Good news, I went through the whole provisional plan and discovered that I’d been put on a bus from Villach to Venice. So on closer examination we can get off at Ljubljana, and thus score an extra capital city, get a train to Sezana on the Slovenia/Italy border near Trieste, and get a cab the 10 miles to Trieste, and still get to Venice 15 minutes before the bus would have. I also noticed that the Budapest to Belgrade train actually runs down to Sofia, so we can do the Bulgarian capital on the way down, and the Serbian on the way back.
the only other “cheating” on the road is a bus from Bodo to Narvik, which is hardly cheating really, and we have to bus it back from Pozzallo to Siracusa, but just getting down to Sicily in the first place is a feat I thought I might have to discard.
So Cascais, Narvik, Istanbul and Pozzallo, plus the Bernina express, and enough time at least for a very sharp beer in I think about 14 capital cities, plus the likes of Barcelona, Istanbul, Milan and Geneva which are honorary capitals in their way. A morning in the Julian Alps including an hout for a coffee in Trieste, then an afternoon in Venice.

Germany gets a raw deal, we’ve 40 mins in Hamburg, and half that in Dortmund, to do the Gemanic brewing industry justice. But the real shocker is now Austria, which we’ve some how managed to avoid in both directions. Sorry guys. We get 2 hours riding through Slovakia as pay back for that, which helps the convexity of the trip.

Poland and Finland are also notable absentees, but I’ve got an idea for an eastern version which would include the train to Kars from Istanbul, then Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Urals, round Russia and  up to Finland, then back through the Baltics and ending up in Berlin.

The route is here, on the page called route