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Sunday, 14 October 2012

A celebration of magical train travel in books

Time to hop on board a train or two in our selected books, and experience the thrill of travel, and the pleasure of exploration through authors' eyes. Click on the links of each book to discover more.

EUROPE Inter Rail by Alessandro Gallenzi, Francesco leaves home (Rome) for the first time and embarks on a 2 1/2 week Inter Rail trip to Northern Europe. A chance encounter in Munich, he soon finds himself in the company of Pierre, con artist extraodinaire, and individually and jointly these two characters zip back and forth seeing where life takes them. A bit of Sliding Doors meets Walter Mitty, with a bit of Kafka thrown in. From Rome up to Munich and on to such places as Lund, Amsterdam and England.....and finally back to Rome/Genzano where the last third of the book settles. 

The Grandaddy of train travelogue writers is, of course, Paul Theroux. Our dilemma has been which book to choose. His most recent sees him revisiting Eastern Europe and Asia and charting the changes since he first wrote about this part of the world 30 years ago in "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star". 

"Riding the Iron Rooster" takes him to China and "The Old Patagonian Express" sees him travelling through the Americas North to South...

CUBA It is an island more than 1000 kilometres long and was the sixth in the world (before its colonial master Spain) to have a national rail network. Cuba today feels like a nation at the end of a long, hard war. Peter Millar jumps aboard a railway system that was once the pride of Latin America and is now a crippled casualty case to undertake a railway odyssey the length of Cuba in the dying days of the Castro regime. Starting in the ramshackle but romantic capital of Havana, he travels with ordinary Cubans, sharing anecdotes, life stories and political opinions, to the far end of the island where he meets a more modern blot of American history, the Guantanamo naval base and detention centre. Read more on our blogpost

SWITZERLAND One tour, two trips, 150 years and a world of change apart
In June 1863 an English lady set off by train on the trip of a lifetime: Thomas Cook s first Conducted Tour of Switzerland. A century and a half later, travel writer Diccon Bewes, author of the bestselling Swiss Watching, decided to go where she went and see what she saw. Guided by her diary, he followed the same route to discover how much had changed and how much hadn t. She went in search of adventure, he went in search of her, and found far more than he expected.Slow Train to Switzerland is the captivating account of two trips through the Alps: hers glimpsing the future of travel, his revisiting its past. Together they make a journey to remember.
This is a tale of trains and tourists, of the British and the Swiss, of a Victorian traveller and a modern-day Englishman abroad. It is the story of a tour that changed both Switzerland and the world of travel forever.

Come and share your favourite books in our Comments Box below, the ones you feel chronicle wonderful train journeys, there are so many out there... we love to hear from you.

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