Okay, so we’ve been a little lax of late. Has there really been no European rail news (ERN) to report? Well, of course there has, but we’ve taken quite a spell out to travel. And ERN has thus taken a place on the back burner. But we are back at our desks, each feeling refreshed and renewed after some very memorable rail journeys around Europe.
“What a life,” we hear you mutter. “Do these women have nothing more demanding to do than aimlessly wander around Europe by train?”
Well, in fact our travels were precisely focused, very directed in pursuit of particular goals. We are keen to make sure than the 2013 edition of Europe by Rail really is even better than its predecessors, and that means putting lots of time into researching new routes. And much of the material we gather is put to good use in penning well-woven words for other media (including of course hidden europe magazine which we edit).
Among the memorable rail journeys that either or both of us made in March and April 2012 were trips on the following five named trains:
- We’ve previously highlighted the Garcia Lorca as Spain’s most interesting train. And it was good to have the chance to travel on it again. The train is operated by RENFE and runs daily from Barcelona to Sevilla with through carriages to Málaga.
- The Hungaria, a daily daytime service from Berlin to Budapest that dates back to the Cold War period. We showcased this train in a chapter in the Time Out book Great Train Journeys of the World and it forms the basis for Route 48 in the current 2012 edition of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers.
- The Canopus, an overnight train that runs nightly from Zürich to Prague. It is operated by City Night Line. We like it for its excellent deluxe sleepers and the good restaurant car where dinner is served immediately upon departure from Zürich. They often even have Swiss wines on the menu.
- The Francisco de Goya is another overnight service we’ve used during our recent travels. It runs daily during the summer from Madrid to Paris (and generally four times weekly in winter). It is operated by Elipsos. Our Grand Class tickets included dinner, bed and breakfast on one of Europe’s premier hotel trains.
- The Trans-European Express only started operation last December and was a must-do on our checklist. This Russian Railways RZD service operates several times each week from Paris to Moscow. The train includes a Polish restaurant car from Paris to Warsaw, where those with wads of roubles can splash out on champagne costing over €100 a bottle. We opted for a glass of house red.
If that clutch of showcase trains gives the impression of us having enjoyed a few weeks of on-board luxury, think again. Those were the long-distance highlights. We spent far more time and covered far more miles (or kilometres) on unsung local trains. So we enjoyed quiet trundles along Jura branch lines, slipped through sunny Puglia on slow trains, hugged the Ligurian coast on a local service and gazed in awe at the Alps as we stood on snowy station platforms in eastern Switzerland.
Copyright © Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries. All rights reserved.