Trainholidaysfriendstravel’s Weblog

January 4, 2021

Luxury journeys through the Scottish Highlands onboard the Royal Scotsman. JESS@FriendsTravel.com

#Luxury journeys through the #ScottishHighlands are available onboard the #RoyalScotsman.

Returning soon in 2021 : A luxury train with whisky tastings and castle tours

For fans of the popular television series “#Outlander,” train travel is one of the easiest ways to soak up the sites of the Scottish Highlands.
Since the debut, the number of visitors to the mostly rural northern part of Scotland has increased so much that the rise in tourism is called the “Outlander Effect.”


Come April, fans of the show — or the books on which it’s based — can tour the area in style when the Royal Scotsman begins operating train trips again. Though still months away, many of the early journeys are sold out, while others have only one carriage open.


Privacy on the Royal Scotsman
While the train first launched, its original carriages were replaced with 22 Edwardian-style cabins for journeys ranging from one to seven nights.

The mahogany-paneled dining cars on the Royal Scotsman.

The Royal Scotsman has capacity for just 40 guests, which may be preferable for anyone feeling nervous about traveling with larger numbers of people. Single, twin and double bed cabins with en suite facilities are designed to ensure passengers’ privacy.


In the train’s observation car, guests can go on the open veranda to get an outside glimpse of the passing scenery. They can hear after-dinner storytelling from a Highland clansman, or local music, with a glass of one of the more than 50 different whiskies from the observation car bar.

One of two treatments rooms in the train’s Bamford Haybarn Spa.
The first ‘spa on rails’
If a private cabin and onboard entertainment aren’t enough, the Royal Scotsman has a spa carriage where guests can book treatments like massages and facials. The Bamford Haybarn Spa is the first of its kind aboard an overnight rail journey in Britain.


“When I think of Scotland, walks in the Highlands, fresh air, rushing streams and beautiful heather-covered hillsides come to mind,” said Haybarn founder Bamford. “After a day of exploring the Highlands, guests can enjoy a deeply relaxing experience in the calm and tranquility of the spa.”


The “spa on rails” is a replica of the Bamford Wellness Spa at the Daylesford Organic Farm in the Cotswolds English countryside.

Clans, castles and wizards
The Royal Scotsman departs from Edinburgh Waverly station, with journeys stopping at locations such as the Isles of Bute and Mull.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct, near Scotland’s west coast.

The Royal Scotsman’s five-night “Clans, Castles and Isles” trip passes well-known landmarks, such as Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which featured in the “Harry Potter” movies.

Alnwick Castle, which played part of the setting for Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s school, is on the Royal Scotsman’s “Glorious and Grand — a Private Garden Tour.”


For anyone looking to make the most of the Highland’s great outdoors, other activities include gorge walking, clay pigeon shooting, fishing and golf!

How much it costs?
Tickets aboard the train depend on the journey, which vary by destination, length and, in some instances, topic of the trip.
Scotch enthusiasts can embark on a dedicated five-day tour of Scotland’s renowned distilleries. The tickets, include a year’s membership to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.


The Royal Scotsman’s journeys aren’t limited to Scotland, with a seven-day “Grand Tour of Great Britain,” which includes guided tours of the Roman ruins of Bath and a steam train trip to Snowdonia National Park

Rates quoted on a per client basis, curated  on the number of days, 1-7 nights, dates, times they are confirmed. All rates are Plus Applicable #DiscountAirfares First, Business or Coach. Private Jet Charters available.

EMAIL #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

VISIT: www.FriendsTravel.com Since 1985 West Hollywood CA 90069

November 28, 2020

Most Scenic Train Trips in the USA JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Coast Starlight
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON TO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Courtesy Amtrak
Driving the Pacific Coast Highway is an iconic American road trip, but to really get the full effect of the stunning seaside cliffs, take what many call Amtrak’s most beautiful train ride, the Coast Starlight. It’ll take you 36 hours to take the 1,377-mile trip, but you’ll hit all the highlights such as San Francisco Bay, the snow-covered Cascades, and Puget Sound. If you want to travel in style, get the upgraded package with a private sleeper car.


