Wed, 04 Mar 2020
The Venice-Simplon Orient Express Picture: Tailor Made Rail
IT'S virtually impossible to overstate the impact that rail travel has had on literature. Books have long inspired us to hop on a train and explore the world and few long rail journeys cannot be enlivened by a trusty paperback to flick through while the landscape scrolls by.
Research by Visit England has found that more than half of surveyed holidaymakers would be inspired to visit a literary attraction.
You may not be able to travel from platform 93/4 to Hogwarts, but there are still many train journeys that take in famous 'literary landmarks', so in celebration of World Book Day, Thursday, March 5, here are five train holidays with a literary bent.
Agatha Christie’s Orient Express: London to Venice
The Venice-Simplon Orient Express will naturally be forever synonymous with Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express, in which Hercule Poirot is called upon to solve a murder on the train heading west from Istanbul.
Christie herself was a frequent and enthusiastic international rail traveller, journeying solo all the way to Baghdad on the Orient Express to visit her second husband Max on his archaeological missions around the Middle East. She was known to travel with her typewriter and described it as “undoubtedly my favourite train".
The ‘Dracula Express’ to Transylvania and the Black Sea
This journey glides like a stake right through the heart of Transylvania, taking in Romanian capital Bucharest and the countless castles dotted around the cities of Sibiu and Sinaia, and you can take excursions to visit Peles Castle and, best of all, Brasov’s Bran Castle.
The castle’s dramatic setting, perched high above a river valley, fuelled the imagination of Irish writer Bram Stoker, who, despite never having actually set foot in Romania, was nonetheless suitably inspired to conjure up his infamous vampire and sorcerer Count Dracula just from pictures he had seen of the imposing building.
Paddington’s Andean Explorer & Machu Picchu
Follow in the inimitable pawprints of everyone’s best loved bear from “deepest, darkest Peru” by taking the Belmond Andean Explorer in search of world-famous Machu Picchu.
Peru’s only luxury train travels from Arequipa to Cusco along one of the highest and most beautiful rail routes in the world, with a stay in Peru’s capital Lima, plus an unforgettable day trip to Machu Picchu.
Tolstoy’s Moscow and St Petersburg
The complex narrative of Leo Tolstoy’s seminal novel Anna Karenina is heavily underpinned by trains, including the book’s dramatic climax. The novel is largely set among Saint Petersburg high society and you can still experience the splendour of the city before a trip to the Russian capital of Moscow.
Anne Frank’s Amsterdam
Later this spring, Eurostar will be running their first direct return service from London to Amsterdam, delivering travellers from St Pancras to the Dutch capital – or the reverse - in just four hours. Thus, providing the perfect pretext to hit up the canals, parks and museums, including a pilgrimage to the Anne Frank House, a sobering museum dedicated to the tragically short life and monumental work of Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank.
Suggestions from Tailor Made Rail, London