Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 16, 2017
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Perfect public transit

If you’re craving the ultimate (and perhaps only) economical way to see the sights in Europe’s top congress cities this year, nothing beats good old-fashioned public transportation when it comes to living like the locals do... especially if you prefer people-watching to tourist-crammed buses and overpriced taxis.

London London’s transit system is a legend in its own right, so taking the Tube is a must. Underground stations are everywhere and the expansive web of routes and lines — more than half of which actually run topside — will take you virtually anywhere you want to go in a jiffy for about e4 a ride, or less when you use one the new pre-paid “Oyster” cards. If the weather’s nice, hop aboard one of those ubiquitous red double-deckers and delight in the view from the top... www.tfl.gov.uk.

Paris The mere sight of the iconic art-nouveau Metropolitain Métro sign is enough to make lovers around the world swoon with delight. Practical travellers are equally enamoured with the subway system itself, which is as efficient as it is economical (e1.5 a ride). A trip along Line 6 offers some of Paris’ most romantic views... provided you put down your camera long enough to notice. At night, make use of the vast network of “Noctilien” buses, while in the morning, the Montmartre Funicular will reveal the city as it awakens. www.ratp.info; www.noctilien.fr.

Barcelona Bella Barcelona also has a historic underground transit network and one befitting its status as Europe’s party central. The stations may not be beautiful, and almost all of them run below ground, but there’s no better way to get around. (For your above-ground, city-viewing pleasure, hop on a tram instead.) After a long night, when you’re heading back to the hotel to rest your weary head, you’ll be fighting the hordes of young and beautiful people on their way out for the evening. Single tickets go for e1.3 and up. www.atm.cat; www.trambcn.com.

Berlin Unlike its crumbling — but charming — counterparts in Paris and London, the German capital’s U-Bahn system is over a century old and still looking good (each station is a virtual lesson in design!). Cruise through Cold-War history as you pass the so-called Geisterbahnhöfe, or Ghost Stations — metro stops that were closed after Berlin was divided — as well as the intriguing Friedrichstraße, the only one that remained open to serve as one of the few interchange points between East and West. Topside, opt for buses, trams or the S-Bahn, Berlin’s speedy light-rail system. One-way trips start at about e2. www.bvg.de.

Budapest Many visitors to the Hungarian capital may be surprised to learn that Budapest’s metro system is the world’s second-oldest (after the Tube). Line 1, which came into service in 1896, is a designated World Heritage Site, while the other two lines still bemusedly feature Soviet-era cars. Above ground, the network of red and yellow trolleys and trams are somehow vaguely reminiscent of San Francisco. Fans of cog-wheel trains will also relish in a ride up Budapest’s rack railway, dating in one incarnation or another from 1874. It’s all fast, safe and cheap; rides start at HUF 270 ($1.75). www.bkv.hu/english.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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