Friday, March 21, 2014

Plane vs Trains

Well, we've ruled out donkey cart.

Josh and I had to decide last night whether to fly into Budapest from Istanbul or take trains.  This was really hard.  And we are still debating the merits of each.  Your input is very welcome, in the comments here.

Here are the issues with each:

Plane -  Airports are not close to city centers, flying can be a less social and cultural experience than trains, the view from a plane window is too far away to see much detail, and airport security can be annoying.

Trains - There is no direct train - it would instead require at least two connections, we can't buy the tickets beforehand or figure out how to research prices online, would be more expensive than flying, the ticket for each successive segment would have to be bought at the train stations once we got there in local currency, and there would be immigration or customs at each border along the way.  It seems like the trip would take at least 30 hours versus the 1.5 hour flight, and that is if we do not stop to sightsee along the way.

I am more for the plane at this point and Josh prefers the train.  I think that since we've been zipping around so much, we've gotten too used to passing through and not engaging deeply enough with places.  So I suggested that instead of passing through three countries in 2 weeks, we spend the entire 2 weeks in one amazing place.  Passing through Bulgaria and Serbia by train would be doing more, but doing it less well, I think.  Plus the plane seems far easier, cheaper, and after having ridden lots of trains and night buses, the romance of them is starting to wear off for me.

For Josh, the value of seeing the changes in landscape and getting to see the different cultures, even if just at the brief stops at stations along the way, is still very alluring. It helps fit our experiences on either end of the journey into a better mental picture - having pieces connect in a giant cultural jigsaw puzzle. But it does take much longer, would be more difficult, and given the ridiculously low fares offered by budget airlines, would be substantially more expensive. Is it worth it to take a few days to travel between our destinations, even if we only get to see the places between fleetingly?


  1. Both view points are equally valid... I think the introvert in me would side with your proposal to spend two weeks in one place. I'm a big fan of that. Get up close and personal and take your time with it. The idea of train is more romantic, but the draw of more time in Budapest - more compelling, I think.

  2. Aye. We decided on the plane in the end. Now to get to the airport...