500,000 bottles of sparkling wine mature in this section of the underground cellars at Cricova Winery just north of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 3, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Would you take the bus, or the train?

One of the things we're going to have to decide on during our upcoming trip is whether to take the bus, or the train. If everything else is equal, we like to travel by train. We just think it's more relaxing, and you've got more space to get up and stretch your legs if you want to.

But, the train isn't always faster, and it can also be more expensive.

So you have to shop around and decide what your priorities are.

The train usually has lots of room.

Bus travel can be good for shorter distances, but I don't think I would do it for long distance unless it's an overnight trip. That way, you can save on accommodation fees. But of course the problem with land transportation overnight is that you don't get to see things along the way! One of the reasons that we would take a bus or train instead of flying is because we want to see the countryside. And taking a night trip means you wouldn't see a thing.

But some of the new buses can be comfortable too.

There's nothing worse than sitting in traffic, and usually you don't have that problem with a train. Bus stations are often situated in inner city neighborhoods and so they have to deal with traffic that can be heavy at times. With a train, you're constantly moving and you pull right into the station without a problem.

Trains often have a snack car and a bar car! If that's not a good enough reason to take the train, I don't know what is. We've often found that it's easier to meet local travelers and chat with them if you can.

Have you ever done an Amtrak train in the United States? We would like to do that sometime. I think it would probable be easy between major cities. Like from San Francisco to Los Angeles, or New York to Philadelphia.



25 comments:

  1. I think the train is more relaxing like you said and more comfortable. But whatever works for you.

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    1. We find it totally depends on each situation as to what we would decide to use but I think our preference would be the train as well.

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  2. I prefer the bus over trains, plus there are bathrooms on most of them. It just is smoother and faster usually. Definitely more expensive most places though. I really enjoyed the high speed trains we took in Spain.

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    1. I meant train over bus lol. Must get brain in gear before commenting.

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    2. Yes, generally we would agree with you but sometimes that isn't always the case like in Eastern Europe where train travel is mostly on older and much slower trains. We have read in many articles that normally bus travel is the better way to go there. I guess we will soon see. :-)

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  3. I found this a bit interesting. I have no idea how you could pull this off.
    You can also google how to travel cross country for $213.00 if you do not want to open the link.
    http://dereklow.co/across-the-usa-by-train-for-just-213/

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    1. I'm not sure that you can still do this trip for $213 as this was posted back in 2011 so I am sure prices will have risen somewhat but if you do the research you can probably still do the trip at a decent price. I don't think we would like to do it straight through though, so for additional stops it would cost even more and then you would also have to take into account overnights and meals both on the train and in the cities that you would stay in. Looks like a gorgeous trip!

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  4. When Carrie and I traveled across Italy, we loved the train. It was more relaxing, and we had more room for sure. I vote for train.

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    1. Yes, in Western Europe the trains are much better but also more expensive. We will be taking the train in January from Barcelona to Alicante. :-)

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  5. We have traveled extensively by train in Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.....the ONLY way to go! Although most of your readers are RVers, we have found that Executive and 1st class bus services (ETN/Futura) in Mexico (unlike Greyhound in the US) are terrific and very inexpensive.

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    1. For us we are thinking the only way to go in Europe will be by RV and we will be doing 2 months of that in January and February. We agree with you about the buses in Mexico, they are fabulous and far superior to either Canada or the USA.

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  6. I grew up riding the train because my dad worked for the railroad, but after Amtrak took over, things changed (for the worst I believe) I am sure there are routes that are better than others here in the US, but I would never recommend the train to Glacier Park. It was the worst traveling experience EVER! The train leaves Everett, WA early eve and arrives in E Glacier early the next morning, so the majority of the ride is overnight. We enjoyed a nice dinner and that's where the fun ended. Once we stopped in Spokane, WA, all the riff-raff boarded, apparently headed for the N Dakota oil fields. Amtrak has turned into the new Greyhound. We were on a family vacation, inc our grandson who was 13 at the time. Thank goodness he sleeps soundly because there were all sorts of low life activity going on in the seat behind us. Taking working the corner to a whole new level. The trip back was even worse. Our family was supposed to have seating together, but people who had bought one ticket were lying across the seats passed out or sleeping and would not move, even when the attendant told them they needed to. There were armed law enforcement officials on board to try and manage out of control people on drugs or drunk. The train had to stop twice to remove violent people who were screaming and swearing. We were in fear for our lives more than a few times. There were older men trying to hit on young girls traveling alone. It was a nightmare and we will never ride Amtrak again. Maybe it's just this route since it's on the Montana Hi-Line and direct access to the oil fields and many unsavory characters. It was expensive, too, and we probably could have done better flying, but we thought the train would be a "fun" experience.

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    1. Wow, that sure doesn't sound like a very fun experience! We found that taking the Greyhound bus from Swift Current to Calgary two years ago almost reminded us of your experience. We never had any problems though but there certainly were a few characters on the bus we were a bit leery about.

