlando and say they've seen America. I have spent over 70 weeks in America, travelled a fair bit, and still not seen a lot of it. You could spend your whole time in the UK and still miss things.
I would cut out the micro-countries: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, San Marino.
Norway, Sweden and Finland are nice but don't really have much for the tourist on a tight schedule. I'd possibly also cut out Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Romania.
Maybe Ireland too. You cannot get there by rail but need a ferry or plane.
The rest you can get a fair look at in the time allowed for you. Even then you will need to seriously study rail schedules so you don't spend all your time waiting for trains.
Consider if time is short getting a plane between 2 destinations as cheap flights are often available. Travelling on a train overnight can save the cost of a hotel room.
It's too much. You would get to see the main cities and take a lot of pictures, but you would miss much of every country. For example, if you go to the Czech Republic and visit Prague for a day, can you say you've seen the Czech Republic? You'd have to visit other areas, or at least egtting to know another two or three places, for instance kutna hora, karlovy vary, etc....
Getting back to what I know. You can't see Spain in 2 days. You can see Barcelona in two days, if you hurry, more a less, but nothing more. Going to Madrid would be an utopia for example, you would spend a whole day of these two on the train and would only have one day to see the city. You're going to Portugal, so it sorta gets in your way anyway, but I don't think it's realistic. You would need another full day, at least, to travel from Lisboa and back to France; go back to Madrid, swap trains, take one to Paris or Barcelona...
I think that you should concentrate in a specific region or two. For example, let's say southern europe: Portugal, France, Italy, Croatia, etc... You could even include places like Serbia or albania, not knowning anything baout train passes myself, that is. You couuld then cover eastern Europe. Start from Trieste or somewhere and go to slovenia, hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. I guess that's feasible in 75 days, but then again, I don't know what trains are like in eastern Europe.
You need at least 2 days for big cities and 3 days for huge ones. Less than that, you get an impression, but that's it: no flavour, only impression.