Isn't air travel cheap!
April 19, 2010 11:19pm CST
I was planning a trip next month so, as flying might not be an option, I studied the relative costs of train and bus travel. I plan to go from Athens, Greece to London, U.K. Not a long trip by air but a little formidable by bus and not so easy by train. Greece is of course in the wrong place! You either have to cross the sea to Italy or go by the Balkans - which takes you out of EU territory. Yep, all those countries that were part of Yugoslavia are now requiring visas. So a detour east through Bulgaria and Romania is necessary. First train travel! Well, train and ferry if we go west. Starting off by bus to Patra because the railway lines are being relaid. Ferry to Italy, then find your way to London as best you can. Lots of routes, lots of confusion. Lots of trains that do not accept the cheap railcards! How about east? Yes, straight forward, even interesting if you like a night time trip through Transylvania! But four days if you are lucky on trains that do not even have a buffet car. Cost? Well over 300 euros not including food and drink. Bus must be cheaper you think? Well, the days of the magic bus are long gone. No Athens - London bus today. Eurobus and similar companies don't get as far as Greece, so lots of little hops are required or go via Poland. Prices, as far as I can estimate (it is difficult to get an exact route let alone a fare), would be around 230 euros. Again, not including food and drink for at least two whole days. So, back to air travel. Here a scheduled flight on a good Greek carrier (Not the National carrier please!) can be as low as 130 euros. A budget airline from the UK can range between 65 and 80 euros depending when you travel. I'm not sure if that includes all the taxes, but it sure beats the train and bus! Yes, flying is cheap. I just hope we will be able to fly at will again soon. Your comments please.
• United Kingdom
20 Apr 10
It is possible for people that have lived in any European country for more than six months to buy an Inter Rail pass. If going on a long journey across Europe for up to one month buying such a pass would give a saving on the normal fares. I have a British passport. I am able to visit many countries in Eastern Europe without needing a visa. So if I wished to go to Athens I would do this journey: London to Brussels on Eurostar Brussels to Vienna by train in a couchette overnight Vienna to Budapest by train Budapest to Bucharest by train Bucharest to Istanbul by train Istanbul to Athens by train Going home I could do this journey: Athens to Bari by ferry Bari to Rome by train Rome to Nice by train Nice to Paris by train Paris to London on Eurostar I would pay for a one month Inter Rail pass. When you need a visa it adds to the cost of the trip. Going by train would take up to a week and going by plane took me three and a half hours from London to Athens in 1987. It is such a shame that it isn't possible to fly on a plane at the moment due to the volcanic activity. I have booked a flight to Canada for June. By sea would be the only other option and the cost would be way too high. It would take me weeks to get out there. Flying is the most practical way.
• United States
20 Apr 10
I should correct you in case anyone really does this trip. These rail passes have restrictions that you should know about. First of all you cannot use them on Eurostar! Then, many of the other trains are in fact sleeper only. The price of the couchette or sleeper bunk is collected extra, i.e. not on the rail pass which only covers normal seated travel. Add to this reservation fees which are very necessary towards Greece, and compulsory inside Greece. So, it would actually cost more to use a rail pass.