DREAMSCAPES FALL/WINTERE 2019
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RAIL JOURNEYS LIKE NO OTHER
 
(2019 - Fall/Winter Issue)

Writer: JANE STOKES



Romance with the rails really does prevail. A classic expedition, a themed short tour or even a regular train can show us the world.  

THE CLASSICS

If you choose a private tour train, all of the amenities, sightseeing and services are tailor-made for an exclusive journey. In addition to beautifully appointed sleeping compartments with private showers, guests might ride in ultra-modern passenger cars or in refurbished carriages that capture the glamour of yesteryear. Priced as high as a super-luxury sea cruise, passengers do indeed pay top dollar for all the special experiences.  

Such classics include touring Japan on the Seven Stars, South Africa on the Blue Train, and Russia and Siberia aboard the Golden Eagle. Of equal merit are:

•          From April to October on board the Belmond Royal Scotsman, explore the sensational Scottish Highlands on two- to seven-day itineraries, departing in utter luxury from Edinburgh. Lakes, coastlines, castles and distilleries make this a trip of a lifetime. belmond.com

•          On board the Spanish Transcantabrico Gran Lujo, itineraries include an eight-day blend of unforgettable hospitality and history along the Atlantic coast of northern Spain with stops at the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, the prehistoric cave in Altamira and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, to name a few. luxurytrainclub.com/trains/el-transcantabrico-gran-lujo/

•          If you’ve ever wondered how royal and lavish it was in the days of the Raj, immerse yourself in authentic pomp and ceremony on board India’s Maharajas Express for several days and nights to see the lively sites of this amazing country. the-maharajas.com

RAIL TOURS

Luxurious train tours can also be short, sweet and themed. Slices of the world’s most compelling scenery, history and heritage are often packaged over a day or two. You might start in England on the North Staffordshire Railway, in Slovenia on the Bohinj Railway or in Tunisia on the Lezard Rouge. Or you could consider these:

•          Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer Banff-to-Vancouver trek is a two-day, all daylight, five-star excursion (other than mid-winter), which chugs through the Rockies’ tallest peaks for an exhilarating ride. See more of the wilderness on lengthier itineraries. rockymountaineer.com

•          Any time of year, travel along Arizona’s Grand Canyon Railway. Board the train in Williams and arrive relaxed a couple of hours later at the eye-popping Grand Canyon. Return in daylight passing again through desert and mountains, spotting wildlife along the way. thetrain.com

•          On board the Glacier Express in the Swiss Alps, spend an entire day in any season journeying through the mountain range, climbing as high as 2,033 metres between St. Moritz and Zermatt with sensational views of the Matterhorn. glacierexpress.ch/en

•          Romantic and adventurous long before Agatha Christie’s storyline, one night of fun on board the Orient Express from London to Venice is straight out of the golden age of glamour. belmond.com

•          From May to December, hop on board the vintage Hiram Bingham in Cusco for an incredible four-hour ride steeped in lively Peruvian culture to the ancient Inca site, Machu Picchu. On the open deck, one can almost touch the Andes. belmond.com

•          Just when you think nothing could be more romantic than strolling the medieval town of Villefranche-de-Conflent, a three-hour trip on France’s electric, century-old fantasy Little Yellow Train carries you through mountainous forests, ravines and wildflowers, before it reaches its destination at the Spanish border. about-france.com/tourism/yellow-train-pyrenees.htm

POPULAR ROUTES

Much excitement also awaits when purchasing tickets on regularly scheduled train service on which meals, sleeping compartments and hotel stays are optional. A specialized tour operator such as Globus or Uncommon Journeys or the tour divisions of VIA Rail and Amtrak can organize everything for you. Popular routes around the world may include Montréal to Halifax on VIA Rail’s Ocean, Beijing to Tibet on China Tibet Train Tours or:

•          Travel from ocean to ocean through the Australian desert, mountains and plains on the fascinating Indian Pacific between Sydney and Perth. The trip takes three days or you can spend many more days enjoying a selection of all-inclusive tours. australian-trains.com

•          Experience first-hand a heroic achievement on board the Canadian as it travels between Vancouver and Toronto. From the west coast, 4,466 kilometres of precision railway lines cut through the Rocky Mountains, zoom across the Prairies, trace the northern shore of Lake Superior, before swinging southbound to the lights of Toronto. It’s a 92.5-hour trip, which can be done in either direction or in segments. viarail.ca

•          Evoking pioneer times of the American West, Amtrak’s route between Chicago and San Francisco on board the California Zephyr is a 51-hour ride across seven states, through the Rockies, across the desert and alongside red-rock canyons before it delivers you to San Francisco Bay. amtrak.com

 
 
 
 
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