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Snipper

Rail Holidays

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Anyone been on a rail holiday?  Train travel, hotels and trips. Sort of thing Michael Portillo did on his programme. 

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My wife hates flying so any holiday that doesn't involve flying earns extra brownie points.

So a few thoughts

From our area it is actually quicker to take the train to Paris (assuming you want the center) than fly. Bempton - Hull 1hr, Hull - King X 2h30m St Pancras - Paris 2h 15m.

Once in Paris there are loads of options, e.g Grenoble (alps, about 3hr) Marseille (med, just over 3hrs) Reimes (Champagne, 45mins) Travel in France is quick, cheap and reliable.

Probably the most spectacular rail journey I have ever done is the Ausserfern Railway, from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Kempten, through the Tyrolese and Bavarian Alps, combined with a trip on the rack railway to the top of the Zugspitze which is Germanys highest mountain at 9700ft, this was a few years ago, but journey is still possible. Walk in deep snow in June! I had a 2 week German rail pass, on the same holiday also went down the Moselle valley to Trier. Plenty of accommodation in Garmisch, and there are connections from Kempten to Ulm which is big enough to have plenty of places to stay

If you stay within the UK then my personal favorite would be Edinburgh - Inverness, stay the night in Inverness, then take the train to Kyle of Lochalsh, and return.

If possible don't spend all day traveling, 3-4hrs, then stop somewhere for the night, explore, and then move on, maybe a base for a few days with day trips. Hotels are easy, just google where you want to stay. Street view gives you an idea of the area before you book. Trip advisor and similar reviews also give you a good idea of what to expect, but read them, not just look at score, as one persons problem (no nightlife) maybe anothers positive (nice and quiet)

I have traveled widely in Europe by train, so if you want some more ideas message me, Ive traveled in Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, as well as shorter journeys in Denmark Hungary and Austria.

Touch wood never had any major problems in Europe, I have to say my worst problems have been in the UK, but I do travel extensively for work so in terms of problems per mile its probably not as bad as it seems.

You obviously see a lot more going by train rather than flying. Many European countries offer various rover type tickets.

Have a look at http://www.seat61.com/

If you have a smart phone download a mapping program such as Cruiser, you can get offline maps for most European countries which work with your GPS, It means you dont need mobile data while abroad, you can see places of interest on your journey as well as find you way to your hotel at the end of your journey.

I suppose my bucket list journey would be the Trans Siberian express... maybe one day, there is an overnight train from Paris Est to Moscow...

You can go on organised holidays but I think half the fun is planning your itinerary and finding less popular attractions to visit

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Completely agree with Mike (above). I've never done a rail holiday but I do travel a lot by train in France and it is excellent. North - South is great, but East - West is still lacking! The TGV is so cool, I never stop loving it - hubby did it for the first time with me a few weeks ago and was watching the information display indicating the speed - 350 km/ph. Connections to the rest of the continent are excellent. You do have to watch the French strikes at the moment - we had a bit of a nightmare trip back from the south of France a few weeks ago. I've done Perpignan to Paris for work instead of flying - it was so lovely watching the countryside change. I do love flying too, but train travel is amazing in a different way. So want to do the trans-Siberian...

Edited by Spikecollie

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Thanks for the responses. Just booked a trip to the Dordgne for a few nights.  Reserve judgement on how I will feel by a bit of organisation. One good thing is not an airport involved. 

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8 hours ago, Snipper said:

Thanks for the responses. Just booked a trip to the Dordgne for a few nights.  Reserve judgement on how I will feel by a bit of organisation. One good thing is not an airport involved. 

What route are you taking? Where are you staying? Dordogne is a beautiful département where I have spent several holidays.

I'm not sure what you meant by " Reserve judgement on how I will feel by a bit of organisation" - are you going on an organised trip? I think you'll enjoy it no matter what.

Big airports during school holidays are not always a good experience, but some of the regional airports around here in France - Limoges (my local one), Brive and Poitiers are oases of calm, and very manageable. I love my trips back to the UK from Limoges to Leeds Bradfor, but I guess I've got used to negotiating and navigating Charles de Gaulle in Paris.

 

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11 hours ago, Snipper said:

Thought we would try this organised tour. https://www.raildiscoveries.com/tours/dordogne-rail-holiday/?tlUrl=%2Ftours%2F#6DBS

Usually organise  our own thing but decided on this occasion to take a back seat. Had a bad experience flying thanks to Virgin Atlantic so do not want to fly. 

Snipper, that looks lovely. Sarlat and Rocamadour are beautiful, and having a whole day in the latter will be so nice. I haven't been to either Martel or Le Gouffre de Padirac but I am sure they will be great. The Le Gouffre de Padirac sounds like the most "guided" and "touristy" part of the whole trip - do a bit of research and see whether you might not rather skip it and go and see somewhere else - could you hire a car for the day, nice and early, and nip to Bordeaux - it's only about 2.5 hours drive.

