Here in the Berlin SANDEMANs office, temperatures have hit double digits for the first time this year, and the sun is creating a relentless glare off some very Vitamin D-deprived legs.
The excitement of seeing that long-absent sun got us all thinking of where we might want to go this summer. That, combined with a brand new partnership with our friends at (Eurail passholders get a 20% discount on SANDEMANs paid tours*) started an office-wide discussion about some of the great reasons to choose the train for our European adventures. Here are 10 of our favourites. Enjoy!
1. Have your own Some Like It Hot adventure
Obviously you’ll want to try to skip witnessing a massacre in your real-life opening act, and dressing in drag is strictly optional, but this hilarious Marilyn Monroe/ Tony Curtis classic comedy reminds us there is something inherently romantic about the idea of meeting a stranger - and maybe even falling in love - on a train.
2. See how fast you’re going
Definitely one for the train nerds out there (like us), but we love the thrill of seeing the little display screen get up above 300 km/h. Sure, you’ll hit speeds faster than that on a plane, but you won’t be able to tell - those clouds just seem to pass by sooooooo slooooooooowly.
Check out Dom, one of the guides we work with in Berlin. He REALLY loves it.
3. Stretch those legs
So much space... This one is particularly for our taller friends (and actually, even our average-height friends). No need to shell out extra for the exit row, because in almost every train seat you’ll be able to stretch out even the longest of limbs. Taking a walk through the train is also a full-time option, as there’s no request to buckle up during take-off, turbulence or landing.
4. Avoid annoying airport security
Leave your shoes on, pack your favourite pointy things (knitting needles? That cool stick you found at the beach?) and stock up on liquids, because you are cleared to go! No need to get to the train station two hours early; no need to stand in long lines behind power-crazed airport scan operators; no need to take your laptop/e-reader/ tablet/ hair curler/ toothpaste out of your tightly packed bag; no chance of getting pulled aside for a “random check” (Every. Time. Surely it’s not random anymore?!). Just get to the station, walk onto the train and you are on your way. Wheeeeeeeeee!
5. Travel right into the heart of town
Sure, the train might look like it takes longer than the plane in terms of actual time spent travelling, but once you take into account the convenient central train stations (not to mention avoiding the annoying airport security. Did we mention how annoying airport security is?) it can be a lot faster. Here’s some fun math to prove our point:
|Berlin to Munich (plane)||Berlin to Munich (train)|
|Central Berlin to SXF train station:|
|Central Berlin to Berlin main train station:|
|Time needed at the airport:|
90 minutes (minimum)
|Time needed at train station:|
|Duration of flight:|
|Duration of train (six times per day):|
|Time to get off plane and out of airport:|
|Time to get off train and out of station:|
|Time to get to city centre from airport:|
|Time to get to city centre:|
|285 minutes ||255 minutes |
6. Take ALL your shoes
In the days of carry-on only luggage, we’ve got pretty good at stuffing A LOT into a tiny bag (and annoyingly pulling it all back out again to go through airport security, but we think we’ve made our point there). T-shirts get multiple days of wear - a questionable choice on hot European summer days. That one hoody gets an outing each and every evening, and our shampoo/ conditioner usage becomes an OR, not an AND. But one thing we can’t adjust to is bringing more than one pair of shoes. Just ask my mum, who came to my engagement party in her walking sneakers (sigh). Had she taken the train, without those pesky luggage restrictions, she could have saved herself from insisting that all photos were taken from the knee up.
7. Save the planet
The European Environmental Agency tells us that planes emit 20.5 times more CO2 per kilometre, per passenger than trains do. Ouch. If you want to help the environment, consider travelling by train for your European adventure (and take an environmentally friendly walking tour when you get to your destination!).
8. Don’t disconnect from the outside world
The train is a great time to catch up on that life admin you’ve been meaning to get to while you’ve been away. Take the time to email your mum, send some of your favourite holiday pics to your bestie at home, update that travel blog, or even just absent-mindedly trawl the Internet. All great things you can do to use that travel time efficiently, but only if you don’t have to put your device on flight mode.
9. See some STUNNING scenery
There’s no shortage of gorgeous train routes throughout Europe (check out Eurail’s top picks
). One of our favourites is the Berlin to Prague route, which are two of the most popular destinations in our 19-city network during the summer months. With train connections between the two running up to 10 times per day, getting from one to the other is easy as pie. Our top tip though; definitely, definitely take this train during daylight hours. Passing through beautiful Dresden is a highlight (you may even choose to stop off there), and that’s even before you find yourself following the gorgeous scenery along the Elbe river.
10. BYO beer
This is key, obviously. Trying to bring a six-pack through airport security (airport security. Rolls eyes, shakes fist) is never going to happen, and even when you get on the plane they’re going to want you to buy their beer. While almost all trains do have drinks and snacks available for purchase, most European train lines will also be happy to let you bring your own beer, wine and snacks on board. #winning*Eurail pass holders are eligible for a 20% discount on SANDEMANs paid tours across Europe, when they book online through www.eurail.com. Guests will be asked to show their valid Eurail pass at the same time as presenting their discounted SANDEMANs tour ticket. Any guest who is unable to display a valid Eurail pass with their discounted SANDEMANs ticket may be denied entry to the SANDEMANs tour, or will be asked to pay the remaining 20% ticket price before joining the tour.