So, apart from having so much fun, why are we addicted to travelling by train? Well, according to the website The Man in Seat 61
, you can cut your CO2
emissions by up to 90% by taking the train rather than flying. This is certainly not an exact science and other sources will claim 50% (or lower) but what is undoubtedly true is that avoiding a flight when there are easy alternatives is probably the biggest single thing that an individual can do to cut their carbon footprint. We have sweltered in record October heat in Portugal, seen the shrinking glaciers in Switzerland, and heard locals everywhere complain that the seasons are all upside down. Climate change is happening and we have to take it seriously.
Another huge plus is the real sense of journey – you are not whisked from one world to another but have chance to appreciate the gradual changes between landscapes and cultures, food and climate. And so much time to read and relax, what luxury.
There are drawbacks of course: it takes longer and costs more. The trick to overcoming both is to think of your journey not as an uncomfortable experience that has to be endured (like most air travel) but as a stimulating, thoroughly enjoyable, part of the holiday.
So, how do we go about planning our journeys? We start with a quick look at the excellent Man in Seat 61 website to get an idea of the possibilities and then we put ourselves in the hands of the wonderful Kylie, Inntravel’s rail travel expert (pictured hard at work above!), who comes up with the most amazing itineraries for us. If we decide to spend a day or two in a city en route, a hotel will be booked and city information, often including sightseeing routes, provided. Whatever we want to do, Kylie will make it work and add lots of little touches to our plans. Her enthusiasm is boundless – I always remember her excitement when we decided to travel to Slovakia by rail as we were the first Inntravel clients to have done so.
And if things go wrong, Inntravel doesn’t let you down. A couple of years ago, we were walking in the Dordogne when the incessant rain of our last two days plunged much of France underwater, coinciding with a widespread rail strike. But Inntravel rang us and calmly told us that we were being switched to a station that was not on strike. They then kept in touch throughout our journey through the floods, providing instructions on what to do if we missed our Eurostar connection (we didn’t), and giving us their 24-hour emergency helpline number in case we needed further assistance after the office had closed.
So, where next? Well, we’re really excited. We’re off to Norway via Germany and Denmark and Kylie has plans for us along the way. Lots of plans. Oh, in this grey English January I’m so looking forward to steaming up the coast of Norway on the Fjord Line ferry and arriving in Bergen in style.