Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Our Transport Across Europe Part II

Having basked in the autumn sun in Barcelona and Rome for a week, we then headed up north to experience yet again Europe's autumn chill. Sure, we wanted to feel what autumn is really like because we don't have it at home, for crying out loud! haha

To get there fast ('coz we couldn't be more excited with the cold! uhm... not really...), we took a flight from the eternal city to the Dutch capital.

Starting from Amsterdam, we already commuted by train which is the very essence of traveling across Europe, yes? And just why not? When their train network is one of a kind in this world! Not to mention the high-speed trains passing through Europe's idyllic farms and villages. Ahh, could it be better than that? This may be already a battered cliché but train travel in Europe is an amazing experience in itself!

Here's how we hopped on trains during the second half of our Euro trip. The first part you can check it over here.

Amsterdam, Netherlands to Cologne, Germany

Amsterdam Centraal Station

We spent 2 days in our hotelboat in Amsterdam and right after, we again dragged our luggage back to Amsterdam Centraal Station to get to our train to Cologne. I wouldn't mind coming back again and again to this station though. Just look at that incredible facade! Does that even look like a train station? *shakes head in astonishment*

ETD: Oct 22, 2013 (TUE) 10:34 at Amsterdam Centraal Station
ETA: Oct 22, 2013 (TUE) 13:12 at Köln Hauptbahnhof in Cologne
Duration: 2.25Hrs
Price: €29.00/Person

For this leg, we booked the Intercity-Express (ICE) train of the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways). According to their website, ICE is the fastest and most comfortable way to travel on their train network. Right on, Germany. Their trains were the best in this trip, IMO.

ICE train: http://www.bahn.com

Cologne Central Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof)

Amsterdam to Cologne by Google Map

Cologne, Germany to Brussels, Belgium

Cologne Central Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof)

We had a fleeting stay in Cologne for we bade adieu to this German city after our unforgettable 1-night stay at an 8-bed dormitory room. Go figure. On the better side, it was the most reasonably budget-priced that we could find that's only a walking distance to the train station.

ETD: Oct 23, 2013 (WED) 11:43 at Köln Hauptbahnhof in Cologne
ETA: Oct 23, 2013 (WED) 13:27 at Bruxelles Nord in Brussels
Duration: 1.75Hrs
Price: €29.00/Person

Our ticket was actually valid in Brussels zone so, we got off at Bruxelles Midi (Brussels South station) even if I only booked the Bruxelles Nord (Brussels North station) which is one station before.  Our hotel is situated near the Midi station which is the most important consideration since we would have our early morning train ride back to Paris the day after.

Again, we booked with ICE train.

ICE train: http://www.bahn.com

Nearing Brussels Nord Station

Cologne to Brussels  by Google Map

Brussels, Belgium to Paris, France

Early morning hustle at Brussels Midi Station

Since our train schedule to Paris was early in the morning, we chose a hotel that is again near to the train station. And by near, I mean we can simply walk or run to the platform, whichever may be applicable.

ETD: Oct 24, 2013 (THU) 08:13 at Bruxelles Midi
ETA: Oct 24, 2013 (THU) 09:46 at Gare du Nord in Paris
Duration: 1.50Hrs
Price: €39.00/Person

Our train to the City of Light was Thalys, the train company that makes super fast connections between Paris and 3 cities namely, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne.

True enough, we arrived in Paris, the final leg of this journey before I could even set my camera correctly. Fail.

Thalys: https://www.thalys.com

Gare du Nord in Paris, France

Brussels to Paris by Google Map


Now, we have come into a full circle of this adventure! Not really a perfect circle but I'm sure you get the point. :p 

In summary, all of our transportation tickets were booked in fixed schedules that's why we had them cheaper. I know it's a gamble this way but planning out well can mitigate the risk of a broken schedule. Like, missing your flight or train. *gasps* It was crucial that we had enough time to compose ourselves every commute. One way was by choosing an accommodation with a really good location. If we would end up taking a taxi or even booking an entirely different ticket, it would definitely defeat the purpose of scoring cheap tickets in advance.

Our flight and train tickets were booked around a month before our intended travel, when normally tickets go on discounted rates. Booking directly through the airline or train company's website was also quite convenient in comparison to channeling it through a travel agency. At least in my case. Oh the brilliance of e-tickets!

Next up will be our accommodation in these European cities. :)

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