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Journey Through Time: Aboard the Al-Andalus from Seville to Cadiz

All Aboard the Al-Andalus: A Rail Enthusiast's Odyssey Through Spain's Cultural and Culinary Tapestry

Introduction: The Quintessential Journey for the Discerning Traveller

Picture a voyage that goes beyond mere travel, melding the allure of vintage rail with the richness of Spain’s history, culture, and gastronomy. Step aboard the Al-Andalus, a luxury train experience more akin to a five-star hotel on wheels than any standard mode of transport. This isn’t merely a train ride; it’s a time-travelling odyssey, a curated experience tailored for a select group of travellers—those who yearn for more than just a destination.

So, who is this journey for? It’s for the rail aficionado who delights in the mechanical artistry of locomotives, who can marvel at the intricate engineering behind a Series 3000 engine or the craftsmanship involved in restoring a vintage carriage. It’s for the history enthusiast who longs to wander the maze-like corridors of Seville’s Alcazar Palace or stand in awe of the architectural wonder that is the Mezquita in Cordoba. It’s for the gourmet who savours the chance to indulge in Andalusian gastronomy, from the creamy ‘salmorejo’ of Seville to Cordoba’s deep-fried ‘flamenquín.’ And it’s for the oenophile who relishes the nuanced complexities of a local ‘Manzanilla’ or ‘Montilla-Moriles.’

In essence, the Al-Andalus experience is for the discerning traveller, someone who seeks not merely to see but to comprehend, not just to taste but to savour, and not simply to travel but to become immersed in the landscapes, histories, and cultures that unfold along this extraordinary route.

The Journey Commences: Seville

As you step onto the platform at Seville’s Santa Justa station, a palpable sense of anticipation fills the air. Waiting for you is the Al-Andalus, a living museum of vintage engineering and opulence. This isn’t just a train; it’s a time capsule that promises to transport you to an era where travel was an art form, not just a means to an end.
The locomotives are the heartbeat of this journey, restored masterpieces from the golden age of rail travel. Each engine has its own tale, its own legacy. Take, for instance, the Series 3000 locomotive, a feat of engineering with a 12-cylinder, 1,800 horsepower engine capable of reaching speeds up to 140 km/h. Despite its power, it moves as smoothly as if floating on air, a tribute to the craftsmanship of a bygone era.

The carriages are equally enchanting. Named and steeped in history, they once transported the British Royal Family on their European journeys. Painstakingly restored, each carriage is a mobile palace, complete with wood panelling, brass fixtures, and plush upholstery that transport you back to an era of unparalleled luxury. The “Gibralfaro” dining car, for example, is a marquetry masterpiece, its intricate wooden inlays narrating tales of craftsmanship and opulence. The “Alhambra” lounge car, with its cosy armchairs and well-stocked bar, serves as a social hub, inviting passengers to mingle and share stories as the Spanish countryside rolls by.

Seville: A Living Mosaic of History and Culture

alcazar palace shutterstock 2055937781Seville itself is a dynamic tapestry of history and culture. The Alcazar Palace is a labyrinth of architectural splendour, each chamber more lavish than the last, each garden a sanctuary of tranquillity. The Seville Cathedral, a towering edifice of Gothic grandeur, stands as a monument to both divine and human ambition. And the Giralda tower, once a minaret and now a bell tower, offers panoramic vistas that stretch from the bustling city to the tranquil countryside.

But Seville is more than its landmarks; it’s a sensory experience. The air resonates with the strumming of guitars and the rhythmic claps of Flamenco dancers. In the historic district, tapas bars serve culinary delights ranging from ‘salmorejo,’ a creamy tomato soup, to ‘flamenquín,’ a mouth-watering dish of ham-wrapped pork loin. And for wine aficionados, a glass of ‘Manzanilla’ is the perfect companion, its crispness and subtle saltiness embodying the spirit of Andalusia.

Cordoba: A Melting Pot of Cultures

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The voyage to Cordoba is a journey through time. As the Al-Andalus pulls into the station, its vintage elegance contrasts sharply with the modern, utilitarian designs of the 21st-century trains sharing the platform. Cordoba is cradled along the banks of the Guadalquivir River, framed by the distant Sierra Morena mountains. The city’s architecture, a blend of Roman, Islamic, and Christian influences, is complemented by its natural surroundings. Gardens filled with orange trees and fountains offer a tranquil respite from the city’s bustling streets, while the river provides a serene backdrop to the city’s historic centre.

The Mezquita, Cordoba’s architectural jewel, is a mesmerising blend of Islamic and Christian influences. Once a grand mosque, it was transformed into a cathedral following the Reconquista. Its forest of columns, adorned with intricate horseshoe arches, creates an almost otherworldly atmosphere. But the Mezquita is just the beginning. The Roman Bridge, a relic from Cordoba’s distant past, offers a different but equally compelling vista, its ancient stones framing the city’s historic centre.

Cordoba’s rich history extends beyond its monuments. The city was once the intellectual and cultural heart of Islamic Spain, drawing scholars and poets from across the medieval world. This legacy is still felt today, especially in the narrow, winding lanes of the Jewish Quarter, or ‘Judería.’ Here, synagogues stand alongside churches and mosques, a testament to the city’s diverse past.

And then there’s the food. Cordoba’s cuisine is a reflection of its multicultural history. ‘Salmorejo,’ a local variation of gazpacho, is a must-try, its creamy texture and rich flavours a culinary hug in a bowl. ‘Flamenquín,’ a deep-fried dish of ham and pork, is a guilty pleasure that’s worth every calorie. And to wash it all down, the local ‘Montilla-Moriles’ wines offer a range of options, from crisp whites to robust reds.

The Heart of Andalusia: Cordoba to Ronda to Cadiz

As the Al-Andalus departs from Cordoba, the train traverses the heart of Andalusia, revealing glimpses of the region’s diverse geography. The landscape gradually shifts from the arid plains and rocky outcrops near Cordoba to the dramatic cliffs and gorges as the train approaches Ronda.

This leg of the journey is a rail enthusiast’s dream, as the train negotiates a series of challenging gradients and tight curves, showcasing the engineering prowess that keeps this vintage marvel running smoothly.

Ronda: Where Natural Beauty Meets Historic Charm

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As the Al-Andalus winds its way through the dramatic landscapes of Andalusia, it eventually reaches Ronda, a town perched on the edge of the El Tajo gorge. The train station here is a charming structure that echoes the town’s rich history, serving as a gateway to a place where natural beauty and human ingenuity exist in harmony.

Ronda is perhaps best known for its breathtaking Puente Nuevo, a stone bridge that spans the gorge and offers views that are nothing short of spectacular. But beyond its natural wonders, Ronda is a town steeped in history, from its ancient bullring to its Moorish palaces. For the rail enthusiast, even the journey to Ronda is a treat, as the train negotiates a series of challenging gradients and tight curves, showcasing the engineering prowess that goes into keeping this vintage marvel running smoothly.

Whether you’re exploring the cliffside gardens or wandering through the cobbled streets, Ronda offers a blend of experiences that make it a unique stop on this already extraordinary journey.

The Final Leg: Ronda to Cadiz

Upon leaving Ronda, the train journeys through landscapes that serve as a prelude to the coastal vistas that await. The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park looms in the distance, its peaks giving way to the expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean as the train descends towards Cadiz. The ocean comes into view, its vast expanse a testament to Cadiz’s maritime history, setting the stage for the final chapter of this extraordinary journey.

Cadiz: The Timeless Marvel

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The Al-Andalus’s arrival in Cadiz feels like stepping back in time. The station, a charming relic that harks back to the golden age of rail travel, serves as a fitting introduction to a city that has witnessed millennia of human history. Founded by the Phoenicians, Cadiz has seen empires rise and fall, each leaving its indelible mark on the city’s architecture, culture, and cuisine.

Cadiz is a city defined by its relationship with the sea. Situated on a narrow slice of land jutting into the Atlantic, the city offers stunning seascapes from almost any vantage point. The beaches, from La Caleta to Playa de la Victoria, are expansive, with golden sands meeting the azure waters of the Atlantic. The city’s numerous watchtowers, including the Tavira Tower, offer panoramic views that encompass both the ancient city and the boundless ocean, a visual testament to Cadiz’s enduring allure.

The Cadiz Cathedral, an imposing structure with a golden dome, stands as a testament to the city’s religious and architectural evolution, its design a blend of Baroque and Neoclassical influences. But Cadiz offers more than just visual delights. The city’s cuisine is a reflection of its maritime history. ‘Pescaíto frito,’ an assortment of fried fish, is a local staple, its flavours as varied as the catch of the day. And for those who appreciate the finer things in life, a glass of ‘Fino,’ the local sherry, is a must. Complex, nuanced, and endlessly fascinating, it’s the perfect metaphor for Cadiz itself.

The Final Call: Where Engineering Marvel Meets Unforgettable Experience

As the Al-Andalus comes to a graceful stop back at its starting point, you’re left with a sense of both fulfilment and a yearning for more. Fulfilment, because you’ve just traversed a living museum of rail history, each carriage a testament to craftsmanship, each engine a marvel of mechanical artistry. Yearning, because the train, the landscapes, the architecture, and the flavours have all left an indelible imprint, whispering an invitation to return.

Picture this: You’re a rail enthusiast, and here is a train that not only serves as a luxurious mode of travel but also as a tribute to the golden age of railways. Imagine the thrill of exploring the Series 3000 locomotive, its 12-cylinder engine a masterpiece of engineering. Consider the joy of dining in the “Gibralfaro” car, where the intricate marquetry tells stories of a bygone era of opulence and attention to detail. This is not just a train; it’s a curated gallery of rolling stock history, a dream come true for anyone who has ever felt the romance of the rails.

But perhaps you’re also an experience seeker, someone who craves the unique and the unforgettable. Imagine sipping ‘Fino’ sherry as the sun sets over the Atlantic, its golden rays illuminating the ancient city of Cadiz. Envision yourself lost in the labyrinthine corridors of Seville’s Alcazar Palace, where history comes alive around every corner. Picture the awe of standing amidst the forest of columns in Cordoba’s Mezquita, a monument to the city’s rich, multicultural past.

