It turns out you can take the train from Paris to Milan – that’s three countries, seven-ish hours, and zero connections – for the princely sum of £20. As my colleague said when I mentioned this to her, “We live on the wrong continent.”
That train journey is now at the centre of my next great adventure, which will take me from London to Paris to Greece with no aeroplanes involved. (Well, except for the one that will get me from Canada to the UK and back again.) I’ll travel through France, across the Alps, down the coast of Italy, and across the Aegean Sea (by boat, not train for that last). It will take three days, all told, which includes two seven-hour train journeys and an overnight boat. And I can’t wait.
I love trains. I get motion sick on every damn thing that moves EXCEPT trains. I love that I can see the landscape unroll around me. In my travel around Morocco, one of my favourite moments was perching in a window seat on the train journey from Marrakech to Casablanca, getting to see the country without intruding on it.
Taken out the window of the train between Marrakech and Casablanca, November 2009
I didn’t think this epic trip would actually be possible when I started googling. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to visit Paris or tour around Greece, and when I started to check if I could somehow do both I stumbled on the website of The Man in Seat 61.
“Flying has lost its glamour. Many of us now want a more rewarding, low-stress alternative to flying, which brings you closer to the world you live in and reduces your contribution to climate change. It’s time to rediscover real travel by train or ship, where the journey itself is an adventure.”
Which pretty much sums up how I feel. The journey itself is the adventure. The website broke down the exact trip I wanted to take into easy steps, with all of the relevant links provided. Like a gift from the gods. And it may have also provided ideas for enough future adventures to last me the rest of my life.
So I’m in the depths of planning and personal logistics at the moment, but that may just be the best part. Because right now, the adventure can be anything I want it to be. It’s a daydream. It’s anticipation.
I’ll keep you posted as I nail down the nuts and bolts. But in the meantime, where do you dream of going? What’s your next adventure? Are there any other rail travel junkies out there?