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way to “enjoy the journey”, particularly one that is more than 16 hours long,
is to go by train. And if you want to
have your car with you at your destination, but for whatever reason, don’t want
to drive, I recommend taking the car train.
The Autoslaap Trein (auto sleeping train), operated by the Euro-Express
Treincharter (EETC) for 15 years, took us, and our car from s’Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) near the Dutch/Belgium border
in Holland to Alessandria, Italy.
Den Bosch is about an hour away from Rotterdam and the Hook of Holland, and about 3 hours away from Calais, while Alessandria on the Italian/French border in northern Italy, provides easy access to northern and central Italy, as well as to Cote d’Azur (Nice is less than 250 km from the Alessandria station).
Photo credit: www.autoslaaptrein.nl
Beginning June 1, there will also be train service from Den Bosch to Livorno in Tuscany.
Vehicles going on the car
carrier must adhere to the following maximum dimensions:
Height: Alessandria 1.71m
and Livorno 1.69m
Ground clearance: minimum
The train has 4 and 6-person berths and sleeper compartments. Those in the 4 and 6-person berths share a toilet and a separate washing cabin found in each train carriage, while those in the sleeper compartments have a washing basin in their compartment.
We were in a sleeper compartment on the way to Italy, and in a 4-person berth on the return trip. The 4-person berth was comfortable enough, but the difference between that and the sleeper compartment was comparable to that of economy and business on an airplane. Though the shared washing cabin we had access to in the 4-person berth was always very clean, we were spoiled on the way to Italy by having one in our compartment.
All compartments lock from
the inside and have a main ceiling light, several bedside lamps and an
electrical outlet. 4-person berths and sleeper compartments have climate
control, but the 6-person berths do not.
Dinner and breakfast are
served during the trip. Passengers have
the choice of having a warm dinner served in their compartment, or enjoying a meal
in the train’s restaurant.
The restaurant offers a 3-course meal with a choice of meat, fish or vegetarian dishes and a glass of wine, as well as a children’s menu.
In the morning breakfast with a cup of coffee
or tea is served in your compartment.
The stewards onboard are helpful in making the journey more enjoyable, serve welcome drinks, dinner if you choose to eat in your compartment and breakfast, and they also make the beds at night. Most spoke English and all were very friendly, but as I said, it was the first trip of the season, and everyone was undoubtedly very happy to be going to Italy.
Miss P enjoys a welcome drink.
A little bubbly to welcome the adults aboard the AutoSlaap Trein.
Friendly staff and clean and comfortable accommodations and facilities were the things that stood out most for me about using this method of transportation. I packed pillow cases because I’d been on a sleeper train before where I questioned if the linens were clean. That was not the case on this train, so we happily used the linens provided. The shared toilets were cleaned and stocked regularly, and there was none of that nastiness that I find to be common on airplanes.
The food was not
great, but I know better than to expect gourmet food on trains and planes. However, the atmosphere in the train restaurant was warm and inviting, so
that more than made up for the food and the really bad wine that accompanied the meal.
Overall it was an wonderful trip, which I would certainly do it again and would recommend to others as well.
For more information on prices, departure dates and purchasing tickets for the AutoSlaap Trein, visit the www.autoslaaptrein.nl.
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