The author travelled using an Interrail Global Pass obtained through Voyages-sncf.com (0844 848 5848) that allows 5 days of travel within a 15-day period. Prices from £245 (standard class) and £326 (first class). Passes are also available in other durations. Seat reservations are needed on high-speed and overnight trains, starting at £5 per journey depending on route and carrier.
Highly recommended is the 25hours Hotel Langstrasse (25hourshotels.com) in Zurich which offers a special Trainspotting Suite and is just a 10-minute walk from the station. Prices from 260CHF (£190) per night.
The best way to explore most cities is on foot, but in Paris consider taking the Metro. Prices from €1.90 per journey. Carnets (10 journeys) available for €14.50.
Food & drink
In London the author filled up on breakfast at the Plum and Spilt Milk (plumandspiltmilk.com) which serves a mix of hearty, healthy and sweet breakfast options until 11am.
While in Paris, La Closerie des Lilas (closeriedeslilas.fr) is a must for Hemingway fans. Also recommended is the coffee shop at Shakespeare and Company opposite Notre Dame.
Try Le Train Bleu in Basel for Swiss cuisine right next to the station. In Zurich the restaurant inside the 25hours Hotel Langstrasse offers an enticing mix of oriental and world cuisine.
When wandering in Venice follow your nose – and the locals – to find the best coffee away from the tourist traps.
Return: Orient Express The author travelled on
Belmond’s Venice Simplon-orientExpress (belmond.com; 0845 077 2222) going from Venice Santa Lucia station to London Victoria. Prices from £2,129pp (solo travellers should call to get the best deal on single compartments as some options not available online). Price includes all meals and select drinks.