So, as you ponder the rich tapestry of experiences that have unfolded over this extraordinary journey, ask yourself: Isn’t it time you were a part of it? The Al-Andalus offers more than just a trip; it’s a multi-sensory voyage through time and space, a journey that appeals to both your inner rail enthusiast and your craving for the culturally rich and exotic.

The tracks are laid, the engine is primed, and a world of unparalleled luxury and fascinating history awaits. All that’s missing is you.


Exploring Cultural Heritage Through Rails: A Journey Across PTG Tours' Destinations

Embark on a Journey of Discovery with PTG Tours: Explore Scenic Railways, Ancient Wonders, and Hidden Gems Across Diverse Destinations

Introduction

In an age where travel has become synonymous with crowded airports and hurried schedules, the allure of a leisurely train journey is a refreshing reminder of a bygone era. PTG Tours, a renowned travel company, has tapped into this nostalgia, offering luxury escorted rail-based tours that promise not only comfort and elegance but a unique exploration of cultural heritage.

Rail travel has always had a romantic charm, a slow-paced elegance that allows travellers to truly immerse themselves in the landscapes and cultures they traverse. It’s a window to the world’s hidden gems, a journey through time, and a celebration of human ingenuity and artistry. PTG Tours has masterfully captured this essence, crafting tours that are not just about reaching a destination but about the experience of the journey itself.

With PTG Tours, travellers are invited to explore off-the-beaten-track locations, delve into history, and engage with local customs and traditions. From the majestic peaks of the Dolomites in Italy to the rugged landscapes of the Balkans, from the world’s first demarcated wine region in Portugal’s Douro Valley to the ancient wonders of Mexico, PTG Tours offers a rich tapestry of experiences.

This article embarks on a journey across some of PTG Tours’ most popular destinations, highlighting the unique blend of rail travel with cultural exploration. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a rail aficionado, or someone looking to discover the world from a different perspective, PTG Tours’ rail journeys offer an unparalleled experience.

Join us as we traverse scenic landscapes, explore historical landmarks, and indulge in culinary delights, all from the comfort of a train carriage. Let’s rediscover the joy of travel and the profound connection between rails and cultural heritage.

 

Rails and Lakes of the Dolomites (Italy)

rail travel holiday dolomitesNestled in the northeastern part of Italy, the Dolomites stand as a majestic testament to nature’s artistry. These towering limestone peaks, part of the Southern Limestone Alps, are not just a visual spectacle but a UNESCO World Heritage Site. PTG Tours invites travellers to explore this breathtaking region through a unique rail journey that combines scenic beauty with cultural richness.

A Scenic Train Journey

The adventure begins aboard a vintage train, winding through lush valleys, alpine meadows, and picturesque villages. The Dolomites’ rail journey is not merely a mode of transportation; it’s a moving canvas that paints the landscape in ever-changing hues. As the train chugs along, passengers are treated to panoramic views of jagged peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and dense forests.

Exploration of Local Culture, History, and Architecture

The Dolomites are not just about natural beauty; they are a melting pot of cultures and traditions. The region is home to three linguistic groups: Italian, German, and Ladin, each contributing to a rich cultural tapestry. PTG Tours ensures that travellers get an authentic taste of this diversity through guided tours of historical sites, architectural marvels, and local markets.

The journey includes visits to mediaeval castles, ancient churches, and traditional Tyrolean houses. The blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture tells a story of a region shaped by centuries of artistic evolution.

Highlighting Unique Experiences: Lake Molveno

One of the highlights of the tour is a visit to Lake Molveno, often referred to as “the jewel of the Dolomites.” Surrounded by dense forests and towering mountains, Lake Molveno offers a tranquil escape. Whether it’s a leisurely boat ride, a lakeside picnic, or a hike along the trails, the lake provides a perfect setting for relaxation and reflection.

PTG Tours also offers opportunities to engage with local artisans, taste regional delicacies, and participate in traditional festivals. It’s a journey that transcends mere sightseeing, allowing travellers to become part of the local fabric.

Reflection

The Rails and Lakes of the Dolomites tour by PTG Tours is a celebration of nature’s grandeur and human creativity. It’s a journey that resonates with the soul, leaving travellers with memories etched in the heart of the mountains. From the rhythmic sound of the train to the gentle lapping of the lake, every moment is a melody, a symphony of sights and sounds that defines the essence of travel.

Vintage Slovenia (and Lake Bled)

Slovenia rail holidaySlovenia, often overshadowed by its more renowned European neighbours, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. With its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and unspoiled beauty, Slovenia offers a unique travel experience. PTG Tours’ Vintage Slovenia tour is a celebration of this lesser-known destination, taking travellers on a nostalgic train ride to discover the country’s treasures, including the enchanting Lake Bled.

Introduction to Slovenia’s Hidden Gems

Slovenia is a tapestry of stunning vistas, from the towering peaks of the Julian Alps to the serene waters of its lakes. The Vintage Slovenia tour is a journey through time, connecting mediaeval castles, charming villages, and lush vineyards. It’s a window to a world that retains its authentic charm and traditions.

The Train Journey to Lake Bled

The highlight of the tour is a scenic train ride to Lake Bled, a fairy-tale destination nestled in the heart of the Alps. As the train winds through picturesque landscapes, travellers are treated to panoramic views of mountains, forests, and meadows. The rhythmic sound of the train, the ever-changing scenery, and the vintage charm of the carriages create a magical experience.

Lake Bled’s Historical Significance

Lake Bled is more than just a visual spectacle; it’s a place steeped in history and legend. The iconic Bled Castle, perched on a cliff overlooking the lake, tells a story of power, romance, and intrigue. The church on Bled Island, reached by traditional wooden boats called “pletna,” adds to the mystical allure of the lake.

Visitors can explore the castle’s museum, enjoy traditional Slovenian pastries at lakeside cafes, or take a leisurely stroll along the lake’s shore. Every corner of Lake Bled is a postcard, a snapshot of Slovenia’s timeless beauty.

Local Customs, Traditions, and Culinary Delights

PTG Tours ensures that travellers get an authentic taste of Slovenia through guided tours, culinary experiences, and cultural interactions. From tasting local wines and cheeses to participating in traditional festivals, the tour offers a glimpse into the Slovenian way of life.

Reflection

The Vintage Slovenia tour by PTG Tours is not just a holiday; it’s an exploration of a country’s soul. It’s a journey that resonates with those who seek the extraordinary, who yearn to connect with places beyond the tourist brochures. From the ethereal beauty of Lake Bled to the warmth of Slovenian hospitality, every moment is a memory, a reflection of a world waiting to be discovered.

Classic Montenegro and Serbia

Montenegro rail holiday

The Balkans, a region rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, has long been a crossroads of civilizations. PTG Tours’ Classic Montenegro and Serbia tour offers travellers an opportunity to explore this fascinating part of Europe through a unique rail journey. Connecting fortified towns, mediaeval monasteries, and rugged landscapes, this tour is a blend of contrasts and harmony, a celebration of the Balkans’ unique identity.

A Journey Through Time and Landscape

The Classic Montenegro and Serbia tour begins with a scenic train ride that offers panoramic views of mountains, rivers, and valleys. The landscapes of Montenegro and Serbia are diverse and dramatic, ranging from the coastal charm of the Adriatic Sea to the vibrant energy of bustling cities like Belgrade.

The train journey itself is a historical experience, traversing routes that have witnessed centuries of trade, conflict, and cultural exchange. It’s a moving history lesson, a window to the soul of the Balkans.

Exploring Fortified Towns and Mediaeval Monasteries

The tour includes visits to some of the region’s most iconic landmarks. In Montenegro, the fortified town of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a glimpse into mediaeval architecture and maritime history. The narrow streets, ancient churches, and imposing walls tell a story of a town shaped by centuries of influence from various empires.

In Serbia, the tour takes travellers to mediaeval monasteries like Studenica and Sopoćani, renowned for their frescoes and architectural significance. These monasteries are not just places of worship; they are repositories of Serbian art, history, and spirituality.

Cultural Insights and Culinary Delights

PTG Tours ensures that travellers engage with the local culture through guided tours, culinary experiences, and interactions with local communities. From tasting traditional Balkan cuisine to attending folk performances, the tour offers a sensory immersion into the region’s cultural fabric.

The journey includes visits to local markets, where travellers can sample regional delicacies, purchase handmade crafts, and observe the daily life of the people.

Reflection

The Classic Montenegro and Serbia tour by PTG Tours is more than a travel itinerary; it’s a journey of discovery. It’s about understanding the complexity of a region shaped by its turbulent past and celebrating its resilience and diversity. From the fortified walls of Kotor to the serene monasteries of Serbia, every stop is a chapter in a rich narrative, a reflection of the Balkans’ enduring spirit.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a cultural explorer, or someone looking to see the world from a different perspective, this tour offers an unparalleled experience, leaving travellers with insights and memories that last a lifetime.

Vintage Port (Northern Portugal)

Portugal’s Douro Valley, with its terraced landscapes, historic estates, and picturesque towns, is synonymous with Port wine. But there’s more to this region than vineyards. PTG Tours’ Vintage Port tour takes travellers on a scenic train ride along the Douro River, exploring the flavours, sights, and sounds of Northern Portugal. It’s a sensory experience that transcends the ordinary, offering a taste of tradition, elegance, and natural beauty.

A Scenic Train Ride Along the Douro River

The Vintage Port tour begins with a train journey that follows the meandering path of the Douro River. As the train glides through terraced vineyards, olive groves, and almond orchards, travellers are treated to breathtaking views of one of the oldest wine regions in the world.

The train itself is a piece of history, with vintage carriages that evoke a bygone era of luxury and romance. It’s a ride that transports passengers not just through landscapes but through time, capturing the essence of Northern Portugal’s rich heritage.

Exploration of Historic Estates and Vineyards

The Douro Valley is home to quintas (wine estates) that have been producing Port wine for centuries. PTG Tours offers guided tours of these estates, where travellers can learn about the art of winemaking, explore historic cellars, and taste some of the finest Ports.

From the traditional foot-treading method of crushing grapes to the ageing process in oak barrels, the tour provides insights into the craftsmanship and passion that define Port wine.

