Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Speed is of the essence

How do you say Thalys? I say it Tarlis. Maybe it is Taylis. It is the high speed express train that will transport us from Amsterdam at the conclusion of our Euro river trip to Brussels. Train travel is not cheap in western Europe, but for an extra ten Euro, we are travelling first class.

Depart cruise 10.00, 11.18 Thalys depart Amsterdam, arrive Brussels 13.08, Eurostar depart Brussels 14.52, arrive London 16.03 (one hour time difference).

Now this is interesting. I put us on an alert list for our train journey from London to Newcastle as it was too early to book. At about 10.00pm many days later the email alert arrived.  11.00am is a civilised time to catch a train in London, as the the hotel check out will probably be 10.00am. £30 for both of us. We paid £24 in 2008. Not too bad. I noticed only £49 to go first class. That might be nice and we would not be in the company of that dreadful woman from Darlington who talked non stop for the journey north in 2008.

I am a cautious person. I got our paperwork out, double checked times and dates. 'R, come and have look at this and make sure I have it correct'. All good and click buy the first class, but the session had timed out.

I went back and our details were still all there. Take two.  Well, the first class price of the 11.00am train had jumped to £89.

These varying fares depending on on how early you book and what time you want to travel are quite mysterious to we Australians who are used to set price fares. We might book a few days before if we think a train might be in high demand, but then we don't really use trains to travel such distances. We are more likely to fly and yes, I am sure there are very cheap flights that could be had, but train travel is enjoyable and part of the holiday. Air travel is to be endured.

In a plaintive and whining tone, I asked R what to do, and with confirmation from R, I went ahead. So what did I do? Pay £89 for first or £30 for economy?

32 comments:

  1. I hope you are going first - which is hypocritical of me because I probably wouldn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are EC. Only £30 each. (don't convert it because I'm not.)

      Delete
  2. I have never travvelled by Eurostar probably is nice and comfortable. I prefer ferries because for me they are much more comfortable and I personally prefer sea. In June I will be in London with my students and we tAke ferry as usuaL. Andrew you are well-organized person.
    .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosia, the only ferry I have caught was an overnight one from England to Amsterdam. I wasn't that impressed. I like trains, as you can guess.

      Delete
  3. You could just as easily find a chatterbox in first class. Out of interest what are the differences between first and economy class on Eurostar? If it is more leg space and the difference between being comfortable or cramped then with my long legs and poor hamstrings I would opt for first class.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Victor, possible, but less likely. Economy on both Eurostar and the north east line in England give you plenty of space and nothing like planes. It remains to be seen what 1st is like.

      Delete
  4. If I could afford first, I would definitely no doubt about it, go first. Because, if you get next to the lady who talks too much then the fun and enjoyment, which you are paying for, is lost.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rubye, we were just unlucky that trip with the talker. She was the only one really talking and unluckily near us.

      Delete
  5. I agree with Rubye. I have had that happen to me visit a website get a price but next time you log in prices are different. Sometimes it could be the system works out your computer is in Australia so the prices are higher. If you like train travel why don't you get a Europass or Britpass if you buy them in Australia they are cheaper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diane, there is no doubt we in Australia pay higher prices for many things, but in this case, I don't think so. It is not worth us getting a Europass for one train trip and Eurostar. Britpass...I had not heard of that and given we are possibly taken a short trip to Edinburgh and back and the train to Manchester to come home, we may have slipped up there. A return trip to the north of Japan on the bullet train was cheaper by buying a Japan rail pass and there were a couple of other benefits.

      Delete
  6. Go first class!
    Economy is for those doing the trip every other week :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. We are leaving the economy seats for the poor.

      Delete
  7. Train I go first class but I have only travelled by train in Australia.
    If I travel by plane it's always Economy much better price and not so long in a uncomfortable seat.
    Merle...........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merle, I think the opposite. Economy is not bad on trains in Australia, but economy on planes is awful, not that I have travelled anything else.

      Delete
  8. "Train travel is enjoyable and part of the holiday. Air travel is to be endured". Couldn't agree more.

    Train travel is full of great views, decent meals, lots of wine, companionable neighbours, taking photographs etc. If you can afford it, go in style.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely Hels. I whole heartedly agree.

      Delete
  9. Is first class really so luxurious? Like you, I paid just 10 euros more to go first class (in my case: Eurostar to Brussels then ICE to Stuttgart) but otherwise I wouldn't have bothered. If you did then you've allowed yourself to be drawn in by a kind of bait pricing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marcellous, my only experience of 1st was late last year on a Victorian train. It doesn't cost that much more, but wasn't that much better. But our country trains are generally for the elderly, the poor and the rebellious and so in 1st you don't get the poor ie, single mothers hanging out for a cigarette and a bourbon and coke and with screaming kids.

      Delete
  10. But if, as you say, you first obtained confirmation from R, I'm guessing you took the first class option.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Plaintive and whining tone?
    Tsk Tsk, Andrew, just ask without the whining.
    I'd say you chose the first class option. I certainly would if I could afford it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River, whether is was the plaintive and whining tone or not, it worked and R said book the 1st.

      Delete
  12. I'm pretty sure you will be doing a 'Mrs Bouquet' and hobnobbing it with the elite whilst poor R is relegated to economy with the Daisy and Onslow types.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe Allan. Even I am not that cruel. Not sure I could play the role of a posh man very well, but I could do a posh woman very easily.

      Delete
  13. Hello Andrew:

    Even at £89 we cannot help but feel this is a bargain!! That is if anything on British Rail [as it was once called] can be considered such. It is impossible to pay less than £26 for a SINGLE, standard class from London to Brighton on any week day - a journey of 45 minutes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JayLa, that is a very high price for such a short journey. A similar trip here costs about £10. Mind, that is on our still government owned railway.

      Delete
  14. Surely not first class Andrew. I travel regularly on the London to Manchester train and you can often grab a first class deal when you get on the train by paying an extra £10 or £15. The only difference seems to be a better cover on the head rest, a lamp on the table and as many free cups of coffee/tea as you want served by Jim the chattiest waiter in the country!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too late now Fun60. I should have asked you first. A waiter and a (hopefully fringed) table lamp!!! We will feel very grand and think the cost was worth it. Poirot, eat your heart out. But being a different train company, we may not get that anyway.

      Delete
  15. Oh that was one of the highlights of our trip Andrew.. Aimee and I were upgraded to 1st class on Eurostar at no extra cost .. oh la! it was très, très agréable :) I would go everywhere by train if it was possible, I'm already getting a bit tense at the thought of flying to Sydney for the arrival of my first grandchild in April! You must be getting so excited about your trip, when do you go?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, women using their feminine charms to get an upgrade. A little excited and somewhat apprehensive. We are away in early May. Granny Grace, love it.

      Delete
  16. First class all the way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fen, I would swap the train first for flight first.

      Delete