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Posted by TravellersTreeHQ (U13626471) on Wednesday, 14th April 2010
If you are going on holiday by rail please get in touch! Or if you’ve recently been on a rail holiday we want to hear your stories too.
Please tell us about your experiences of classic rail routes or maybe you’ve discovered a new one? What about escorted breaks or a luxury ‘hotel’ rail experiences. If you’ve had a high speed rail experiences or inter railing excursion we want to hear all about it!
Posted by Rumbaba (U13744896) on Wednesday, 21st April 2010
For our 25th Wedding anniversary (three years ago), my wife and I went from London to Venice on the Orient Express. I wouldn't say it was the most comfortable night's sleep we have ever had but the service was first class and, although it was expensive, we felt it was worth the money.
Some years ago we took the 'Rocky Mountaineer' from Vancouver to Calgary (through the rocky mountains) and that was also a very interesting experience.
Posted by anna - HOST (U2219604) on Thursday, 22nd April 2010
I did the San Francisco to Seattle trip by train a few years ago - has anyone else been on that route?
Posted by grandpacliffy (U14287151) on Monday, 3rd May 2010
We travelled to Moscow a couple of years ago for a stay: London to Brussels then Brussels to Moscow via Warsaw, Brest, Minsk and Smolensk. It took two days and two nights and was a comfortable way to travel. We booked a sleeping compartment and the Polish food was excellent, the Russian not quite up to the mark!
For those who like trains, a highlight happened at Brest on the Belarus border. The whole train was shunted into a shed, carriages separated and individually raised a good two metres on elecric jacks in order that the standard European gauge bogies could be rolled away, to be replaced by the wider Russian wheel sets. We were still in the carriage while they performed this operation!
Oh yes, a further bonus for me was that they didn't seem to mind smoking as long as you were outside the carriage on the plates where the carriages joined. Most civilised!
The outward ticket (Brussels to Moscow) was handled by Deutsche Bahn in Surrey, but they couldn't sell us the Russian leg of the return journey,so we had to book that when we were in Moscow. This might have caused a problem as only two coaches do the complete journey and space might have been limited. As it was, we had no problem.
Posted by Suzie Pepperell (U14447321) on Monday, 3rd May 2010
On our way home from living in Singapore, my husband and I took our children (aged 4 and 7) across Australia on the Indian Pacific Train from Perth to Sydney. It was fantastic. As we were using the equivalent to some business flights home that we had not used, we were able to use some of the money to pay for some luxury, so we travelled first class in two cabins with their own bathrooms. Particular memories (apart from the faces of the other first class pasengers as our kids got on!) - waking up in the morning and pulling up the cabin blinds to see five huge kangaroos hopping alongside the train, and sitting underneath bunches of pink peppercorns on a tree outside a cafe at the town of Cook ('If you're crook, come to Cook'!), the kindness of the dining car staff who allowed us table space for half an hour in the morning and afternoon as we 'home-schooled' our 7 year old.
We all still remember it as one of our best travel memories.
Posted by What larks (U14260755) on Wednesday, 5th May 2010
Don't forget Scotland, home to some of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world. Mr Lark and I got some "bargain berths" on the sleeper a few years ago and travelled overnight from the south of England, thus saving a day of our holiday. Then we took the train, with a few bus rides.
The sleeper compartments are cramped for two, though.
Posted by Rosemary (U7231409) on Wednesday, 5th May 2010
I have several times made the return trip from Moscow to Irkutsk to visit friends (part of the Trans-Siberian railway). I inevitably arrive sleepless, exhausted and jet-lagged because a single, Russian-speaking foreign female is a rarity, and the news of one on board spreads the length of the train within hours. Privacy is an alien concept in Russia, and my compartment is inevitably full of visitors bearing vodka, sausage and pickled cucumbers - night and day! Russian hospitality and curiosity about foreigners are both intense, and to this day I am still in touch with many of the people I met on board the train. The railway system runs on Moscow time but the train on local time, so life gets a bit surreal - I once went to the dining car to find the staff, wrapped in tablecloths, snoring on the benches. When there was a signal failure, I piled out with the locals and went mushroom-picking and swimming in the forest until the train whistle summoned us back. There is little to beat picnicking and laughing in your compartment with new friends while the sun goes down over the Siberian taiga. Magic.
Oh, and the train trundles on at a steady 38 miles per hour, and after 80 hours, never arrived more than 15 minutes late!
