Edi­tor’s Note

Lonely Planet Magazine (US) - - Front Page -

I’m a strong ad­vo­cate of slow travel. My wish is that this is­sue’s cover fea­ture will tempt you to pause and take the train on a tour through Europe (p. 42) as an al­ter­na­tive to hurtling be­tween air­ports or fight­ing your way along free­ways.

An un­pro­nounce­able Ice­landic vol­cano led me to at­tempt a sim­i­lar rail jour­ney in 2010. The erup­tion of Ey­jaf­jal­la­jökull re­leased vast quan­ti­ties of ash into Western Europe’s airspace, ground­ing all air traf­fic. Mean­while, my wife, who had been at­tend­ing a con­fer­ence in Florence, Italy, found her­self trapped in a glo­ri­ous old guest­house at the edge of the Pi­azza del Limbo. I felt it would be a more ro­man­tic than reck­less ges­ture to leap on the last train from Lon­don to Paris that Fri­day night, gam­bling on achiev­ing a re­u­nion.

Euro­pean book­ing web­sites went into melt­down. By dawn, I had lit­tle choice but to stow away on a train to Zürich. With a stereo­typ­i­cal pre­ci­sion of plan­ning in the face of to­tal chaos, the Swiss rail au­thor­i­ties cleared out a car­riage in readi­ness for the ar­rival of ran­dom characters such as me.

I had scarcely imag­ined how beau­ti­ful the pas­sage through the Alps and on­ward to the gleam­ing spires and lake of Zürich would be. I made it into the arms of my wife by Satur­day evening, just in time to share a bot­tle of chi­anti and a bis­tecca alla Fiorentina. Our flight home failed to depart for another week, and so we were gifted the chance to wan­der be­tween Florence’s grand cafés and Re­nais­sance trea­sures at a uniquely crowd-free mo­ment.

Our cross-Europe cover story con­cludes in an equally famed Ital­ian des­ti­na­tion, Venice. For tips on find­ing orig­i­nal an­gles and re­leas­ing pres­sure on the city’s creak­ing tourism in­fra­struc­ture, be sure to read “7 New Ways to See Venice” (p. 12).

Peter Grunert, Group Edi­tor

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