Travel questions to europa
May 14, 2008 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Eurotrip questions Redux: Have read previous posts and researched but need some specific advice for two issues: Eurorail and Pay as you go cell plan!

Guys, I'm in need of the hive mind. I'm scheduled to leave for Paris, France on the 10th of July so I have less than 3 weeks. My travel route is the following, with parentheses denoting the amount of days spent in each city/locale: Paris(3.5)-->Amsterdam(2.5)-->Berlin(2)-->Prague(2)-->Munich(1)-->Florence(2.5)-->Rome(3.5)--Genoa (1)-->Cote d'Azur (2-3)-->Marseille/Provence(3)-->Barcelona(1)-->Ibiza(1)-->Valencia(1)-->Madrid(2)-->Barca(2.5)-->Bordeaux(1)-->Paris(1)-->HOME!

1st question:

I read this thread about the eurorail and the general consensus was that the value of the eurorail depends on the breadth and travel specification. I've also read contradictory recommendations on lonleyplanet forums as well as eurorail information sites. Some say the eurorail offers more flexibility, especially incase one gets lost. Others say that there are hidden fees involved, so the "all-inclusive" concept is more of a sham than anything.

With the extent of cross country and multi-city travel, is the eurorail a good value for me? I'm on a tight budget and their website quotes $775 for the 1 month for me (as I am under 25). What am I to believe and can anyone give me advice tailored to my itinerary? Deal or no deal?


Second question: I am taking my cellphone (n82 Eurospec) with me for photo/music/gps/voip calls. I will need a paygo SIM card probably from a site in Paris when I fly in. I'm looking for a data centric plan, as I will be able to make VOIP calls through the n82's SIP clientel when in a 3G/WIFI area. What is a reasonable rate for 1 month of high data (the GPS should be exhausting our data usage) and some light cell call/txt usage, in case I need to call some people I meet? Where can I get this in the Parisian metropolitan area? Can I get it before hand and bring the SIM with me before I fly out?

Thanks so much!
posted by stratastar to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The websites you need to look up the individual train fares you would pay
France: SNCF (
Germany: DeutscheBahn (
Italy: TrenItalia (
Spain: Renfe (

Without looking them up, my gut feeling is that your route will come out approximately the same either way, and it might be worth getting the pass. However if you are able to book individual trains a little while ahead of time, that would probably be the cheapest option - for instance Amsterdam>Berlin is €110 to travel tomorrow, but €39 if you're booking a few weeks ahead.
posted by jacalata at 5:08 PM on May 14, 2008

For your second question, when we were in Paris last September, we went to an Orange shop and got a pre-paid sim card. Their prices are competitive and they are a pretty big provider in France. Google Orange locations, or ask around, in Paris they are everywhere. You can also buy SIM cards in the various phone shops around Montmarte (probably other places too, but there seems to be a ton there).

Other network operators in the EU are Vodaphone, Virgin Mobile, O2 and T-mobile. I'm sure there are others.

We looked into getting a SIM card before we went, I forget why exactly, but I think it was to much of a hassle, the domestic sites charged some silly fee and the French sites (like Orange) wouldn't ship to the US.
posted by pokeedog at 5:39 PM on May 14, 2008

I had a pre-paid phone with Orange when I was in France. Cards are available basically everywhere (Tabac, newsstands, etc.) and my phone worked in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Ireland. (Oww, my feet hurt from name-dropping all the fun places I visited. :P)

I gave the phone to my buddy when he went on exchange and it worked for him too (no re-activation or anything after a 4-month layoff).
posted by KevCed at 6:52 PM on May 14, 2008

Sorry, what I mean is the phone worked after he bought a new card. I used the same SIM (no data) but just bought PIN codes. I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for but Orange has a strong presence in France and will likely work in the rest of Europe.
posted by KevCed at 6:53 PM on May 14, 2008

If I recall correctly, a lot of pay as you go phones/plans are country-specific (I know that my UK one certainly is, but the UK can be kind of funny like that sometimes). So, if you buy a SIM card in France, you'll wind up paying roaming charges for calls/texts/data when you use that phone in Austria. I had a quick look at, and there do seem to be add-on plans that you can use to minimise roaming charges but the charges are likely to add up.
posted by lumiere at 1:53 AM on May 15, 2008

(the GPS should be exhausting our data usage)

If you turn off A-GPS fixes will take longer but won't use any data.

If you're using Nokia maps you can preload the map data for the regions you will visit using the Nokia map loader so they aren't downloaded over the air.

Make sure you have the latest firmware installed before you go, that way your photos will also be geotagged.
posted by Olli at 11:16 AM on May 16, 2008

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