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on 7 June 2015
A nicely written book and a great idea.
I really took to the writer and his wife as they traveled through Europe.
It was like talking to a friend, he didn't try to be clever, and had a natural wit that I just loved.
Hes the kind of person that you would love on a long journey, he would make the journey speed along
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on 13 August 2013
If you have not travelled on Eurostar - read this book. If you have travelled on Eurostar - it will bring each trip back to your memory! It has encourage us to travel to Europe by train, France, Netherlands and Belgium. A fun book to take as a companion on any (train) journey!
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on 3 March 2014
I found this book while planning rail travel through Europe. I was hooked after reading the sample pages. With Eurostar on my doorstep I often take day trips to Paris and Brussels, and felt I was in the company of like-minded travellers. This is not a guide book, it's a collection of accessible weekend travel narratives, with just enough information to help you decide whether any of the trips are for you. I enjoyed the friendly and often light humorous tone, and felt like I got to know the author, Tom, and his partner. You don't have to read the book in order, I dipped in and out. While I didn't end up travelling around Europe, I did make it to Lausanne, where I found 'Lausanne - beautiful lake beautiful people,' helpful and spot on. I look forward to better use of my weekends, by using this book as my guide, following in the authors footsteps indulging my love of train travel and explore mainland Europe. I suggest you do the same.
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on 16 August 2011
TOM CHESSHYRE'S `Tales from the Fast Trains' offers a seductive glimpse of stress-free travel by train to a range of European cities for a two to three day break.. Today's short break travellers want it all - they long for speed, peace and a provoking change of scene. Chesshyre, a travel writer with The Times, is spot on. His 'tales' capture the zeitgeist with fun and quirky wit.

Chesshyre and his companion sample the art (mainly Rubens) and cast an eye over, but do not buy, diamonds in Antwerp. They have fun in Dijon dissing the Dukes of Burgundy who once ruled this area - take your pick of Bold, Nasty or Good. They discover a Rodin tucked away in a dark corner of the main museum and buy a £12 pot of mustard at the Maille shop. Other destinations include Lille (takes less time to get to than Chesshyre's commute to work) beautiful Bruges, very fashionable Rotterdam, and peaceful Lausanne. Marseille, even covered in snow, takes his fancy.

I feel inspired by this fast paced book. Airports, for all the glitz and glamorous shops, are increasingly busy and bossy places especially for short breaks. Have your boarding passes ready, take off your belt, shoes (who knows what next), allow eight minutes - possibly longer - to reach some distant gate. You arrive exhausted. The newer fast trains make it all so easy - and they are part of the holiday. I'll start with Bruges and include a day in Brussels

Elizabeth Allen
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on 13 July 2011
This is a timely, well-written and ultimately inspiring book in which Tom Chesshyre, a travel writer for The Times, decides to explore the possibilities for weekend breaks around Europe offered up by the increasing number of high speed rail links that have been built in recent years. The author and his girlfriend "E" explore Dijon, Antwerp, Lille, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Lausanne, Rotterdam, Marseilles, Bruges, Tours, Cologne, Girona, and Paris over a six month period. Chesshyre does a beautiful job describing the character of the places he visits and, in addition, also fully imparts a sense of the added enjoyment that travelling by train to these destinations brought him. Apart from the train's green credentials (worthy but probably not your main consideration) the added enjoyment came from the ease of check-in, the central city departure and arrival, the comfort (not only seating but the fact of being able to move around), the sense of being on holiday the moment he boarded the train, and the joy of actually feeling he was travelling (apparently it's a rhythm thing!) and of being able to see and experience up close the changes of countryside and terrain on the way to each destination. The plane will remain the first (and probably only) choice of transport for really long haul holidays, but in "Tales From The Fast Trains" Tom Chesshyre has sold this reader at least on the very real opportunities for taking the train for holiday breaks in Europe, and in a way that makes travel enjoyable again and an integral part of the holiday.
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on 13 March 2016
If, like me, you are an avid fan of the Man in Seat 61 then you may well find that this book fills the gap between the journey and the holiday quite nicely.

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.
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on 12 February 2012
Very easy read. Whilst perhaps not the most amusing or action-packed travel book I have read, this easily kept me engaged as it highlighted some of the attractions and sights of a number of European destinations that are reachable by train for a weekend break. The tone is chatty and the book did give me a real feel for what might be involved in travelling there by train, and what could be achieved in a weekend. I have not yet been on the Eurostar but this book got me looking up prices and time-tables to try one of these destinations myself.
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on 3 July 2014
I tend to agree with other reviewers who found this book tedious, with banal comments between himself and his girlfriend either in person or on the 'phone. Who's interested ?
If you want to read/ research travelling Europe by rail, try "The Man in Seat 61" - both a brilliant website and book.
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on 16 July 2011
Just finished reading 'Tales From The Fast Trains' and wanted to recommend it to anyone who wants something a little different this summer... Like most of us, the author is sick of airport delays and long-haul flights and sets out to explore Europe with his girlfriend by high-speed rail. It's an entirely unique adventure - they visit Dijon, Antwerp, Lausanne, Girona, plus many other places you might not think to go - and now I want to see all these places!

It kind of reminded me of an 'On The Road' by train, cos a lot of these cities are off the beaten track, and there's something existential, meandering, almost questing about all these thousands of miles by high-speed (and not so high-speed) rail. And it's all right here on our doorstep, just a few hours away.

I loved this book. Am ordering copies for all the Europhiles I know. And booking myself a ticket to Bruges...
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on 3 August 2015
I am writing this partly in response to some of the other reviews on Amazon which disparage the narrative inclusion of the author's girlfriend, "E". She is described in one review as "vacuous and ditzy", another as "annoying", and a third as "dull". Funnily, all three reviewers are men.

I quite liked the girlfriend. I'm not a big reader of travel books, but when I do read one, I like a bit of human company. I think I can also see what the author was trying to do. 186 mph may seem - to someone unfamiliar with it, like me - to take a lot of the romance out of train travel. However, the fact that these two were mainly enjoying romantic breaks and a bit of an adventure convinced me, as much as anything could, that romance doesn't die when trains stop being 1920s puffers. Far from it.

In fact, the reason I'm giving it four stars is because I'd like to have known what happened to E in the end. Did the author and she get married? Did they have children? Or what? It would also have been nice to see a few pictures. Maybe of E and Tom enjoying themselves on holiday, with some views in the background.

Part of the trouble with "the girlfriend", if there is one, is that "E" is a bit of a halfway house. The author both does and doesn't want to introduce her (Or maybe he did, and she wasn't keen): hence the single anonymous letter to denominate her. He should really have introduced her properly - Elizabeth Engelmann, 36 Prevost Crescent, Hastings, East Sussex, tel. 01424 567567* - and made the book a full-blown diary of a relationship via high speed trains. That would have been very original and even more enjoyable.

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