White Pass and Yukon Route Railway
SKAGWAY, ALASKA
Train going through mountains
Credit: emperorcosar/ Shutterstock

This breathtaking 2.5-hour, 40-mile, round-trip train journey will have riders thinking back to a time when prospectors adventured to the Yukon in search of fortune during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. The train leaves Skagway and climbs 3,000 feet in just 20 miles — taking riders past glaciers, mountain lakes, towering trestles, and scenic waterfalls. The White Pass and Yukon Route is a piece of Americana that can’t be missed.


California Zephyr
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS TO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Train going through rocky landscape next to the Colorado river
Credit: Ricky Batista/ iStock

The California Zephyr took its maiden trip in 1949 and still draws tons of travelers to this once-in-a-lifetime scenic trip across America’s heartland. The Zephyr comes complete with four vista domes that provide passengers with breathtaking scenery as you pass through the Rockies, across the desert country of Nevada and Utah, and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains in California. This scenic and historic train route promises to showcase the heart of Gold Rush country on its two-day, 2,800-mile rail journey.


Southwest Chief
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS TO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Sedona National Park at sunset
Credit: LeStudio/ Shutterstock

Once dubbed the “Train of the Stars,” the Southwest Chief was America’s first all-Pullman sleeping car train. Today, you don’t have to be a celebrity to take the same route between the Windy City and L.A. You can still enjoy a sleeping car and some of the nation’s most iconic sights such as the red cliffs of Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, and Arizona’s missions.



The Grand Canyon Railway
GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA
Grand canyon railway train
Credit: Ingus Kruklitis/ iStock

You’ll definitely get a feel for the “Wild West” as you take a ride on the restored cars of the Grand Canyon Railway. The 65-mile trip will take you across the high desert to the South Rim of the canyon, offering terrific views of America’s most iconic, natural landmark. The trip features Old West entertainment complete with authentic characters passing on folklore and musicians providing a hand-clapping and foot-stomping good time.


Sunset Limited
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA TO NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Mountains with golf course in front
Credit: Wildroze/ iStock

You would be hard-pressed to find a train trip with a more diverse slice of the U.S. than the Sunset Limited. This 2,000-mile mega trip includes it all. From the golden deserts of the Southwest to the rugged plains of Texas to Louisiana’s Bayou, the Sunset Limited will be sure to please both train enthusiasts and novices alike. Along the way, the train makes stops in Palm Springs, Phoenix, El Paso, and San Antonio before pulling into the station in New Orleans. So sit back and relax as the panorama of America’s coastal and desert landscapes slides by your window.


Alaska Coastal Classic
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA TO SEWARD, ALASKA
Train tracks going past Chugach mountains
Credit: A&J Fotos/ iStock

Alaska has some of the best scenery around and a cruise isn’t the only way to enjoy its magnificent wildernesses. Hop aboard the Coastal Classic and ride the 114-mile journey from Anchorage to Seward. You’ll have to plan your excursion because the train only runs from mid-May to mid-September. Be on the lookout for bald eagles and whales as the train takes you past the Chugach Mountains and along the Turnagain Arm waterway. Then it’s off into the wilds of the Kenai Peninsula backcountry for fantastic views of ancient glaciers.


Empire Builder
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS TO SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Empire Builder train going over a bridge
Credit: Loco Steve/ flickr

History buffs will love a ride on the Empire Builder. The route traces parts of the Lewis and Clark Trail from the heart of America to the towering evergreens of the Pacific Northwest. This 46-hour trip is a fantastic way to see a big chunk of the U.S. From Chicago, you’ll cross the mighty Mississippi, see Montana’s Glacier National Park, and pass chug past the Cascade Mountains on your way to Seattle’s Puget Sound.

You may also like: The Most Jaw-Dropping Train Routes in the World


#TravelAgent #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365
VISIT: www.FriendsTravel.com

Be sure to ask about our $25.00 per person discount on any of these rail journeys for 2021-2022

October 13, 2020

5 Most #Luxurious #Train #Rides #Worldwide JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Whether you ride a bike for exercise, leisure or as a form of transportation, there’s no denying that being on two wheels is fun. It’s so fun, in fact, that cycling has risen in popularity in the past ten years and more people are choosing to commute to work via bicycle.