The Brive-Paris train that you will be taking is the one I take when I go to Paris and on to Dijon for work. It's not a TGV on this side of the country, but an Intercités, still a superb service but not as fast as the TGV.

What on earth did Virgin Atlantic do to you, if I may ask?

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On 14 July 2016 at 10:50, Spikecollie said:

Snipper, that looks lovely. Sarlat and Rocamadour are beautiful, and having a whole day in the latter will be so nice. I haven't been to either Martel or Le Gouffre de Padirac but I am sure they will be great. The Le Gouffre de Padirac sounds like the most "guided" and "touristy" part of the whole trip - do a bit of research and see whether you might not rather skip it and go and see somewhere else - could you hire a car for the day, nice and early, and nip to Bordeaux - it's only about 2.5 hours drive.

The Brive-Paris train that you will be taking is the one I take when I go to Paris and on to Dijon for work. It's not a TGV on this side of the country, but an Intercités, still a superb service but not as fast as the TGV.

What on earth did Virgin Atlantic do to you, if I may ask?

Thanks for comments. Keeping our options open and I am grateful for your suggestions. I hope that our mid September trip will be less touristy.  Too be honest just looking for a relatively relaxing time to case the area generally for a return under our own steam  

As far as Virgin Atlantic is concerned I fainted (blood pressure was lower than usual) on an over night flight to Hong Kong. No complaints about cabin crew who were vey supportive. Got off went to hotel and on cruise for 18 night to Dubai. Felt very well and thought my fainting was just a Sod's law thing.

Got to check in at Dubai and Virgin said where is your fit to fly certificate? As you never asked me to have one at any stage and I felt fine why? We weren't able to contact you as you were on a cruise. Then showed them the emails that passed between me and them during our cruise. So obviously no effort to contact me and  advise me of the change of terms of our contract to fly. Anyway they said you can't fly go and get certificate. Delayed 24 hours with resulting costs and hassle.   

Begining and end of our cruise was not enjoyable but bit In between was good.

Currently having a go at Travel insurance and Virgin .  What fun.

S

 

 

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I suspect, given your travel history that you will want to go beyond the "guided tour" experience.

On the flight front, I would (if you haven't already) go and see your doctor and ask why this might have happened. Fainting on flights is a lot more common than most people realise (I have a friend who is an aviation health specialist) and there are lots of very simple measures you can take against it, especially if you have BP spikes, or blood sugar level issues. Always remember that a flight is a mildly hypoxic experience, and if you have cardiovascular issues, it can cause problems.  I take it you are not a phobic flyer with all that entails.

Don't let one bad experience put you off flying. You can get to France a lot quicker if you fly and probably for a lot less money. If you are worried that the same thing will happen again on a flight, and that is what is putting you off, then you need a different sort of help.

Just enjoy your trip first. I really would opt out of the "cavern experience" and go and do something else - since you are experienced travellers. Then think about the other issues. If you get medical advice that suggests your problem will most likely not happen again, then take it and fly. If you get medical advice that suggests it could happen again, then follow the guidelines. Whatever you do, don't limit your life - if you are doing that then you need help to sort it out. Trains are great, but they can't fly over oceans...

I was concerned that you would say that you had a bumpy flight - for which you could not blame VA!!!

Edited by Spikecollie

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On 15 July 2016 at 22:05, Spikecollie said:

I suspect, given your travel history that you will want to go beyond the "guided tour" experience.

On the flight front, I would (if you haven't already) go and see your doctor and ask why this might have happened. Fainting on flights is a lot more common than most people realise (I have a friend who is an aviation health specialist) and there are lots of very simple measures you can take against it, especially if you have BP spikes, or blood sugar level issues. Always remember that a flight is a mildly hypoxic experience, and if you have cardiovascular issues, it can cause problems.  I take it you are not a phobic flyer with all that entails.

Don't let one bad experience put you off flying. You can get to France a lot quicker if you fly and probably for a lot less money. If you are worried that the same thing will happen again on a flight, and that is what is putting you off, then you need a different sort of help.

Just enjoy your trip first. I really would opt out of the "cavern experience" and go and do something else - since you are experienced travellers. Then think about the other issues. If you get medical advice that suggests your problem will most likely not happen again, then take it and fly. If you get medical advice that suggests it could happen again, then follow the guidelines. Whatever you do, don't limit your life - if you are doing that then you need help to sort it out. Trains are great, but they can't fly over oceans...

I was concerned that you would say that you had a bumpy flight - for which you could not blame VA!!!

Thanks for your comments. Saw my doctor who thought problem of fainting was probably due to being tired and the funny night timelight on Virgin Atlantic.  She did not think anything needed to be done as had recently had an annual service with various tests and a review of my medications. 

