The other night I had 2 sleepless hours in the middle of the night, and got around to thinking about my favourite railway trips.
Plenty to choose from! It had been in my mind a couple of weeks ago when I was in Munich, and a train from Prague came in just as mine was leaving.
One of my first was the overnight sleeper from Moscow to Leningrad, back in the 60s. A school study trip, during the Soviet era. Like another planet.
In the early 70s, I went from Toulouse to Casablanca (via Madrid and Tangier) by train. Two overnight journeys, broken by a day of sightseeing in Madrid. I slept well that first night in Casablanca.
I had a few experiences on Thai railways in the 90s. Sleepers between Bangkok and Buriram – in the northeast. A few daytime trips on that route too. I’ll always remember the first day journey – the food was so good in the restaurant car…
The TGV from Paris to Marseille was fascinating. Starting in the cold, grey April of the north. 3 hours later, in the warm, sunny Mediterranean.
The Marrakech Express was fun, and also a journey of contrasts. The industry & commerce of Casablanca giving way to the agriculture of the green coastal strip. Then the arid semi desert. Mud huts with satellite dishes. Famers on donkeys, using mobile phones.
New York to Washington DC on Amtrak was interesting – but not much to see along the way. Great stations at either end, of course.
I’m not sure which I like better – a daytime journey when you can watch the changing landscape, or an overnight one when (for example) you go to bed in a heaving metropolis like Bangkok and wake up in the sleepy rural backwater.
I’ve no ambitions to do more. If one comes along, and it suits the travel arrangements, that will be fine.
I do have one on my wish list, however. It’s the line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh – supposed to be one of the most scenic in the UK. Watch this space, folks!