THE IN­SID­ERS GREAT RAIL JOUR­NEYS

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - TIM FIS­CHER

MOST EX­CLU­SIVE: At 10am on Satur­days, a spe­cial Tren­i­talia train de­parts from the Pope’s Plat­form in the Vat­i­can gar­dens, bound for Cas­tel Gan­dolfo. The train trav­els on Mus­solini-era tracks, rarely used, as it heads over the viaduct out of the Vat­i­can, crosses the in­ter­na­tional border into Italy and slides up through tun­nels to the Pope’s Sum­mer Palace. Enjoy the ex­ten­sive gar­dens and a long lunch at Ristorante Pag­nanelli (which has strong Aus­tralian links); bigli­et­te­ri­amu­sei.vat­i­can.va/mu­sei/tick­ets. MOST PUNC­TUAL: This has to be the Bern­ina Ex­press on nar­row gauge from Ti­rano in north­ern Italy, lo­cated near Lake Como and Son­drio, up over the Alps and into Switzer­land and St Moritz. The vis­tas are spec­tac­u­lar, the rolling stock ex­cel­lent. Timeta­bles are al­ways ad­hered to, right to the sec­ond; rhb.ch/en/home. BEST COASTAL: In Bri­tain that would be along the old Brunel main­line to Pen­zance through Dawlish, eas­ily ac­cessed from Padding­ton in Lon­don or Bris­tol Tem­ple Meads. Even more spec­tac­u­lar in Europe, though, is the route from Genoa through the Cinque Terre sta­tions and tun­nels to Pisa and ul­ti­mately Ter­mini at Rome. Bril­liant engi­neer­ing means you are div­ing in and out of tun­nels and cross­ing above the five coastal her­itage fish­ing vil­lages. BEST AN­DES: Nar­rowly I favour Peru and the trains in and near Cusco, but the com­pe­ti­tion is build­ing in Ecuador and else­where. There’s a busy set of ser­vices to Machu Pic­chu but the gourmet de­light is in the other di­rec­tion down to Lake Tit­i­caca by daylight ex­press; Cusco to Puno now run­ning three times a week. LONG­EST TRANSCON­TI­NEN­TAL: Enjoy about 10 days trav­el­ling from Vladi­vos­tok to Moscow, best done in the west­erly di­rec­tion. There are many ser­vices now but the Golden Ea­gle is the most lux­u­ri­ous and a day hauled by steam around Lake Baikal is very mem­o­rable. Ta­tiana, a man­ager on the Golden Ea­gle, is a cut above the av­er­age and, dare I say, would make a great Rus­sian pres­i­dent; gold­e­nea­glelux­u­ry­trains.com. AT HOME: Enjoy The Ghan be­tween Ade­laide and Dar­win, best done south­bound with a bonus stop at Coober Pedy. The top-level Plat­inum Class is ter­rific and you will be sad the ex­pe­ri­ence has come to an end, mark my words; great­south­ern­rail.com.au. TIPS: Travel lightly; big hard suit­cases in­evitably have to be stored away, bet­ter a couple of smaller cases that can be eas­ily placed in your cabin. Iden­tify card play­ers early so a few rounds can be played if that it your wish. As al­ways, try and sit on the side look­ing away from the sun; maybe swap around noon, if you can. And al­ways enjoy it; it beats walk­ing even when the car­riage is cramped and the train is late.

Tim Fis­cher was deputy prime min­is­ter in the Howard gov­ern­ment (1996-99) and served as am­bas­sador to the Holy See (2009-12).

Gra­ham Er­bacher Gra­ham. Er­bacher@news.com.au

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