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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Train tickets

Have you ever tried to make a train reservation online? I've been trying for months to get us on the night train from Warsaw to Budapest. It works like this: only one site, Travelocity, does train reservations at all. I know:

1. Why not go to the Eurail site? Because you can't use it from the US.

2. Why not go to other travel sites? I went to the US ones. Some of the other European ones can't be accessed from the US, either, and others simply don't work.

3. Why not wait until you get to Warsaw? Because the travel sites tell you to make you overnight train reservations "well in advance."

But even Travelocity had its limits. For the first serveral months, I tried to make the reservations, went partway through the procedure (up until you try to pay) only to be told it was too early. "But fill out this form and we'll notify you when reservations for that date are open." Fine. I filled it out. Twice.

To be on the safe side, I didn't wait for the notification. Instead, every week to ten days, I would visit the site and try again, discover I was still too early, and receive a message asking me to fill out the notification form. But I figured twice was enough.

Finally, just after midnight on May 1, I tried again, and voila! I was allowed to make a reservation. AND pay! So I did, and you know what? A private sleeper is a luxury-level item. Okay, yes, it does include room, board AND transportation. Those are good. The adventure is good. It's unique. Because we're not doing it again.

But here's the kicker: you can't have your tickets. 1. You are in the US. You can't wait to collect them in Europe. 2. You can't print them off the computer, because you are in the US, etc.

Then how the hell do I get my freakin' tickets??? Anyone want to guess?

Snail mail. In fact, UPS Second Day service. That'll be $20, please. They arrived yesterday, three tiny little pieces of paper with CARBON obviously typed on a TYPEWRITER.

And I still haven't gotten my notification that reservations are now being accepted. Welcome to the 21st century.

ETA: The notification that tickets were available finally appeared on May 10. Way to go, Travelocity!