Northern Spain by Rail
FEVE Station Bilbao
As you realise I have a thing about travel by train so the thought of the narrow gauge trains which go along the north coast of Spain appealed.
I joined a tour run by Explore, an UK travel company for 12 days travel, we were 2 other couples and a fantastic Basque guide John.
When I went to Perth on the Indian Pacific in 1980 with Emma the train called into a number of small communities, whose sole purpose was to service the train and the railways. All goods were brought to the towns by the train.
On this trip the train stopped for water and fuel at only one community, Cook, but much has changed.
Canning Stock Route & Indian Pacific
The purpose of this trip is to travel down the legendary Canning Stock Route.
However first I need to fly to Broome where I will join the 16 day Outback Spirit tour which ends in Newman. We then fly to Perth. Being a train buff I will return to Sydney by the Indian Pacific.
If you are into excellent customer service this is the trip for you. I travelled on the Northern Explorer from Auckland to National Park, about half way to Wellington, on the central plateau and then from Wellington to Auckland on this great journey.
I am about to start on a 3 week trip to the North Island of New Zealand which includes a train trip, the Auckland Wellington Northern Explorer, described by The Man in Seat Sixty One as
..an epic 681 kilometre (423 mile) journey right across the interior of the North Island, taking you in a single day past every kind of scenery there is, from coastline to volcanoes to mountains, from lush green farmland to thick New Zealand rainforest.
This has made me think about the train journeys I have done and why I am so enamoured of travelling by train.
Aren’t you afraid? I can’t count the number of times I was asked this during the six weeks I spent travelling by myself.
The first 45 days was with a small group of 7 travellers and a terrific young guide.
The 2nd part was my DIY 6 week trip around parts of the Balkans by train. I had a timetable, knowledge of the trains and hotel bookings. It was interesting, I felt safe, met lots of great people and it all went very well.
Going solo seems to create a lot of interest. One very interesting website is wanderinghart.net/travelling-solo
Wanderinghart, who is on an 8 month trip, raises many interesting points which resonated with me. This is certainly worth a read.
Like Wanderinghart for me it was always about the journey. Continue reading
One of the joys of this trip has been the people I have met along the way.
Tour group dressed to enter the Holy Shrine in Mushad, Iran
First of course there were those on the tour from Beijing to Istanbul, 6 women and one man from Australia, all of a certain age but from variety of backgrounds and a very wide range of social and political views. Our guide was a young Russian woman who had grown up in Kyrgyzstan because her grandparents had been sent there as part of Stalin’s gulag. Continue reading
Bridge at Mostar
Rebuilt Old Bridge Mostar
Stari Most (English: Old Bridge) is the enduring image of Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina. The 16th-century Ottoman bridge crossed the river Neretva and connected two parts of the city until it was destroyed in the war in November 1993. This is the reconstructed bridge opened in 2004.
Bran Castle known as Dracula’s Castle
I had no inclination to visit Romania. But I was to end my tour in Istanbul and I wanted to go to Budapest by train so why not stop in Romania.
I am so glad I did. I had very positive experiences.
Memorial to 1989 Revolution
I like travelling by train, I like the fact that trains are on the ground, you can see what you are what you are passing, you can move around, the seats have leg room , you don’t need to go through the hoops of airport security where your toothpaste or water can be tossed in the bin and trains go very often from the centre of cities.
I have had enjoyable, generally comfortable and interesting trips by train in Europe.