Dear GS members,
I plan a trip to Europe in October. My original plan is to purchase an Eurail Global Pass (=discount train pass for foreign travellers outside of Europe), fly into one of European cities from Tokyo, and travel by trains within Europe for 3-4 weeks.
I bought travel guidebooks and started my planning. I was initially thinking of flying into Zurich, for instance, travel by trains within Switzerland for 4-5 days first. From Bern to Lyonn via Express train (TGV? idk for sure), stay there 2 days, then travel down to Provence and Monaco by local trains, staying overnight at a couple of places in between for 4-5 days. Then to Italy and travel about one week; probably to Milan, Firenze, Roma (and Venezia if the schedule allows us). And go to Zurich and fly back to Tokyo.
Or, flying into Amsterdam first, then to Brussel and Paris, and travel down to Lyonn, Provence and Italy. Then fly from Milan/Roma to Amsterdam and back to Tokyo.
The problem right now for me is the more I learn about how train system works within Europe and the detailed conditions for Eurail Global Pass, the more I am at a loss...In order to get on an Express trains; such as TGV, Thalys or Eurostar Italia, I, as an Eurail pass holder, need to pay extra for these trains, need to pay and reserve the seat (because they have all-reserved seats, only). And the slots (number of seats) for Eurail pass holders are very limited. If the slots are sold out already, I have to buy a ticket at full cost to get on that specific express trains. The worst senario, the guidebook tells me, is even though I am willing to pay for a ticket at full cost, all seats are all sold out in advance for some most popular trains; e.g. Glaicer Express (especially in summer), TGV btwn Paris-Marseille, or Chizarpino btwn Italy-Swiss, so that there is no way for me to get on those trains to begin with...There seem so many strict conditions for pass holders and unforseeable things for me, maybe? Now I am not sure how reasonal/beneficial/flexible/convenient to hold this Eurail Global Pass, or if it's even worth to purchase this pass...
Maybe I should forget about this pass, and buy a French Rail Pass instead, which 'Easy access service' enables me to buy tickets for at least all TGVs at the additional charge of euro12, as long as any of reserved seats are still available. Then just go to stations at each city where I stay, and try to buy tickets for the next day.
To those who traveled from outside of Europe using Eurail Global Pass, please let me know how convenient it was. And to those who live within Europe and are familiar with these train systems, what do you think is the best way for me to purchase pass/tickets. I would very very very much appreciate you for any suggestions and advice.
Also, recommending me a couple of cities/towns/villages I should visit, especially in autumn, besides big cities such as Milan and Roma would be much appreciated. I would prefer smaller cities than, say Paris.
Many many thanks in advance!