So, in my continuing quest to limit my air travel this year, I phoned Lufthansa back to see if I could get a refund on the flights I booked for my Munich trip in July. And I could, so I did, and I rebooked a rail alternative.
Now my itinerary is a little more eccentric. Nottingham to London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord then a short walk to the Gare de l’Est where I will be catching the sleeper train from Paris direct to Munich.
And now I’m wondering how sensible this is.
It doesn’t seem to be possible to buy a through ticket, so I have three separate tickets, all of which are only valid on a single service. If I miss a connection I could be stranded a long way from home, and facing a lot of expense to get back on track. I initially got confused in booking one aspect, forgetting in the heat of a phonecall to Eurostar that sleeper trains arrive the following day. Fortunately, eBookers, who handle Eurostar bookings for Nectar, were prepared to change my itinerary.
It takes hours, of course. Depart Nottingham midday on 1 July, arrive Munich just before 9am on the 2nd.
In the end, it was more expensive than flying.
I have no illusions about sleeper trains – I did the Berlin to Paris one ten years ago when switching from the German part to the French part of my degree year abroad. They’re OK, but difficult to really sleep in, so you don’t arrive feeling refreshed. I don’t think there’s anywhere to wash, so you arrive feeling unclean; I don’t think there was a breakfast option either, so you also arrive hungry. I seem to recall the train staff being not particularly helpful, but that could just have been their dismay at how much luggage I had with me, having somehow managed to accumulate quite a lot in 5 months in Magdeburg.
I’m travelling 2nd class, as 1st is very expensive. So I’ll be sharing my sleeper car with three strangers. Weirdly, if I were married and heterosexual, it wouldn’t be possible to travel with my wife – she’d be in an all-female car, and I’d be in an all-male one.
Oh, well, it will be interesting, anyway. And at least at the end of if I will be in a position to make a really informed decision about how much my carbon footprint really means to me.
And maybe next time I get the urge to explore MItteleuropa… I’ll drive!
PS – if you want to meet up for coffee in St P or Paris on 1st July – drop me a line!