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Travel future: A European rail adventure

Travel across Europe by train

It’s not often that I can say that I’ve travelled as much as I’d like. Normally I’d happily squeeze another weekend break or night away into any given month. But the last couple of months have been pretty manic compared to my normal slow-paced travel style. During the last seven weeks I’ve taken six flights, visited five countries and 11 different destinations – going all the way from Bergen in the north to Santorini in the south. Phew! And I’m not slowing down just yet. Summertime usually sees me exploring destinations closer to home in the UK, but before that I’m packing my passport again and heading off on another European adventure. After taking my first cruise earlier this month, I’ll be taking another transport-based trip in July, but this time I’ll be staying on dry land and travelling by train.

I’ve always wanted to do a big Interail trip, travelling all the way across Europe by rail, but the time’s never been right. So rather than waiting for a spare month (and the money to go with it), I thought I’d start off a bit smaller scale. So I’ll be spending ten days travelling across three countries, along with my husband and parents. The plan was to incorporate some of Europe’s stunning scenic train routes, but go slow enough that we had time to explore the places we stopped off too. Here’s where our route will be taking us…

London to Vienna by train

Our rail trip route from London to Vienna

Celebrating in Strasbourg

The first of many train journeys of the trip will take us from Cheltenham to London to catch the Eurostar to Paris, and from there on to our first destination – Strasbourg. We’re renting an apartment for three nights, just outside the historic Petite-France area, with its beautiful half-timbered buildings and flower-lined canals. Right on the border with Germany, Strasbourg is at the heart of the Alsace region, which mixes German and French influences as well as being home to some great wines. And I plan to celebrate with a few of them while I’m there – the 14th of July is my birthday as well as being Bastille Day, France’s national day. I spent my 30th birthday in Paris – drinking Champagne and watching the fireworks from the Pont des Arts – so I’m hoping Strasbourg is going to put on a good party for me too.

Canals and half-timbered houses in Strasbourg, France

Pretty canalside buildings in Strasbourg – photo credit ArtySil on Flickr

Summer days in the Alps

From Strasbourg we head south and across the border into Switzerland, where our longest train journey takes us through Zürich and along the route of one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys – the Bernina Express. We only have a one-night stay just outside St Moritz (sorry Switzerland, you’re just too pricey) before travelling into Austria for our second Alpine stop at the ski resort town of St Anton. I love the gorgeous mountain scenery of the Alps, but have only ever seen it in the depths of winter. So I’m looking forward to taking a cable car up into the mountains and seeing the landscape covered in green grass and wildflowers rather than a thick carpet of snow – and not having to wear ski boots and thermals!

Mountains in St Anton am Alberg, Austria

St Anton scenery – photo © TVB St Anton am Arlberg/Wolfgang Burger

Mozart and museums in Vienna

From the peaceful Austrian mountains, our final train journey takes us to the country’s largest city – Vienna. We have three nights in an apartment near the Burggarten park and plan to take in some of the city’s museums, galleries and makets, refueling with a few stops for coffee and sachertorte. My husband’s a big Mozart fan so we’ll follow his footsteps around the city – to the house he lived in, St Stephen’s Cathedral where he got married, and the Schönbrunn Palace Orangery where he played and where you can see a performance of his music every night. And if there’s time we might even take a boat trip along the Danube to Bratislava in Slovakia, before leaving the trains behind and hopping on a plane back to the UK.

Statue in Vienna’s Stadtpark

Statue in Vienna’s Stadtpark – photo credit George Duroy on Flickr

Have you ever visited any of the destinations on my train journey route? If so I need your help! The last few busy months means I haven’t had chance to do much research so if you have any suggestions for things to see, do, eat or drink, please do let me know.

antolomagico

Thursday 21st of August 2014

I did a road trip with my Volkswagen Polo a few years ago and it was one of the greatest experiences in my life. Good trip!

Lucy Dodsworth

Saturday 23rd of August 2014

Thanks – I do like a good road trip too!

stephny21

Saturday 16th of August 2014

Hi Lucy!

Me and my boyfriend interrailed around Europe for 3 weeks in may/june of this year! Can honestly say it was the best decision :) We thought we would try and fit in as much as possible in the 3 weeks so we were only in one place for 2 days max! Which we learnt was a bad idea as it was far too rushed and there wasn't enough time to relax with a glass of wine haha (which is definitely needed).

Unfortunately our interrail tickets got stolen in Budapest! So we missed out on venturing around Italy. We also had tickets for the Bernina Express which we missed out on as we were stuck in Budapest for 5 extra days while our tickets were sorted. Not that i can complain as Budapest was incredible and the highlight of our trip! So our trip started in Paris then to Brugge, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Salzberg, Munich, Zurich, Bern and then back to Paris. We were also meant to visit Rome, Italy and were going from Chur to Tiranno on the Bernina Express. That will have to be next time now!

Next time we'll take your advice and narrow down our options so we can fully appreciate the beautiful places! I must say, we really needed another holiday once we got back just to recover! haha.

xx

Lucy Dodsworth

Sunday 17th of August 2014

Wow sounds like you had an eventful trip! Yes it can so really tempting to try and see too much, especially as the distances between each place seem pretty small. The only problem as you found is that it means there's not much time to spare if anything goes wrong! Hope you get to go back and do the Bernina Express sometime – I have a post coming up tomorrow about Swiss scenic train routes, the scenery is just amazing.

keeppicturing

Monday 14th of July 2014

Hey Lucy! Sounds an awesome journey and story. Many many happy returns of the day...:)

Lucy Dodsworth

Sunday 17th of August 2014

Thank you!

kinnearjulie

Wednesday 9th of July 2014

I found a lot of inspiration for my European adventure here, thank you Lucy! Seems like you really know how to link exploring and a tighter budget, which usually discourages people from travelling more. I hope I can read here an article about budget travelling through Canada some time in the future! Have safe travels!

Lucy Dodsworth

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Thanks so much! I'm making my first trip to Canada later this year and can't wait, so there will no doubt be lots of photos and posts coming up about it!

thebritishberliner

Saturday 5th of July 2014

I knew that last sentence looked wrong. I meant to say "Have a fantastic birthday..."