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Old Mar 24, 08, 8:43 am   #1
 
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Train from Prague to Athens

Has anyone attempted this long train ride. Would it be an interesting journey or should we just fly? I know it's not a direct train ride but I can't find where the cities it would stop in.
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Old Mar 24, 08, 8:53 am   #2
 
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You're talking at least 39 train hours, one overnight, and 5 trains. As far as I'm concerned, you'd have to be completely out of your mind to do this.

That having been said.

Prague-Budapest

Budapest-Bucharest

Bucharest-Sofia

Sofia-Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki-Athens

would be the routing.
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Old Mar 24, 08, 10:46 am   #3
 
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Would it be a nice trip? What would be the 1/2 point?
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Old Mar 24, 08, 11:17 am   #4
 
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Originally Posted by mphall View Post
Would it be a nice trip? What would be the 1/2 point?
I guess it depends on what you mean by nice trip - the experience on the trains, the view from the window, the stops on the way?

The Seat61 web site gives details of a possible journey from Vienna/Budapest to Athens: http://www.seat61.com/Greece.htm#By&...ll%20the%20way
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Old Mar 24, 08, 2:01 pm   #5
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Actually there is a direct train (or probably just a direct car that gets attached to many trains along the way) from Prague to Thessaloniki, Greece,
departs at 5:00am, arrives in Thessaloniki at 13:07 the next day, so just over 31 hours

It goes via Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade and Skopje


I personally would break down the journey in Budapest, Belgrade and Sofia
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Old Mar 24, 08, 2:58 pm   #6
 
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Originally Posted by rankourabu View Post
Actually there is a direct train (or probably just a direct car that gets attached to many trains along the way) from Prague to Thessaloniki, Greece,
departs at 5:00am, arrives in Thessaloniki at 13:07 the next day, so just over 31 hours

It goes via Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade and Skopje


I personally would break down the journey in Budapest, Belgrade and Sofia
- except that this train doesn't go anywhere near Sofia (which would be quite a detour on this particular route).

I did a similar train journey 30 years ago - not from Prague (which wasn't very accessible in those days) but from Munich. There used to be a direct service - leaving Munich late in the evening on Day 1, getting into Athens in the afternoon of Day 3. Obviously I don't know what it would be like now (though the landscape won't have changed much), but all I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed the trip back then, and that the memories of that journey will stay with me forever.

The train from Munich went via Salzburg, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Belgrade and then took the same route as the train mentioned by rankourabu - i.e., Skopje - Thessaloniki - Larissa - Athens. Some parts of the journey, especially were truly spectacular - you just don't get these views when you fly.

One day I'm hoping to take that journey again...
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Old Mar 24, 08, 3:02 pm   #7
 
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I love train travel and wonder if I should spend 5 days in Prague and fly to Athens on the 6th day or take the train, which sounds really interesting.
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Old Mar 24, 08, 3:16 pm   #8
 
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Originally Posted by mphall View Post
I love train travel and wonder if I should spend 5 days in Prague and fly to Athens on the 6th day or take the train, which sounds really interesting.
It sounds to me like you have already made up your mind (but are looking for reassurance).

Go for it. Take the train!
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Old Mar 25, 08, 4:46 am   #9
 
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Old Mar 25, 08, 7:08 am   #10
 
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It would certainly be an adventure, but just know that the trains in the Balkans are not like Western European trains, or even those in Poland and Slovakia. Bus travel is more prevelant in the Balkans -- under Tito, Yugoslavia did not invest in train infrastructure to the same extent as other Eastern Bloc countries even, let alone western europe. So trains are slow, old, rough, and uncomfortable. It used to be the case -- and may still be -- that at some border crossings, the cars were lifted from underbody to underbody because there were different grades depending on the country. Food will be...

Adventure yes...experience like training through western europe, no.
This is a through Eurocity train from Prague to Thessaloniki. I'm sure that some rail travel forum somewhere will tell you what rolling stock it uses, but it's unlikely to be Serbian or Macedonian. It could be Greek, but my guess is it's likely to be Czech. I was on German rolling stock on my epic journey in 1977. And I certainly didn't have to be lifted onto different tracks on that journey, nor on a week-long train trip all over Yugoslavia that I took in 1978.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s there were international express trains going all over Europe (some still exist, some don't), and AFAIR the only country that used a different gauge was the former Soviet Union. Everywhere else was all the same, and trains were able to cross borders swiftly and without having to undergo any modifications.
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Old Mar 25, 08, 7:23 am   #11
 
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What website can I go to book this train? EC71?
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Old Mar 25, 08, 9:09 am   #12
 
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Last edited by inyourvillages; Jun 2, 09 at 7:59 am..
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Old Mar 25, 08, 10:41 am   #13
 
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Originally Posted by inyourvillages View Post
It is a true fact that there used to be gauge changes (not grade as I said above) on several Balkan borders.
- but not on this route! I went from Munich to Athens in 1977 without gauge changes. I went from Belgrade to Budapest in 1978 without gauge changes. With the exception of the Prague to Budapest sector I thus did the OP's entire journey 30 years ago, without gauge changes. If there were no gauge changes then there most certainly won't be any now!

As for booking the journey... I'll try to find out! I had Interrails for both my trips in the 1970s and just made seat/sleeper reservations on the spot as required. There is a web site that lots of people here use called www.raileurope.com, you may well be able to make your booking there but I'm told they are considerably more expensive than buying direct.
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Old Mar 25, 08, 11:00 am   #14
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The Deutsche Bahn call centres are incredibly helpful about trying to ticket such itineraries for you (even outside Germany). Have a look at www.bahn.de for details.
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Old Mar 25, 08, 11:42 am   #15
 
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Simply ask the Germans.

www.bahn.de knows the train very well. Leaving Praha at 5:00 and arriving at Thessaloniki the next day at 13:08. Quite a journey....
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