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Saturday, February 14, 2009

9 Best Train Journeys in the World

posted by: Alex Ion

In a modern world where traveling between destinations is viewed as a waste of time and resources, it is hard to actually comprehend the beauty of some of the most spectacular rides on the planet. Far less comfortable, yet far more beautiful and interesting, the time spent between two destinations is equally captivating and offers many sights and sounds.

While we are very much in a century where we have ‘no time to stand and stare’, there are still some awesome train rides across the globe where the trip itself turns into a destination. So how about hopping on these 10 grand train journeys?

Glacier Express

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Arguably the slowest ‘express’ on the planet, the 180 mile ride on this delightful route takes a good 8 hours. Not that we are complaining about the pace as this offers you loads of time to catch a glimpse of the magical panorama that lies on its path, which links the two mountain resorts of St. Moritz and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. 291 bridges, 91 tunnels and an altitude of 6,670 feet make this train ride similar to an expedition through fairyland.

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Images courtesy of Puddles, +Jun+, janetmck

Spectacular, stunning and picture perfect, this is a trip that the shutter bugs will really love!

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

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Images by Stef Flater (1 + 2)

Linking some of the best cities of Europe including London, Venice, Rome, Budapest or Prague, the Orient Express is the most charming way to travel on tracks. With scores of movies, novels and romantic Hollywood scenes captured on this luxurious trip, this is one for those with deep pockets. The three day trip past the beautiful countryside of France, Switzerland and Austria will cost well over 2,000 Euros for the old-age charm of the Orient Express.

Pride of Africa

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The Pride of Africa is a train journey that no nature lover should ever miss if they wish to explore the beauty, majesty and the hidden grandeur of the spectacular Dark Continent at a leisurely pace. Apart from the impeccable comfort it has to offer, the once in a year trip planned on the ‘Pride of Africa’ will take you on a 14-day epic expedition through Cape Town, Dar Es Salaam, Kimberley, Pretoria, the Kruger National Park, Beit Bridge, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Lusaka and through Tanzania to Dar Es Salaam.

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Images by Rovos Rail

Billed as the most luxurious train in the world, you’d better not lose the opportunity if you’re planning a romantic vacation through the heart of Southern Africa.

Eurostar

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Image by lewishamdreamer

While not many will really be happy with the fact that you get to spend plenty of time in the Eurostar under the sea, it sure offers a great mix of comfort and class. Apart from getting you to your chosen destination in a pretty short time, it is a much better option compared to choosing the flight between London and Paris. Innovative …

Flam Railway

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Remember the awesome Norwegian Fjords? Well, here is a train ride through the world’s longest fjord Sognefjord, where on a 20 kilometer trip you’ll get to see an amazing descent from an altitude of almost 3,000 feet into the fjords of Flam. The ride looks both enthralling and hair-raising with its narrow passage way and the unforgettable sights.

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Images by Sugeo, Laurakgibb, kurlvink

A popular tourist attraction in Norway, this is all about exploring unadulterated beauty of nature at a leisurely pace.

Palace on Wheels

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Images courtesy of nzer and rdtc.in

Step on the Palace on Wheels and you will find exactly what you have been promised with the name. The train that starts from Delhi in India and ends up in the royal state of Rajasthan, offers complete luxury on tracks, much like the pampering enjoyed by royal kings in the days long gone. Just to roll back time, a steam engine is used to pull the train initially out of Delhi, adding further to the experience. An elephant welcome in Jaipur, lunch at the Lake Palace in Udaipur, a camel safari near Jaisalmer and an afternoon at the Taj Mahal; the Palace on Wheels is the most comfortable way to explore India.

Eastern & Oriental Express

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All images courtesy of Orient-Express Images

Stretching between the ultra-modern Singapore and Bangkok, and traveling through lush green tropical forests, the Eastern and Oriental Express is modern, stylish and comfortable.

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Apart from all the delights it offers in terms of cuisine and hospitality, the train journey presents a perfect window into South-East Asia, its changing topography and the contrast between its urban present and its naturally-endowed past.

Royal Scotsman

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If you are getting on board the Royal Scotsman, then you must have really deep pockets - it’s the most expensive train ride on the planet. Just consider the fact that a 4-day trip on the Royal Scotsman costs more than an entire 19-day first-class trip on the Trans-Siberian, and you will get the idea. The observation car accommodates 36 passengers (yes, only 36 passengers allowed) in comfortable armchairs along with cabins specially designed for dining and other purposes.

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Images by lolothian, christymacintosh, jeffmcneil

The train pulls over at night when you need to sleep and while the trip offers a great passage through little known waterfalls, mountains and valleys, it is obviously not for everyone.

Trans-Siberian Railway

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There is hardly any doubt that a 6000 mile ride across the vastness of Russia that carries you over a distance of one-third the planet is the grand daddy of them all. The Trans-Siberian train ride is a journey that has already achieved a mythical status for the vastness it encompasses and the magnitude of brilliance that it has in store.

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Images by yeowatzup, brostad, 14589121@N00 (1 +2)

From Vladivostok across Siberia to Moscow and then to St. Petersburg, the 19-day ride offers more than you could ever find on any other train. Carriages once used by the Politburo are fitted with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a sitting/dining-room, complete with private chef. Carrying you in comfort across seven time zones, this is the ultimate experience on tracks.

It is a unique feeling to carry home when your whole journey becomes your destination as there is never a dull moment on your trip. Instead of waiting for fun and good times to start rolling as you sit in your airline seat, the great train journeys turn every moment into a memory you can cherish for a lifetime.

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