Getting Around

Getting Around

I've always heard that Europe has an excellent public transportation system, and I'm getting a first-hand view of it.  To get around, Mr. Pin Junkie and I have used everything from trains, buses, trams, and subways and have walked for miles.  We've travelled to several different cities without a car and never felt like we needed one.  In fact, in all the cities we've visited, we've been thankful that we didn't have to drive.

For our day trips to Bruges and Amsterdam we used a commuter train.  Commuter trains are basically like buses and make stops along the way picking up and dropping off passengers.  They can get very full and on the Saturday we went, it was standing room only.  We used a high speed train to get from Brussels to Paris which was much quieter and faster.  It only took an hour and didn't have any stops along the way.

The subways in both Brussels and Paris are pretty straight forward.  Once you use it a few times, you quickly figure it out.  There are also helpful people at the information booths at the main stops that can answer questions, help you buy tickets, and help you navigate.  The subway in Brussels was a little easier to use simply because it has fewer lines.  The subways in Paris were always crowded because of the tourists but especially so during morning and evening rush hour.   We arrived in Paris right at the morning rush hour (9:00 a.m.) and were packed in those subway cars like sardines!

There are many places to rent a bike in Brussels.  Just put your credit card in the machine to unlock a bike and return the bike to any rental location when you're done.  I noticed during a day trip to Amsterdam that bikes are also a popular mode of transportation, but we used the trams.  The trams are just like buses, but they follow rail lines in the street and are narrower than buses.

Even with using public transportation, we have walked for miles!  It's always a walk to the next metro, train or bus station and then it's more walking at the park, museum or other attraction we went to see in the first place.  Walking in Paris was hectic.  There's so much traffic and you can easily get run over.  I saw several near misses with pedestrians and cyclists.

The first day of walking on this trip, I had blisters on both feet.  I bought a pair of sandals to wear that would let my blisters heal and they started falling apart after two weeks of walking.  My feet have never been so achy and tired, but it's worth it!


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