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13 June 2010

Overnight train travel in Europe - the Unexpected Adventure from Florence to Paris!

From Florence to Paris or Barcelona to Geneva or Munich to Rome, overnight train travel in Europe is not only convenient but it's a romantic means of traveling through the picturesque European countryside by day as well as night! Rolling along while the rattle and hum of the wheels gliding over the tracks resounds throughout your cabin; and the gentle side-to-side rocking motion soothes as it takes the edge off even the toughest day of sightseeing in Europe. Plus, when you book a private sleeper with shower and water closet, you not only get the convenience of your hotel room on the rails, you are welcomed aboard by your personal cabin steward who shares a champagne toast, makes your dinner reservations and gently wakes you up to breakfast in the morning. Does it get any better? Why waste all the time in an airport moving from country to country when you have this most romantic mode of travel that beckons to all those who seek to seek to see the passing landscapes and countryside from the convenience of a railroad car. If you ask me, there’s no other way to go! Above all that, what really made my journey special was the unexpected adventure of it all!

When you’re traveling abroad, you want to make the most of every minute and every moment. If the prospect of losing a day to travel between cities is a sacrifice you’re not willing to make, then overnight train travel is the answer. For me, what started out as a seemingly mundane solution to the dilemma of traveling between Florence and Paris without wasting a single moment of time, turned out to be an unforgettable journey that I will never forget—a fascinating trip through the Alps, Lake Maggiore and the other cities along the way. One thrilling moment after the next had my heart pumping and adrenalin surging that I almost didn't fall asleep that night. Needless to say, I practically didn't.

It all started after we finished having dinner in the dining car...only a few cars up from our sleeper coach. Just as we were settling into our little bunks by the windows and planning to retire for the evening, our intrepid journey led us through lands unknown, unknown to me anyway. For when I looked out of our cabin window, I was awe struck as each breathtaking vista and picturesque landscape passed us by while we rolled along the rails. For each new bend in the winding rails revealed enchanting European villages cast aglow in the velvety dark of the night, or train stations with illuminated signs of the cities I longed to visit, it was all there for me to embrace, to seize the moment and revel in my fantastic journey.

Suddenly surrounded by pitch-black darkness, I realized we plunged into one of many dark mysterious Alpine tunnels only to emerge into a dream—before my eyes was the sprawling Lake Maggiore with its coastline twinkling across its moonlit waters. Oh, if only this moment could last forever!

Having finally fallen asleep, not even sure what time it was, we awoke in the morning, about an hour or so outside of Paris. With still plenty of time to shower and enjoy breakfast which consisted of prepackaged pastry breads, coffee and juice— not bad, but not the meal of champions, it fueled the start of our first day in the City of Light.

If you’re planning to visit Europe and your itinerary takes from country to country or even better, across the continent, consider traveling by train in the day or overnight. From single seats to deluxe coach cabins, there are suitable accommodations to match every taste and budget. Prices vary from $50 per person for single seat to $300 or more per person for a private coach cabin, I recommend the latter for overnight. My best advice is to find what best suits your budget and book it as soon as you know your dates.

Additional Reading:

Here is a list of websites to help you plan your journey on the rails. Each offers many exciting options for day and overnight train travel throughout Europe.

Take the train and I promise you an unforgettable journey on the rails!

25 comments:

  1. That's so awesome. I haven't travel form country to country on train. I bet the scenes is beautiful.

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  2. I love train travel in Europe. So much easier to sleep and much cheaper than a plane! :)

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  3. Thank you so much Sarah and Jeremy for sharing your thoughts and compliments. I really loved this overnight journey and will look to do again and again all over Europe. It was fascinating. My only problem was that I didn't want to go to sleep.

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  4. I agree completly. I love travelling by train. You see so much more of the world than when you go by plane!

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  5. Hi Gemma, I loved my journey so much...can't wait to do it again!! Loved the immersion into the landscapes...the mountains...the villages...and like you said the world all around us, not below us!! Thx for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  6. Oh, I can indeed imagine this! I hope to do an overnight trip like that someday. I did have the experience of traveling on a train through the Alps in Switzerland at night and not knowing exactly where I was going to end up since I'd gotten on the wrong train. It was very exciting as the snow was falling outside and the train was chugging up the mountain.

