After 6 months of respite from organising stupid train trips, it’s just dawned on me that we’ve got simply the most fantabulastic, yet doable, rail odyssey ever outlined here, and it’s just waiting to happen, “just like that”. So this post is merely a declaration that I’m back on the case conjuring up another revolutionary railway ride..
It covers 18 countries, 17 capitals, and half a dozen more of Europe’s greatest other cities. We run from the Arctic Circle to Asia, and the Baltic Sea to the Atlantic. We’ll have coffee on the Adriatic (it will be before lunch in Trieste, but the coffee is highly recommended ), sip schnapps on the Rhine (several times), quaff cognac on the Rhone, grab a grappa on the Straights of Messina, and sup some sloe gin in the channel tunnel on the last lap. We’ll get chance to toast the Danube down to the Dunari (and whatever names the great river has along the way, I’ll be doing the usual research on bridges, tunnels and rivers later in the project) I guess we should make the last couple of miles to catch the Atlantic proper at Cascais when at Lisbon, though I havent worked out what the hard liquor option is for that. You’ve got the night of the summer solstice 140 miles inside the Arctic Circle. Then 4 days and 6 capital cities later you’ll have all day (about 18 hours) to investigate Istanbul. And in the middle of all this you’ll traverse the jaw dropping Bernina Pass in Switzerland (and do the daft viaduct pictured in the banner). You’ll get a good nights sleep every day except for the solstice gig (though I’ve got beds sourced for that if you need to zonk out) And you do all this inside a manageable 2 weeks!.
It’s probably going to cost north of £1,500 once you get back to St Pancras, but it will stuff any rail trip anyone has ever told you about, including the last one. You all know my opinions about the Trans Sib. It takes zero organisation to execute and has the originality of saying you’ve visited the Eiffel Tower. You just wont have ever met anyone who has done what we are proposing, and there’s a bloody good reason for that. It takes (is taking) hundreds of man hours of several train nerds, and several more, to work out.
R & D
The GCERC think tank, currently consisting of the Laird of Glenmutchkin and Der Führer, are about to start picking over the whole route and working out disaster recovery plans and researching the booking which is mind bogglingly difficult. It’s not going to be a case of just handing it over to Shankar, alas. But we’ll also need help working out cool stuff to do when we get off the train, especially on the southern section. Venice, Siracusa, Barca, Madrid and Lisbon in particular. So if you really know any of these places, preferably because you’ve lived there, or anywhere else on the route, then let us know. We have excellent on the ground contacts in Spain, so we wont have to rough it with the riff raff there. I’d like some cute chill-out options in Venice, and Lisbon, if anyone knows these places real good.
I am now being told that Cascais, just outside Lisbon, isn’t the most westerly point of European railways. That accolade belongs to somewhere in the Algarve. Well bollocks to that, we’re doing Lisbon. Also, Pozzallo which is the southerly point of Sicily, can get stuffed too. Siracusa is going to be good enough. So technically we wont be covering the very most southerly or westerly points. Easterly isnt doable in the specified time limit of 2 weeks, but you cant get any further north than we are going and still be on a railway line.
Also, I am told that in order to qualify for some kind of Guinness Book of Records entry we have to spend every night on board. We are going to be on-board every night, apart from in the Arctic Circle where the whole point is to hang out at the camp site there in these groovy huts during the solstice.
Here are the rules
Rule 1. You cant come.
Everyone who can come has already been told. If you are one of them then you are welcome to invite anyone else who you know personally. There are a couple of sections and destinations, Fauske to Narvik in particular, where I’ll need to know exactly how many of us there are going to be. I wont need to know for 12 months yet exactly who’s hot to trot and who’s not.
If you’ve stumbled on this and are thinking you’d like to do this, then great. Rip me off, steal my thunder, contact me even, and I’ll send you all the info I’ve got. But dont you bloody dare turn up unannounced. Any travel blogger who wants to add this to your CV, do it independently please.