RTW: Riding the Euro Rails
It's a bit of a contentious issue but I don't think there's a better way to get around than by train. All things considered - price, convenience, comfort and time - the train wins. Canada doesn't come close to doing the train justice. Compare a rail map of Canada with a rail map of Europe and it's like comparing a single strand of spaghetti with a massive bowl of spag bol. Europe knows trains and if you're heading here any time soon, I suggest you get acquainted.
I got a Eurail Pass to simplify the process and it's been a dreamboat so far. The Eurail Pass is available to non-Europeans only (Europeans use the InterRail Pass which is available only to them). There are a bunch of different options here that cover varying time and country combinations. With my two-month Global Pass, I get 15 days of train travel within 60 days in most European countries. You can get cheaper passes for shorter durations or for select (connecting) countries only. You can also get a very good deal if you're under 26.
I've yet to require a reservation for the trains I've used so far (in Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria), so this means I just show up on a train, pick an unreserved seat, show the ticket-taker my Eurail Pass and I'm good to go. It's a nice break from handing over money at every turn.
But more than the convenience of having most of your transportation costs already paid for, there's the fun of rail travel. Sure, in some countries the train takes longer than the bus, but it's a hell of a lot more comfortable and often much more scenic, as trains carve along routes off major motorways.
Today I rode through a mountain valley in Austria while a thunderstorm poured down. I've peered into Croatian backyards and whizzed by small lakeside villages in Hungary. The hardest part about it is not getting off at every stop.
Visit www.eurail.com for more information about passes available to Canadians.