Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Look its Switzerla…, nevermind we already left it

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 08 28th, 2010

We have to come to Switzerland. We only spent a few hours in the country, but it looked amazing.

Our train ride from Milan to Zurich was beautiful. The train winds through the mountains next to alpine lakes and towns.

Out the train window in Switzerland

When we arrived in Zurich we reserved tickets on a sleeper train to Amterdam. Since we only had a one and a half layover in Zurich we did not get to see much. We stuck to a couple blocks around the train station, but everything we saw was nice. Zurich is a really clean looking city.

Christy in Zurich

Aaron in Zurich

Being in Zurich really made Christy and I want to see more of Switzerland.  It is at the top of my list of places to visit again, especially during ski season in the Alps. Longing to see more, we boarded our sleeper train and left the country without trying the chocolate or playing with Swiss Army knives. We will be back some day.

Aaron on the sleeper train



Back in Venice… train station

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 08 28th, 2010

As our ferry was docking in Venice we passed San Marco square and we could see the leaning tower of a church near the hotel we stayed in when we were in Venice earlier. It was weird being back in Venice. It was amazing that two and a half months had passed since we were last here. It was also strange to be in this city without my parents. Memories only a few months old came flooding back. Shortly after the memories of Venice,  memories of the destinations between my visits in Venice started playing through my mind. It was the first time we had returned to a city on this trip after leaving its country. I did not feel the deja vu I was expecting, but a feeling of summary and reflection on a phase coming to an end.

The time of reflection did not last long, because straight off the ferry in Venice we went to the train station. We were planning on catching a train later the same day to Paris to get us most of the way back to London. We waited in a long line to get our tickets to Paris, but they were sold out. There were no tickets available for over a week! We felt panic momentarily flush through us. We had to get back to London in 5 days to catch our flight to Cairo. How much was buying ourselves out of this situation going to cost if we needed to get plane tickets? Fortunately the panic did not last and we got out of the ticket line to find an alternative train route. We got out our Eurail maps and timetables and came up several back up plans. We ended up choosing Zurich as our next destination since it is very well connected to other European cities. We were really lucky we were not cutting the timing of our return to London too close. We had already learned that lesson a few times. One and a half hours after arriving in Venice, we were on a train to Zurich.



We Got Eurail Passes

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 24th, 2010

Christy and I got a train pass today. While traveling within Spain and England we always rode buses because they are extremely cheap compared to trains. A $150, 14 hour bus ride from Barcelona to Paris made us rethink our strategy. We bought 10 travel days within 2 months from Eurail. Their website claims you have to buy the pass ahead of time from the United States, but it was actually easy to buy in the Paris train station. Unfortunately, I am 26 so I no longer qualify for the youth rates. We ended up buying the 2 person adult group rate since it was almost the same price as 1 youth and 1 adult ticket. The best thing about the adult tickets… FIRST CLASS! We never envisioned riding around Europe in first class cabins, but we aren’t complaining. :)

Christy in a first class train



The man in seat sixty-one

Posted by Aaron in Planning on 11 18th, 2009

I just stumbled upon a great website for traveling by train all over the world. The man in seat sixty-one is a travel website run by a former British railway professional who decided to share his knowledge of train travel. The site has grown into a massive collection of timetables, maps, tips, and links to train and ferry information all over the world.

This site is going to be a big help in planning our travels through Asia. One of the great pages on the site is a suggested way to plan a budget and itinerary for a complex trip. Up until now we have been vaguely outlining where we want to go and how much we will spend. The spreadsheet method should be a great way to organize things a little better. I have always been concerned with ruining the adventure of travel by over organizing the trip, but I think we can build flexibility into the schedule once we identify critical timing points and costs. Some trains only run once a week, so mistiming a train connection can mean spending significant time in the transfer cities instead of more desirable locations.

I cannot wait to start building the spreadsheet and seeing our trip develop more concretely. I hope I can find the man in seat sixty-one on one of our trains so I can thank him in person.



Eurail

Posted by Aaron in Planning on 09 25th, 2009

I cannot wait to explore Europe by train. A EuRail pass will allow Christy and I to travel all over Europe without having to buy train tickets along the way. As seen in the following picture, almost all of the European countries are well covered by the EuRail passes. A more detailed map is available on EuRail’s website www.eurail.com.

eurail-map-2009

It seems strange to me that Great Britain is not covered by the pass. Since England is high on our list of countries to visit, we will have to find out if there is a Great Britain train pass. Maybe we will fly into London first so we do not need to waste EuRail pass time while exploring England.

I really like the extensive train coverage of the countries. The passenger railroads cover so much more of the European countries than they do in the United States.  Christy and I will be able to visit just about any city we want to. I remember riding on Amtrak from Chicago to Denver  when I overheard a European student talking about the pathetic train coverage in the United States. At the time I wondered why anyone would travel by train, other than for novelty as I was doing. After seeing the train coverage in Europe I can see how it would be a common form of transportation.

I think Christy and I will be getting the 3 month youth global pass for $1359 each. That seems like a lot of money to me, but it will give us the ultimate in flexibility. Fortunately, I will barely meet the requirement for a youth pass. You must be 25 or younger on the first day of travel to get a youth pass. I will be turning 26 about 1 month after I begin riding the train. The 3 month pass will also work out perfectly. I am concerned about staying in expensive Europe for too long. The 3 month pass will put a definite end date on our time in Europe so we can move on and see different parts of the world.

Finding the EuRail pass and looking at the maps is beginning to make this trip seem real. I wanted to buy the passes immediately, but you can only purchase them 6 months before the first travel day. I guess I have to patiently wait until December 1st.