Nothing channels the Golden Age of Travel quite like a luxury train. There’s something undeniably romantic about falling asleep to the rhythmic sound of the wheels clacking over iron rails and waking up to sun streaming through the window that provides a new but equally fabulous view every morning. If money’s no object for your next rail vacation, which are the world’s most luxurious train rides? Here are our picks for the five best trains on the planet.


The Blue Train, South Africa
Interior of private cabin on The Blue Train

The #Blue #Train links #Pretoria and #CapeTown on a two-night journey of almost a thousand miles. In this, the most opulent of African trains, deluxe suites feature not only en-suite facilities, but a bath tub. It’s the attention to detail that sets this train apart: air conditioning, underfloor heating, marble bathroom, goose down duvets and cotton percale bedding. Luxury suites are even more extravagant. They come with a personal butler, private digital entertainment system and a little extra space. Train Set 1 caters for just 54 guests, while on the days Train Set 2 operates, it accommodates 82 guests and trails a conference compartment and observation car. Every passenger benefits from the onboard WiFi, so it’s as easy as you like to share envy-inducing photos of this incredible train.


You may also like: Stunning Train Stations Around the World
#Belmond #Andean #Explorer, #Peru
Interior view of train with bar and seating

The new kid on the luxury block is Belmond’s Andean Explorer, which links Peru’s two southern belles, Cusco and Arequipa. It launched in May 2017 as South America’s first high end sleeper service, targeting travelers who required only the finest levels of quality and service. Step on board and you enter a world of privilege where the elegant compartments are roomy enough to have their own wardrobe furnished with robe and slippers, and the walls are decorated with linen. But that’s not all: the train has a dedicated spa car, where you can relax with a range of treatments as you cross the Altiplano in style. Try the clay wrap with coca leaves and local flowers. Designed to regenerate and refresh, you’ll step off the train feeling better than ever.


#Venice #Simplon-#Orient #Express, #Europe
Interior view of sleeping cabin on the Venice Simplon-Orient Express

No luxury train epitomizes the glamour of yesteryear quite like the Venice Simplon-Orient Express. This train is an art deco icon, richly furnished with decadent fabrics and antique fixtures and fittings. Cabins are lovingly restored 1920s originals. The Venice Simplon-Orient Express harks back to an era when it was important that wood was polished to a high sheen and staff recognized the importance of etiquette and manners. For many of today’s passengers, enjoyment comes as much from the culinary journey as it does from the scenery glimpsed through the windows. This is a train ride worth dressing up for.


The #Deccan #Odyssey, #India
Interior of train cabin with seating and a bar

Following the success of the Palace on Wheels train, the Maharashtra government and Indian Ministry of Railways have teamed up to bring visitors the Deccan Odyssey. Described as a five-star hotel on wheels, the train offers six spectacular routes taking passengers to some of India’s most captivating cities – Agra for the Taj Mahal, the pink city of Jaipur and Mumbai, the home of Bollywood. There’s no question that passengers are treated like royalty on this train fit for a maharaja – nothing is too much trouble for your own personal attendant. Facilities such as an in-room safe, telephone, en-suite bathroom and air conditioning ensure the focus is on comfort, while the onboard restaurants, bar and even spa pamper to guests’ every need.


The #Ghan, #Australia
The legendary Ghan traverses the Australian continent, effortlessly completing the journey from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north as it has done for 90 years. But what sets this train apart is its varied program of off-train experiences. Package up your journey with a cruise along the Katherine River Gorge, a thrilling flight over Kakadu National Park or the opportunity to visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service Base in Alice Springs. First, though, you’ll need some persuasion to jump off this amazing train and leave behind the luxurious amenities of your Gold Service accommodation, with its en-suite bathroom, high quality bed linen and in-room audio commentary.

Pick a trip, or more! JESS@FriendsTravel.com

www.FriendsTravel.com

October 12, 2020

#USARail #CanadaRail #EuropeRail #BritishRail #RailVacations JESS@FriendsTravel.com

FLEXIBLE BOOKING – $250 low deposit and no cancellation/change fees. *Save an additional $150 on couple’s packages.**
Request details. JESS@FriendsTravel.com

What Type of Traveler Are You?
Wondering what type of rail vacation would suit you best! We have the answers. From fully-guided, escorted tours to independent, solo options and group travel, Rail Vacations has it all. Explore your options below and start planning your next vacation.
We hope to travel with you soon!
JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Independent
Customized itineraries that allow you to travel on our your own.
✓ FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE ITINERARIES
✓ TRAVEL AT YOUR OWN PACE
✓ FLEXIBLE DEPARTURE DATES
“I like the freedom and flexibility of traveling on my own.”

