Following five months in Asia (India and Southeast Asia), the idea of going to Europe was really exciting. Aside from a brief brush with London, Paris, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro, I’ve only experienced Europe through stories from friends who backpacked Europe after university.
A small announcement
Eurail.com, the worldwide online seller of Eurail train passes, has generously agreed to sponsor our rail transportation for Europe!
After I booked my flight to Turkey (the starting point for my Europe trip) back in April, I approached Eurail.com and they’ve recently agreed to sponsor our rail travel in exchange for us sharing/photographing/blogging about our Europe rail and travel experience.
If you’ve enjoyed my updates from Asia, that means you can look forward to (even more!) great updates as I travel by rail through Europe.
One of the stops on the itinerary is Eurail.com’s week-long event in Venice, Italy from Friday July 15 to Thursday July 21 to celebrate winning Mashable’s Best Social Media Customer Service Award in 2010.
Some facts about Eurail.com’s award/celebration event:
- Eurail.com won the Best Social Media Customer Service Mashable Award for 2010, which is considered Oscar’s for web innovation.
- Looking at how fast and helpful their emails and Facebook/Twitter responses are (including to questions I’ve sent), it’s no surprise they won. In addition, they answer customer questions in English, Spanish, German and Dutch.
- To celebrate the award, Eurail.com is inviting customers to a week-long celebration in Venice from Friday July 15 until Thursday July 21, which includes free 30-minute gondola rides (worth €90) and a big kick off party on July 15 at PLUS hostels’ camping in Mestre with welcome drinks, toga parties and more.
- See free gondola rides for everyone for more details, or visit eurail.com, their Facebook fan page or follow them on Twitter for more information.
Europe rail travel 101
Since this will be my first time travelling in Europe, the rail system was completely new to me. Here are a few things I learned recently about rail travel in Europe.
- The Eurail network has 225,000 miles of railway tracks, spanning 25 countries, and is served by over 50,000 trains.
- You can buy a single country passes (starts at $49), a “regional pass” for 2 countries (starts at $179), “select pass” covering 3 to 5 countries (starts at $315) or a global pass for all the countries (starts at $495).
- Eurail Passes can be purchased on eurail.com for non-European customers, while European customers can visit InterRail on interrailnet.com.
- See find the best pass on Eurail.com to browse the different rail passes.
Tentative travel itinerary
View Explore for a Year – Europe 2011 in a larger map
After averaging three to four weeks per country in India and Southeast Asia, I’m going to change it up with at a faster pace, aiming to visit 20+ countries in Europe over the next 4-5 months.
The rough itinerary is:
- Turkey (arrived May 7th and will stay for the rest of the month)
- Eastern Europe starting June 1 (incl. Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Italy, Greece)
- Balkan area starting end of July (incl. Croatia, Serbia)
- Western Europe starting mid August (incl. Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal)
See my spreadsheet on Google Docs for approximate arrival/departure dates for each country.
Budget for Europe
According to Lonely Planet’s Europe on a Shoestring guide, the estimated costs for minimalist travel ranges from 20 Euros to 80 Euros a day, or about $30 – $100 per day depending on the country.
To help with the budget (and for a new travel experience!) I’m going to try couchsurfing for the first time (see my profile on couchsurfing.org. If you, or if you have friends/family, who’d like to host a happy traveller, or even show me around for an hour, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org :)
Get ready for more great photos and updates from me about our rail and Europe adventures!
>> What are your favourite places in Europe? What budget travel advice would you give me?
If you’re interested in more Europe rail travel, here are two other Eurail/InterRail train journeys to follow by other travel bloggers:
- Europe Train Challenge – started May 2nd, a 90-day Europe train journey through 30 countries starring the bloggers from As We Travel, which will be filmed and released as a TV show.
- Ultimate Train Challenge – an attempt to set a new world record for the longest continuous train journey from Lisbon, Portugal to Saigon, Vietnam in 30 days. The challenge starts September 1 with 6 participants, including one of my favourite bloggers from Toronto, Ayngelina Brogan.
Other articles you may like:
- Personal Update: Next 7 Months, Leaving Asia and More Adventures
- Starts today: 10 days of silent Vipassana meditation
- Greetings from Heavenly Koh Tao Island, Thailand
- 26 Highlights from 26 Days in Incredible India
Resources about Europe train travel
- Rail travel in Europe on Wikitravel.org
- Europe by train introduction on Seat61.com
- Europe’s 8 best night trains on LonelyPlanet.com