Rail travel within Europe can be fast, efficient and a travel bargain. Frequent schedules and spotless trains are the norm in several European countries. The best trains are part of the Trans-European Express network. The TEE network ranges from Barcelona in the south to Hamburg in the north. London is connected by rail and ferry to Rotterdam to join the network. Le Mistral, a famed TEE between Paris and Nice, is equipped with a boutique, hairdresser, secretarial service, and a top restaurant. Some of the other European trains are dirty and depressing.
A great many Americans see Europe via the Eurail system. The system incorporates the best rail service in sixteen European countries and its trains crisscross Europe from northern Lapland to the southern tip of Italy, and from the shores of Brittany in France through Europe’s mountains and along much of its shores. Altogether the Eurail system covers more than 100,000 miles of rail lines. The Eurail pass is good for periods from two weeks to three months and must be purchased in the U.S.
Veteran travelers state that it may be cheaper to travel without the Eurail pass and that if you really want to get to know the people, go second-class. In parts of Europe second-class is not bad. In Morocco it provides a reclining seat in a spotless air conditioned car with white-jacketed steward service. When traveling without a pass it must be remembered that everything must be purchased separately. A reserved seat is a good idea. The modern express trains make a surcharge. Additional tickets are needed for sleepers. The best buy on
European trains is a couchette a simple berth with a fixed charge regardless of class or distance traveled. The fee includes a blanket and a pillow, but on some trains, no sheets, washing facility or privacy.