Escorted
Travel in a small group on a pre-planned itinerary accompanied by a tour manager.
✓ LED BY A PROFESSIONAL TOUR MANAGER
✓ COMPREHENSIVE DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARIES
✓ SET DEPARTURE DATES

“I like to travel in a small group with other like-minded people and have someone take care of all the planning and details.”
Make your own small group with Family and Friends!

Locally Hosted
Independent travel with access to a local expert for guidance and assistance.
✓ FLEXIBLE, PERSONALIZED ITINERARIES
✓ LOCAL EXPERTISE AND SUPPORT
✓ SET YOUR OWN SCHEDULE
“I’m comfortable traveling on my own, but want access to a local expert if I need help.”
Reservations: JESS@FriendsTravel.com

 

June 6, 2020

#AmazingRailVacations #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa90069 #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

1. The Flåm Railway, Norway

Spectacular view from the famous Norwegian Flåm train speeding uphill on its way to Myrdal station. Said to be one of the most beautiful railway journeys on the planet.

Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, this 12-mile route takes you from the end of #Aurlandsfjord, a tributary of the #Sognefjord, up to the high mountains at #Myrdal station. Along the way, you will pass waterfalls, deep ravines, snow-capped mountains, and high-altitude farms, all while watching the weather shift from sun to rain.  #Flåm Railway, #Norway

2. Geibi Line to Fukuen Line, Japan

You can get a taste of the #Japanese countryside as you travel  from #Hiroshima Station to #Fuchū Station on the #Geibi Line turned #Fukuen Line. The route passes through the mountainous area of the #Chūgoku region, so expect to see stunning bridges and long, dark tunnels cutting through mountains. THINK #SkiNagano 1998 Olympics

3. Bernina Railway, Switzerland to Italy

The trip starts in #StMoritz, #Switzerland on a perfectly sunny day and ends in #Tirano, #Italy via the high-mountain #Bernina Pass. Sit back with an #Italian-style #caffè and watch as the train cuts through picturesque villages and rumbles alongside dizzying cliffs and sparkling blue waters. Along the way, you’ll break a few records — albeit : It is the highest railway alpine crossing in Europe and the highest adhesion railway on the continent. Not bad for a full experience. Think: #SkiItaly and #SkiSwitzerland #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Swiss Red Train Bernina Express pass on Brusio Viaduct. It is a spectacular helicoidal stone bridge that fits the surrounding landscape and is located on the Bernina railway not far from Brusio railway station in Canton Grisons, Italy.

4. Pikes Peak Cog Railway, Colorado, United States

If you’ve ever dreamed of making it to the top of Colorado’s Pikes Peak, which sits 14,115 feet above sea level, here’s your chance. Hop aboard North America’s highest train and join this fast-motion tour. The trip starts at the station in #Manitou #Springs and climbs the well-known peak in a matter of minutes, allowing the viewer to sit back and enjoy the dizzying ride.

5. Belgrade–Bar Railway, Montenegro

You’ll start your journey in the town of #Bar, near the #Adriatic Sea, before passing through the line’s longest tunnel (20,246 feet) and over the highest railway bridge in Europe. After zipping through the country’s impressive mountainous region, end the trip in the town of #Bijelo Polje102 tunnels and 96 bridges later.

6. North Wales Coast Line, England to Wales

Travel along the beautiful #Wales coast aboard a #British Rail Class 175, a type of diesel passenger train used in the #United Kingdom. The excursion kicks off in the city of #Chester, England and quickly travels over the border into Wales, passing through lush countryside before hitting the coast and continuing west.

7. Nordland Line, Norway

The adventure starts on the #Trondheim Fjord in Trondheim and only seems to get snowier as you head farther north. Eventually, you virtually pass into the #Arctic Circle before ending in the municipality of #Fauske. If cold and snow don’t sound appealing, you can experience the trip in one of the other three seasons! But winter is memorably mesmerizing!

