We were sick of flying. Sick of airports, the endless waiting, the general unpleasantness of air travel – the whole experience. We decided we wanted to try something different and so, this summer, we embarked on a great continental railway journey (somewhat inspired by Michael Portillo’s fantastic BBC series of the same name). Obviously it needed to be somewhere accessible. Sure, you can go as far afield as Asia by rail if you really want to, but we decided to start small and settled on a trip to the south of France, specifically Nice.
Nice is a lovely city full of beautiful scenery, stunning blue seas and plenty to see and do. We had a great week staying in a lovely apartment owned by a very pleasant ex-pat called Hilary. We did all the “must do” activities such as the customary day trip to Monaco, plenty of visits to the beach and, of course, relaxing and taking it easy!
The night before leaving we stayed in a hotel within spitting distance of St Pancras, catching one of the first Eurostar services of the day the following morning. Before we knew it we were in Paris and dashing below the city to make our connection from Gare de Lyon. The double-decker TGV trains that traverse the country are very comfortable, with ample food and drink services to keep you going and plenty of room to move around. Settling down with a movie on my tablet and taking in the scenery as it whizzed by was such a relaxing way to travel and far more interesting than looking down on clouds and the sea.
After a fantastic week, the journey back was equally as pleasant and we arrived home feeling refreshed and ready to return back to the daily grind. Travelling by rail was certainly a different experience and one that we both really enjoyed. People said to us “but surely it must take forever”, but when you factor in the waiting and travelling to and from the airport, it actually works out about the same time. Yes it’s more expensive and there’s more planning involved, but if you want to try something a little different I’d definitely recommend giving it a go and travelling by rail.
Next time we’re hoping to go a little further afield and have looked at places like Greece and Croatia. Journey’s to these places are obviously a little more involved and involve various changes, sleeper trains and other new experiences – but it’s all part of the fun!