Subject: Re: Train passes,car rentals and insurance for Europe
We (wife, grown daughter, and I) got sleepers from Prague to Budapest and then from Budapest to Trieste. In the past, we simply slept in compartments, but we opted for privacy this time. Since I am well below John Rule's 6'4, I had no trouble fitting in my berth and slept well save for being awakened by various customs and immigration officers. We did not enter the EU until Italy, so each country its own inspection. It is worth it because we are now the proud owners of Croatian, Slovenian, Slovakian, Hungarian, and Czech stamps. I also find the clackety-clack to be the most efficient means of putting me to sleep.

Some points to consider.

1. We had no trouble making our train arrangements in our departure cities rather than in the US. I did not compare prices too thoroughly, but I believe that this is a bit cheaper than making them through the Internet. I also got to deal with agents who were experienced in dealing with the European train system. This was particularly important in the Czech Republic as I had heard through a guide book that one could encounter problems with conductors trying to shake you down for extra fares. In fact, the Czech conductor did have his hand out for whatever tips he could get. This was not true of the Hungarian one.

2. The sleepers are rather crowded, especially when there are three of you. Most of them sleep only two people, but a couple per car sleep three.

3. The most negative thing I can say is that I missed taking a shower as soon as I got up since train stations don't have showers.

We would use sleepers as long as the schedule permits, i.e.., as long as the departure is late evening and arrival is the next morning. Since European plane fares are fairly reasonable, it is probably worth flying longer distances. However, I also had three fares to contend with, making the sleeper attractive.

Ira H. Bernstein, Ph. D. Professor of Psychology UT-Arlington