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  7. I recently took Amtrak from Yuma to El Paso and back. REALLY enjoyed the wide open views from the Observation Car, where I could freely chat with just those I wanted to chat with---not so easy on a bus. Will do it again, for sure. But if it involves a Y overnight travel, I would definitely upgrade to a private car though. Cost wise my coach ticket was almost $150 and involved 22 hours of travel; I could have flown for $50 more and it would have only taken 2 hours each way. Also, although my trains didn't spend any hours in city traffic, they were stopped for over 4 hours on rural sidings, due to track maintenance.

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    1. Glad you had a positive experience from you trip. That is one thing that we enjoy, the scenery and when you take a plane it just isn't the same and we think that you miss so much by doing that. One of the reasons that we love traveling in our RV throughout Canada, USA and Mexico.

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  8. I took Amtrak from Riverside, CA to Flagstaff, AZ once...it was slow and stopped here and there to unhook and rehook railroad cars...I thought the trip would never end! Not sure what train travel in US is anymore since I haven't taken the train since and I hate bus travel...don't like smelly,unruly peoply on buses. Of course train travel in Europe is great I heard...we'll find out when you tell us :-)

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    1. We have found that taking the bus in any country other than Canada and the USA has always been a positive one. I think it is because much of the population travels this way rather than by car because places are so much closer together and it is generally a very affordable way to travel.

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  9. Have you checked out the Eurail pass? It might not exist any more, but worth a try. You used to be able to get a pass for three adjoining EU countries and travel on certain days. Worth a look. In the EU, I prefer train travel.

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    1. For us the Europe wouldn't be worth it. When we are in Romania and Moldova the best way to travel is by bus or car for the most part and when we are in Spain we will have use of the motorhome. In the past we have looked at the Eurail Pass and found it to be very expensive, I guess it depends on where you are going and how much you think you will use it.

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  10. As long as modes of transportation are being discussed, don't forget ferry systems! Lake Como, Italy is best traveled leisurely on the ferries that can take you from Como to Bellagio and up lake to Varenna and Colico with spectacular views of the famous villas around the lake.
    http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/eng/c_illago.html

    Croatia is absolutely STUNNING aboard ferries traveling south on the Adriatic along the west coast of Croatia from Split, to Hvar, Korcula and down to Dubrovnik. Ferries arrive in city centers where residents meet off-loading passengers with accomodation opportunities. http://www.croatiaferries.com/ From there, bus it an hour or so to Kotor, Monenegro (ridiculously beautiful) and visit another country on your bucket list!

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    1. Yes, ferry travel is another fun mode of transportation, and we may take one from Spain to Morocco and possibly one from Spain to Algeria.

      Neither Italy, Croatia or Monenegro are on our list for this trip but one day we will make our way there. I have heard many great things about all of these countries. Actually we haven't found a country yet that we haven't liked. :-)

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  11. Generally, yes the train is the way to go. However, in Romania, most of the railway infrastructure dates back to the communist era (older cars, slow trains, etc.). There are newer, fast trains on select routes only (Intercity trains I think). The buses on the other hand are clean and new (coaches or Mercedes Sprinte vans) and the roads are good. They are frequent and cheaper then the trains. Check autogari.ro for schedules and prices. Your hosts should be able to help you choose the best options. The worst part about the trip will be the weather (rain in November, some snow possible in the mountains and in December). Dress warmly. Gluten-free food might be hard to find (although polenta is ubiqutous). Otherwise, the food and wine is delicious and cheap. We were there two summers ago and had a marvelous time!

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    1. We have read the same from all the research that we have done and for the most part we will be using the bus rather than the train. We are going to take the train from Bucharest to Brasov though. We will also be renting a car a few times just so we can get to some of the harder to get to places.

      Hoping that we don't have too much rain but we will stay positive even if it does. We have been checking out gluten free possibilities and we are trying to stay in accommodations where we can cook our own meals as well, it just makes things easier sometimes when it comes to food allergies. Looking forward to the wine, especially with it being cheap! Actually we are excited about the whole trip. :-)

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  12. Ruth, I should have responded on yesterday's blog, but this thought just came to me. We also like to shop thrift shops locally and when we are on vacation. While we are on vacation, we have found that there are thrift shops in very "tony" neighborhoods; however, the shops in those neighborhoods are called consignment shops. Don't get me wrong, there are some high prices in those shops, for example, anything Gucci. But as a general rule, they carry stacks of regular good quality sports and everyday clothes that have been reduced substantially over say a three-week period, such as Ralph Lauren hoodies. They are on separate racks, and you ask for directions in the stores to those racks. On those racks, I found the prices not much different from our local thrift stores. In those neighborhoods, there is not much difference between a consignment shop and a thrift shop; I even bought my granddaughter's clothes in those shops when she was small and growing like a weed.

    Dee

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    1. Yes, we will look at thrift shops as well when we are traveling, especially if we are needing to buy something that we didn't bring and find that we need. For us, we aren't into brand names much, so never buy something just because of that, although we do try to look for quality which I know is part of these brand names.

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