River Cruises and Culinary Delights

The Vintage Port tour is not just about wine; it’s about experiencing the Douro Valley’s culinary culture. Travellers can enjoy river cruises, savouring regional dishes prepared by local chefs, paired with wines that reflect the terroir of the region.

The journey includes visits to local markets, cooking classes, and opportunities to dine in family-run restaurants, offering a genuine taste of Portuguese hospitality and cuisine.

Reflection

The Vintage Port tour by PTG Tours is a celebration of life’s finer pleasures. It’s a journey that appeals to the senses, from the visual splendour of the Douro Valley to the tantalising flavours of Port wine. It’s about slowing down, savouring the moment, and embracing the traditions that have shaped this unique region.

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, a food lover, or someone seeking a travel experience that resonates with elegance and authenticity, the Vintage Port tour is a reflection of Northern Portugal’s soul. It’s a memory, a taste, and a connection to a land that invites you to explore, enjoy, and celebrate.

Rail and Ancient Wonders of Mexico

Mexico, a country known for its vibrant culture, diverse landscapes, and rich history, offers a travel experience like no other. PTG Tours’ Rail and Ancient Wonders of Mexico tour is a journey into the heart of this fascinating country, exploring its archaeological treasures, colonial cities, and scenic railways. It’s a tour that connects the past and the present, offering insights into Mexico’s heritage and natural beauty.

A Journey Through Mexico’s Scenic Railways

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The tour begins with a train ride that takes travellers through some of Mexico’s most breathtaking landscapes. From the rugged Sierra Madre mountains to the lush tropical forests, the train journey is a visual feast, offering panoramic views and photographic opportunities.

The train itself, with its comfortable carriages and attentive service, ensures a pleasant ride, allowing travellers to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Exploration of Ancient Wonders

Mexico’s ancient civilizations have left behind a legacy of architectural marvels and cultural richness. The tour includes visits to some of the country’s most iconic archaeological sites, including:

  • Teotihuacan: Known as the “City of the Gods,” Teotihuacan is home to the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. It’s a place that resonates with mystery and grandeur, reflecting the achievements of an ancient civilization.
  • Chichen Itza: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichen Itza is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The Kukulkan Pyramid, with its precise astronomical alignments, is a testament to the Mayan’s advanced knowledge of mathematics and astronomy.
    Palenque: Nestled in the jungle, Palenque is known for its intricate carvings, well-preserved temples, and insights into the Mayan way of life.

Colonial Cities and Cultural Immersion

The tour also takes travellers to colonial cities like Guanajuato, Puebla, and Oaxaca, where cobblestone streets, colourful facades, and historic churches offer a glimpse into Mexico’s Spanish heritage.

PTG Tours ensures that travellers engage with local culture through guided tours, culinary experiences, and interactions with artisans and communities. From tasting traditional Mexican cuisine to participating in local festivals, the tour offers a rich cultural immersion.

Reflection

The Rail and Ancient Wonders of Mexico tour by PTG Tours is a journey of discovery, a celebration of a country’s multifaceted identity. It’s about understanding Mexico beyond the stereotypes, connecting with its ancient wisdom, colonial charm, and contemporary vibrancy.

Whether you’re an archaeology enthusiast, a history buff, or someone looking to explore Mexico from a unique perspective, this tour offers an unparalleled experience. It’s a reflection of Mexico’s soul, a story told through its ruins, railways, and people, leaving travellers with memories that linger long after the journey ends.

Final Thoughts

The world is a tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and histories, each thread weaving a story that defines our shared human experience. PTG Tours, through its carefully curated journeys, offers travellers a window to this tapestry, a chance to explore the world from a perspective that transcends the ordinary.

From the ethereal beauty of Italy’s Dolomites to the ancient wonders of Mexico, from the hidden gems of Slovenia to the fortified towns of Montenegro and Serbia, and from the elegance of Portugal’s Douro Valley to the vibrant culture of Mexico, each tour is a journey into the soul of a destination.

A Celebration of Diversity

PTG Tours’ offerings are a celebration of diversity, reflecting the richness of our world. Whether it’s a scenic train ride through terraced vineyards or a guided tour of a mediaeval castle, each experience is a connection to a place, its people, and its heritage.

Authenticity and Excellence

What sets PTG Tours apart is its commitment to authenticity and excellence. The tours are not just itineraries; they are experiences crafted with passion, knowledge, and attention to detail. They resonate with travellers who seek more than just sightseeing, who yearn for experiences that inspire, educate, and enrich.

A Journey of Discovery

Travel is a journey of discovery, a chance to see the world with fresh eyes, to understand our place in the tapestry of life. PTG Tours invites travellers to embark on this journey, to explore the world with curiosity and wonder.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or someone taking their first step into the world of exploration, PTG Tours offers a gateway to the extraordinary, a reflection of the world’s beauty, complexity, and endless possibility.

In the end, travel is a personal journey, a reflection of our dreams, aspirations, and values. PTG Tours, through its diverse offerings, provides a canvas for travellers to paint their own stories, to create memories that become a part of their personal tapestry.

It’s an invitation to explore, to connect, and to celebrate the world in all its splendour. It’s a reminder that the world is waiting, with open arms, for those who dare to discover.


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Railway Rhapsody: A Journey Through Cambodia's Heartland

Embark on an unforgettable train journey through the Kingdom of Wonder, where history, culture, and scenic beauty intertwine to tell the captivating tale of Cambodia.

As you step onto the platform at Phnom Penh Railway Station, you embark on an extraordinary journey through the heart of Cambodia. The rumble of the train and the rhythmic clatter of wheels against the tracks resonate with the pulse of a nation eager to share its history, culture, and scenic beauty.

Through the train window, the story of Cambodia unfolds, carrying you from the bustling capital, Phnom Penh, brimming with its royal splendour and poignant history, to the sun-soaked shores of Sihanoukville, where the breeze carries tales of old-world charm and modern-day relaxation. As the train meanders through landscapes where time seems to have stood still, you arrive in Kampot, a quaint town famed for its peppery aroma that mingles with the colonial-era nostalgia, offering a sensorial feast.

The railway line weaves its magic as it continues onto Battambang, an unassuming city where every street corner whispers stories of Cambodia’s artistic heritage and French colonial past, while the famed Bamboo Train offers a novel ride through the lush countryside. Further along the journey, the bustling city of Poipet offers a unique blend of cultures and experiences, its train station representing the robust pulse of a dynamic border town.

The finale of this journey is nothing short of spectacular – the ancient city of Siem Reap, where the chimes of temple bells echo through the grandeur of Angkor Wat, revealing a rich tapestry of Cambodia’s glorious past. This train journey through Cambodia is not just a mode of transport but a voyage through time, an immersion into the vibrant soul of this magnificent nation.


Phnom Penh

phnom penh Steeped in a tumultuous history, set alongside the confluence of the mighty Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, lies Phnom Penh, the vibrant and bustling capital of Cambodia. This city, often overlooked in the shadows of the more renowned Siem Reap, offers a captivating blend of heritage, culture, and modern urban charm that embodies the heart and soul of Cambodia. From the glimmering spires of the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda to the thought-provoking Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields, Phnom Penh is a city of stark contrasts and surprising discoveries.

Amidst this dynamic cityscape lies a haven for train enthusiasts — the Phnom Penh Railway Station. An architectural jewel from the French colonial era, this railway station has withstood the test of time and today serves as a vital part of Cambodia’s renewed railway system. Take a moment to appreciate the station’s nostalgic charm before embarking on a scenic rail journey that unfolds the unique tapestry of Cambodian landscapes.

What it’s known for: Phnom Penh is a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity, where grand pagodas sit alongside buzzing markets and burgeoning skyscrapers. This city is noted for its historic landmarks like the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

Local culture: The city’s culture is deeply rooted in Buddhism, evident in the daily lives of its residents, while a strong French influence remains from the colonial era. Traditional Apsara dance performances, an integral part of Cambodian culture, are a must-see.

History: Phnom Penh was once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’ during its colonial heyday. It witnessed turbulent periods under the Khmer Rouge regime, the scars of which are visible at the Genocide Museum.

Visitor Experience: For train enthusiasts, a visit to the French-built Phnom Penh Railway Station, still in operation today, is a must. The city’s vibrant markets like the Central Market and Russian Market offer unique shopping experiences.

Food & Drink: Savour Phnom Penh’s signature dish ‘Num Pang,’ a delicious baguette sandwich. Don’t miss out on the local ‘Prahok,’ a fermented fish paste, a fundamental part of Khmer cuisine.

Landscape & Climate: The cityscape is a mix of traditional and modern architecture set along the banks of the Mekong River. The climate is tropical with the rainy season from May to October and dry season from November to April.

Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville Sihanoukville, or ‘Kompong Som,’ is Cambodia’s premier beach destination, known for its picturesque white sandy beaches, coral-filled waters, and a thriving nightlife. Located on a peninsula in the Gulf of Thailand, the city offers a laid-back atmosphere that is a stark contrast to the buzz of Phnom Penh. Beyond the beaches, it’s a gateway to explore idyllic tropical islands such as Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. This coastal city is also renowned for its seafood, and dining on fresh catch while witnessing a spectacular sunset is an experience to remember.

For train enthusiasts, Sihanoukville offers an unparalleled journey. The rail line from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, meandering through the mesmerising Cambodian countryside, offers enchanting views that are a feast for the eyes. This charming city not only appeals to beach lovers but also strikes a chord with those who appreciate the beauty of an unhurried train journey.

What it’s known for: Sihanoukville is renowned for its beautiful beaches and thriving nightlife. Its ports play a significant role in Cambodia’s growing economy.

Local culture: A melting pot of cultures due to its expatriate communities. The city is dotted with temples, and you’ll often encounter Buddhist ceremonies and rituals.

History: Named after King Norodom Sihanouk, this city played a crucial role during the Vietnam War as a resupply port.

Visitor Experience: The journey from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville by train offers stunning views of the Cambodian countryside. The city also serves as a gateway to the idyllic islands of the Gulf of Thailand.

Food & Drink: Seafood is the star of Sihanoukville’s culinary scene. Try ‘Kdam Chaa,’ a stir-fried crab dish, or the locally brewed Angkor beer.

Landscape & Climate: Sihanoukville features beautiful sandy beaches and tropical islands. The climate is tropical with high temperatures all year round.

