And For My Next Trick

Rebooting
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.

Route Integrity
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.

Rules

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.

10 thoughts on “And For My Next Trick

  1. Darren Foreman

    I was just boasting about being invited to this a couple of days ago; I absolutely cannot wait.

    Went to Lisbon twice in 2010, it’s a great city, though hilly. Lots of places to grab a beer or a port, and some entertainingly steep trolley cars to take a trip on: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsf/4568528359/ The train to Cascais goes through Belém, a Lisbon suburb (see other photos in my set, of towers and monuments and a palace), where you can buy great pastries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastel_de_nata

    Reply
  2. Laird o'Glenmutchkin

    That’s Glenmutchkin by the way!
    Venice = vaparetto ride. We might be pushed to do the outer limits of the network such as the Lido but should have time for a spin down the Grand Canal. There is also a highly recommended restaurant (which I failed to find) that is described as “like eating in a railway carriage”. Or would that be too much of a good thing?

    Reply
    1. Lester Post author

      sorry, I’ll change that back and remember to interrogate why t not n sometime.\
      the restaurant sounds fab,

      Reply
  3. Sarah Luckham-Down

    Might I suggest that the Booze option in Cascais should be Moscatel? This is produced in the area around Lisbon, and can be drunk chilled or a room temperature. The ‘Don’t Miss’ sights in the area are the Palaces at Queluz (in the middle of a run-down housing estate, most incongruous) and UNESCO site Pena Palace at Sintra. This is a bonkers Disney style castle – you can imagine what they were on when they built it…

    Reply
    1. Lester Post author

      Why thank you, it’s moscatels all round.

      We’re going to have to go via Amsterdam and Brussels (no stop off in Belgium), I have decided. It means a budget hit (you have to pay extra for the sexy looking Thalys high speed train) , but 19 capitals sounds so much better than 17. So we’re going to have to come up with something more imaginative than touring a certain well know near by district to the railway station, perhaps. Or perhaps not.
      That will lead to some revolting Germans due on the trip, as Berlin is conspicuously absent. Adding Berlin would mean effectively having another night off the train, though I know some student place where you can rent these mini dorms, so we can have a late night with the Berliners and then still catch a few hours kip. It would mean an extra day but I should be able to work Prague into it, and then we’d have 21 countries and capitals (actually I think we get a drive through of Bratislava, so 22 with about 16 actual visits!).
      Also the summer solstice timing is probably going to have to slip back into school hols. We’ve one candidate who would be an excellent team member who cant make term time, and frankly I’m going to get my head kicked on that, so it’s gonna be 1st 2 weeks of summer hols 2013.
      I’ll blog these developments later.

      Reply
  4. Laird o'Glenmutchkin

    If Moscatel is OK for Lisbon that must mean that Marsala would be a suitable beverage for Sicily. Amsterdam and Prague are fine by me – more trams.

    Darren – fascinated by your photo of the tram in Lisbon. How do they avoid head on collisions?

    Reply
  5. Stoy

    No worries about the Sofia set-up – im taking care of hospitality there. Lets just hope that the Bulgarian railway company does not go bust in the next few weeks. Ill keep you posted!

    Reply
    1. Lester Post author

      Well, alas, as a result of our more convex Bucharest down and then Belgrade on the way back route, we only drive through Sofia, we dont get off. Though a train side delivery of home brew hooch, and some cured meats, would be good. We arrive at a civilized 12:25.

      Reply
      1. Stoy

        Well – bonus for me to see Bucharest for the first time and revisit Belgrade after 20 years. HOWEVER everyone else will be missing to see lovely Sofia!!!😉

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