As a train traveler, do you seek exciting vistas, unbelievable luxury train trips, great dining, all while traveling through gorgeous countryside? Look no further for some of the best train trips available.
Not a dinner train, but also not a multi-night luxury rail tour, Le Massif de Charlevoix is a new entrant into the luxury short-rail market. Traveling between Quebec City to Baie-Saint-Paul and on to La Malbaie, this rail cruise offers not only unique scenery but a sense of history and geography and cuisine prepared with gourmet sensibilities in mind. And the term rail cruise is appropriate given that this train traverses 140 km, 85 of which are in the corridor along the St. Lawrence River shoreline.
The round-trip rail excursion to La Malbaie includes a Charlevoix breakfast on the morning trip, and a four-course gourmet meal on the return trip. If the traveler chooses a longer stopover in Baie-Saint-Paul, there are various “discovery circuits” to choose from, including a gourmet food tour, an outdoor activities circuit and a history and culture trail. The return trip, if the longer visit to Baie-Saint-Paul is chosen, includes a nice gourmet snack, rather than a full, multi-course dinner.
The Charlevoix is a four season region and this rail cruise offers a luxury introduction to the beauty of the region, the people and the fine regional dining. The brainchild of the co-founder of Cirque de Soleil, this train trip is sure to delight the most discerning train traveler.
For further information: http://www.lemassif.com/ or 1-877-536-2774
EUROPEAN TRAIN TRIPS WITH ALTITUDE
The Bernina Express, completed in 1910, travels 38 miles and is the highest railway crossing in the Alps. Train travelers can board in Chur, St. Moritz or Davos and ride on this train that climbs grades of up to 7% to more than 7,391 feet at the Bernina Pass summit, then drops to 1,408 feet at Tirano, Italy. Breathtaking! Riders will view the glaciers of Piz Bernina, viaducts as high as 295 feet, and other natural and man made phenomenon. This is a daytime only journey – of course – and offers first and second class Panorama cars.
Combine your Bernina trip with a ride on the Glacier Express, considered to be the world’s slowest train. The trip takes almost eight hours on two narrow gauge railroads to traverse the 168 miles between St. Moritz and Zermatt. The train passes over 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels, 6,660 foot Oberalp Pass. A simple but great lunch is served to passengers.
The Glacier Express offers first and second class Panorama cars that are wheelchair accessible, with a information system available in 6 languages.
The International Society of Rail Travelers also offers train packages that include the Bernina and Glacier Expresses. www.irtsociety.com, 1-800-478-4881.
THE BEAUTY OF SOUTHEAST ASIA VIA RAIL
Since 1993, the Eastern & Oriental Express has made the three night journey between Bangkok, Thailand and Singapore, with great splendor and wonderful service. The train travels along the Malaysian peninsula through breathtaking scenery and the amenities on the train are incomparable. The cabins are paneled with cherry wood and decorative inlays. All have private baths, and there is 24 hour room service. For the single traveler, this is a train that won’t require the very annoying single supplement, since there are six single Pullmans that are almost as large as the doubles.
Breakfast and afternoon tea is served every day, and lunch and dinner are taken in a lavishly appointed dining room. The cuisine is a delicious blend of Western and Eastern styles. Best of all is the Observation Car at the end of the train. A traditionally decorated space, the car contains a bar that is open all day and well into the night and which offers nightly piano entertainment.
For further information: The Eastern & Oriental Express
THE EMPIRE BUILDER TO GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
While I do love and appreciate our national railroad, Amtrak, I’d be the first to admit that most of the Amtrak journeys would not be considered luxury. That said, however, Amtrak does go to some pretty fabulous places, and one of my favorites is Glacier National Park.
Leaving Chicago on the Empire Builder, you will travel along the shore of Lake Michigan, and then experience fabulous views of the Mississippi. The next day the train will traverse the North Dakota plains, cross the Missouri and arrive at Montana’s Big Sky Country. The Empire Builder, ultimately headed to Seattle, not only provides great scenery, but also fun social events, offering a daily wine and cheese tasting, with wines produced in Washington and cheese produced by artisans in Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. This partnership with small dairy farm operations is very important to maintaining the family farm in the towns along the route of the Empire Builder.
The Glacier Park Lodge was built by the Great Northern Railway and opened in 1913, so this year is its Centennial. What I love most about this trip, aside from the great scenery and activities along the route and in Glacier Park, is that the train pulls right up to the Glacier Park Lodge. Travelers walk about 30 feet to the Lodge. No connections, no taxis, no car rentals – just like in the days of the grand railroad lodges, the train brings you right there.
Once you are checked into the Glacier Park Lodge, you will be able take the excellent transportation throughout the Park, including to the Prince of Wales Hotel in the Waterton, Alberta section of the Park. The Prince of Wales was also built by Great Northern and is a lovely hotel with a very different style than the Glacier Park Lodge. The National Park Service provides extensive information about recreational activities and tours in the park.
This is a fabulous, affordable trip that will be fun, and memorable, for the whole family.