Last month I looked at train travel in North America. This month the focus is on Europe. Train travel is more common in Europe than in the U.S. with lots more routes and options available. When I think of European trains, I think of luxury, mystery and romance. National Geographic Traveler’s Top 10 European Train Trips by Randall Duckett has all this plus a high-speed trip and some just plain great scenic trips.
Of course, the quintessential train trip for booklovers and connoisseurs of 1920’s style luxury would be on the Venice Simplon Orient-Express. While at more than $3,000 per person, the two-day London to Venice trip doesn’t sound like much of a bargain, having your own personal steward, multiple-course meals prepared by French chefs and the Swiss Alps with your breakfast are not amenities to be sneezed at.
If adventure is your thing, consider the 19-day trip from Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia on the fabled Trans-Siberian Railway. Whether you’re really adventurous and make your own arrangements or opt to pay more for an all-inclusive tour, this is the touted way to see the “real Russia.” No French cuisine or designer compartments on this trip, just an historic journey, a unique experience and a lot of cameraderie.
If you have a sweet tooth, the Chocolate Train might be the place for you. This 9-hour-45-minute trip from Montreux to Broc, Switzerland and back also includes a stop in Gruyeres for a trip to a cheese-making factory and the Gruyeres Castle. Choose between a vintage Pullman carriage or a sleek ultramodern car to take you to Broc, where you’ll tour the Caillers-Nestle chocolate factory.
But the highlight of luxury and romance is surely a trip on the Danube Express to the heart of Transylvania. A private train, the Danube Express is described as a “hotel on wheels” complete with private bathrooms with consistently hot showers and air-conditioning with individual temperature controls. This ultimately comfortable conveyance whisks you from Budapest to Istanbul and includes a stop in the birthplace of Count Vlad and a tour of Dracula’s castle.
Check out these materials for more information:
Europe by Eurail 2012: Touring Europe by Train by LaVerne Ferguson-Kosinski – 914 FER
Frommer’s Europe by Rail - 914 FRO
British Rail Journeys – DVD’s
Red Express: the Greatest Rail Journey… by Michael Cordell – 914.7 COR
Trans-Siberian Rail Journeys - VHS – 914.7 TRA