Trav­el­ling by TRAIN

The golden age of train travel may have been in the roar­ing 20s, but the art of jour­ney­ing in style is still alive and well to­day, writes MICHELLE PRENDIVILLE.

Travel Digest - - FRONT PAGE -

The in­creas­ing trend of lux­ury train travel around the world has many ad­van­tages over travel on air­planes. Dur­ing air travel the monotony of the jour­ney is oc­ca­sion­ally bro­ken by the view of clouds through the plane’s win­dow, how­ever, a lux­ury ride on board trains pro­vides am­ple op­por­tu­nity for guests to wit­ness the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment, so­cial and eco­nomic con­di­tions and myr­iad of colours of the pass­ing scenery. There are a num­ber of rea­sons for the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the lux­ury trains over air travel, which in­cludes larger space, restau­rants and bars, spa­cious and com­fort­able sleep­ing and seat­ing area and even bath­rooms. The Rocky Moun­taineer train jour­ney in Canada cel­e­brated with Rail Plus New Zealand in Jan­uary with healthy sales growth out of New Zealand, up 65 per cent in the last year. More and more New Zealan­ders are choos­ing to book train jour­neys around the world. Long-dis­tance travel by rail is hardly the ne­ces­sity it was back in the day, but the ro­mance and ad­ven­ture still re­mains. Trains can carve through wilder­ness that’s hard or im­pos­si­ble to ac­cess oth­er­wise.

ROCKY MOUN­TAINEER, CANADA

Ex­pe­ri­ence breath­tak­ing scenery of glacier-fed lakes, ma­jes­tic moun­tains and fe­ro­cious rivers in the Cana­dian Rock­ies. The world-class travel ex­pe­ri­ence op­er­ates on not just one, but four dif­fer­ent routes, through spec­tac­u­lar scenery with truly ex­cel­lent on-board ser­vice. Rocky Moun­taineer of­fers Western Cana­dian va­ca­tion pack­ages that travel through Bri­tish Columbia and Al­berta. The two-day rail jour­ney starts at Van­cou­ver and ends at ei­ther Banff or Jasper. The

train overnights in the min­ing town of Kam­loops, where pas­sen­gers are treated to din­ner and ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tions. In the morn­ing, one sec­tion of the train goes to Banff and the other goes to Jasper. Pas­sen­gers come face to face with mag­nif­i­cent scenery with panoramic views through the over­sized win­dows. Wind­ing along canyons and climb­ing pine-cov­ered slops, pas­sen­gers will never miss the chance to take in all the views and even spot­ting of ea­gles, griz­zly bears, big horn sheep and moose.

THE AN­DEAN EX­PLORER

There’s some­thing re­fresh­ingly tra­di­tional about trav­el­ling by train and of­ten the rail jour­ney can be a des­ti­na­tion in it­self. What’s not to love about train travel – din­ing cars with full-ser­vice meals, uni­formed wait staff, fas­ci­nat­ing off-train ex­cur­sions and more! A great ex­am­ple is in Peru where the ul­ti­mate way to get to Machu Pic­chu is aboard the lux­ury Bel­mond Hi­ram Bing­ham train. Back in Cusco, you can then take the An­dean Ex­plorer train which jour­neys across the Peruvian An­des to Lake Tit­i­caca, ar­guably one of the most beau­ti­ful jour­neys in the world. Spec­tac­u­lar An­dean scenery ap­pears out of ev­ery win­dow and you stop in some truly out-of-the­way au­then­tic places to in­ter­act with the lo­cals and catch a glimpse of a still tra­di­tional life in the high­lands. Both rail jour­neys are in­cluded in World Jour­neys’ 15 day Ama­zon, An­des and Alti­plano itin­er­ary through Peru – ex­cep­tional bou­tique ac­com­mo­da­tion in­cludes an eco-lodge in the Ama­zon and a 16th century Con­quis­ta­dor’s man­sion in Cusco, but the high­light will un­doubt­edly be the two lux­ury rail jour­neys.

THE TRANS-SIBERIAN

Cel­e­brat­ing 100 years of the Trans-Siberian Rail­way, there has never been a bet­ter time to ex­pe­ri­ence the world’s great­est rail­way jour­ney be­tween Moscow and Vladi­vos­tok. The Tran­sSiberian Rail­way runs like a steel rib­bon across mys­te­ri­ous Rus­sia, con­nect­ing east and west from Moscow over the Urals, across the mag­nif­i­cent and end­less steppe and along­side the shore of the world’s largest fresh­wa­ter lake. With a length of 9,289km, it marks the long­est rail­way line in the world. The line con­nects hun­dreds of large and small cities of the Euro­pean and Asian parts of Rus­sia, span­ning across a record of seven time zones and takes eight days to com­plete the jour­ney.

VENICE SIMPLON-ORI­ENT EX­PRESS, EUROPE

The leg­endary Venice Simplon-Ori­ent-Ex­press is one of the world’s most fa­mous lux­ury trains. Step aboard and ex­pe­ri­ence truly el­e­gant travel, wrapped in time­less ro­mance. The clas­sic jour­neys take you to great Euro­pean cities, in­clud­ing Lon­don, Paris, Venice, Prague, Vi­enna and Bu­dapest. The most reg­u­lar jour­ney is Lon­don-ParisVenice and vice versa. It is a pri­vately-run train of beau­ti­ful­lyre­stored 1920s, 30s & 50s coaches, pro­vid­ing a five-star lux­ury train ex­pe­ri­ence, run­ning an­nu­ally from March to Novem­ber. Ad­ven­ture and style are all in­ti­mately bound in jour­neys that criss­cross Europe, rolling through sub­lime scenery to some of the con­ti­nent’s most al­lur­ing cities. De­light­ful vin­tage cab­ins, gas­tro­nomic cui­sine and lively on­board en­ter­tain­ment make a jour­ney on this lux­ury train one of the world’s finest travel ex­pe­ri­ences.

GLACIER EX­PRESS, SWITZERLAND

The Glacier Ex­press is fa­mous around the world for peo­ple to fall in love with. Trav­el­ling from Zer­matt to Davos or St Moritz in Switzerland, pas­sen­gers are awed by the scenic views of un­touched moun­tain land­scapes, deep gorges, de­light­ful val­leys, 91 tun­nels and 291 im­pres­sive bridges, all ex­pe­ri­enced in around seven hours. The train is known for its ex­tremely slow speed and that is be­cause the train squeezes its way through the alps, nar­row val­leys and tight curves. Any time of year is great to ex­pe­ri­ence this spec­tac­u­lar route, as long as the sky is clear enough to en­joy the views. In De­cem­ber to Fe­bru­ary, the spe­cial touch is the mas­sive amounts of snow on the Ober­alp Pass and mostly in the val­leys too. How­ever April to June of­fers the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of green val­leys and snowy moun­tains.

Rocky Moun­taineer passes glacierfed lakes, ma­jes­tic moun­tains and rivers in the Cana­dian Rock­ies.

The An­dean Ex­plorer train jour­neys across the Peruvian An­des.

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