Kampot

Kampot Kampot, a tranquil riverside town, lures visitors with its languid charm, magnificent natural beauty, and a preserved slice of French colonial heritage. Famous for its pepper, Kampot boasts lush plantations that produce some of the world’s finest pepper varieties. However, it’s not just the pepper that brings this sleepy town to life. Its scenic river, mesmerising sunset views, and quaint old-town feel combine to create a refreshing retreat away from the bustling cities.

At the heart of Kampot lies its old railway station, a reminder of the town’s past. Although it’s no longer functional, this old-world charm fascinates rail enthusiasts, offering a glimpse into the bygone colonial era. Discover Kampot not just as a tranquil destination, but also as a remarkable chapter in Cambodia’s railway history.

What it’s known for: Kampot is primarily renowned for its high-quality pepper, grown in nearby plantations. The charming riverside town is also known for its preserved French colonial architecture.

Local culture: The town’s culture is a unique blend of laid-back rural life with a growing arts scene. The vibrant local markets are a testament to Cambodia’s rich traditions and crafts.

History: Kampot was once a significant port under French colonial rule. Its historic architecture is a remnant of this era. The nearby Bokor Hill Station, an abandoned French resort town, is a poignant testament to the area’s history.

Visitor Experience: For railway enthusiasts, the old railway station, though no longer in operation, offers a glimpse into the town’s colonial past. For outdoor adventurers, a river cruise or a visit to the nearby Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple is recommended.

Food & Drink: Kampot’s cuisine heavily features its famous pepper. Durian, considered a delicacy in Southeast Asia, is also grown in Kampot and must not be missed.

Landscape & Climate: The town is set on a serene riverbank, flanked by rolling hills and lush pepper plantations. The climate is tropical, with a dry and rainy season.

Battambang

Battambang Battambang, Cambodia’s second-largest city, invites visitors into a world that subtly blends colonial charm, ancient temples, and a rich artistic tradition. While not as globally recognised as Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, Battambang offers an authentic slice of Cambodian culture and history. The city is dotted with well-preserved French colonial buildings, ancient Angkorian temples, and even hosts Cambodia’s only winery.

But what sets Battambang apart for rail enthusiasts is the unique ‘Bamboo Train’ or ‘Norry.’ This simple yet creative mode of transportation, running on old train tracks, provides an unforgettable ride through the lush Cambodian countryside. Battambang, with its unhurried pace of life and unique rail adventure, promises a truly Cambodian experience.

What it’s known for: Battambang is famous for its historic French colonial architecture, Buddhist temples, and the Bamboo Train.

Local culture: Battambang offers a rich cultural experience with traditional performances, local arts, and crafts. It is also known for producing Cambodia’s most famous singers and artists.

History: Founded in the 11th century, Battambang has a history that intertwines Khmer empires and French colonialism. The town was a major rice producing area during the French protectorate period.

Visitor Experience: For train enthusiasts, the Bamboo Train offers a unique journey along the historic railway line, providing glimpses into rural Cambodian life. Visiting the ancient temples like Wat Ek Phnom and Wat Banan is another unique experience.

Food & Drink: Local dishes include ‘Lort Cha’, a delicious street food made with stir-fried short fat noodles, vegetables, and egg. Enjoy it with a refreshing glass of fresh coconut water.

Landscape & Climate: Battambang is surrounded by picturesque rice fields, palm trees, and distant hills. The climate is tropical monsoon with a rainy season from May to October and a dry season from November to April.

Poipet

poipet Poipet, a bustling border town, serves as one of the main entry points into Cambodia from Thailand. Known for its glittering casinos that attract gamblers from all corners of the region, Poipet is a city that never sleeps. While it might not boast ancient temples or white sand beaches, this city offers a unique cultural blend resulting from the constant intermingling of Cambodian and Thai influences.

For those interested in trains, the Poipet Train Station holds significant importance. Reopened in recent years, it has re-established an essential rail link, bridging the gap between Cambodia’s past and its promising future. Experiencing this city, with its blend of cultures and lively atmosphere, can be a unique part of your train journey through Cambodia.

What it’s known for: Poipet is best known for its casinos and is a key border crossing point between Cambodia and Thailand.

Local culture: As a border town, Poipet is a melting pot of Thai and Cambodian cultures. Gambling, a part of the local culture due to the abundance of casinos, draws tourists from across the region.

History: The town has seen rapid development in recent years, with the gambling industry playing a key role. Its railway station was reopened in 2018 after more than four decades, reestablishing a link to Phnom Penh and Sisophon.

Visitor Experience: The train journey from Poipet offers an excellent opportunity to observe the urban landscapes transitioning into countryside vistas. Visitors can also explore local markets offering a variety of goods.

Food & Drink: Poipet’s cuisine reflects the fusion of Thai and Khmer influences. ‘Som Tam’, a spicy green papaya salad, is a local favorite here.

Landscape & Climate: The cityscape is dominated by casinos and markets, while the outskirts offer views of rural Cambodia. The climate is tropical, characterised by a rainy season (May to October) and a dry season (November to April).

Siem Reap

siem reap Siem Reap, the gateway to the ancient world of Angkor, is a city that has seen the rise and fall of empires, endured the test of time, and today stands as a testament to Cambodia’s glorious past. Home to the majestic Angkor Wat and numerous other temple ruins, Siem Reap serves as a time capsule that transports visitors back to the golden era of the Khmer Empire. But there’s more to Siem Reap than just ancient ruins. Its vibrant night markets, thriving arts scene, and charming floating villages offer a colourful and multi-layered travel experience.

For train enthusiasts, the journey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by train unravels the mesmerising beauty of the Cambodian countryside. The landscape gradually transitions from bustling urban areas to tranquil rural scenes, serving as a precursor to the time-traveling adventure awaiting in Siem Reap.

What it’s known for: Siem Reap is globally recognised for the Angkor Wat Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s the gateway to the ancient world of the Khmer empire with ruins dating back to the 9th century.

Local culture: Siem Reap is a cultural hub, with traditional Apsara dance shows, bustling night markets, and numerous galleries and workshops.

History: Siem Reap has a rich historical heritage tied to the ancient Khmer civilisation. The historic Angkor complex is a testament to its glorious past.

Visitor Experience: The train journey to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh offers a mesmerising view of the Cambodian countryside. Exploring the ancient temples, especially the sunrise at Angkor Wat, is an unforgettable experience.

Food & Drink: Try the local delicacies ‘Amok’ (fish cooked in coconut milk and curry paste) and ‘Kralan’ (sticky rice cooked with beans and coconut milk in a bamboo tube).

Landscape & Climate: Siem Reap features a blend of vibrant city life and serene countryside, with Angkor’s ancient ruins set amid lush jungles. The climate is tropical with wet and dry seasons.

Closing thoughts

As your journey comes to a close, you carry with you an intimate portrait of Cambodia, painted not just by the mesmerising landscapes that passed by your train window, but by the rich tapestry of experiences you’ve woven into your memory. You’ve traversed bustling cities, tranquil towns, bustling markets, and silent temples. You’ve tasted the unique flavours of the region, been enchanted by its artistic heritage, and touched by the echoes of its history. You’ve seen Cambodia not as a mere tourist, but as a traveler on a timeless locomotive journey. And while your journey ends here, the rhythm of the train, the images of the landscape, and the echoes of Cambodia’s soul continue to resonate within you, a heartfelt reminder of your unforgettable rail adventure through the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’.


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A Rail Journey Through Heaven: The Flåm Railway, Norway

An Inside Look at the Flåm Railway Journey - A Testament to Engineering, a Gateway to Norwegian Culture, and a Paradise for Train Enthusiasts"

Imagine embarking on a journey where time seems to stand still, where every moment takes your breath away with a new and spectacular vista. Welcome aboard the Flåm Railway, a masterpiece in engineering, a museum of history, and an extraordinary journey through the heart of Norway’s awe-inspiring landscape.

As train holiday enthusiasts, we’re no strangers to scenic routes and picturesque landscapes. But every once in a while, we stumble upon a journey that transcends beyond being just a ‘scenic route’. This is exactly the case with the Flåm Railway in Norway, a marvel in engineering that offers an unforgettable rail holiday experience.

Journey Overview

The Flåm Railway, known as ‘Flåmsbana’ in Norwegian, is a 20.2 km stretch of railway between Myrdal and Flåm in Aurland, Norway. Its distinctive feature is the steep gradient, with an elevation difference of 866 meters, making it one of the steepest railway lines in the world.

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The Locomotive Story

The Flåm Railway isn’t just about the journey, it’s about the rolling stock as well. The trains on this line are a unique blend of classic and modern design. These electrically powered trains are a testament to Norway’s commitment to green and sustainable tourism. As you embark on this journey, you’ll be contributing to this mission, adding a sense of purpose to your holiday.

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An Engineered Marvel: The Tale of the Flåm Railway

Let’s turn back the pages of history and explore the remarkable journey of the Flåm Railway’s construction. The project, initiated in 1924, was a test of human determination, courage, and resilience against nature’s formidable challenges. Every inch of the track required manual effort, as dynamite was the only tool used to pierce through the solid rocks. When the railway was finally complete in 1940, it stood as a testament to Norway’s engineering prowess and became a significant landmark in the world of railway construction.

Tunnel Vision: Engineering Marvels of the Flåm Railway

As the Flåm Railway navigates the sharp gradients of the Norwegian landscape, it’s impossible not to marvel at the many tunnels that punctuate the route. The railway boasts 20 tunnels, carved painstakingly into the hard, granite mountains, 18 of which were built by hand.

One of the most remarkable of these is the Nåli Tunnel. Construction of this tunnel was an enormous challenge due to its length (1331m) and the hard rock through which it had to be driven. Despite these obstacles, the builders persisted, and the tunnel stands today as a testament to their tenacity and skill.

Perhaps even more fascinating is the Håreina Tunnel. This 1,142-meter-long tunnel is a loop inside the mountain. The engineers designed it this way to allow the railway to ascend or descend rapidly while adhering to the mountain’s contours, overcoming the line’s extreme elevation differences without resorting to more destructive methods like a rack-and-pinion system.