Main reason for not flying at moment is I wanted something more relaxed and hopefully laid back. Also happy not having the unpleasant experience of hanging around at airports. Also long flights are so boring. Had several flights in last couple of years.

Reserving judgement on what we will be doing on our train trip and I am grateful for your suggestions. 

When we go on cruises we very seldom go on the organised tours. Just negotiate a deal with a local taxi driver (sometimes with another couple). Much more interesting and economic. So far at least not had a problem. 

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On ‎7‎/‎14‎/‎2016 at 10:50, Spikecollie said:

Snipper, that looks lovely. Sarlat and Rocamadour are beautiful, and having a whole day in the latter will be so nice. I haven't been to either Martel or Le Gouffre de Padirac but I am sure they will be great. The Le Gouffre de Padirac sounds like the most "guided" and "touristy" part of the whole trip - do a bit of research and see whether you might not rather skip it and go and see somewhere else - could you hire a car for the day, nice and early, and nip to Bordeaux - it's only about 2.5 hours drive.

The Brive-Paris train that you will be taking is the one I take when I go to Paris and on to Dijon for work. It's not a TGV on this side of the country, but an Intercités, still a superb service but not as fast as the TGV.

What on earth did Virgin Atlantic do to you, if I may ask?

Might hire a car or possibly a taxi for a trip out. Think I need to take my original green drivers licence, I vaguely recall. Any idea what the costs are like in this general area? To be honest as the trip includes being driven round the general area and stopping at various locations I am loath on this occasion to do too much.  Even if sitting on my butt is far from normal.  Always have liked looking round the corner to see what was next and stopping anywhere I fancy.

Snipper

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Returned from our break in the Dordogne. Weather lovely. Obviously a lot of drought as trees have brown leaves not because Autumn is coming but drought stricken. Rocamadour stunning. Like some cgi set from Game of Thrones. 

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Happy you enjoyed it...Dordogne is beautiful isn't it?

We call that phenomenon "faux automne". It has been incredibly dry here, my grass hasn't grown at all and despite some rain the week before last, it is still cracking up.

Maybe you'll want to explore further over here later on. If you haven't been to Provence, then I think you'd like it there too. Mind you, there's so much on my doorstep as well!

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3 hours ago, Spikecollie said:

Happy you enjoyed it...Dordogne is beautiful isn't it?

We call that phenomenon "faux automne". It has been incredibly dry here, my grass hasn't grown at all and despite some rain the week before last, it is still cracking up.

Maybe you'll want to explore further over here later on. If you haven't been to Provence, then I think you'd like it there too. Mind you, there's so much on my doorstep as well!

Yes I think some more exploring is on the cards. Been on a WSET wine tasting course. All good for your geography and ideas for seeing places and tasting wine of different types.  Double bonus 

Fortunately being a bit out of season nowhere we went was very busy other than centre of Rochamadour. Soon lost the crowds by climbing to the the top a few times. Puffing a bit when we got up there. 

Think it is unlikely we would go on an organised trip even though tour manager was very good particularly getting everyone across Paris. The other guests started to grate a bit after a few days. 

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Organise your own tour next time. Back to flying - Limoges is a quick flight from the UK, so is Toulouse. If you want to go by train then all of the south/middle is connected by train. Just plan and enjoy. Ask for info. if you want and I'll do my best.

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11 minutes ago, Spikecollie said:

Organise your own tour next time. Back to flying - Limoges is a quick flight from the UK, so is Toulouse. If you want to go by train then all of the south/middle is connected by train. Just plan and enjoy. Ask for info. if you want and I'll do my best.

Many thanks for your comments. Currently dealing with an elderly mother (over 100)  who is going down hill rapidly. So holidays not on my mind at the moment. Thanks for the offer of advice as and when. 

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What a great age! You are right to be preoccupied with your loved one, but you must look after yourselves also, as she would want. When you are ready, I will happily give you any French travelling advice you would like...bon courage.

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6 hours ago, Cloudy daze said:

Omg over a hundred  ,that's soo cool 

Yes it is cool. Mother is due to be 101 next month. Less than a year ago she was riding her mobility scooter about the place. Until last week she was living in her own home.  

But it does have a very sad downside. Her body is failing her big time, short term memory is very poor, all her friends are dead. She has said on numerous occasions she just wants to die as what is the point of continuing. We have desperately tried to keep her at home but we had to arrange for her to go into a care home last week which she hates. No alternative as she was not safe at home, even though we were paying for a carer to go in twice a day, which she hated.  My mother is a very strong minded/ stubborn lady.  Suppose she wouldn't have got where she is if she wasn't.

My brother and I are both over 70 so caring for mother has an impact on both of us as it is some hours of driving to see her. I find sleeping difficult, hence the time of posting this response. So life is not easy for any of us, which is not very cool I am afraid.

Rubbish getting old.

 

Edited by Snipper

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