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Tales from the Fast Trains: Europe at 186 mph Paperback – 4 Jul 2011
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'Make a note to buy this... If you're tired of the endless delays and extra costs at airports, this book will inspire you to hop on a train. Discover hidden delights of Europe with no hidden charges or taxes. It's a fun-packed read, as well as being very informative.'(Prima)
Featured on(Excess Baggage BBC Radio 4)
About the Author
Tom Chesshyre’s train travels include an 11,000-mile jaunt around Europe for his book on the European high-speed train revolution, and thousands of miles more across the UK for his weekly hotel column in The Times. Tom has visited 94 countries for his writing.
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I really wasn't sure what to expect at first, having read some pretty awful travelogues previously., and rather fearing that the high speed rail theme might prove to be a rather flimsy one on which to hang a whole book. The author writes in an engaging and friendly way however, seemingly making the choices or thinking the thoughts that many an ordinary traveller would - and so bringing to life these disparate locations in a way that neither holiday catalogue no weighty travel tome can match. This is perfect for the dreamer, the person who browses Seat 61 and wishes they could be on that train, or who reads this book and is Readily transported to the shores of Lake Geneva or a beer Hall in Cologne. But, as the author demonstrates, these short trips to the continent needn't remain dreams, they are all within relatively easy reach at fairly affordable prices.
So, whether you're actively planning your next city break, dreaming of where you might want to go, or simply fancy a bit of escapism this is a fun and interesting book to read.
However, I decided to persevere and in the end I was glad I did, as I got used to the routine and found that the descriptions of the various destinations gave a good idea of their character and atmosphere. What really made a difference and brought the trips to life was when I stared to follow the itinerary using Google Maps and street view so that I coud see the actual places they visited, including the hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars. This was particularly useful in places like the Grote Markt in Antwerp where you get a real sense of the grandeur of the buildings. It also opened my eyes to some wonderful modern architecture in places like Rotterdam and Lille.
In the end I was sorry the trips came to an end as, used in conjunction with the Google maps, they were the next best thing to being there and helped cheer up a few dark and wintery afternoons in gloomy Britain.
Only question: why so coy about E's name?
If you want to read/ research travelling Europe by rail, try "The Man in Seat 61" - both a brilliant website and book.