Of Train Rides Not Yet Taken … But May Be.

If you had asked me eight or ten years ago if I would ever take the Trans-Siberian Express, I probably would have said, “Probably not.” Still, that classic ride had been on my to-do list for years.
Something happened five or six years ago that changed my thinking. I guess I realized one day — probably when my back creaked when I bent over to tie my shoes — that there would come a day when I simply wouldn’t be physically able to go running off to some distant part of the globe for some new travel experience. A sobering thought. But a liberating one, too! I just up and called Railbookers in London and said “Do it!” It was an extraordinary experience, of course — worth every minute, worth every dime — and I further resolved not to postpone some of the other rail journeys I’ve been thinking about … that I should just go do it!
So last fall I went to Norway to visit a wonderful couple I met on the Trans-Siberian experience … and to take the absolutely extraordinary train down to the little town of Flam on one of Norway’s extraordinary must-see fjords. Before taking the train to Oslo, I rode the famous Glacier Express from Chur to Brig and on into the Alps to Zermatt. My new resolve was working wonderfully! So what’s next?

I’ll probably have to juggle my schedule, but I’m determined to ride the new Pullman Rail Journeys train … wonderfully restored and refurbished railcars from the Golden Age that are hooked onto Amtrak’s City of New Orleans six or eight times a month. Their consist is a dining car, a lounge car and a couple of sleepers. Furthermore, they’re talking about doing the same thing between Chicago and New York.

Also on my list is the Eastern and Oriental Express which runs between Bangkok and Singapore; the Royal Scotsman, which travels through the Scottish highlands with several stops at distilleries; and the Chinese train running from Beijing to Lhasa, crossing terrain at such an altitude that the rail cars are pressurized.
Which one is next? I don’t know. It’s a lot like opening a box of fancy chocolates and trying to decide which one to try first. The anticipation makes it all the more wonderful when you finally decide and bite into your selection.