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
Liverpool was awarded Capital of Culture in 2008 and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I'd definitely recommend a visit to this interesting city!
Here are my favorite things to do in Liverpool-
1). Ferry across the Mersey - to me this is a must! Listen to ‘Gerry and The Pacemakers’ – “Ferry Cross the Mersey” on a 50-minute round trip cruise
2). The Beatles Story Exhibition Museum and Matthew Street – all things Beatles
3). Albert Dock is Liverpool’s biggest tourist attraction with Shops, art galleries and museums.
4). The Cavern Club – Iconic nightclub found at 10 Matthew Street, the Beatles played here in their early years.
5). The Royal Liver Building, located at Pier Head, is a Grade I listed building and is part of Liverpool’s UNESCO designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City. It lines the cities waterfront and is one of the ‘three graces’, the others being Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building which neighbour it.
6). Superlambanana – a cross between a banana and a lamb! Found at Tithebarn Street
*BONUS* I enjoyed just wandering around the city trying to spot the 125 miniature replicas of Superlambanana - done as part of Liverpool’s yearlong position as European Capital of Culture.
Earlier this year I was contacted by Marco from La Francesca Resort, I must admit the Cinque Terre was not a place I was familiar with so I was instantly interested in finding out some more, and when Marco offered me a stay at the resort I thought it was an opportunity not to be missed. As I researched the area I became more and more excited to be going there myself.
We flew with RyanAir from London Stansted to Genoa for £55 return. As we were only going for a weekend we didn’t need anything other than hand luggage so we were able to bypass any additional charges. Upon arrival at Genoa airport we took a shuttle bus to Genoa Piazza Principle train station, the journey took about 20 minutes and cost 6 Euros for a single ticket. We then had a couple of hours to wonder the winding streets of Genoa before our train left. From there we went to Levanto, which took 1hr10mins and cost 9 Euro for a single ticket. The train journey along the coast was incredible, one minute we had amazing sea views and then the next we were plunged into darkness as the train entered the hillside and through the tunnels that connect the towns. From Levanto it then took 15 mins by taxi to the resort (15 Euros).
The apartments at La Francesca
La Francesca is set on the hillside in 15 hectares of protected land. There are 55 villas and apartments and they all face the sea of the Cinque Terre.
The resort has a swimming pool, mini-market, bar, restaurant, playground, minigolf, two tennis courts, football and volleyball fields, bowls and table tennis. But if you are visiting outside of the main season from June to September it is worth checking what will be open as during our visit in April only the sports facilities were available. This wasn't a problem for us as the weather wasn't quite warm enough for swimming and we bought food in Levanto to cook in the apartment but it is something to be aware of. There is also a Pizza restaurant just outside the resort which can be reached on foot in about 10 minutes but I would suggest that if you are visiting for longer than a weekend having a car would be useful and for many people essential.
The resort also has a small pebble beach and crystal clear bay at bottom of the hill.
Inside our Bungalow
The rooms are very simple, but provided all we needed. When you visit an area like the Cinque Terre, especially if it is only for a few days, it is unlikely that you will spend a lot of time in your room anyway. But we did really enjoy cooking in the little kitchenette and eating out on our balcony in the setting sun.
The Flora at La Francesca
Around the Resort
La Francesca is perfectly situated for a visit to the Cinque Terre and the surrounding area. While we were there we made great use of the dismantled railway tunnels at the bottom of the resort that are now used for walking and cycling. Levanto can be reached in 20 minutes on foot and Bonassola in the opposite direction in 10 minutes. From Levanto you can buy your Cinque Terre pass and catch the train to any one of the five towns or beyond. But it's worth remembering that if you are going to be returning to the resort after dark you better take a torch as the path is not lit until you reach the main road in the resort.
We really enjoyed our time at La Francesca and would recommend the resort as a base to visit the Cinque Terre and surrounding area. But my advice to other travelers would be-
The accommodation is basic, but charming with fantastic views so if all you want is peace and quiet in a beautiful location this is the place for you.
For more information on La Francesca or to make a booking visit their website or drop them an email:
Disclaimer: Although I was invited to visit La Francesca this review and all opinions within are my own
Gorillas in the Mist-
During my final year of University in 2005 I began researching and planning where I’d like to go travelling when I finished. I’d been to South Africa before and felt drawn back to explore more of Africa. When I discovered the Absolute Safari from Nairobi to Cape Town I was determined that one day I would do it. The itinerary was incredible and involved so many things that I wanted to do, white water rafting on the Zambezi, game viewing in many national parks, and the Vic Falls Bungee jump but the number one draw for me was trekking to see Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. I knew it would be something very special, and I wasn’t disappointed.
In December 2006 I was there. After trekking through the forests of Volcanoes National Park for a couple of hours we came across our first gorilla, a mother holding her baby. She was not bothered by our presence, and let us observe her in awe. We moved on a bit further and came across the rest of the group, as we stood there watching the great silverback eat, the other smaller gorillas walked by us and climbed the trees around us. That hour I spent with the Kwitonda Family is and will always be one of most magical moments of my life.
