Lost your bag on a Eurail train?

We hopped off the train at the last station and dropped our bags at our feet, glancing around to check that we had everything. Yes, everything was in order … Except that I seemed to have misplaced my iPod case, a small zip-up pouch I’d bought in Turkey. Thinking back, I remembered pulling it out of my pocket to listen to my iPod, and leaving it in my lap. It must have fallen onto the floor of the train compartment when we got up to leave.

By this point we were the only ones left on the platform, except the conductor, who was just getting ready to blow his whistle to signal that the train, now empty, could take off again. Without thinking, I jumped back onto the train to retrieve the pouch, the conductor shouting at me loudly in German as I did so.

The train was starting to move, so after a quick glance around what turned out to not be our compartment, I jumped off the train again… without my beloved pouch. I was a bit sad, I quite liked it after all, but it had only cost a dollar and I had another, quite similar one, somewhere in the bottom of my bag. At least it hadn’t been something valuable or irreplaceable.

However, people do leave things on trains all the time. You hop off, do a quick check to see if you’ve got everything, and realise that you’ve left one of your bags on board. This doesn’t tend to happen if you follow the one-bag rule, but it’s true that you spread out while on a train, especially if you have the compartment to yourself. Maybe your small bag got left on a seat while you were grappling the larger one down from the overhead rack, or got kicked under the seat while you were taking a nap.

At least if it’s the last station on the line you have a bit of time to get back your things, but if you’re getting off at a mid-point station, it can be almost impossible to work out where your bag is, let alone get it back.

If this happens to you, the first thing to do is talk to station staff and see if there’s a process for getting your bag back. You’ll probably have to fill in forms and jump through a few hoops, but you might be lucky and be reunited with your bag. If not, it’s time to call the insurance company and make a claim. If you don’t have travel insurance yet, consider travel insurance from comparethemarket.com

However, prevention is always better than cure. Travel with just one bag, with a smaller, compressible one inside for daytrips. You can use this one while on the train for snacks and entertainment, but don’t put anything valuable in it — like tickets for your London flights — and pack it away ten minutes before you’re due to get off the train. When it’s time to leave, do a final check of the compartment: the seats, under the seats, and the overhead rack — even if you’re sure you’ve got everything. And if you do leave something behind, don’t jump back on the train as it’s leaving … it’ll cause more problems than it’s worth!

Written by admin in: Stories |

Photos from Swiss Pass Journey

Here are some photos taken during my 2006 Eurail trip through Switerland. It was easily the most scenic of all our travels that year. Except, perhaps the South Island of New Zealand.

Swiss countryside - 9
Swiss countryside

Brienz - 12
Brienz, near Interlaken.

Bern - 26
Magnificent Bern. With real bears.

Swiss mountain journey - 10
Swiss mountain journey.

Swiss mountain journey - 15
Train carriages ahead.

Written by Craig the admin in: Stories | Tags: , , , , , ,

Jeff's beginning

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment. Standing in Geneva Train Station; weighed down by a backpack about 10 kilograms too heavy. I was about to launch myself into the continent. I was about to validate my Eurail pass.

It was an exciting moment; one that I had planned and anticipated for months. It was also a heck of a lot of money. I had been scraping together work here and there and figured I had just enough to make it to Amsterdam then a cheap flight to London where I could stay with friends. A Eurail pass wasn’t cheap and if something went wrong, I was calling Mum for a money transfer.

I’m a bit of a worrier, especially when it comes to anything “official”. I trust people but not bureaucracy…what was going to go wrong? It had to be something. By the time I had stood in the line this long I had dropped my bag to the floor and was kicking it in front of me. I really should have packed less crap but I refused to dump anything.

The front of the line. The empty slot. I dragged that tonne weight over to the counter. “Bonjour! Parle vous Anglais?” High school was good for four words; shame I wouldn’t understand a meaningful response. The ticket agent spoke perfect English (to my colonial shame) and the pass was validated almost instantly (to my surprise). A passport as identification, a quick stamp or two and it was done. Now, where was the platform…

Follow Jeff’s journey from Switzerland to Amsterdam thanks to a Eurail Global Pass. Subscribe to the RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss anything.

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Speed and Amsterdam

No, not like that!

This short video from Rumsrums shows the speed of the train heading to Amsterdam.