8. Ferrocarril Central Andino, Peru

The Central Andean Railroad in Peru

Often considered to be one of the world’s most scenic railroads, the #Ferrocarril Central Andino links the #Pacific port of Callao and the capital city of #Lima with #Huancayo and Cerro de Pasco. This four-part journey begins in #Chosica and ends near the #Galera railway station in the #Andes. In part one, you’ll traverse the massive #Puente Carrión bridge; part two climbs from #Matucana to #San Mateo, one of the most scenic parts of the line; part three takes travelers over the #Puente Infiernillo bridge, which passes through a tight canyon with high rock walls on either side; and finally, part four lets you travel virtually through one of the world’s highest railroad tunnels.

9. 7 Express Line, New York, United States

7 Line Subway train in Queens with Manhattan skyline, New York City

If you find yourself strangely missing the familiar sounds of your commute, this cab-view video of the New York City subway will scratch the itch. The 7 Express Line (#Flushing Express) travels from #Queens to #Manhattan, providing outside and underground views along the way. And if you’re into trains, keep in mind that this footage was shot on one of the line’s R62A trains, which have since been returned to the 6 train. #NewYorkCIty is truly an amazing destination!

10. Sarajevo–Ploče Railway, Bosnia and Herzegovina

You can explore the #Balkan country of #Bosnia and #Herzegovina by train, thanks to this cab-view. Starting in #Čapljina, you’ll dip into #Croatia quickly before crossing the border back into Bosnia and Herzegovina and ending your trip in the country’s capital, #Sarajevo. Home of the #XIV #Olympic Winter #Games, 1984. A good portion of the journey follows the #Neretva River and passes through tight, mountainous terrain and over the #Bradina Pass. Think #Sarajevo for skiing!

11. South Western Railway, England

You’ll start your  journey on the #London #Underground at #London #Waterloo station and then head west, eventually dropping south toward #Southampton and ending at Southampton Central station. Along the way, you’ll see the London skyline before moving into the vibrant, green countryside.

12. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Colorado, United States

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Steam Engine travels along Animas River, Colorado

This historic line takes travelers from one mountain town to another, traveling over a high-alpine mountain pass to get there. This three-part tour offers guests a  ride on the three-foot-wide narrow-gauge heritage railroad as it traverses over 45 miles between #Durango and #Silverton. During part one, enjoy the breathtaking journey along a narrow ledge cut into a sheer cliff face far above the #Animas River; in part two, the train chugs high up into the Colorado mountains; and in part three, it heads down the mountain pass into the Wild West town of Silverton.

13. Wengernalp Railway, Switzerland

Enjoy a perfectly clear driver’s-eye view of the stunning route from #Lauterbrunnen to #Kleine Scheidegg. You’ll cross pretty #Swiss villages and tree-covered slopes as you climb up into the mountains, eventually passing views of snow-covered mountains and deep valleys. THINK : #SkiSwitzerland! #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

#Jungfrau Railway train station at #Wengernalp, #Swiss Alps, #Canton #Bern, #Switzerland

I lived in #Germany for six years, with my Uncle Sam, and became intimately familiar with #European Rail Travel. I have been fortunate to have ridden the Orient Express several times. THINK: #EuropeSkiTrips #SkiItaly #SkiSwitzerland #SkiSarajevo #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

April 13, 2020

#CanadaViaRailVacations #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa90069 #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

#CanadaViaRailVacations #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa90069

EMAIL #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

From the Pacific shores of downtown Vancouver to the Atlantic lighthouses of Halifax, VIA Rail provides coast to coast, long and short haul rail service to Canada’s busiest centers and most beautiful regions. Short-haul services connecting Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City offers leisure and business travelers alike, fast and efficient service between some of Canada’s largest cities. On board services in economy and business class complete a set of offerings to match any budget and desired comfort level. Long-haul trains connecting Halifax & Montreal and Toronto & Vancouver reflect the system’s longer routes with economy seating or sleeper compartments complete with freshly prepared meals, domed lounge cars and on board entertainment.  #ViaRailCanada JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

http://www.FriendsTravel.com 

Canada ViaRail

Friends Travel Bus Card Front 4Aprl14

 Passenger train along Moose Lake in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.


