Category Archives: Travel by Rail

Train Trips around the World

Few travel experiences supersede the simple yet iconic journey of train travel. There’s something quite unique to hopping on a train, grabbing a bite to eat in the dining car, and snuggling up in your very own cabin. From the immense glacier mountains of Switzerland to the futuristic skyline of Shanghai, Avanti Destinations now offers some of the best train trips combinable with nights in luxury hotels, day trips and river cruises.

Call us for more info on these amazing trips and others!

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Spirit of the Andes: Cotopaxi, Riobamba, and Cuenca

4 Days/3 Nights from $1,255 Per Person*

Immerse yourself in Ecuador’s Andean world with a vacation focused on the cultural, historical, and natural attractions that lie between the cities of Quito and Cuenca along the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Visit the magnificent Cotopaxi National Park. Enjoy the rugged beauty of Baños, known for its thermal baths. On the last leg of your independent journey, explore Cuenca, one of the most charming cities in South America.

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Grand Train Tour of Switzerland: Zurich, Interlaken, Montreux, Zermatt, St. Moritz, Lugano, and Lucerne

11 Days/10 Nights from $2,579 Per Person*

This ambitious itinerary highlights the country’s greatest cities, mountaintops, and scenic trains. Experience the variety of cultures that encompass much of what Switzerland offers by visiting the German, French, and Italian regions. The world-renowned Glacier Express, Bernina Express, and Wilhelm Tell Express are included in this vacation.

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Machu Picchu by RailHiram Bingham

3 Days/2 Nights from $1,995 Per Person

Enjoy the luxurious Hiram Bingham as it climbs up through the lush Andean plains taking you on your way to the majestic Machu Picchu ruins. This journey offers less panoramic views, but the service and comfort make it an experience of a lifetime for those who love train travel. Once you arrive, you’ll be going directly to the citadel to discover this magical place with your personal guide.

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China Discovery: Xian, Beijing, Shanghai, Yangtze River, Guilin, Yangshuo, and Hong Kong

18 Days/17 Nights from $5,645 Per Person*

Explore ancient tombs and iconic pagodas in Xian before traveling to Beijing by high-speed rail, where you will visit the largest public square in the world. Then, experience the bright lights and futuristic skyline of Shanghai. Once you’ve had your fill of city living, sail through stunning gorges before transferring to Guilin where you will delight in spectacular limestone karst scenery before ending in fascinating Hong Kong.

*Prices are based on land only and vary depending on season

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Filed under News, Travel by Rail

Ferrari designer creates super luxurious Japanese train

(From CNN) — What happens when you ask a super-car designer to create a super luxurious train?

Magic, judging by the images released by Japanese rail company JR East.

Yamagata-born Ken Okuyama, well known in automobile design circles, was brought in to style the company’s super slick new Cruise Train, due to start chugging down the tracks in spring 2017.

Holding a maximum of 34 passengers, the Cruise Train will have 10 carriages made up of five suites, one deluxe suite, two glass-walled observation cars, a dining car and lounge.

According to his company, Ken Okuyama Design, he wanted to create a train that would allow passengers “to appreciate the flow of the time and space,” while enjoying Japan’s landscapes and culture throughout the journey.

Some unique features:

  • An observation carriage at the front of the train, which allows passengers to see onto the tracks ahead. The other observation car is at the end of the train.
  • JR Rail says the train will be fitted with furniture that conveys the nobility of traditional Japanese culture.
  • The Lounge, for instance, is wrapped in graceful curves and features decor inspired by trees.
  • All suites will have a private bathroom with a shower and toilet, but the top sleeping space is the split level deluxe suite, which sleeps four.
  • On the bottom are two double beds, on the top a traditional Japanese dining area, with seats on the floor.
  • The train will be able to run on both electric and non-electric rails.

Read the Full Article Here.

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Filed under Asia, Japan, News, Travel by Rail

Travel News: KTX Trains now direct to Incheon Airport

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Starting from June 30, 2014, Korail began operation of KTX express trains that directly link to and from Incheon International Airport reducing the trouble of having to transfer. The trains operate between Incheon International Airport and major cities outside of Seoul like Busan, Daejeon and Gwangju.

These KTX trains will still make stops in Seoul as trains departing from Busan Station, Jinju Station and Daejeon Station will make a short stop at Seoul Station before heading to the airport, while trains from Gwangju Station, Mokpo Station and Yeosu Station will stop by Yongsan Station before they head to Incheon International Airport.

Website: http://www.letskorail.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

 

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Filed under Asia, South Korea, Travel by Rail, Travel Tips

All Aboard Switzerland!

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Switzerland has always been a popular destination for train lovers. As one of the world’s most environmentally-conscious countries, most trains use ultra-clean hydroelectricity and some even generate their own power when traveling downhill. Every Swiss town is connected to the train system. Hop aboard a train from Zurich airport and explore the top of Jungfraujoch and see the legendary Matterhorn.

