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The Paris-Toulouse sleeper, mentioned elsewhere by linca, is 6 bunks or uncomfortable reclining seats, on pretty worn-out rolling stock. (4 bunks = 1st class). In my (unhappy) experience, passenger density is way too high for comfort. This is where you get the clear understanding that SNCF is only interested in the TGV.

Perhaps the regions need to invest in this too, as they do in TER (regional lines).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 at 08:50:52 AM EST
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On my first trip to Europe back in the early 90's a lot to time was spent on trains. I fell in love with trains, and train travel. From the first journey from Uppsala, Sweden to Göteborg, viewing the snowy landscape from the elegant, white tablecloth dining car, to night trains in Germany, where much of the time was spent standing in the narrow aisle ways sipping cognac and engaging in conversation with passer-bys. As I recall, the only difficulty was actually sleeping.

Small, compact, bunk-like quarters that go clank-clank in the night are one problem, but I can't imagine the additional stress of sleeping with strangers. Maybe when I was younger it would have sounded more interesting. I think I'd like to check out some of those luxury cabins eurogreen speaks of. I love the concept of getting from one place to another while sleeping, using the time wisely, but couldn't the experience be upgraded slightly and still make money for the railroad? Or am I just a solitary thinker/dreamer in this regard?

by sgr2 on Sat Jul 23rd, 2011 at 06:21:34 AM EST
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I've done Lyon-Nantes in six-bunk class, and I'd do it again. No worse than a hiker's bunkhouse.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Jul 25th, 2011 at 09:40:17 AM EST
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Try the reclining seat option with insufficient space per passenger and people and their stuff everywhere. Or the top bunk in a carriage that has been out in the sun all day and is experiencing periodic electrical failure.

Mind you, I've spent nights in stifling mountain huts too. The consolation being you're usually so worn out you sleep anyway.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 06:06:14 AM EST
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I've done the reclining seat option on the Madrid-Paris or Paris-Barcelona trains and there's more than sufficient space.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 06:08:26 AM EST
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It's possible SNCF puts less comfortable or worn-out rolling stock on the Toulouse trip. My experience, anyway, has not been good.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 06:13:44 AM EST
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Your milage may vary - I think yours and Mig's experience differ because Mig is shorter than you are. I'd probably be quite uncomfortable.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 12:28:55 PM EST
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Mig is quite a bit taller than I am... :)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 12:36:03 PM EST
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Then I must misremember from the last meetup. I could have sworn that you were about as tall as me, and Mig was a head or so smaller.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 12:42:56 PM EST
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I'm not a head shorter than you unless you're over 2m10...

But I am at least a head narrower :P

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 04:22:46 PM EST
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I must have stood tall when I tried the salmiak. ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 04:29:57 PM EST
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Still sore about that, eh? How will I ever get you to try our food again?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 05:12:27 PM EST
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You misunderstand me. It made me breathe in hard and shoot up several centimetres.

Temporarily.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 05:15:17 PM EST
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The top bunk was my preference for the Germany-Italy route. If it was full of tourists, they would open the window to get some cool air, and then get soaked when it rained while crossing the Alps. The top bunk was safe from the rain.

These days, they have air conditioning that usually works, so the main risk is freezing,

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jul 27th, 2011 at 12:37:59 PM EST
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When I travelled in a sleeper train for the first time (it was a two-bed sleeper cabin from Vienna to Strasbourg), I barely slept: my biggest problem was the air conditioning (either it was too warm inside for sleep or there was cold wind and the sinuses hurt), second to it the suboptimal running quality and the just-above-consciousness-level noise at high speed. I got used to these on later sleeper rides, though.

In terms of malfunctioning equipment, I had no issues with air conditioning, but in a sleeper car of the Italian Railways, I had a wash cabin lamp that wouldn't switch off (the conductor gave me a truckload of serviettes to block all the gaps in and between the wash cabin doors).

I also rode in six-bunk couchette cabins twice, in both cases with (functional) air-conditioning. However, although there were six beds, tickets were sold for four only, and in both cases, I had only one co-passenger who didn't snore, so I don't have experience how it is when the cabin is really cramped.

Two weeks ago I rode in a non-air-conditioned sleeper cabin for the first time (from Venice to Budapest via Slovenia and Croatia). It was also an old car with tread rather than disc brakes (makes for louder and more sudden and shaky braking). For the first three hours (until midnight), I pulled down the window and just waited for the inside to cool down to a temperature one can sleep in. However, those three hours also included frequent stops in Italy and the curve-rich climb up the mountains on the Italian-Slovenian border, when I wouldn't have gotten any sleep either. (Watching the train's lights alongside the tracks, I saw that all other cabins had the lights on until the same time, even if the windows were up – must all be experienced riders, I thought.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Aug 6th, 2011 at 05:41:45 AM EST
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