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  7. Hi Catherine!! Wow...your adventure sounds even more wonderful...would have loved to see the snow falling in the Alps! Where did you end up at the end of your journey? Thx so much for stopping by ... I love to hear about experiences like this!

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  8. I just did the Florence to Paris overnight in mid-May and loved quiet last legs of the morning view sipping coffee after an amazing sleep in a room of my own - perfect way to travel - wake up and you're almost there!

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    1. Greetings my friend and thanks so much for stopping by to share your travel story on the rails! I loved it and couldn't agree with you more about sipping coffee during the last hour or so and that it is indeed, a perfect way to travel through Europe. Thx again.

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  9. Lovely Jeff. I'm the same, don't sleep well on sleepers - and often too excited to do so anyway!

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    1. Hi there Mr. Conductor and thanks so much for stopping by to share your thoughts. Yes, excitement kept up longer than I wanted but at the time, I just couldn't sleep away the stunning sights outside our window. An amazing journey to say the least.

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  10. When you travel through such a beautiful area, a night train can be good for saving time but a curse because you don't want to miss all the scenery out your window! :)

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    1. Hi Jeremy and boy are you ever so right! I had no idea until I boarded the train! Next time, it's day AND night! ; ) Thx so much for stopping by and sharing your comments!

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  11. Wow this is quite a journey! France trains are amazing, but I'm not sure I'm up for that! Maybe I just took so many trains for last two months! :)

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    1. Hi there Juno!! Oh yes, it was a fantastic journey but I totally understand your point of view. However, I think you should try it at least once...it's a lot of fun and somewhat romantic at the same time...having your own cabin, dinner and breakfast onboard...I loved every minute of it! Thx so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  12. I have never done that before but after reading your blog definitely considering it for my next trip.
    Sounds like a unique experience.

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    1. Hi there my new friend and thanks so much for stopping by to comment! It was such a wondrous journey and I would do it over and over again! You really must one day.

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  13. How funny. I'm reading this as I travel on an overnight train from Budapest to Brasov in Romania. We weren't able to book a sleeper, the couchettes were full, and the first class car we had a ticket for would not be going through to our final destination. So we are trying to sleep in a noisy, smoky,brightly-lit coach car, sitting upright while all around us other passengers slump over drunk. Not quite the same.

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    1. HI there Paige..how wild that you're writing this post on an overnight adventure of your own. Sorry you couldn't get the private coach but next time, book early enough. It's fabulous. I hope you arrived safe and sound...and somewhat rested too! Thx so much for stopping by to share your experiences!

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  14. Hi Jeff, just found the link to you on twitter. I have only been on the train once in France, during the day, and I thought that was brilliant , compared to the trains in the UK ... I would love to do this one day, preferably with someone .. thanks for this fab story :-) Anne

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    1. Hi there Anne and thank you so much for stopping by! Yes, you must embark on an overnight rail journey and even on your own, it can be fun to meet new people along the way. I hope you have the opportunity someday soon!

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  15. Hello Jeff,
    I love following your journey and reading your always compelling and fact-filled blogs.
    Conrad and I have twice ridden the rails overnight with our private berth. From Oslo to Bergen and from Madrid to Paris. Yes, it is something everyone has to experience at least once. And yes, you don't get enough sleep from the sheer excitement of it all -- like the time we saw a huge moose running away from the tracks at dawn's glow across a snowy Norwegian landscape -- and then kept watching for more. And then on the way to Paris we were absolutely giddy with the glamour of the train and dining car. We are so honored to live this life!
    Thank you for sharing your story, and allowing me mine!
    Wishing you safe and happy travels always and all ways,
    Josie

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    1. HI there Josie! Wow, what journeys you have had as well. My heart is pounding with excitement after reading about your experiences, especially your travels through Norway - I can just imagine myself on the trade ebullient over seeing the wildlife and passing landscapes. WOW! That must have been so exciting!!

      You can't beat the private coach and the the dining is superb! I can't wait to do it again.

      Thank you so much for stopping by to share your travelogues!! I welcome them so feel free to stop back anytime you like.

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  16. Jeff,

    Thanks for sharing this post.

    I have also recently been to Florence and Europe's beauty never ceases to amaze me. And being in the UK, we are so lucky we have it on our doorstep!

    Cheers,
    Carl

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    1. Cheers Carl and thanks so much for stopping by to share your thoughts!

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