The history of these tunnels is interwoven with the story of the Flåm Railway. Each represents countless hours of work by the men who built the line, the challenges they faced, and the triumphs they achieved. As your train passes through these tunnels, spare a thought for these unsung heroes of the past.

Myrdal: The Gateway to Flåm

Myrdal, a remote mountain station, is the starting point for most travelers. It stands 866 meters above sea level and is the junction where the Flåm Railway connects to the Bergen Line. There’s a sense of tranquillity in this mountainous terrain, offering a stark contrast to the busy city life. It’s a promising start to a remarkable journey.

Myrdal: More than Just a Station

Myrdal isn’t just a station; it’s a hub for adventure seekers. It’s a base for some of the most popular hiking and biking trails in Norway, including the famous Rallarvegen. This trail takes you through the high mountains and gives you a chance to witness the raw, untouched beauty of the Norwegian wilderness. So when you disembark at Myrdal, don’t forget to explore the surroundings.

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Kjosfossen: A Stunning Intermission

Next up, a short stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall. Here, the railway showcases its genius by enabling tourists to experience one of Norway’s most breathtaking waterfalls up close. During summer, you may witness a surprising spectacle – a mysterious dancing ‘Huldra’ (a figure from Norwegian folklore) emerging from the forest to the music, adding an element of enchantment to your journey.

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Kjosfossen: Embrace the Myth

When the train stops at Kjosfossen, you get a glimpse of Norway’s rich folklore. The Huldra dance performed here is based on Scandinavian mythology. Huldras are believed to be forest spirits who lure men with their enchanting song. This brief spectacle of music, dance, and myth adds a touch of mystique to the journey.

Flåm: The Heart of the Fjords

Finally, the train gently rolls into the idyllic village of Flåm. Nestled in the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord, a tributary of the vast Sognefjord, Flåm welcomes visitors with its serene natural beauty. The village itself offers a variety of attractions including the Flåm Railway Museum, where you can delve deeper into the history of this extraordinary railway.
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Flåm: A Village Steeped in History and Culture

Flåm is more than just the end of the line; it’s a vibrant destination. The village houses a railway museum that tells the story of the Flåm Railway through exhibits and multimedia presentations. Beyond the museum, Flåm offers a glimpse into Norwegian rural life. The 17th-century wooden Flåm Church and the local brewery, Ægir BrewPub, are worth a visit. Take your time to explore this enchanting village, and you’ll discover that it’s as memorable as the train journey itself.

Breathtaking Scenery: A Feast for the Eyes

The real charm of the Flåm Railway lies in the captivating views it offers throughout the journey. As the train zigzags through the lush green landscape, it rewards passengers with views of picturesque villages, gushing waterfalls, towering mountains, and deep valleys. The journey truly comes alive during the winter months, when a blanket of snow transforms the landscape into a winter wonderland.

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Nærøyfjord: A UNESCO World Heritage Site

While not strictly on the railway itself, a trip to Flåm isn’t complete without a detour to the nearby Nærøyfjord. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and is known to be one of the most scenic fjords in the world. Take a fjord cruise or a kayak tour to truly appreciate its pristine beauty.

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Appreciating the Journey: Beyond the Rails

What sets the Flåm Railway apart is the effort to enrich the journey beyond the rails. Each train comes equipped with a multi-language guide system that provides interesting insights into the places passing by your window. This background narration adds depth to your visual experience, allowing you to appreciate not just the view, but also the history, culture, and natural significance of the region.

Flora and Fauna: Norway’s Natural Inhabitants

As the train ascends and descends through various climatic zones, you’ll witness a shifting panorama of flora and fauna. The lower region of the valley boasts a diverse bird population, while higher up, it’s not unusual to spot reindeer grazing in the distance. The sight of the resilient Norwegian spruce trees, changing with the altitudes and seasons, adds another layer to the scenic beauty of the journey.

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Unique Experience: A Journey like No Other

If you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to train holidays, the Flåm Railway will make you reconsider. It’s not just the impressive gradient or the electrifying locomotives, but also the route itself that makes this journey unique. The railway was painstakingly built through some of the most challenging terrains in Norway, and this hard work is evident in the sheer audacity of the route and the tunnels carved through mountainsides.

Stepping Back in Time: A Journey through History

Each station on the Flåm Railway has a story to tell. As the train slows down at these stations, it’s like stepping back in time. Whether it’s the classic architecture of Myrdal station or the quaint charm of Flåm, each stop has preserved its unique character and historical significance.

The Flåm Railway is also an emblem of Norway’s railway history, a project that required an unprecedented level of engineering skill and perseverance. The construction of this railway was a Herculean task that took almost 20 years to complete, from 1924 to 1940.

Final thoughts

The Flåm Railway journey isn’t just a scenic route; it’s an immersive experience that combines awe-inspiring natural beauty with remarkable engineering, a dash of folklore, and a deep dive into Norwegian history. Its breathtaking views, enchanting stops, and the audacious design make it a must-do for any train holiday enthusiast.

From the ambitious beginnings of its construction to the multi-sensory experience it offers today, the Flåm Railway journey is an immersive historical and cultural adventure that effortlessly captures the spirit of Norway. It’s a testament to human engineering, a celebration of natural beauty, and a reflection of Scandinavian culture and mythology.

Whether it’s the steep gradient that catches your fancy, the electric green locomotives that steal your heart, or the mesmerising scenery that leaves you spellbound, one thing is for sure – a journey on the Flåm Railway leaves an indelible impression. So, if you’re thinking about your next ‘train holiday’ or ‘rail holiday’ in Scandinavia, the Flåm Railway should definitely be on your list.

The Flåm Railway journey is a testament to the fact that the joy of travel isn’t just about the destination, but also about the journey itself. As they say in Norway, “Det er morgenstund som gull i munn” – Morning hours are golden. On the Flåm Railway, every moment is indeed golden.


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A Railway Journey through the Heart of France - La Ligne de Cevenne

Exploring the Majestic Splendor of La Ligne de Cevenne: A Railway Journey through the Heart of France

While PTG Tours provides a wide range of railway-based escorted tours throughout Europe and other captivating destinations worldwide, our exploration into the world of railway adventures goes beyond our tour offerings. In this series, we delve into the remarkable La Ligne de Cevenne, the first in a collection of awe-inspiring railway journeys that will transport you to captivating destinations across the globe. Join us as we embark on this virtual adventure, uncovering the magic and allure of the world’s best railway experiences.

Embarking on a train journey is a delightful experience that allows us to immerse ourselves in the beauty of the landscapes and soak in the rich cultural tapestry of the regions we traverse.

Among the many legendary railway routes in the world, this one stands out as a true gem for train enthusiasts and adventurers alike – La Ligne de Cevenne. This picturesque railway line winds its way through the stunning French countryside, offering a captivating journey that showcases the magic of both man-made engineering marvels and Mother Nature’s finest creations.

A Voyage through Time and Beauty

As the whistle blows and the train sets in motion, one can’t help but feel a sense of excitement and anticipation. La Ligne de Cevenne takes passengers on an unforgettable voyage through time, traversing a route that dates back to the 19th century.

Steeped in history, this journey is an opportunity to witness the blending of the past and the present, a testament to the enduring allure of rail travel.

The Engines that Power the Journey

At the heart of this magnificent railway journey are the impressive locomotives that propel the train along the tracks. These powerful machines are a sight to behold, captivating the imagination of train enthusiasts and inspiring a sense of awe in all who witness their might.

From sleek and modern diesel-electric engines to the majestic steam locomotives reminiscent of a bygone era, each train that traverses La Ligne de Cevenne offers a unique experience.

The Scenic Route

La Ligne de Cevenne showcases the breathtaking beauty of the French countryside, weaving its way through idyllic landscapes, charming villages, and verdant valleys. As the train chugs along, passengers are treated to a visual feast of rolling hills, meandering rivers, and picturesque vineyards.

The route passes through iconic destinations, each with its own story to tell, creating an enchanting tapestry of culture and nature.

All Aboard – Journey Highlights

The Gateway to the South – Nîmes

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Nîmes is often referred to as the “French Rome” due to its remarkable Roman architecture. One of its most iconic landmarks is the Maison Carrée, a beautifully preserved Roman temple that stands as a testament to the city’s ancient past. With its elegant columns and intricate detailing, the Maison Carrée is a must-visit attraction, offering a glimpse into the architectural grandeur of the Roman Empire.

Another significant Roman treasure in Nîmes is the Arena of Nîmes, a magnificent Roman amphitheater that has stood for over 2,000 years. This remarkably well-preserved structure once hosted gladiatorial contests and spectacles, and today it continues to impress visitors with its sheer size and architectural splendor. The Arena now serves as a venue for concerts, events, and even bullfighting during the annual Feria de Nîmes.

Beyond its Roman heritage, Nîmes is also renowned for its charming cityscape. The narrow streets of the old town are lined with beautifully restored buildings, bustling cafés, and boutique shops. Strolling through the city, you’ll encounter delightful squares such as the Place de l’Horloge, where you can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee while immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere.

Alès

Alès, is a charming town and offers visitors a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. As a stop along La Ligne de Cevenne railway line, Alès invites travellers to explore its rich heritage and immerse themselves in its picturesque surroundings.
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With a history dating back to Roman times, Alès boasts a fascinating past that is reflected in its architecture and landmarks. The town centre features well-preserved buildings, narrow streets, and charming squares that exude a timeless charm. Take a leisurely stroll through the old town, where you’ll encounter quaint shops, inviting cafes, and restaurants serving local delicacies.

Alès is known for its industrial heritage, particularly in the mining and textile industries. The Musée du Colombier, housed in a former bishop’s palace, provides insights into the town’s history and industrial legacy. Here, visitors can explore exhibitions that showcase the region’s mining history, as well as displays of contemporary art and cultural artefacts.

The surrounding natural beauty of Alès adds to its allure. Situated near the Cevennes National Park, the town offers easy access to breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities. Nature lovers can embark on hikes through the park’s scenic trails, discover hidden waterfalls, and revel in the region’s diverse flora and fauna.

Génolhac, nestled in the Cevennes National Park

Génolhac is a picturesque commune nestled in the Cevennes National Park. Situated along La Ligne de Cevenne railway line, Génolhac serves as a charming stop that offers visitors a glimpse into the natural beauty and tranquillity of the region.