Passenger train along #Moose Lake in #Jasper National Park, #Alberta, Canada.     EMAIL #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24|7|365

 

March 20, 2020

#EuropeTrainTrips #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa90069 #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Train Trips in Europe: JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Train travel in the Old World maintains a certain mystique for many travelers, and it’s little wonder: With incredible amounts of culture, 47 countries packed into a region slightly larger than the U.S., and exhaustive tracks that go everywhere from the plains of #Spain to the eastern fringes of #Russia, #Europe is tailor-made for riding the rails. Our favorite train trips in Europe encompass quintessential experiences, like tucking into multi-course dinners aboard an intimate dining car in #Scotland, but we’ve also folded in modern options, like bedding down in one of the tricked-out private carriages of the #TransSiberian Express, or the #Orient Express, or The #Royal Scotsman. Beyond Glorious!

London to Disneyland Paris on Eurostar Disney

Journeying from #London to #Paris on the #Eurostar fuels childlike curiosity in its own right– after all, the tracks are mind-bogglingly submerged in an #English Channel tunnel – but combining that iconic international route with a visit to Paris Disneyland amps up the wonderment quotient even more. The direct Eurostar Disney line zips from #London’s city center to the #Disneyland Paris gates in a little more than 2.5 hours  [park entrance fees are separate], but the party starts before the train whistle even blows at #StPancras Station, where a live jazz band sends off travelers. En route, the littlest riders can occupy themselves with complimentary Disney-themed activity packs before disembarking at Marne la Vallée (the station’s within walking distance to the park gates) and running into the arms of the Disney characters who welcome guests to the park each morning. At less than three hours each way, this top train trip in Europe is a manageable day trip from London (trains depart from St. Pancras at 9am and leave Disney at 7:30pm, except for Tuesdays and Saturdays when UK schools are in session), but we suggest coupling with a stay in Paris, as the city’s iconic architecture, world-class museums, and culinary delights are only about 40 minutes away from the park via RER, Paris’s regional train system – you then have the option to catch the standard #Eurostar route back to #London from #Paris.

JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24/7/365

Best Scenic Train Trip

Switzerland on the William Tell Express

Take in a bevy of #Swiss natural wonders aboard the #William Tell Express, a nearly 5-hour boat-train combo trip that links three of the compact nation’s most storied regions: #Lake Lucerne, the #Bernese Oberland (famed for its winter sports), THINK #SkiSwitzerland and #Ticino (the country’s Italian-speaking region). The voyage begins with a 3-hour cruise of Lake Lucerne, a scenic sliver of central Switzerland that showcases the region’s pastoral mountains and the lake’s bright blue waters. Upgrade to the first-class fare available May through mid-October; to dig into a leisurely gourmet lunch on the boat ride before settling down in panoramic train cars. As the carriages chug south toward the #Italian border, marvel at the postcard-perfect views of the #Reuss Valley and the soaring, snowcapped peaks of the imposing #Gotthard Range. The top train trip in Europe’s last leg zips through the historic #StGotthard Tunnel – a 9-mile passageway that was the world’s longest train tunnel upon its inauguration in 1882 – before disembarking in the #Italian-flavored #Bellinzona, where you can opt to switch trains and journey on to #Lugano or #Locarno, close to #Switzerland’s border with #Italy

Best Off-the-Path Train Trip Itinerary

Russia on The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

After years, #Siberia welcomed #Russia’s first elite train trip in May 2007. Although not an exclusively #European itinerary (the line crosses the #Asian border at #Ekaterinburg four days into the voyage), the #TransSiberian Express earns a spot on our list of top train trips in Europe for its daring foray into some of Russia’s most remote and otherworldly landscapes. Holding the title as the world’s longest single-service train (at 5,753 miles), it glides from #Moscow, through the surprisingly beautiful #Siberian tundra, and skims the border of #China to arrive at #Eurasia’s #Pacific coast in #Vladivostok, in 15 days. In that time, passengers soak up the benefits of their fare; departures available May through September) which entitles them to private carriages, technologically tricked out with plasma-screen TVs and DVD/CD players; en suite bathrooms with showers and under-floor heating; and dining delicacies like #Borscht, #caviar. At these rates, you would expect meals to be bundled in and they are, as are alcoholic beverages (including, naturally, vodka), all gratuities, English-speaking guides, and a 24-hour on-call doctor! 

