Travel future: A European rail adventure
It’s not often that I can say that I’ve travelled as much as I’d like. Normally I’d happily squeeze another weekend break or night away into any given month. But the last couple of months have been pretty manic compared to my normal slow-paced travel style. During the last seven weeks I’ve taken six flights, visited five countries and 11 different destinations – going all the way from Bergen in the north to Santorini in the south. Phew! And I’m not slowing down just yet. Summertime usually sees me exploring destinations closer to home in the UK, but before that I’m packing my passport again and heading off on another European adventure. After taking my first cruise earlier this month, I’ll be taking another transport-based trip in July, but this time I’ll be staying on dry land and travelling by train.
I’ve always wanted to do a big Interail trip, travelling all the way across Europe by rail, but the time’s never been right. So rather than waiting for a spare month (and the money to go with it), I thought I’d start off a bit smaller scale. So I’ll be spending ten days travelling across three countries, along with my husband and parents. The plan was to incorporate some of Europe’s stunning scenic train routes, but go slow enough that we had time to explore the places we stopped off too. Here’s where our route will be taking us…
Celebrating in Strasbourg
The first of many train journeys of the trip will take us from Cheltenham to London to catch the Eurostar to Paris, and from there on to our first destination – Strasbourg. We’re renting an apartment for three nights, just outside the historic Petite-France area, with its beautiful half-timbered buildings and flower-lined canals. Right on the border with Germany, Strasbourg is at the heart of the Alsace region, which mixes German and French influences as well as being home to some great wines. And I plan to celebrate with a few of them while I’m there – the 14th of July is my birthday as well as being Bastille Day, France’s national day. I spent my 30th birthday in Paris – drinking Champagne and watching the fireworks from the Pont des Arts – so I’m hoping Strasbourg is going to put on a good party for me too.
Summer days in the Alps
From Strasbourg we head south and across the border into Switzerland, where our longest train journey takes us through Zürich and along the route of one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys – the Bernina Express. We only have a one-night stay just outside St Moritz (sorry Switzerland, you’re just too pricey) before travelling into Austria for our second Alpine stop at the ski resort town of St Anton. I love the gorgeous mountain scenery of the Alps, but have only ever seen it in the depths of winter. So I’m looking forward to taking a cable car up into the mountains and seeing the landscape covered in green grass and wildflowers rather than a thick carpet of snow – and not having to wear ski boots and thermals!
Mozart and museums in Vienna
From the peaceful Austrian mountains, our final train journey takes us to the country’s largest city – Vienna. We have three nights in an apartment near the Burggarten park and plan to take in some of the city’s museums, galleries and makets, refueling with a few stops for coffee and sachertorte. My husband’s a big Mozart fan so we’ll follow his footsteps around the city – to the house he lived in, St Stephen’s Cathedral where he got married, and the Schönbrunn Palace Orangery where he played and where you can see a performance of his music every night. And if there’s time we might even take a boat trip along the Danube to Bratislava in Slovakia, before leaving the trains behind and hopping on a plane back to the UK.
Have you ever visited any of the destinations on my train journey route? If so I need your help! The last few busy months means I haven’t had chance to do much research so if you have any suggestions for things to see, do, eat or drink, please do let me know.