The town of Génolhac exudes a peaceful and idyllic ambiance. Its quaint streets, lined with stone houses and colourful shutters, invite leisurely strolls, allowing visitors to appreciate the authentic charm of a traditional French village. Génolhac retains its rustic character, providing a refreshing escape from the bustling city life.

Surrounded by lush green landscapes and rolling hills, Génolhac offers a serene and enchanting setting. The region is known for its pristine natural beauty, and the town serves as a gateway to outdoor adventures. Nature enthusiasts can embark on hikes, exploring the numerous trails that wind through the Cevennes mountains, offering breathtaking views, hidden waterfalls, and opportunities to spot local flora and fauna.

In Génolhac, you’ll find the picturesque Génolhac Train Station, which itself is a charming and well-preserved historical building. The station reflects the architectural style of the region, adding to the overall appeal of the town. Visitors can witness the comings and goings of trains and experience the nostalgic atmosphere of railway travel.

Through the Cevennes National Park

As a railway traveler on La Ligne de Cevenne, the journey through the Cevennes National Park is a highlight that promises to leave you in awe. This rugged and picturesque landscape presents a captivating experience that is enhanced by the unique perspective offered from the train window.
Cevennes National Park

As the train ascends into the Cevennes National Park, you will witness the transformation of the scenery. The lush green valleys, dense forests, and towering mountains create a breathtaking backdrop that unfolds before your eyes. The rhythmic chug of the train adds to the sense of adventure as you journey deeper into this pristine wilderness.

The Cevennes National Park is a sanctuary for diverse flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. From the train, you may catch glimpses of majestic birds soaring above, deer grazing in meadows, or even the occasional glimpse of elusive wildlife. The ever-changing landscape, dotted with waterfalls cascading down rocky slopes, adds an element of enchantment to the journey.

Throughout the journey, the train winds its way along bridges and tunnels, navigating the rugged terrain with ease. The engineering marvels of the railway line become apparent as you witness the careful planning and execution that went into creating this remarkable transportation route through such challenging landscapes.

The Cevennes National Park segment of the railway journey offers a moment of tranquility and reflection. As you gaze out of the train window, the beauty of nature unfolds, captivating your senses and reminding you of the importance of preserving such pristine environments.

Col de la Pierre Plantée, the highest point on the journey

The highest point along La Ligne de Cevenne is located at the Col de la Pierre Plantée, also known as the Pierre Plantée Pass. Situated in the Cevennes mountain range, this mountain pass reaches an elevation of approximately 1,208 metres (3,963 feet) above sea level.

The Col de la Pierre Plantée offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including the rugged peaks, lush forests, and picturesque valleys of the Cevennes National Park. The train journey through this high point provides passengers with a breathtaking experience as they traverse the scenic terrain and witness the natural beauty of the region.

Reaching the highest point of La Ligne de Cevenne is not only a testament to the engineering prowess that allowed the railway to navigate through the challenging mountainous terrain, but it also allows travellers to appreciate the awe-inspiring vistas and the diverse flora and fauna that thrive in this elevated environment.

La-Bastide-St-Laurent-les-Bains

La-Bastide-St-Laurent-les-Bains is a picturesque commune located in the Ardèche department of southern France. Situated in the heart of the Cevennes National Park, this small village offers a tranquil retreat surrounded by stunning natural beauty.

The village of La-Bastide-St-Laurent-les-Bains is known for its thermal baths, making it a popular destination for those seeking relaxation and wellness. The thermal waters are believed to have healing properties and have been enjoyed by visitors for centuries. Immerse yourself in the soothing waters of the thermal baths and rejuvenate your mind and body amidst the serene ambiance of the village.

Beyond its thermal offerings, La-Bastide-St-Laurent-les-Bains captivates visitors with its charming architecture and idyllic setting. The village features traditional stone houses with terracotta roofs, narrow winding streets, and picturesque squares. The peaceful atmosphere invites leisurely walks and exploration, allowing visitors to soak in the authentic charm of this rural French village.

Luc-Lozère and Robert Louis Stevenson

The village of Luc-Lozère holds great historical and literary significance due to its association with the renowned Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. During his famous journey through the Cevennes in 1878, Stevenson passed through Luc-Lozère, leaving an indelible mark on the village’s heritage.

Luc-Lozère, along with other towns and villages along the trail, celebrates its connection to Robert Louis Stevenson through various markers, plaques, and tributes. Visitors can explore the village and discover points of interest related to Stevenson’s travels, deepening their understanding of his experiences and the inspiration he drew from the surrounding landscapes.

The Robert Louis Stevenson Trail, also known as the GR 70, takes hikers through Luc-Lozère as they follow in the footsteps of the esteemed author. It offers an opportunity to traverse the same paths and witness the picturesque scenery that captivated Stevenson during his journey.

The trail itself covers approximately 272 kilometres (169 miles) from Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille to Saint-Jean-du-Gard, encompassing diverse landscapes, rugged terrain, and charming villages along the way. Hikers passing through Luc-Lozère can experience the tranquillity of the countryside, soak in the natural beauty of the region, and connect with the literary legacy left by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Arrival at Clermont-Ferrand, gateway to Puy-de-Dôme

Our last stop on the La Ligne de Cevenne railway journey. The city of Clermont-Ferrand is renowned for its unique setting amidst the Chaîne des Puys, a chain of dormant volcanoes. The most iconic among them is the Puy-de-Dôme, a majestic volcanic peak that offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. Visitors can reach the summit of Puy-de-Dôme either by hiking or taking a scenic train ride, where they can witness the breathtaking landscapes that were shaped by volcanic activity.

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Clermont-Ferrand is also famous for its distinctive black volcanic stone, known as “pierre de Volvic,” which has been used to construct many of the city’s buildings. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption is a notable example, with its imposing Gothic architecture and dark stone facade. The cathedral is a symbol of the city and offers a glimpse into its rich religious history.

The historical centre of Clermont-Ferrand is characterised by narrow streets, charming squares, and historic buildings that showcase a blend of architectural styles from different periods. Place de Jaude, the main square, is a bustling hub with shops, cafes, and restaurants, and it serves as a gathering place for locals and visitors alike. Exploring the old town allows you to discover hidden gems, such as the mediaeval houses and picturesque alleys that evoke a sense of the city’s past.

Clermont-Ferrand is also home to Michelin, the world-famous tire manufacturer. The Michelin company has its headquarters in the city, and the Michelin Adventure Museum offers an intriguing look into the history and innovation of the tire industry. Visitors can learn about the company’s heritage, technological advancements, and even enjoy interactive exhibits.

Culture thrives in Clermont-Ferrand, with a vibrant arts scene and numerous festivals throughout the year. The International Short Film Festival, one of the oldest and most prestigious of its kind, attracts filmmakers and cinephiles from around the world. The city also hosts music festivals, theatre performances, and exhibitions, showcasing its creative spirit.

Gastronomy plays a significant role in Clermont-Ferrand, with a focus on regional specialties and Auvergne cuisine. Local delicacies include dishes like truffade (a potato and cheese dish), potée auvergnate (a traditional stew), and a variety of cheeses such as Saint-Nectaire and Bleu d’Auvergne. Exploring the markets and dining in the city’s restaurants allows visitors to indulge in the flavours of the region.

Puy-de-Dôme, a majestic volcanic peak and one of the most iconic landmarks in the country.

After savouring the delights of Clermont-Ferrand, there’s one last short adventure you can enjoy – Puy-de-Dôme, is a majestic volcanic peak about 14km from Clermont-Ferrand. It is one of the most iconic landmarks in the country and a significant natural attraction.

The train journey from Clermont-Ferrand to the Puy-de-Dôme volcano is an enchanting experience that takes travelers through captivating landscapes and offers a unique perspective on the natural wonders of the region.

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As the train departs from Clermont-Ferrand, the city’s urban facade gradually gives way to the tranquil countryside. Rolling hills, dotted with picturesque villages and lush fields, unfold before the eyes of passengers. The gentle rhythm of the train creates a soothing ambiance, setting the stage for the upcoming adventure.

As the journey progresses, the silhouette of the Puy-de-Dôme volcano emerges on the horizon, commanding attention with its distinct shape and dominating presence. The anticipation builds as the train approaches its destination, offering glimpses of the surrounding volcanic peaks and the verdant beauty that envelopes them.

The train glides along the tracks, following a path that weaves through valleys and skirts the base of the volcanic slopes. Passengers are treated to panoramic views of the rugged terrain, with layers of greenery interspersed with dark volcanic rock formations. The contrasting colours and textures paint a vivid picture of the geological forces that shaped this remarkable landscape.

As the train nears the designated stop at the foot of Puy-de-Dôme, a sense of excitement fills the air. Passengers gather their belongings, eagerly preparing to disembark and embark on their exploration of the volcano. Stepping off the train, they are greeted by the crisp mountain air, tinged with hints of earth and vegetation.

The ascent to the summit of Puy-de-Dôme begins, and travellers can choose their preferred mode of transportation. Some opt for the adventurous hike, following well-marked trails that wind through forests and past ancient lava flows. Others choose the convenience of the panoramic train, allowing them to enjoy the surrounding landscapes as they are transported effortlessly towards the peak.

Whichever path is chosen, the journey is accompanied by breathtaking vistas. Sweeping panoramas unveil the vastness of the Auvergne region, with its undulating hills, lush valleys, and charming villages. The views become increasingly awe-inspiring as the altitude rises, revealing the vastness of the volcanic chain and the intricate details of the volcanic topography.

Upon reaching the summit, a sense of awe washes over travellers as they gaze out over the vast expanse below. The vista encompasses the city of Clermont-Ferrand nestled in the valley, the sprawling plains of the Limagne, and the neighbouring volcanic peaks that form the Chaîne des Puys. It is a breathtaking tapestry of nature’s grandeur, a reminder of the Earth’s geological history and its enduring beauty.

Visitors can explore the summit of Puy-de-Dôme, immersing themselves in the captivating surroundings. Interpretive panels and exhibits provide insights into the volcano’s formation, its significance in the region, and the scientific research conducted in the area. They can also venture along walking trails that lead to viewpoints offering even more spectacular perspectives.