Best Classic Train Trip Itinerary

Venice to Paris on Orient-Express

The Orient-Express – which most famously wound from London to Istanbul – reached legendary status as much for its colorful cast of passengers as for the opulent form of train travel that Belgian creator George Nagelmackers ushered in when he christened the first locomotive in 1883. The original line operated in some form until 1977, but its heyday was in the ’20s and ’30s, when the golden age of train travel in Europe drew kings, spies, and courtesans aboard for indulgent dinners, fine wines, and effortless border crossings. Today, passengers can revel in that history on the modern iteration of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (launched by James B. Sherwood in 1982), set aboard a series of vintage carriages that restores the route to its original lavishness. The signature Venice to Paris voyage,  requires one full day and night (with arrival in Paris the following morning; operates November through March), but passengers are rewarded with onboard luxuries like afternoon tea served directly in the cabin; a black tie-optional, four-course dinner prepared by French chefs in one of three restaurant cars; and ever-changing vistas of the Italian Dolomites and Swiss Alps [Think Agatha Christie!]. I have a great story about my Honeymoon on the Orient Express [a few year ago, wink wink]. From the George V in Paris to the Eden in Rome, with a stop in Venice at the Danieli, followed by a two week Mediterranean – Aegean yacht cruise, ending up in Barcelona.

One meets some really wonderful people traveling like this!

 

JESS@FriendsTravel.com 24/7/365

Best Old-World Style Cars

Great Britain on the Royal Scotsman

Sumptuous accommodations and lavish living await passengers aboard the Royal Scotsman, a nine-car luxury train that epitomizes glamorous, old-world-style rail travel. Choose from seven itineraries; various departures available May through September) that crisscross Scotland, Wales, and England, and prepare for a decidedly intimate experience. The train’s 20 cabins — equipped with private bathrooms, full-length wardrobes, and feather duvets — sleep only 36 passengers, all of whom have access to the train’s on-call cabin attendants and standout observation room, complete with plush armchairs and an outdoor verandah. Formal dinners are not to be missed, as travelers outfit themselves in cocktail dresses, tuxedos, and tartans before indulging in locally sourced meals prepared by head chef, who cut his teeth cooking in London’s Michelin-starred L’Escargot. The #Edwardian décor (think rich marquetry, deep-mahogany paneling, and boldly patterned linens) and gold-star service is perhaps only outdone by the passing countryside, as this top train trip in Europe rolls over stone bridges, past crumbling castles, and through pink heather glens into the heart of the Highlands. My experience was from #London to The Balmoral Hotel 1 Princes Street Edinburgh. One word: Glorious!  #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

 

Another great UK train trip is from #London, to #Cardiff, to #Llandudno with spectacular views of Snowdonia and Conwy Castle, and staying at Bodysgallen Hall. The first time I visited Bodysgallen Hall, I was super lucky and got invited to a reception, and the guest of honor was the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. Many moons ago.  Amazing hotel!

Best Hotel-Like Train

Overnight to/from Spain on Elipsos Train-Hotel

Substituting a hotel stay with overnight travel saves valuable time and funds on tight vacation schedules, but the sacrifice is often a rocky night’s sleep in cramped spaces and little energy to explore the next day’s destination. #Spain’s Elipsos Train-Hotel lines, however, succeed in making an overnight trip on the tracks appealing, practical, and downright relaxing. The sleek trains’ premier compartments claim many of the accoutrement’s of modern hotels (en suite showers, free morning newspapers, complimentary breakfast), and all-level tickets offer cozy sleeping quarters, complimentary magazines, and access to the onboard restaurant and bar. Although the tracks cross four international borders (France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland), we’re partial to the simplicity of the nonstop, 14.5-hour Barcelona to Milan voyage (first-class, one-way rates from $125), which departs year-round from Barcelona’s Estacio de Franca in the evening and pulls into Milan’s Centrale station just in time for the morning’s first cappuccino