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A manic approach

When I headed off on my Eurail adventure, it was the first time I had even been to Europe. I flew to Heathrow, London then a budget flight to Italy. After a week’s hectic sightseeing in Rome I started the 15 day global pass and set off.

My goal was simply to see as much as possible…visit as many places as I could…and that made for a crazy itinerary. I slept on trains for five nights and hostels for the rest of the time. Sometimes I travelled with friends that I had met, other time by myself…but I was always moving quickly. At typical day would look like this:

  • Wake up on the train. Check the timetable to see where I was and were I was headed.
  • Get off at the first city on my list. Have breakfast in the old town, walk around the sights, look at the outside of famous buildings.
  • Back to the train station. Hop on a train for an hour or so.
  • Get off at the day’s second city. Have lunch in the old town, walk around the sights, look at the outside of famous buildings.
  • Back to the train station. Hop on a train for an hour or so. Have a nap.
  • Get off at the day’s third city. Check into a hostel or book an overnight sleeper at the station.
  • Have dinner in the old town, walk around the sights (in the dark!) and find a bar with a cold local beer. See if I can find a party that lasts until the train departs.
  • Repeat.

Can I recommend this? If you’re crazy enough to be sleep deprived for two weeks! It was an amazing way to see a lot: six countries and their capitals baby! I ended up in Paris — which isn’t cheap! — where I think I slept for most of the week. There are vague recollections of the Arc de Triomph before flying home and back to College.

I’d suggest staying off the booze if you’re going to attempt it; A beer or two is fine, but things get messed up enough without hangovers getting in the way. One thing I regret is that I didn’t meet so many people, but it whet my appetite and I’m hoping to return and do a slower trip one day.

Dave travelled on a Eurail Global 15 day pass and wrote this one-off story for us. Will you share your Eurail Stories?

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Private line in Switzerland

Using the Eurail pass on the Swiss rail system was a great idea. Firstly, because the CHH system is clean, efficient and punctual. And secondly, because it’s really expensive, so the pass makes it affordable to use.

We’d been warned in a multitude of different ways that some of the rail lines in Switzerland were privately owned and not covered by the Eurail pass. However, we still managed to end up in the middle of the mountains on a train that felt suspiciously unique. We were heading straight up a mountain, and the trains passing us seemed to be filled with American tourists sipping champagne and eating three-course meals. A quick question at the ticket office at the next station confirmed it – we weren’t covered, none of the trains within thirty kilometres were, and we had to buy a ticket to the next stop. 160 euros later, we arrived in Liechtenstein with much lighter wallets. Needless to say, we were a lot more careful next time we used the Swiss rail system.

Linda was travelling on a Eurail Global Pass. Read more of Linda’s stories.


Zug, piss and tears of laughter

The Swiss Youth Hostel Association issue an extremely useful brochure listing information about all the YHA hostels in the country. In addition to the essentials of address, price and phone number, it also has details of distance from public transport stops, and how to get there from the main train station in the city. We were in Switzerland on a tight budget, in deciding where to stay chose a town called Zug, about an hour on the train from Zurich. According to our handy leaflet, the hostel was cheaper and closer to the train station than the one in Zurich, as well as having a kitchen and smaller rooms.

We were put into a six-bed room on the first floor opposite the toilets, a narrow room with three sets of bunks. An older Swiss couple had taken the two lower beds near the window, so I chose the upper bunk nearest the door. After a nice chat with the Swiss couple, who were walking across the country and trying out hostelling for the first time, we locked the door and went to bed.

The hostel was quiet enough, though I woke up once or twice in the night when people clomped down the corridor and into the toilets. At one point I heard someone taking a leak across the hall, opened my eyes and noticed someone standing over the Swiss guy’s bed. I thought it was the Swiss guy playing a joke on his wife, but realised that it couldn’t be since he was still in bed. You know what it’s like when you are half-asleep. It took me a second to realise that the sound of someone taking a leak wasn’t coming from across the hall, but from the guy standing over the bed!

As I fumbled for my glasses to make sure, the Swiss guy jerked upright with a yell when realised he what was going on. The young pisser was unconcerned and continued what he was doing until the Swiss guy took his arm and led him out of the room. We took the mattress into the corridor and the Swiss guy moved to the upper bunk to the sound of his wife chuckling from her bed. She was still laughing when we woke up in the morning.