An adorable Baby Tapir named Whinnie-
The first time I met Whinnie she was only a few weeks old. She was brought in to the conservation lodge I was staying at in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, because her mother had been killed by poachers. The top left picture below shows her on the first day. Everyone was worried about her because she seemed so sad and she wouldn’t eat or drink. But slowly she came out of herself. I helped build her shelter and we set her up in a pen with tortoises as company. I came to really love her and spent a lot of time with her. She loved company, when she heard me coming through the jungle she would run to see me and when I put down her food I would stay and hand feed her to encourage her to eat enough. A truly wonderful and unique experience.
Walking with Lions-
Antelope Park in Zimbabwe is a unique game reserve. The activities on offer here include walking the lions through the African bush, no collars, no leads, no fences and playing with the cubs. The Reserve is part of ALERT the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust, a conservation programme working to save the African lion from extinction.
My couple of days spent there were unreal and exhilarating, a once in a life-time experience, and a big cat interaction that sat more comfortably with me than some of the others on offer, especially in South East Asia.
Safari on the Serengeti-
For me the Serengeti is the ultimate Safari destination. Located in Tanzania and Kenya the Kenyan side is known as the Masai Mara. Whilst here I saw so much wildlife, a cheetah chasing its dinner (only a rabbit but amazing all the same), a leopard sitting in an acacia tree, a pride of lions with three young cubs, elephants, rhinos, giraffe, zebra, buffalo and much much more. The only thing I missed was the Great Migration as I was there in December but I will one day go back and experience this to.
Kaikoura Whale Watching-
Kaikoura is on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island and is a top destination for whale watching tours. This was the first and only time so far that I have been whale watching and it was brilliant. The anticipation as every scans the horizon, then the excitement when a whale is spotted and then just watching as it surfaces, spouts water and then dives back down is incredible. We saw Giant Sperm Whales as well as Dusky Dolphins and Fur Seals. I have never seen so many dolphins before and they were all showing off for us, racing alongside our boat and jumping and doing flips in the air.
Elephant sanctuary, Thailand & Kenya-
I feel very lucky to have visited Sheldricks Elephant and Rhino sanctuary in Nairobi, where they specialise in orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation. It is an amazing place and the work they do is so important. To see the bond the elephants have with their handlers and to see the care, attention and support the handlers give back to the elephants is heart-warming. My second elephant encounter was in Chang-Mai Thailand, we had a brilliant day with the elephants culminating in taking them down to the river and bathing them. It really is an amazing experience to be surround by giant elephants and one naughty baby playing in a river.
The Red Colobus Monkeys of Zanzibar-
There are a number of subspecies of Colobus monkeys and they are all native to East and Central Africa. The Zanzibar Reds are considered an endangered species as there are only 1,500 left in the wild, and they are endemic to the main island of the Zanzibar archipelago. When I saw them on Zanzibar they were in a large group sitting together in the trees and bushes eating leaves, grooming each and other while the younger ones played and chased each other around us.
The animals of the Amazon-
I saw so many animals when I was in Peru, and it was brilliant to see them out in the wild living their life as they should be. Particular highlights include seeing a sloth climbing a tree, the first time a saw a tarantula on the forest floor, when a massive group of spider monkeys came by in the tree canopy above the lodge, Capybaras on the side of the Madra De Dios river, Caiman, snakes, an Ocelot, Macaws and lots more beautiful birds.
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?
Huế (pronounced 'Hway') is located in central Vietnam on the banks of the picturesque Perfume River. A Unesco World Heritage site the city is a beautiful blend of imperial history and modern day architecture.
From 1802 to 1945 Hue was the base and imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, this history is evident in the pavillions, pagodas, temples and tombs here.
Some of the main attractions in Hue are the Tombs of the Emperors which are located along the river. We visited the Tomb of Tu Duc, the fourth ruler of the Nguyen Dynasty who reigned from 1848 to 1883.
Set around a lake in beautiful gardens the Tomb was constructed in 3 years and once contained 50 buildings, although some are now in ruins there are many that are very well preserved. Many of the buildings were dedicated to his wives and favored courtesans. Tu Duc had 104 wives and but never fathered a child.
After the Tomb of Tu Duc we moved on to the Thien Mu Pagoda. Set on a hill overlooking the Perfume river the Pagoda is the official symbol of Hue and an icon of Vietnam. Standing at seven storeys it is the tallest Pagoda in Vietnam.
The sign reads 'In this car The Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc went from An Quang Pagoda to the intersection of Phan dinh Phung street and Le van Duyet street on June 11 1963 in Saigon. As soon as he got out of the car, The Most Venerable sat down in the lotus position and burnt himself to death to protest against the Ngo dinh Diem regimes's policies of discriminating against Buddhists and violating religious freedom'
Our final stop was at the main attraction in Hue, The Imperial Citadel, a grand complex of moats, pavilions and temples.
Rovinj is a wonderful fortified town in the Istrian region of Croatia, it is also one of the most visited places in the area.
The Old Town is car-free and is a maze of quaint winding streets and alleys full of shops and galleries leading to the Church of St. Euphemia at the top. The church is the largest baroque building in Istria and it is the highest point in Rovinj. Visitors can climb the tower for an amazing view of the town and its surrounding area.
Follow my photographic journey through the steets of Old Town.
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.........