Discoveries About Traveling Through Europe in Winter
Featured in Mapping Megan
Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same.
Helen in Wonderlust
New Zealand by RV
I have to agree, this is an amazing way to explore this incredible country.
Peanuts or Pretzels
Top 10 Reasons to Visit Vancouver
Some great ideas for your next trip.
A Brit and A Southerner
Marrakech- A Colorful Journey
Some beautiful pictures to inspire your wanderlust.
The Selim Family
19 Views from a Plane Window
A window seat all the way, you can't beat some of the views you get from your plane journey. Some of my own pictures are below.
The Travels of BBQBoy and Spanky
I love train journeys (as I have mentioned previously Traveling Adventures- Journeys & Transportation) and I already have two amazing world famous journeys on my bucket list-
1). The Trans Siberian Railway
2). The Orient Express
But there are so many other amazing journeys to choose from, so read on to discover the top 5 luxury train journeys provided by Holiday Lettings from TripAdvisor.
There’s nothing quite like seeing a country from the window of a train as it winds its way through the landscape. And the big advantage of taking the train is that the route often takes you through countryside that’s inaccessible to other transport.
Holiday Lettings takes you on a journey along 5 of the world’s greatest train rides.
Where: The royal blue and cream train makes the trip between Cape Town and Pretoria in South Africa.
How long: The 1,600km journey takes a sedate 27 hours, giving passengers time to take in the scenery as it passes slowly by.
Journey highlights: You’ll see the contrasting South African landscapes rolling grasslands, the barren Great Karoo, spectacular mountain ranges and picturesque vineyards on the way and also stop at Kimberley, famous for its diamond rush and colonial Matjiesfontein. On board, there’s high tea to look forward to before you dress for dinner.
Cost: From R14,060 per person, one way.
Find out more: www.bluetrain.co.za
Where: The journey fit for a maharaja makes the round trip from Delhi to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
How long: The 2,880km trip on this Palace on Wheels takes 7 days.
Journey highlights: The sheer luxury of the train, the food and attention alone make this a ride to remember. On the exterior, high points include the Rajasthan wilderness, the Ranthambore National Park and of course, the Taj Mahal at the end.
Cost: From US$625 per person, per night.
Find out more: www.royalrajasthanonwheels.com
Where: Starting in Edinburgh, the Royal Scotsman runs different train tours around Scotland.
How long: On the Classic Journey (the most popular traveller choice), the 9-carriage train takes 5 days to wind its way around the Scottish Highlands. Other trips take between 2 and 7 days.
Journey highlights: From the bagpiper who plays you onto the train to the evening entertainment in the classic Observation Car, this is a regal experience. It takes in some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery on the way, including the route from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh with its views to the Isle of Skye.
Cost: From about £4,000 per person per trip.
Find out more: www.belmond.com
Where: Crossing Australia north to south between Darwin and Adelaide.
How long: The train takes 3 days to travel the nearly 3,000km separating the two extremes of Australia.
Journey highlights: You’ll see the great Australian outback in all its colours along the way. Sunrise and sunsets are particularly stunning. The train stops at Alice Springs to see the emblematic Uluru and Katherine with its dramatic gorge. Dine on kangaroo fillets in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant Car.
Cost: From AUD$1,569 per person, one way.
Find out more: www.greatsouthernrail.com.au
Where: One of North America’s great train rides takes place between Chicago and San Francisco.
How long: The double-decker superliner trains take just over 52 hours to complete the nearly 4,000km separating the two cities.
Journey highlights: From these train windows you get a taste of the great American scenery, from the Mid-West to the Pacific via the Rockies, Utah desert and Glenwood Canyon. Head for the Sightseer Lounge/Cafée for the best views from the panoramic windows.
Cost: From US$139 per person, one way.
Find out more: www.amtrak.com
One for the Bucket List
Glacier National Park, Montana
So Many Places
Why you don't have to quit your job to travel the World.
Drink Tea and Travel
A few important things to do before leaving for a trip
Eye and Pen
Tomatina-The Worlds Biggest Food Fight
I look back at the blog posts that caught my attention and inspired me throughout August
One for the Bucket list
Exploring Plitvice Lakes National Park
Tips for Women traveling alone in Africa
Helen in Wonderlust
Highlights From Two Months in New Zealand
Never Ending Footsteps
For Wildlife Lovers
Wild elephants in Thailand
Ray & Sue Travel Photography
Video of the Month
When possible I prefer to travel overland rather than flying everywhere. You get to see more of the country you are visiting and it is normally cheaper especially when you are able to save on a nights accommodation. Below is a rundown of the best journeys I have had and the worst. I have used other transportation when traveling, to see cities etc. and they have also been a mixed bunch, the good, great actually- a motorbike tour of Hue, and the bad- a cyclo tour of Hanoi where we barely went anywhere, but the journeys below were used to actually get from A to B.
Of course there have been some bad journeys.
Thailand Buses- I'm sure other people have had far worse experiences but for me in South East Asia the Thai coaches were completely lacking and in comparison to my experiences in Vietnam a much lesser service. These observations were not on one particular journey but over all the journeys I took there. The first night bus I ever took In Thailand was over two hours late with out explanation, then delayed a further 45 minutes to fix the air con, finally left without the air con working, only to stop an hour later because the heat was so uncomfortable to wait for a new coach to come out. We also had over capacity buses where people sat on plastic garden furniture in the aisles and another journey where I had to travel in the drivers bed area as there was no space (in defense of the last occasion I actually felt I had the best seat as i really needed a sleep).