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A Journey Beyond the Rails

Unveiling Ancient Treasures – The Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard is a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site that lies in close proximity to La Ligne de Cevenne. This iconic ancient structure is an awe-inspiring testament to Roman engineering and architecture. The Pont du Gard is an ancient aqueduct that was built over 2,000 years ago to supply water to the city of Nemausus, now known as Nîmes.

pont du gard Visiting Pont du Gard offers a glimpse into the magnificence of the Roman Empire and its mastery of monumental construction. The aqueduct spans the Gardon River, standing as a three-tiered bridge composed of impressive stone arches. Its sheer size and elegant design leave visitors marveling at the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the Romans.

Exploring the surroundings of Pont du Gard is an adventure in itself. Strolling along the riverbanks, visitors can appreciate the serenity of the natural landscape while being in the presence of this awe-inspiring structure. The shimmering waters of the Gardon River, combined with the rugged beauty of the surrounding hills, provide a picturesque backdrop that further enhances the experience.

 

Delving into French Gastronomy – Local Delicacies

No journey through France would be complete without indulging in the country’s exquisite culinary offerings. Along the route of La Ligne de Cevenne, travelers have the opportunity to savor regional delicacies that showcase the gastronomic heritage of each stop. From delectable cheeses and charcuterie platters to succulent dishes featuring local ingredients, food enthusiasts are in for a treat.

Unforgettable Vineyard Experiences – Languedoc-Roussillon

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As the train winds its way through the picturesque landscapes of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, passengers can explore local vineyards and sample wines from this renowned wine-producing area. Known for its diverse range of grape varietals, including Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah, the Languedoc-Roussillon region offers a unique wine-tasting experience with a distinct terroir.

The Magnificence of Rolling Stock

No railway journey would be complete without mentioning the remarkable rolling stock that graces La Ligne de Cevenne. The trains that traverse this route are a testament to engineering prowess, combining modern comfort with a touch of nostalgia. Let’s delve into the captivating world of the rolling stock on this iconic journey.

Diesel-Electric Engines – Power and Efficiency

On La Ligne de Cevenne, the primary mode of train transportation is through the use of diesel-electric locomotives. These modern and efficient trains provide reliable service along the scenic route, offering passengers a comfortable and enjoyable journey through the heart of France.

The diesel-electric trains on La Ligne de Cevenne combine the power of diesel engines with electric propulsion systems. This hybrid technology allows for greater fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and improved performance. The diesel engines generate electricity, which then powers electric motors that drive the train’s wheels. This combination of diesel and electric power ensures a smooth and efficient ride while minimizing the environmental impact.

One of the advantages of the diesel-electric trains on La Ligne de Cevenne is their ability to navigate the terrain and gradients of the region. The route passes through hilly and mountainous areas, and these trains are equipped with powerful engines that allow them to climb inclines and maneuver through challenging landscapes with ease, ensuring a reliable and uninterrupted journey.

Steam Locomotives – A Journey into the Past

For those who yearn for a nostalgic experience, select journeys on La Ligne de Cevenne feature steam locomotives, evoking the golden age of rail travel. These majestic engines, meticulously restored to their former glory, fill the air with billowing clouds of steam and emit the unmistakable chug-chug sound that transports you to a bygone era. As you peer out the window, the rhythmic puffing of the steam engine adds a touch of magic to the already enchanting journey.

Carriages – Comfort and Charm

The carriages that accompany these splendid locomotives are designed to provide maximum comfort and style. From plush seating and panoramic windows that offer unobstructed views of the passing scenery to elegant interiors that harken back to the elegance of yesteryear, these carriages are a delightful blend of modern amenities and classic charm. Sit back, relax, and let the gentle rhythm of the train lull you into a state of bliss.

Where Magic Meets Adventure

La Ligne de Cevenne is a railway journey that embodies the very essence of exploration and adventure. From the moment the wheels start turning, passengers are transported to a world of natural wonders, cultural treasures, and architectural marvels.

The engines and rolling stock that power the train, coupled with the breathtaking landscapes that unfold outside the window, create an immersive experience that captures the heart and mind of every train enthusiast.

As you embark on this enchanting journey, be prepared to be captivated by the splendor of La Ligne de Cevenne—a truly unforgettable railway adventure through the heart of France.


All Aboard the European Adventure: A Train Enthusiast's Dream Come True

Embark on a soul-stirring journey through Europe's enchanting railways, where timeless charm and beauty await.

Before we embark on this enchanting exploration of Europe’s most captivating rail journeys, it’s essential to note that this story is intended to evoke the spirit and charm of railway holidays across the continent. The train journeys described here serve to highlight the magic and allure of European rail travel; however, not all of these experiences may be available as part of the rail holidays offered by PTG Tours. The availability of specific routes and services may vary season to season, and it’s always a good idea to consult with PTG Tours for the most up-to-date information on their railway holiday offerings.

With this in mind, let us delve into the world of European rail adventures, where history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes come together to create unforgettable experiences. Whether you have the opportunity to embark on one of these iconic journeys or simply wish to immerse yourself in the romance and thrill of train travel, this story is sure to ignite your wanderlust and inspire your next railway-based holiday in Europe.

As the steam billows from the locomotive and the familiar sound of the whistle pierces the air, a palpable sense of excitement courses through your veins. You can’t help but feel the thrill of adventure as you prepare to embark on a journey through Europe’s most enchanting landscapes and vibrant cities. The allure of exploring the continent by rail is undeniable, offering a unique and captivating experience that combines history, culture, and adventure in a way that no other mode of travel can replicate. If you’re ready for the ultimate railway-based holiday, keep reading, and let the magic of Europe’s famous railway lines sweep you off your feet.

A Journey Through Time

The European railway system is a testament to the rich history and tradition that permeates the continent. As you glide along the tracks, you are transported back in time, retracing the paths of the great explorers, dignitaries, and artists who once marvelled at Europe’s stunning landscapes and rich cultural tapestry.

Imagine stepping aboard the luxurious Venice Simplon-Orient Express, where the glamour and elegance of the 1920s and 1930s come to life before your eyes. The beautifully restored vintage carriages exude an air of sophistication and romance, as you embark on a journey through some of Europe’s most captivating cities, including Paris, Venice, and Istanbul. You can almost picture the likes of Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot, immersed in the atmosphere that has inspired countless novels and films.

Nature’s Masterpiece Unfolds

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The breathtaking scenery that unfolds as you traverse the continent is one of the most compelling reasons to choose a railway-based holiday in Europe. The train offers a front-row seat to some of the world’s most iconic landscapes, allowing you to fully appreciate the splendour of nature.

Take, for example, the legendary Glacier Express, which weaves its way through the heart of the Swiss Alps. As you gaze out the window, you are greeted with panoramic views of towering peaks, lush valleys, and quaint villages that look as if they’ve been plucked straight from the pages of a storybook. Feel your heart race as the train glides across the Landwasser Viaduct, a masterpiece of engineering that soars above the Alpine landscape, and hold your breath as you ascend the dramatic Oberalp Pass.

Further north, the West Highland Line beckons with its enchanting journey through the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands. The wild, untamed landscapes of this magical region unfurl before your eyes, as you journey from Glasgow to Mallaig. The iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct, immortalised in the Harry Potter films, serves as a testament to the otherworldly charm of the Highlands, with its serene lochs, imposing mountains, and atmospheric mist.

A Symphony of Comfort and Luxury

For the true train enthusiast, there is nothing more exhilarating than the symphony of sounds that accompany a journey by rail: the gentle rhythm of the wheels on the tracks, the conductor’s melodic call, and the distant hum of the locomotive. But what sets European trains apart is their unparalleled commitment to comfort and luxury, ensuring that your journey is as enjoyable as the destinations themselves.

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The Venice Simplon-Orient Express is a prime example of opulence on the rails. Indulge in gourmet cuisine, expertly prepared by world-class chefs, and sip fine wines as you watch the European landscape unfold outside your window. When night falls, retire to your sumptuous sleeping quarters, where plush linens and exquisite furnishings invite you to unwind in style.

For those seeking a more contemporary experience, Europe’s modern high-speed trains, like France’s TGV and Spain’s AVE, offer state-of-the-art amenities and impressive speeds that whisk you from city to city in a matter of hours. Relax in spacious, ergonomic seating, savour the offerings of the on-board dining services, and stay connected with complimentary Wi-Fi as you traverse the countryside at breakneck speeds. The seamless blend of comfort, convenience, and cutting-edge technology creates a truly unforgettable experience for any train enthusiast.

A Greener Path to Adventure

In an age where climate change and environmental preservation are of paramount importance, choosing a railway-based holiday not only provides a unique and immersive experience but also allows you to travel with a clear conscience. Train travel produces significantly fewer emissions compared to air travel, so by opting for a journey by rail, you’re doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint and support sustainable tourism initiatives across Europe.

Europe’s Cultural Mosaic

The extensive railway network that stretches across the European continent offers the perfect opportunity to discover the rich cultural heritage that lies within its borders. From bustling metropolises to charming villages, the train allows you to fully immerse yourself in the diverse tapestry of European life.

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Imagine stepping off the Eurostar in Paris, the City of Lights, where world-class art, history, and cuisine converge to create a sensory feast unlike any other. Wander the halls of the Louvre, marvelling at the works of the masters, or stroll along the Seine as the sun sets behind the majestic Notre-Dame Cathedral.

In contrast, a journey along the Cinque Terre Express in Italy transports you to a world of breathtaking beauty and simplicity. The five picturesque villages that cling to the rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera are a sight to behold, with their colourful houses, terraced vineyards, and azure waters. Bask in the Mediterranean sun as you explore the winding streets and indulge in the region’s delectable cuisine, a true celebration of la dolce vita.

A Train Enthusiast’s Paradise

As you disembark from your final train journey and reflect on the experiences you’ve had, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of awe and appreciation for the magic of Europe’s railway lines. The blend of history, culture, and adventure that awaits on the tracks is unrivalled, offering a truly unique and unforgettable holiday for anyone who loves the romance and thrill of train travel.

