Congratulations! You have found your suitcase and the customs agent was nice to you. Following everyone, you are hoping they will lead you to the exit terminal. As you spill out with fellow travelers into the terminal you will see a group of people with large signs. Don’t panic, it is not a riot, just limo drivers. Unless you have made prior arrangements for a car to pick you up or your long-lost aunt Mary that you’ve never seen is there, your name will not be on those cards. Short of being picked up by your hotel shuttle or taking an overpriced taxi, you are on your own. Taxis will get you there, but should pretty much be your last resort. If you are in the hurry, lost, it’s 4 in the morning, or you just have money to burn, go for it. Assuming that you are like us and money doesn’t bulge from your pockets, you are taking a train or bus. Most of big cities in Europe are set up for such an occasion.
Since a lot of airports are far from the city, there are many places with trains specifically dedicated to run express service to the downtown central station. You need to research those options since some, like Arlanda Express in Stockholm, Sweden get cheaper the further in advance you purchase. And believe me, Sweden is not a cheap country so it’s well worth it to buy tickets online months ahead of the trip. Most of the time when you research you will see that you have options for cheaper trains, however they have a lot of stops and are much, much slower. I have a a feeling you opted for the express train. I knew you’d come around. Just follow signs for the train and you’ll find it. London was a bit confusing at first because we had to leave the airport and the entrance to the train was across the street.
Usually we see the airport train station on the same grounds, but underground. In Vienna it was very easy. We got our tickets at the kiosk located in the exit terminal. After you purchase your ticket, just follow the tunnel to the underground station. Unless you like to live life on the edge and start your trip with a monetary fine, you might wanna validate your ticket before you get on the train.
You will see a machine attached to a column on the platform. That is what it is there for. Once you validate your ticket it is good to be used for that day.
Buses are another option, thou personally I prefer a train. In Dublin, Ireland you have a bus terminal right in front of the airport and they will take you to the city quite nicely. They even run at night, just not that often. Make sure you know or ask where to get off. We got off one stop too early and then had to drag our suitcases behind us. I made that Lampoons mistake of asking for a Damn street until Kat corrected me. Our hotel was on a Dame street.
Quick story for you. When we landed in Bucharest, Romania it was middle of the night. We knew we had to catch a shuttle van to take us to the train station that would take us to central station. From where we were to catch another train to Brasov. We had a couple hours before the van would show up. While trying to buy tickets, we quickly realized we are in a country that very few speak English and well, my Romanian skills are close to zero. After a few check ins with the front desk, worried that we will miss our train, the van finally showed up late. It is 5 in the morning and he left us on some desolated concrete slab that slightly resembled a train platform. It is cold, dark, and very quiet. Broken bench and faded train schedule from 1967 tells me this is not New York Central Station. Flickering light gives you that glimmer of hope that this is not just another episode of the HOSTEL movie series. About the time all the slasher movies are starting to come back to you, there is a headlight of in the distance. Some train finally arrives and we have no idea if it’s ours, but at this point we don’t care. We get on this fine piece of equipment that probably saw action in WWII. It’s a 3rd class train that locals are taking to work. All eyes are on us and we know it.
We are just happy to be going somewhere. After a few stops on a couple of desolated platforms like we were just on, we arrive at a bigger station. We don’t know where we are, where to get off, or even if we are on the right train for that matter. We ask around, but all we get is looks of disorient. Finally one lady nods her head at us and since we see every one disembark we decide to do just that. It turns out to be the end station so it is not like the train was going any farther.
It was exactly where we needed to be. I was so happy that we made it and had 30 minutes till our next train departure. It was time to hydrate people.
Always on the look out for new beer to try and relax a bit. Our train to Brasov was nice, spacious, and clean. It announced every stop and it had a conductor that spoke English. Brasov station was long and well announced ahead of time. It was also daylight by now so that made things easier.
Every time you get out of your comfort zone and manage to accomplish the not so simple, your confidence goes up, you get smarter and brings up that smile in you.
Judging that you are reading this, you made it with me to the end of this post. Thank you. Feel free to comment below. Next segment will be about getting around in a strange town.
Now pack and get out there!