Eurailing: A Great American Tradition

All Aboard!

Me on a train: I imagine that from the outside I look like the forlorn child of television commercials, nose and fingertips pressed to the window glass, a cloud of breath blooming and withering with absent regularity. The orange glow of a setting sun filters through the gray and projects small raindrop circles and dry tears onto my cheeks. I am suddenly gripped by the compelling feeling that I should be sad or homesick, a lonely soul in unfamiliar surroundings. But I am inexplicably happy. Happy and secure in an environment that has begun to feel familiar, almost comfortable: a retreat from the tumult of strange streets. The steady whir of machinery, the reliable rhythm of an age-old renown, and the warm rush of endless miles all lull me into a light, head-bobbing sense of freedom and well-being.

I have been riding European trains on and off since 1985. However, Americans in great and ever-increasing numbers have been enjoying similar such travel serenity since the great European railroads were introduced. But it is only in the last 40-plus years that a desire to take part in the great American tradition of traveling Europe by rail has earned a permanent slot on the must-do list of intrepid red-white-and-blue explorers.

What brought it all about? The Eurailpass — that ubiquitous and now widely copied, easy-to-use, multi-country, prepaid train ticket for unlimited mileage use. First introduced in March 1959, the Eurailpass has some solid history to it and is now a permanent fixture of the growing worldwide travel circuit. Thinking of a first-time visit to Europe after college? On a budget? Eurail it! Thinking of hitting Europe's romantic coast with your honey? Eurail it! Thinking of a one-month dream vacation that takes in all the great European capitals and their cultural attractions? Eurail it! Just a train buff and want to see the latest in rail technology working in ways that it doesn't in America? Eurail it! Ready for an outdoor adventure? Bring your bike and/or your kayak and . . . Eurail it!

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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