Travel Culture

Published on February 17th, 2016 | by Philippa Whishaw


14 reasons euro train travel is better than taking the bus

Read time: a bit over 3 minutes

Some truths are universal. The square root of 16 is four. One plus one equals a window. Sorry by Justin Bieber is the anthem of the year (contentious, but true). And finally: trains are better than buses. It’s stone cold fact, guys.

The evidence is everywhere. Bet you’ve never heard of a ‘bus enthusiast’, right? Because they don’t exist. Nobody has a miniature bus set assembled in the back garage, goes to bus conventions with their buds from high school or dons their fanciest beige windbreaker and binoculars for a bit of bus spotting.

Look, buses are fine. But if there’s anywhere in the world where the train best asserts its superiority over the humble coach, it’s Europe. Let us count the reasons why:

1. No jams

By ‘no jams’, we don’t mean ‘no sweet tunes’. We don’t mean ‘no fruit preserves’ either. We mean TRAFFIC jams. That’s the thing about railway tracks – there’s nothing blocking the way. They’re a straight line right to your destination (and our hearts).

2. No motion sickness

On a train, there’s none of this feeling-like-your-stomach-is-a-washing-machine bizness. Which means it’s a lot easier to read and there’s far less chance you’ll need to vom. But if you’ve had a few too many sangrias la noche previous and you require the porcelain bus…

3. …there are way more toilet options

So much choice! They may or may not have loo paper and they may or may not look like this:

4. Sleeper trains

Sleeping and travelling at the same time? Is there anything more efficient? Okay, so a night on a sleeper train ain’t exactly The Ritz, but train sleep is a LOT more comfortable than bus sleep. At least you’re horizontal, right? Bring earplugs.

5. They go fast

Going fast is fun.

6. The scenery can be pretty awesome

Life is not a highway, and no, we don’t wanna ride it all night long. We would rather endure pretty mountains and small towns than see more of that ‘modern art’ stuff governments keep putting on the sides of freeways.

7. Um, train stations?

European train stations are basically palaces. They’re some of the oldest, coolest buildings on the continent, not to mention pimped out with champagne and oyster bars for all us high rollers (or Costas for the cheap skates – no judgment). Imagine all the emotional hellos, goodbyes and eating of buttery croissants that have gone down at Gare du Nord over the years. It’s just like that Heathrow scene in Love Actually, where you realise that history is like, actually, all around. Uh! The feels.

This would never happen at a train station.

8. More space

For your legs. For your luggage. For your dance moves. For your happiness.

9. Eurail Passes

Covering 28 countries, Eurail is the ultimate way to skip around Europe. If you do it right, buying a Eurail Pass makes travel cheaper, easier and more flexible.

10. Better people watching/meeting opportunities

I once got kicked out of a carriage in Scotland because a large brass band got on and started practicing. Trains are full of awesome, mysterious weirdos, just waiting to be your friend (or not, if they’ve gotta tune their tuba). Plus, this is Europe, on a train, so…there’s a strong likelihood you’ll meet some dashing young stranger and fall madly in love. Just go and watch Before Sunrise. You’ll see, Romeo.

11. Retro appeal

Try as they might, buses will never match the aesthetic awesomeness (and oldschoolness) of trains. Gilded booths, mahogany panels, smoky conversations over low-lit tables…train travel is just so chic, so full of intrigue, so European. It’s a lot easier to imagine solving a mystery – Agatha Christie-style – as you roll into Berlin at midnight than on a smelly old bus. Okay, so maybe the reality of standard train travel isn’t quite so film noir these days, but there’s still something special about a dining car, despite the 10 pound microwave pizzas on offer.

12. The ticket inspectors have better outfits

That’s still a thing, right?

13. Peace train

Trains are as chilled as a sloth in a hot milk bath. Maybe it’s the gentle rocking motion, the tha-thunk, tha-thunk of moving over the tracks. Perhaps it’s the gentle melancholy that descends as you look out the window and contemplate: do cows feel sadness? Shiz gets deep on trains.

14. The tunes

Train-themed songs are so much better than bus ones. How many times can you sing ‘The Venga Bus’ before wanting to throw each other out the window? Granted, the Bus Stop is a topnotch dance. But nothing compares to humming ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ as you steam along dem tracks, slowly sipping a tumbler of scotch under your fedora.

So go on. Catch that train.

All gifs c/o GIPHY. Feature image c/o Christopher Strassler, Flickr 

Ride the rails through Europe with other cool peeps on a Geckos Euro adventure.

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About the Author

I like travelling, writing words and taking pictures. Lucky for me, these things go together rather nicely. I dig sticky weather, abandoned buildings, visiting planetariums and getting from A to B in the most interesting way possible (husky sled, old yellow school bus, rollerblading etc). While I think the phrase “getting under the skin of a place” is kind of gross, I’m totally on board with the idea behind it. One time I spent a week in an apple orchard with an artist who restores old gypsy caravans for a living. I was in charge of riding hisdonkey, but it was so stubborn it made me cry.

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