I have always loved rail travel, ever since my parents put me on a train in London when I was TWELVE, and sent me to stay with friends in Vienna. When I think about my 12 year old grandson doing this, I just can't believe that I accomplished this alone. I had to find the right ship across the channel, the right train in Ostend, and then spend a day and a night on it. When I arrived in Vienna I remember writing a postcard to my parents to say I'd arrived. Not even a phone call.
Since then I have criss crossed Europe many times by train--and there is something about the magic of being invisible in a train carriage, being able to peek in through lighted windows, to see daily life played out for a second before we are whisked away to the next village and town. I love going to sleep to the gentle rhythm of a train and waking in a new landscape, a new country. I love that feel of crossing borders. In the past it meant customs and border control coming down the train, stamping passports, looking for smuggled goods. Now it's all so easy within the EU,
I've had plenty of adventures on trains--the time we shared our sleeping compartment with the most disgusting old man who wanted to borrow my hair brush for his greasy, shoulder length hair, and had the most awful habits. The time I helped a girl escape from East Germany. The time (recent) when a clever thief stole John's bag. But mostly I've enjoyed striking up conversations with complete strangers, finding a common language to converse in, sharing their sliced salami and cheese and fruit and setting the world to rights between us.
If you're interested in joining us, please check out the Mystery Rails website. Reservations have to be made by mid August.