Posted by Joyce (U14471904) on Monday, 17th May 2010
Sorry this is a bit of a late response I've only just realised Traveller's Tree is back.
Two years ago we took the opportunity to visit 3 cities in the States travelling by train. We started in Chicago and travelled over 2 nights to Seattle. After spending a few days in Seattle we travelled overnight to San Francisco. I have to say it was a really memorable holiday with the journeys being as much fun as the places we visited. As the passengers tended to be more residents than tourists we were able to get a wonderful perspective on life in America (the run up to the presidential election was in full flow). Also that form of slow travel with the enforced idleness gives you time to relax and enjoy the scenery. I would definitely recomend it.
Posted by DNACowboy (U2841806) on Thursday, 20th May 2010
I enjoyed the TT programme extolling the virtues of rail travel - the sights, sounds and smells! It was wonderful to hear people who are as enthusiastic as I am about railways and some nice descriptions of journeys they had taken. There was one major omission, however, in that only once was cost mentioned (the trans-US route that sounded very reasonable to me). Perhaps this is because there would be armed insurrection if we were to be told of the massive discrepancy between our outrageously expensive railway system and the state-subsidised networks almost everywhere else. As an illustrative example, I offer you the beautiful coastal route from Genoa to Sestri Levante that was mentioned in the programme. Several years ago a friend and I boarded a train at Genoa without a ticket, hoping to buy one on board. The ticket collector took a dim view of this and charged us the penalty fare (gulp!) - which came to less than we would have paid for an equivalent trip in the UK! Yes, travelling by rail is a pleasure, but it shouldn't be the luxury that it is here!
Posted by What larks (U14260755) on Thursday, 20th May 2010
Yet people do complain about the subsidies Britain gives to railways:
There is a huge discrepancy between advance fares and walk-on fares, and perhaps the gap should be narrowed. The latter are far too high and inhibits us from the type of leisure travel most of us enjoy; the decision to just "up and go"!
Posted by Eileenrose (U14476572) on Friday, 21st May 2010
This week's programme about rail travel reminded me how brilliant it was to go across the USA by train. There are several ways to do this, including a trip through Glacier National Park. I went from New York to Chicago, then took Amtrak's California Zephyr across the Rocky Mountains to San Francisco. It's slow but the views truly deserve that overused word "awesome". Information: www.bootsnall.com/ar...
Posted by DNACowboy (U2841806) on Friday, 21st May 2010
I went from New York to Chicago, then took Amtrak's California Zephyr across the Rocky Mountains to San Francisco. It's slow but the views truly deserve that overused word "awesome".
I think if you are enjoying that sort of scenery, "slow" equals "good", doesn't it?
It sounds wonderful: how long did it take you and how much did it cost?
Posted by Eileenrose (U14476572) on Saturday, 22nd May 2010
Absolutely - it's the travelling that's the point rather than simply getting somewhere. A slower pace lets you really take in the places you're passing through, including small towns that give fascinating glimpses of 'real America'. A camaraderie develops between passengers so you also learn a lot about them and the country that you wouldn't normally find out.
I was on the Cardinal and Zephyr for a total of three days and nights, and took a two day break between trains in Chicago (highly recommended). My Amtrak pass covered the cost of coach class tickets so it worked out quite economically given that it included three nights' accommodation. You can also get dedicated sleepers by paying a premium but coach class is very comfortable and much cheaper.
Posted by phil wilson (U14478764) on Sunday, 23rd May 2010
We (2 adults, 2 children) have just returned from a wonderful holiday on Sicily and Stromboli (world's most accessible active volcano). It took two days from Axminster station to Cefalu with lengthy stops in Rome and PAris, despite the PAris-Rome sleeper being 3.5 hours late! Return journey by ferry from Milazzo to Stromboli then to Naples, and train from Naples to Axminster again with stops in Rome and Paris. The only real problem was the inevitable points failure at Waterloo. Train is by far the most relaxing and exciting way to travel, the journey becomes part of the holiday rather than just a dreary chore at featureless airports at the mercy of volcanic ash and strikes. Yes it was expensive, but totally worth it. I am wondering about Corsica and Sardinia by train/ferry next year - how about a TT about ferries around the Mediterranean? Also a recommendation to anybody visiting Sicily - check out the Sicilian Experience website for accommodation and pretty much everything else, you won't regret it.
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