As I sit on the train, once again leaving home, off on another travel adventure, I can’t help thinking how lucky I am to be able to travel so much AND to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
I was born and still live in a small seaside town with the lovely south England countryside on my door step and numerous pretty villages and interesting towns just a short drive or train ride away. I’ve no idea just how many times I’ve done this particular train journey between my home town, Gatwick Airport and London but I never grow tired of gazing at the green meadows with the hills of the South Downs as a backdrop, the village of Amberley with its wonderful chalk pit museum (and some great country pubs), the river Arun winding its way through fields of cows and sheep, the view of the historic town of Arundel with its majestic castle and cathedral, all clearly visible from the train. It’s early Spring so most of the trees are still bare here in Sussex but in many fields there are great swathes of bright yellow as the oil seed rape comes into full bloom.
Another one of my favourite train rides is on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. You can take the train from Calvi, along the Balagne coastline, to the pretty seaside town of L’Ile Rousse. The view from the train as you pass bays of golden sands and crystal clear azure waters is breath-taking and the little train stops at a number of lovely secluded beaches so you can hop on and off wherever the fancy takes you.
From L’Ile Rousse the train turns inland and climbs up into the mountains to the town of Corte and then on along the mountainous backbone of Corsica and down to Ajaccio on the south West coast. The last part of the journey, which I’ve yet to do, is said to be the most spectacular, with the train even passing under a waterfall known as the Bride’s Veil.
Travelling around Emilia-Romagna in Italy both last summer and the summer before was really easy by train and all the major towns I wanted to visit like Modena, famous for its balsamic vinegar and Rimini, with its miles of sandy beach and historic old centre, were all on the main rail network and when you explore Europe by train you can see so much more then simply the destinations that you visit.
I’ve often thought of exploring more of Europe by rail and I’ve been looking at the website Voyages-SNCF for further ideas and inspiration.
Do you have a favourite rail route you’d recommend or one you dream of taking, for whatever reason, be that the stunning scenery it passes through or the wonderful places it stops at along the way or, of course, simply the reward of the final destination?
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I enjoy traveling by train, hope to travel the whole of the United States this way soon. Great article.
Hi Kat, I love traveling by train – especially in Europe – it is so civilized! Comfortable seats, plenty of room, a panoramic view from a huge window. One of my favourite modes of transportation!
Hi Deirdre, I couldn’t agree with you more (London rush hour being the exception!) 🙂
You are lucky! What beautiful countryside. I also enjoy traveling by train because it allows one to really see all the scenery, undisrupted by passing cars and such that often interfere with the view from a bus or a car. A local train company here in the States (Amtrak) is offering a writing residency ON the train….I’m desperately hoping to win one so I can write a similar post about my love for my own country!
I’ve ticked off the Ghan and the Kuranda Scenic Railway in Australia, and Norway/Sweden’s Otofen Railway … and I still have fond memories if the train from Cologne to Innsbruck, which I reckon is the second-best way to see the Rhine Gorge after the river cruise boats.
We’re looking at a trans-Canada rail trip, but I don’t think it will be for a while yet ….
All sound great ideas Keith – thanks!
I love your pics of Corsica. As I get the train to work every day, a journey has to be a bit special to get my attention. I once got the slow train from Pisa to Rome along the coast, which was nice although my favourite has to be Nova Gorica to Lake Bled in Slovenia.
Thanks Richard, Never been to Slovenia! Did you write about it?
Of course I did! It’s a fantastic country, probably my favourite – you should try to get there.
Excellent! Daft question 😉
I’ll check it out.
I do have a couple of favorites. One would be the route between Cuzco and Puno; right across the top of the Andes. Breathtaking. Another would be in my home country of New Zealand between Auckland and Wellington. Another would be in Myanmar. A switchback train taking you into the hill stations above Mandalay. There really is something romantic about this kind of travel and I will opt for it over flying…if time allows.
Yes, it does sound so much more romantic than catching a bus or a plane. I think it’s partly the nostalgia as it takes us back to the time when the only options were trains and boats.
These routes you mention sound exciting!
There was a GlobeTrekker show on tv last night on Myanmar. I was there in 1998 when I took that train journey. So much has changed. I think train travel is the last bastion of romantic transportation.
My favourite train journey has to be down the Copper Canyon from Chihuahua in Mexico. There are some awesome vertigo inducing ledges and bridges and fantastic scenery along the whole route.
Wow! I’m getting vertigo just thinking about it!
I even got to fulfil every boys’ dream by riding the engine part of the way.
I’d rather enjoy that too.
I love train travel – seeing the scenery flash by and peeks into the lives of the people who live near to the rails. We’re taking the train to Poitier in the summer to celebrate Bastille Day in France – really looking forward to the journey.
Looking forward to hearing about that and I bet you get some lovely photos too. Enjoy!