Riding the rails

1.13.2014


Travel is never simply about the destination, but always the journey. How one gets from point A to point B (or point Z, as the case may be) is every bit as important as what those points are.

Circling North America by scooter was a magnificent way to do it, but one 15,000-mile struggle against high winds, heavy rains, biting cold, and bumpy roads is enough for me, at least for the next few years. So despite the utter romance of taking Rousseau abroad for another lengthy jaunt, I decided to go about my European sabbatical with a calmer mode of transportation.

Enter the Eurail. It's no great secret that Europe has a fantastic train network: affordable, high-speed, hundreds of stops across the continent, but it was only recently—after the goading of a few well-traveled friends—that I gave much thought to the Eurail's Global Pass, which affords virtually limitless travel along the tracks of Europe. At about $1,500 (youth pricing I'll be eligible for only for another year), the pass is no light investment, but for the three months of bundled travel it'd afford while skipping about from corner to continental corner, it seems a monumentally worthy purchase.

Europe and its marvelous rail network.
Obviously, this decision makes travel planning far simpler: I don't need a route, I don't need a vehicle, I just need a map and a timetable to plan my next stop and a good book to keep me company while riding the rails. I imagine the overall trajectory of my travels will follow my prior course to a point—hugging the Mediterranean coastline, skipping from Greece to Turkey and then working my way up toward Scandinavia, then back down through Europe's center before curving up toward England, Ireland, Iceland, home.

I'll be leaving May 2, I think, and definitely packing light, and definitely around to meet up with whomever may be contemplating a summer adventure of their own somewhere across the pond.

More (including a long-overdue update on the Matchbox) soon.

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