A Student Abroad

Living and Traveling Around Europe.

Getting Around Once You’re Here.

I thought it would be nice to follow up my story on travel difficulties in Europe with some actual travel advice. While most of us can figure out how to book flight to Europe, knowing the best ways to get around once you’re here may be a bit of a mystery. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert but here are some tips based on my own experience.

Air Travel- Traveling around Europe by plane can be much more feasible than you might think. Discount airlines such as Ryan Air and EasyJet, booked in advance,  can be much cheaper and faster than taking the train. A one-way ticket on easyjet from Paris to Barcelona can be had for as low as $30, with a flight time of just over an hour. The downside is that the flights and destinations offered by these companies can be quite limited and the airports they fly out of can sometimes be very out of the way.

Bus- Inter-European travel by bus is frequently your least  expensive option. Buses serve most major European cities and there are numerous smaller lines serving more remote areas. Eurolines is the largest provider of inter-country travel and does it for very cheap. A major downside is how ridiculously long it can take. A trip from Paris to the Madrid is more than 12 hours…. 1.5 times longer than a transatlantic flight.

Train- Travel by train is by far the most popular method of travel in Europe. The trains are fast, frequent and usually reliable. Price-wise it is, unfortunately, the most expensive of all the options so far, but if you have the cash its also the option with the least hassle. All you do is show up, hop on and enjoy the ride. If you live in the US and want to book trip in advance Rail Europe is your best bet. They offer a wide variety of  rail passes based on how often and how far you’ll be traveling. Once your here you’ll need to book with the rail network of the country your currently in. For France that is SNCF.

Car- Renting a car offers the most flexibility and prices that are comparable to renting in the US. And if you are traveling with a group of three or four, renting and splitting the price can make the trip downright cheap.  Cars can be rented in almost every city, usually at the airport. One thing to remember though is that if you can’t drive a manual, you will need to request an automatic. Supplies are very limited though and you still may not get one. Also, if you are under 25 you will be hit with a pretty hefty surcharge.

October 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

French workers strike… again.

Over the last two months more than four Transit and Energy strikes have wreaked havoc all over France. Workers protesting the proposed increase in the retirement age from 60 to 62 walked off their jobs in oil refinery’s, train stations and even from the Eiffel Tower. Most of those strikes, however, lasted no more than a day whereas this latest walkout threatens to stretch on for weeks.
So far President Sarkozy and the the French Government have refused to bow to rising pressure from the national unions. Labor leaders, however, say the strikes will continue until the workers aims are achieved.
In practical terms, this latest walkout has some serious implications for European travelers. Eurostar and the SNCF, major European rail providers, reported that most of their lines are running at less than 50% of the usual number of trains. Air travel was also seriously disrupted as many flights in the past two days have been canceled or delayed. It is important for travelers to keep these disruptions in mind when planning excursions in or out of the country.
Here in Strasbourg, the number of trams in operation today was extremely limited. While this was a mere annoyance for my friends and myself,I can just imagine what it would be like for daily commuters.

October 13, 2010 Posted by | Europe- General, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Culture Shock

Hey everyone! This is the first of what I hope will be a lengthy series of posts documenting my time in Europe. Sadly, internet has so far been very hard to come by so I apologize head of time if it takes a bit of time for me to be able to post with regularity.

For those of you who don’t know me my name is Michal and I am an American student from Northern Arizona University in Arizona. This semester I will be doing a semester abroad at the University of Strasbourg in France. I truly hope that these next four months will be an amazing adventure with memories that will last a lifetime.

I landed on Tuesday in Geneva and then took the train north across the French border to Strasbourg.  Finding the train station turned out to be a bit of a hassle, as I was lugging around two very heavy suitcases and a much too full backpack. It also didn’t help that I had zero idea where the train station was in relationship to the airport. After a few hour of consistently getting lost I did manage to make my train. The view of the Swiss and French countryside did not disappoint.

Twenty-Three  hours after my flight left LA I finally arrived in Strasbourg. The city itself on first glance is ridiculously pretty, French and German architecture have mixed to create a classic European look I cant tell you how much I am looking forward to wandering these streets and going picture crazy.

 

September 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

   

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