So, pack your bags and prepare to embark on the journey of a lifetime, as you explore the enchanting world of European railways. Whether you choose the luxury of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express, the rugged charm of the West Highland Line, or the high-speed marvels of the TGV and AVE, one thing is certain: the memories you create along the way will remain etched in your heart, long after the final whistle has blown.


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Rail holidays - the greener holiday choice?

With attention growing on choosing a greener holiday, is a rail holiday the answer?

Do you consider your carbon footprint when choosing your holiday? No? Well, you’re not alone. Recent research by a holiday booking company revealed that 75% of Brits don’t consider this when choosing their holidays. But there are definitely greener ways to holiday, rail being one of them. Read on.

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Is my holiday carbon footprint really an issue?

It’s an interesting question, one that’s often followed by “well, can’t we just plant a few more trees?” More on the tree issue in a moment, but first let’s look at the impact the travel industry is having on the planet and go from there.

The world just recently greeted the arrival of its eight-billionth member of the human race; that’s two billion more than in the year 2000. The good news is that the growth rate is slowing. The bad news, from an ecological perspective, is that not only have travel options increased immensely, but travel has increasingly become financially accessible to a far greater number of people. To put this into perspective, over the last 60 years or so, international tourist arrivals (globally) have risen from just 25 million or 1% of the world’s population at the time, to over 1.4 billion or around 18% of the world’s population.

At the time of writing, the tourism industry is responsible, by some estimates, for around 8% of the world’s carbon footprint. Transport options are responsible for half of this.

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So, can’t we just plant a few more trees? Sure you can. Here’s an example, albeit the most extreme involving long distance flights to Australia. But then these are much fewer than flights around Europe.

The number of trees needed to offset the carbon produced by a flight to Australia for one person is around 278 (recent travel industry player analysis). There are around 33,500 arrivals in Australia from the UK. That all equates to 9.3 million trees to be planted per year, just from one destination and one origin. Flying around Europe by comparison requires between 11 and 40 trees to be planted per flight. Given that in 2020 there were around 40 million flights made globally (which is double that of 2000), and if we take a conservative number of average trees per flight of say 20, that’s a whopping 800 million trees per year required. And, don’t forget, there are plenty of other Industries competing to plant trees to offset their impact too. The question then remains: “Where on earth are all these trees going to go, and who’s going to plant them?”

The reality is, planting trees is only a small part of the solution. This is why aviation companies are desperately looking at greener fuel research and options. It’s simply not sustainable to continue in the way we are.

So, is train travel the answer?

It’s certainly part of the answer, at least until a solution to aviation’s enormous CO2 output is found.

A piece of the puzzle people often forget in assessing the merits of different transport options, is how passengers get to the transport in the first place. Flying requires travelling to the airport of departure, which might be some distance away. Therefore the CO2 output of the car taking the passenger also needs to be factored in as well as the infrastructure and activities supporting the airport.

So how much CO2 is rail transport responsible for?

The last report from the international Energy Agency and the International Union of Railways, albeit in 2017, reported that rail transport accounted for 4.2% of CO2 output. By contrast, road transport accounts for over 72% of CO2 output.

With rail based holidays, you only need to get to a railway station, or make a trip to the point of departure, which is often only a small part of the itinerary and with a subsequently small impact on CO2 emission. However, we acknowledge that many of the tours we operate in different countries require clients to get to a departure point under their own steam, which might require making a flight, but often less than 25 trees worth. In these circumstances, choosing to spend 7 to 10 days experiencing what a country has to offer by rail, is likely to be far less impactful on the environment than driving a car around.

Furthermore, if you are really keen to make an impact by choosing a greener transport option for your holiday, why not consider using the train to get to the holiday’s point of departure. Sure, it’s somewhat more complex, but if you love rail travel, it’s an adventure.

What are some of the other benefits of taking a holiday by rail?

The whole point of a rail based holiday is convenience and comfort. On a PTG rail tour you won’t find yourself rushing around, working out what to go and see each day, what to eat, how to get there, booking taxis, coaches or hiring cars. Everything you need is provided for you. No need to worry about flight delays and cancellations or any transport and accommodation arrangements, it’s all taken care of. Just turn up and relax.

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Our rail based holidays put you in the heart of the experience, often places you wouldn’t go as a regular tourist on a flight based holiday. You get to enjoy the scenery as you travel between points on your itinerary as opposed to flying 35,000 feet above it, or being transfixed on the road ahead, worried about missing a turn if you drive.

When you arrive, we’ve put you in the centre of the attraction and you’ll feel more like a local too. Better still, you’ll have time to do what you want to do, whether that’s tag along on the local excursions we may lay on for you, or just amble around a location on your own. We’ll introduce you to the best and most interesting a local destination has to offer, whether that’s a place to see, a point of cultural interest, local food delicacies or interesting beverages.

Best still, is deep down, you know your choice of holiday has been better for the planet. And maybe, just maybe, your choices will influence other people to make wiser choices about their methods of transport.


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Dates for the 2020 Australia/ Tasmania trip

Dates for the 2020 Australia/ Tasmania trip are:

  • Arrival date into Singapore for (optional) three-night stopover. 4 February 2020
  • Arrival date into Perth for (optional) Australian pre-tour. 7 February 2020
  • Arrival date into Tasmania for main tour. 13 February 2020
  • Arrival back into mainland Australia on completion of Tasmania excursion. 25thof February 2020.

These are our provisional plans for 2020 – subject to change. Please keep checking back here as these are finalised and the list updated. Final list will be posted here by 31st August.

You can see the dates for the 2020 Australia – Tasmania trip here.


About Escorted Tours

Our PTG escorted rail tours from the UK allow you to view some of the world’s most beautiful destinations from a different perspective – see our European Tours and Rest of the World Tours.

By traversing along historic tracks in remarkably well-preserved vintage trains, you can experience a country and its unique sights in an extraordinary way. With a distinct focus on historical and natural wonders, our tour itineraries seek to encompass the essence of each city that we pass through, stopping for moments of complete cultural immersion at every platform.

Accompanied by a trusted Tour Manager from the very beginning to the end of your trip, you can transcend beyond the tourist traps with their local insight and passion for all things train and travel related. With over 20 years of guided tour experience, we can promise incredible tailored itineraries, intimate group sizes and breathtaking journeys along scenic railways. We pride ourselves on providing the utmost in comfort and relaxation, from well-appointed accommodation and exclusive dining, on and off the tracks.

You will discover that our escorted rail tour packages encompass a variety of Tour Styles, ensuring that there is something for all tastes. Those with a sense of adventure and a taste for the finer things in life will revel in the magnificence of our Grand Tour, while our Enthusiast Tour is designed with the fanatics of train travel in mind. Our Classic Tour caters to anyone looking for an exceptional overview of Europe and our In Style Tour guarantees that luxurious touch.

All travel, excursions and meals outlined in the itineraries are included unless they are shown as an option. At PTG, we also aim to provide stays at excellent hotels (usually of a three or four star-standard), and these will vary depending on the type of the tour. We strive to give you, the traveller, an option to personalise your tour and offer you the choices of how and where you want to travel. On our tours, you can enjoy the full package from the UK by rail or air or at a reduced price (tour only) where you are able to make your own arrangements. Along with guided activities and an abundance of wonderful sightseeing opportunities that take you off the beaten track, our escorted rail holidays are truly unforgettable.

Call us at 01235 227288 to enquire about our Escorted Tours today.


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5 Reasons Visiting Alaska Should Be At The Top Of Your Bucket List

Article by Katlyn Turner

Alaska consistently tops lists of the most beautiful states in America. Therefore, it’s no wonder that 1.8 million tourists visit the state every year. It provides some of the best views, most unique wildlife, and the most delicious food in the United States. However, that’s just the beginning. Alaska has so much more to offer. Check out these five reasons why the natural wonders of Alaska need to be added to your bucket list.

The Northern Lights

You will never find anything more beautiful than the Northern Lights. Although the Northern Lights occur year-round, summer’s constant daylight makes them impossible to see. However, the Earth’s tilt generates long-hours of darkness in Alaska during the winter and allows you to see the most amazing sights in the entire world. There’s absolutely nothing like the thrill of seeing the aurora borealis light up the sky and simply taking all of the colours in. The best place to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is Fairbanks, since its right under the aurora oval where auroras are more commonly seen.

Alaska Is One of the Only Places to See Real Glaciers

Alaska has about 100,000 glaciers across the state just waiting for you to explore. It’s actually one of the few places in the entire world where you can also have immediate access to a glacier. These icy figures are extremely beautiful and will simply wow your entire travel group. They’re also constantly in a state of movement which

Alaska Has No Sales Tax So You Can Shop ’til You Drop

Most people think that Alaska is all about the great outdoors; however, the state also has some amazing shopping opportunities for those of us that like to shop ’til you drop. Since Alaska has one of the lowest tax burdens in the United States and no sales tax, the state’s malls are full of eager shoppers. Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall is the area’s most premier shopping destination followed by the Dimond Center and Tikahtnu Commons. These shopping centres are absolutely massive and allow you to find all the souvenirs you need to impress your friends or brag to your coworkers. Some of the best things to hunt for while you’re shopping include beautiful native Alaskan art, ulu knives, wine, and beer, or Alaskan jade.

The Beautiful Wildlife

Alaska is home to some of the most beautiful wildlife in the world. Kodiak, Alaska’s largest island is home to the world’s largest bear species – the Kodiak Brown bear. Haines, Alaska also has the world’s greatest concentration of bald eagles and other popular wildlife species include caribou, moose, and grizzly bears. If you’re a fan of marine life you can also head to Kenai Fjords National Park for a chance to watch the whales migrate in fall, take an ice fishing trip, or catch Salmon swimming upstream.

An Escape from the City

Alaska is a place where you can truly explore the world’s greatest scenes. Known as “The Last Frontier”, the state has some of the best scenic views that give you everything from wildlife and mountains to oceans and greenery. However, the best thing about Alaska is how remote it is. There aren’t a lot of people which allows you to really enjoy the state without traffic, noise, or city life. There are even areas around the state where you won’t get service, allowing you to really disconnect from everyday life and relax on your trip.

If you’re looking for a place that’s absolutely beautiful and relaxing, yet still has the thrill of an adventure, then Alaska is the place for you. Be sure to add the state to your bucket list and visit in 2019.