With vivid, study-abroad memories of Holland fresh in my mind, how could I fail to relive my favorite European coming of age experience by not taking a train? 12 years ago, when I spent a semester in Amsterdam, the Eurorail pass was the golden ticket to see other countries as, back then, the continent didn’t yet have the twin conveniences of Ryanair or EasyJet. But those who can remember a time before budget airline travel will most likely agree: the trains were nasty. You could still smoke on board, there were always empty beer cans and vomit gracing the sticky flooring, and token Germans who hated Americans – and made it obvious – filled the dining cars. Anyway, I wanted to get to Brussels from Paris and the most efficient means of doing so was hopping on a train.
Thankfully, train travel is not a shitshow anymore. I learned this today when I actually upgraded to first class (Comfort 1). It was only 40 bucks more, and I dreaded the nightmare I had previously experienced.
The ride turned out to be pretty amazing, the amenities surprisingly worth the upgrade. Not only was a nutritious meal included and served (with wine!), but the seats were reclinable and comfy and there was free WIFI and newspapers. Also, the train guy came around with taxi vouchers, so if you needed a taxi at your destination, they would have one waiting for you. Even with budget airlines becoming ubiquitous, train travel is more economical, as you’re dropped off right in the city center and don’t have to deal with all that airport bullshit and the cost of transfers. Good to know Eurorail is on the right track (get it?) and too bad this didn’t exist when I was a college student. Not that I would have been able to afford Comfort 1.