Our 15 day journey is over. We traveled through 12 countries (over 4,900 miles ) on 25 trains, and we survived. Now for a quick breakdown of our trip, what we liked, and what we would encourage fellow travelers to avoid.
Best Train Station: Vienna, Austria. This station is attached to a huge shopping mall. The food court is located just off of the train platforms, so that you can wait inside at a table for your train.
Worst Train Station: Amsterdam Central, The Netherlands. This is the most confusing train station that we have come across. The signage is horrible and you have to walk outside to move between different areas of the station.
Prettiest Station: Budapest, Hungary. This is a classically gorgeous train station from outside to inside.
Scariest Station: Sophia, Bulgaria. The station is under construction, poorly lit, not heated, and very large. It is like walking into a dark cave.
Most Scenic Train Ride: The Austrian Alps. The journey from Salzburg to Innsbruck via Zell Am See is simply breathtaking.
Most Difficult Train Ride: Belgrade, Serbia to Thessaloniki, Greece. This night train had two border crossings (Macedonia and Greece), and our train car had no heat.
Friendliest Country: Serbia. The only place where a stranger in a grocery store has ever bought our kids candy bars.
Most Kid Friendly City: Bruges, Belgium. Parks, playgrounds, canals, windmills, and chocolate. Who could ask for more?
Easiest Country to be a Vegan: Germany. Many options at just about every supermarket. Many of the vegan / all natural products we bought in other countries were made in Germany.
Hardest Country to be a Vegan: Greece. Most supermarkets had very little to offer for vegans. This is also the only place we couldn’t find non-dairy milk.
Best Attraction: Dutch Resistance Museum in Amsterdam. Engaging, informative, heartbreaking and inspiring all wrapped up into one. No where else has 4 hours passed so quickly.
Tips for train travel with kids:
* Fill up on drinking water before you get on the train.
* Using the bathroom before leaving the train is free and usually easier than finding one in the unfamiliar city you are exploring.
* Playing I-Spy out the window can be a great filler for those minutes waiting for the end of the journey.
* When all else fails, pull out a camera and let the kids document the scenery or interview one another.