Best Engineered Train Line

Norway on the The Bergen Line

Train trips in #Europe are rife with tracks that tackle rugged terrain, traverse imposing mountain passes, and complete staggering feats of engineering in general, but the #Bergen Line of Norway is quite simply one of the most impressive – and a prime example of a trip that can take you places that you might never experience otherwise. As one of Europe’s highest railways, it passes through scenic fjord inlets, and past snowcapped mountains and glaciers, on a 300-plus mile journey (much of which is above the timber line) between the culturally rich city of Bergen in western Norway and its capital at Oslo. The classic 7-hour voyage; available year-round), which celebrated its centenary in 2009, also includes stops at charming mountain towns and ski resorts, THINK #SkiNorway and exhibits many technological accomplishments en route, including passage through a spiral mountain tunnel. The smooth traction and steady velocity of the train does little to give away its constant battle against extreme temps, icy winds, and harsh snowfalls – against which a combination of skilled workers and high-tech equipment is constantly employed to outmaneuver. EMAIL #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

Best Train Trip for Sweet Tooths

Swiss Alps on the Chocolate Train

Sate both sweet and savory cravings aboard the Chocolate Train, a daylong trip (available June through October) that glides through the Swiss Alps with visits to the hometowns of two of the country’s richest culinary creations. The train departs from (and returns to) #Montreux, #Switzerland, and rolls northeast to #Gruyeres, an idyllic medieval hill-town where cheese-mongers still milk Fribourg cows to churn out blocks of the eponymous cheese. A tour of #Gruyeres Castle breaks up the voyage before taking off to nearby #Broc, home to the world-famous #Cailler-Nestle factory. The new,  visitor center, which traces the history of Swiss chocolate from the Aztecs to the present, is educational, but rest assured that there is plenty of chocolate available for consumption, as well – 65 tons of chocolate are produced on-site each day. While traveling aboard this top train trip in Europe, savor the treats inside a Belle Epoque Pullman car, or feast your eyes on the surrounding countryside from a panoramic carriage, which promises unobstructed views of Lake Gruyeres, orderly vineyards, and craggy Alps

Best Coastal Train Trip

Provence and the #FrenchRiviera on TER #Méditerranée

Although the French are known for their high-speed, high-tech TGV train trips, you’ll find some of their most notable routes (and the most authentic French experiences) along their slower, regional tracks. A well-kept secret is their Mediterranean line, TER Méditerranée, which, while not particularly stunning onboard, more than makes up for it with its spectacular location, which straddles the French Riviera coastline as it rolls for 3 hours and 40 minutes from the port city of #Marseille (accessible from Paris in just 3 hours by TGV train) to #Ventimiglia, #Italy, stopping at the Riviera capital of Nice, the resort towns of #Antibes and #St. Raphael, film-famous #Cannes, and high-rolling #Monte Carlo along the way. In the summer, bundled packages cruising through the Marseille calanques and exploring the Posidonie grasslands (home to several thousand protected species) are available directly through TER, but the allure of this top train trip in Europe is making leisurely stops along the way, disembarking at quaint villages and stunning beaches at whim.

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March 7, 2020

#CanadaByTrain! #FriendsTravelWestHollywoodCa90069 #JessKalinowsky JESS@FriendsTravel.com

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See #Canada by Train! An in depth look with VIA Rail Canada. There’s no better time to visit Canada and see it by train! Canada is close and easy to get to, safe and due to a strengthened US dollar, offers more value than ever before!

VIA Rail Canada Vacations on Canada’s national passenger railway system. From the Pacific shores of downtown #Vancouver to the #Atlantic lighthouses of #Halifax, VIA Rail provides coast to coast, long and short haul rail service to Canada’s busiest centers and most beautiful regions. Short-haul services connecting #Toronto, #Ottawa, #Montréal and #Quebec City offers leisure and business travellers alike, fast and efficient service between some of Canada’s largest cities. On board services in economy and business class complete a set of offerings to match any budget and desired comfort level. Long-haul trains connecting Halifax & Montreal and Toronto & Vancouver and other remote regions of the country reflect the system’s longer routes with economy seating or sleeper compartments complete with freshly prepared meals, domed lounge cars and on-board entertainment

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March 10, 2011

Best of The West Train Trip JESS Kalinowsky FriendsTravel.com

 

Journey to the splendour of the American West and The Path of Lewis & Clark.
Best of the West

13 days From $3,695 pp

Round-trip by train to Glacier National Park, Grand Teton,

Arches & Canyonlands National Parks

JESS Kalinowsky

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December 19, 2010

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