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Eurasia By Train

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Eurasia By Train is in Europe Middle East Asia.

Understand

If you only get to take only one major trip in your lifetime, make sure it is this one! Europe, The Middle East, and India are some of the most beautiful places on the planet, and with this useful (and economical) travel guide, you can see it all! And wouldn't you rather see the world on a gorgeous, well-facilitated train than an ugly bus?

Western Europe

Facilities are plentiful in the prime tourist countries of Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. Trains are luxurious and well-running.

Eastern Europe

Facilities are almost as good in Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Macedonia, and Greece as those of Western Europe. However, there are not nearly as many trains. Note: All international trains to and from Greece have been canceled as of September 2012.

Turkey

Western Turkey is accustomed to tourists and have the usual facilities. However, Eastern Turkey is generally more sparse and there are not as many tourists there.

Caucasus

Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are mostly tourist-friendly. They are mountainous but the people are very nice. Note: There are no trains running between Armenia and Azerbaijan. You have to go through Georgia to get from one of these countries to the other.

Middle East

Travel Warning WARNING: Travel to Syria is strongly not advised due to the state of severe political crisis, which has now escalated into, essentially, a civil war. Since January 2011, the unrest within the country has continued to intensify and thousands of people have been injured or killed. There also have been reports of some fighting between troops who have cast their lot with anti-government demonstrators and others who remain loyal to the government. If you are already in Syria, stay away from large public gatherings and try to gain independent information about the political and civil situation. If requiring assistance, EU citizens should contact the embassy of another EU state if they cannot make contact with their home country's representatives. Some countries have issued travel warnings, so consult your foreign office before traveling to Syria. If you must travel to Syria, see War zone safety

Israel is not a place you should go, because any evidence of having been in Israel will deny you access to Syria, Iran, and possibly Pakistan.

Jordan is an excellent tourist destination. Very modern and liberal. No strife here!

The situation in Egypt is not great right now, but if you really want to travel there, you can. Be 'extremely' careful, though!

Iran

Do not visit Iran (or any Muslim country) during Ramadan, unless you want to fast. Other than that, Iran is not visited a lot, so the people aren't accustomed to tourists, but they are very friendly. Keep your cool when dealing with the police, as well as in Eastern Turkey, Pakistan, and the Middle East.

Pakistan

Pakistan has always been a tourist destination, so most facilities are in working order.

India

India is a hotspot for tourists. Hotels and restaurants are here, but India is a very poor country, so be prepared for dirt, filth, and poverty.

Prepare

Visas

Visas are required for Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and India. These can be acquired through the embassies of those countries. The other nations on this route either do not require a visa or issue travelers visas on arrival. Total costs for these visas can come to about $500.

US citizens can apply for a visa at the Iranian Interest Section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, [2]. However, US citizens must have an MFA-approved guide to accompany them for the entire trip and must have an exact itinerary. This generally precludes crossing into Iran at any border, as your guide would have to meet you at the border. Tour guides, however, are generally friendly to Americans, understand the process, and can work with you to set up a custom itinerary for you. To get the visa, US citizens must work in advance with an Iranian travel agency to set up a guided itinerary; only then, that travel agency may apply for a visa authorisation number from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Once approved, the authorisation number is transmitted to the interest section. At that point, the applicant can then apply for the visa. Turnaround times can be as short as a week, but the interest section does not reliably answer emails or phone calls.

Timing

This trip actually can be done if you just hop on buses and trains and never take any of the side trips. In the fastest way possible, the journey's schedule could look like this:

  • London to Istanbul: 3 days
  • Istanbul to Tehran: 3 days
  • Tehran to Lahore: 3 and a half days
  • Lahore to Kolkata: 3 days

Of course, that is if you do not actually spend any time in any of those places and just hop from one train to another. Those times do not include the side trips to the Caucasus, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, or Bangladesh.

Cost

This trip is quite expensive, a lot more than a flight from London to Kolkata. Visa costs alone come to $500 or $600, depending on which countries you plan to visit.

Climate

You can travel Eurasia by rail in every season, but autumn and spring are the best because in the winter snowfall is heavy in Turkey and Iran. In the summer India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are quite hot.

Get in

London

London is in the southern United Kingdom and the starting point for this trip, but you could start anywhere on this route, or in Kolkata at the other end. Trains from many European countries run to London, and cheap flights are available from the US and Canada. From many eastern United States ports, the Cunard Line runs passenger ships to Southampton, 128 km from London.

Kolkata

Kolkata is in western India and there are trains from Dhaka as well as many other Indian cities.

Route

London to Greece

Via Italy

  • From London St Pancras, the Eurostar leaves between 9:15 and 9:35 every day, arriving in Paris (Gare du Nord) at about 12:47.
  • From Paris, a daily high-speed TGV departs at 14:41 and enters Milan at 21:45. This train has great scenery and cuts right through the Alps. You can stay a night (or longer!) in Milan.
  • To get to Bari, the Frecciabianca train leaves at 7:35 from Milan and travels along the beautiful Adriatic coast, pulling into the city of Bari at 15:12.
Side Trip: Rome

There are daily trains from Milan to Rome, as well as from Rome to Bari. You can look up train times at www.trenitalia.com

  • From Bari to Greece, Superfast Ferries sail from Bari to Patra every day except Sunday, departing at 20:00 and arriving in Patra at 12:30 the next day.
  • There used to be a narrow-gauge railway from Patra to Athens, but it is being rebuilt so you have to take a bus. The buses depart every half hour from Patra station, which is right by the port. The journey takes about 3.5 to 4 hours.

London to Greece via Italy costs about $390 in transportation costs for 2nd class.

Via Germany

  • From London St Pancras, the Eurostar leaves between 9:15 and 9:35 every day, arriving in Paris (Gare du Nord) at about 12:47.
  • The Cassiopeia sleeper train journeys between Paris and Munich, leaving Gare d l'Est at 20:05 daily and entering Munich at 7:10 the next day.
  • Onwards from Munich, the RailJet travels from Munich to Budapest, departing at 9:27 and arriving at the Keleti station at 16:49.
  • The Ister sleeper train leaves Budapest's Keleti station at 19:10 and pulls into Bucharest at 11:00 the subsequent morning, winding through the Carpathian Mountains.
  • A basic midday train journeys from Bucharest, departing at 13:00, to Sofia entering at 22:25.
  • All international trains to and from Greece are cut off, so you will have to take a bus from Sofia to Thessaloniki. The bus runs every day but Tuesday from 10:00 to 16:00.
  • There are domestic trains within Greece, however. An air-conditioned InterCity train between Thessaloniki and Athens departs at 18:04 and arrives at 23:24.

London to Greece via Germany is about $560 in transportation costs for 2nd class.

Stay safe

Get out

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