Greyhound Bus- My sister travelled the East coast of America a few years before me so clued me up to her experiences of Greyhounds buses. You may assume that buses in American would be comfortable and well organized but you would be wrong. My sister travelled them a lot more than me and she came away with some really crazy stories of fights, drugged up people, lost drivers, and journeys that took forever. This actually made me look forward to trying them out myself, if also a little apprehensive. The trip I took was from Las Vegas to Rapid City, going through Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and into South Dakota over 30 odd hours, so it was always going to be hard going. First up the bus was late, nothing new here. That first night went fine, but the next day the female driver got into an argument with a passenger traveling with two young children. The passenger needed to get some luggage from the storage but the driver wouldn't let her, the passenger did get a bit irate but it was understandable as she needed a change of clothes for one of her children. At the next stop the driver tried to leave the lady behind and told us so over the speaker system, but changed her mind at the last minute. Then at the next stop she told the lady to change buses, but she wouldn't. We then stopped somewhere else without explanation, none of us knew what was going on until a Sheriff walked on, gun in holster and ordered the lady and her young children off, a massive over reaction and pretty unfair. Which succeeded in putting all of our journeys behind schedule. Later on we changed drivers, we were now over 2 hours behind, but despite this the driver insisted on taking two half hour breaks during the 4 and a half hours we had left until Denver instead of trying to make up any lost time. We should have missed our next bus by hours but as this was running so far behind we actually made it. Quite an experience and the longest time I have ever or would ever want to spend on a bus.
But to be honest this is the variety we all love when we travel, and sometimes the crazy weird journeys are the ones you remember the most so in the end I can take enjoyment from them all.
What was your best or worst journey?
I recently returned from a wonderful holiday in Europe. The sites, the weather, the company, the food & drink were all great. Whilst away I was reading Bill Brysons ‘Notes from a Big Country’. The book, for those who don’t know, is a collection of articles from a column he wrote in a British paper about life back in his homeland of America after 20 years living in England. One of the chapters is called ‘Friendly People’ and it is about how welcoming the neighbours were when he and his family moved to New Hampshire and in general how friendly the people in America are-
‘There are many wonderful things about the United States of America that deserve praise- The Bill of Rights, the Freedom of Information Act and free bookmatches are three that leap to mind- but none is more outstanding than the friendliness of the people.’ (Bill Bryson, Notes from a Big Country)
Now I have never lived in America (but I have been numerous times) and this wasn't written really recently (the mid-90’s), but it did make me remember the friendly experiences I have had in the US. The reason that this chapter stood out and made me think was because this was in stark contrast to the service I was receiving whilst I was away and reading this book. It may seem like a big generalisation but unfortunately friendly service seemed to be the exception not the rule. On this particular trip we spent the majority of our time in Croatia, but also went to Slovenia and Italy. It became a running gag that the waiter/waitress had been to the ‘Croatian School of Customer Service’, no smile, no chat, just blunt sometimes rude exchanges. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that the Croatian people are unfriendly (we meet plenty of friendly and helpful people) just that the service was lacking in friendliness.
On one occasion there were 8 of us sitting outside a bar having a drink. We hadn’t finished but the waitress came out and said ‘you must pay now’. We hadn’t asked for the bill or been given it yet. We may actually have stayed there for another drink but that made the decision for us. One of our party then tried to use the toilet in the bar and got told she couldn’t she must buy a drink, she then pointed out that she had just had a drink. If the bar was really busy you could have understood that they missed this but there were only two other tables in use.
Another time we sat down for a drink at 3 in the afternoon at some tables outside a bar/ restaurant. Again there were 8 of us. The waiter come to take our order, and when someone mentioned that we were only having a drink and not eating he abruptly put his pad away and said, ‘No, goodbye’ and walked away. At first I actually thought it was a joke. Some people may say that this could be down to a language barrier, and yes that was my first thought, but this guy’s body language told us exactly what he thought of us. Of course if they have a policy of being a restaurant only (which wasn’t clear) that’s fine, it was just the way it was dealt with.
We had the same experience time and again.
I have travelled and holidayed in Europe many times and I must admit this isn’t something that I have consciously registered before, but this time it was unavoidable.
I think what all this really highlighted to us was how much we appreciate service with a smile, and there is no one better at this than the Americans. I don’t care that they do the same with every customer, I don’t care that everyone is told ‘Have a good day’, or that they are friendly because they want a good tip. I don’t want a long conversation, that’s not what I’d like at all, but someone that smiles when they greet you, maybe asks if you’ve had a good day, what have you been up to, or just looks after you for that short period of time, makes a big difference. So when you walk out of that bar or restaurant you think that was nice, or maybe you think nothing at all, but at least what you come away with is not a negative experience. So for me I’d take the waiter/waitress from the ‘American School of Customer Service’ every day.
What do you think? Have you had similar experiences?
After being bitten by the traveling bug at 17 I made it my mission to visit, explore, experience as much of the world as possible. 12 years later and this blog looks at where I have been and as always what is next.........