Linda was travelling on a Eurail Global Pass. Read more of Linda’s stories.

Written by Linda King in: Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Spectacular and comfortable

Enjoying the train ride through Europe. The views are spectacular and the ride extremely comfortable.

Thanks to Quixstart for this excellent montage from last October. Quixstart was using a Eurail pass for his train connections.


The Liechtenstein zug

This is part of a series by Linda King

We wanted to use our Global Eurail pass to its best advantage, so we weren’t spending long in each place. We tended to arrive somewhere in the evening, explore it in the morning and head on in late morning or early afternoon. That’s exactly what we did in Liechtenstein, except with a bit more drama than we had expected.

Liechtenstein is a tiny country, with only one railway station which has a rather sparse schedule. The station is about an hour’s walk from the capital, Vaduz, though there’s a good network of buses to take you there. We were staying at the youth hostel, which was about halfway between Vaduz and the Schaan Post bus stop, which is also where you catch the train.

We’d spent the morning in Vaduz and walked back to the youth hostel to pick up our bags before heading to the train station to catch the 12.30pm train – the last one for about three hours. But we completely mistimed our walk and got back to the hostel at 12.20 – there wasn’t a chance of walking to the station in time. A bus was due near the hostel at 12.25 – supposed to arrive at Schaan Post bus stop at 12.30. Cutting it fine, certainly, but the people of Liechtenstein take after the Swiss in terms of efficiency – or at least we hoped so.

It was an anxious wait for the bus, but it finally arrived and we bustled on with all our bags. The driver took off, and we named the stop we wanted – Schaan Post. We were a bit surprised when the bus driver said no. What? we asked. “Finished” he said. We were completely befuddled, but still tried to pay while he tried to explain how the bus stop had disappeared or something – we had no idea.

Since our German was verging on non-existent, we didn’t work out what was going on until we reached the stop we wanted, just outside the post office. He looked concerned and pointed to the post office and said “finished” – the post office was closed for the day and he didn’t want us to make a journey there in vain. We finally understood, and pointed to the train station and said “nein, zug!” (no, train). Indeed, the train was just approaching the station. His face cleared and he gestured to us to run for it. We tried to pay for our rather entertaining bus ride but he wouldn’t hear of it, so we ran and caught the train with seconds to spare. Mint.


Sicily to Rome: My first European rail journey

After spending five months in the island nation of Malta it was really time to leave. I booked a Eurail pass, planned furiously then caught the ferry over to Sicily.

I had a Eurail Global Pass planned and ready but I didn’t want to start it for a couple of weeks. I bought tickets on the overnight train to Rome. What an experience! I spoke no Italian, the sales agent no English. He kept saying “reservation” over and over but I had no idea what he was talking about. I didn’t have a reservation!

In Italy you have to validate tickets before you travel using yellow punches on the platform. Luckily I saw some people doing it or I wouldn’t have known. The whole situation was bewildering.


Then the people started to gather. Like swarming locusts, every University student on the whole island jammed onto the platform. Everyone wanted to get back to Rome after the Summer holidays. Person after person arrived until the platform was seething with teens and twenty-somethings. I suddenly understood why “reservation” was so important.

As the train pulled into the station everyone swarmed to the edge and a scrum ensued around each door. People fought to get out; people fought to get in. I jumped in where I could — my massive backpack concussing a couple of unfortunates behind me — and found a seat. A seat!

Relief followed by panic

As people started sitting in the corridors I realised how full this train was. And then I realised I was sitting in first class. There was no way I could afford a first class supplement but damned if I was sitting on the coridor’s steel floor for the next 12 hours.

One person in my cabin spoke a little English and, even better, he was in the same situation. With assurances his seat would be there when he returned he left to speak with the conductor. How many euros would my underhand “supplement” be? I had no idea but it was going to be more than the couple it would have cost me to make a reservation before hand!

We were in luck. The train was so packed with people the conductors had decided to abolish the divide between first and second class and I settled in to enjoy my so-called luxury. My introduction to European rail journeys was certainly hectic but that mad energy has made me come back time and time again.

Craig was using an individual train ticket from Trenitalia, the Italian rail company. Find out about Italy Rail Passes.

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