Saturday, August 09, 2008

Review: The Munich/Paris Night Train

There's nothing so romantic as the idea of a night train. Get onto one of the night trains at 9:00pm in Munich at night, wake up in Paris the next morning at 6:00am. Coming back from Paris to Munich, it's 11pm to 9am. The cost is about 75 Euros each way per person, which compares unfavorably with the 93 Euros round trip on the plane. One would think that given the cost of fuel, and the carbon footprint of the train versus the plane, the train should be cheaper, but while Airlines in Europe are largely deregulated now, trains are still National Monopolies, and so are still priced that way. Naturally, if you're only on it one way, it's cheaper to take the train, and there are student specials that can get the price down to about 50 Euros each way if you're a student, etc.

Each cabin in second class has 6 bunks, dormitory style, stacked on top of one another. There's barely any room for luggage --- there's a rail on the top, and there's room below. I'm 5' 10", and the beds are just about an inch too short when I stretch out. Fortunately, I sleep in a fetal position anyway, so the roominess is not an issue.

Bring ear plugs --- not only is the train not as quiet as the regular trains, the chances are that you're sharing with 5 other folks on the train, and if any of them are men (or if you're unlucky and end up in a compartment with me), then one of them will snore. Lisa didn't sleep well at all on our trip. I, on the other hand, slept very well and didn't have any issues at all.

The cabin is tight and crowded, so other than reading and sleeping, don't expect to get much done. There does seem to be an unusual number of beautiful young ladies on our trip from Paris back to Munich, so perhaps if you're a single guy there's appeal there.

All in all, the experience isn't particularly romantic, so if I were to be asked to recommend a way to get from Munich to Paris or vice-versa, I'd tell folks to fly. Oh yes, and you have to book in advance. Don't expect the prices I quoted to be available if you're booking last minute.
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