Try one of the famous scenic trains for an unforgettable, “quintessentially European”—the Golden Pass, the William Tell Express, the Bernina or Glacier Express—for some of the most jaw-dropping vistas of alps, bridges, alpine fields and mountain streams.

You can save a lot by purchasing a Swiss Pass, which allows access to the SBB railway, cable cars, buses, and free entrance to most museums.

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PLUS get $75 off a Swiss Pass or Swiss Flexi Pass if you book with Willamette Intl Travel. Call before August 14 to reserve, at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

 

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Filed under Europe, SALES, Switzerland, Travel by Rail, Travel Tips

All Aboard Italy!

Everyone loves Italy. And with its rich abundance of food, art, scenic drives and romantic waterways, what’s not to love? As a diverse country with so much to offer, Italy is a great destination for the train-hopper. Here’s some of the best destinations on rail in the country:

Ask Yourself: Should I get an Italy Rail Pass? Italy Rail Passes are generally not good value for most people, as regional trains tend to be very low cost, and major trains almost always require seat reservations. You will probably spend your rail time on the main circuit of Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome, and first class fares for these are generally low enough that they don’t warrant a rail pass. It’s less expensive to buy point to point train tickets. When in doubt, ask our travel agents if a rail pass is right for you.

Ventimiglia (c) Mark Fischer, Creative Commons

Ventimiglia. Usually the first stop on a route from Nice, France, Ventimiglia is a great introduction to Italian culture. Make a detour on your route to Milan or Genoa to explore the town’s gorgeous medieval city center and famous Friday Outdoor Market. Nice to Ventimiglia: 45min. Ventimiglia to Genoa: 2h.

Verona. Most lauded as the setting for three Shakespearean plays, Verona is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That means cobblestone streets, medieval buildings, Roman churches, and the Juliet balcony. You can stop in Verona for a few days on your way to Venice or to the northern town of Bressanone-Brixen. Verona to Venice: 1h-1.30h.

Verona (c) David Schiersner, Creative Commons

La Spezia. This town is the first stop for many travelers heading on to Cinqueterre. With a scenic waterfront and modern port, its inspirational center has charmed poets from Byron to Shelley to DH Lawrence, earning its nickname: the Gulf of Poets. Florence to La Spezia: 2h, with a change in Pisa.

Turin. Turin is a major city often overshadowed by its grand neighbors. But don’t overlook its beautiful baroque architecture or the excellent truffles and wine available at its restaurants. Turin is also home to the famous Shroud of Turin, displayed only once every 10 years. Turin to Milan: 45min.

Turin et ses arcades

Turin and the Arcades (c) Frederique Voisin-Demery, Creative Commons

Milan. The unofficial capital of the north, Milan is the center of commerce, fashion and design. Don’t miss the spectacular Duomo, and “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci. Much of its old architecture was demolished during the WWII bomb raids, however since then Milan has rebuilt itself into a thriving new cosmopolitan city, a major hub for soccer and shopping! Milan to Florence: 2h.

Naples. The birthplace of pizza has one of the largest historic center in the world, covering over 4,000 acres and 27 centuries. It has the largest collections of antique churches (448) in the world. Naples is a great base for exploring nearby Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii—and the city is often the first stop for travelers heading to the Isle of Capri or Sorrento. Rome to Naples: 1h.

Venice. With its romantic gondolas, ancient canals and gorgeous glass traditions, Venice has long been known as the jewel of Italy. Part of its charm is its incredibly preserved lagoon, virtually the same as it was six hundred years ago. Florence to Venice: 2h.

Florence. Florence is the center of aficionados of art and architecture. As the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence’s artistic gems still stand tall—the Uffizi, the Accademia, the Pitti Palace. Visit the library of San Lorenzo for its magnificent Michelangelo exhibition. Venice to Florence: 2h, Florence to Rome: 1h30m.

Sunset over Florence (c) Steve, Creative Commons

Rome. All roads lead to Rome, and all the trains do too! Easily accessible from Florence in the north, and Naples in the south, Rome is often the first or last stop on any Italian itinerary. You could spend at least a week here exploring the museums, Roman ruins, Vatican City, and that elusive dolce vita (the sweet life)—and it still wouldn’t be enough time in Roma! Continuing internationally? Hop on an overnight train from Rome to Vienna, Innsbruck, Munich, or even Paris (connecting in Milan)!

Thinking of a trip to Italy? Our agents have extensive travel experience all through Italy and can advise you on air tickets, rail, villa rentals, hotels, and the best time to go! Give us a call at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

Read our related post about Vatican fun facts!

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Filed under Art & Architecture, Europe, Italy, Travel by Rail

All Aboard the Chunnel!

photo credit Mike Knell, creative commons

photo credit Mike Knell, creative commons

On May 6, 1994, Eurostar’s channel tunnel, or “Chunnel” as it is colloquially known, officially opened from England to France. It is a modern marvel of engineering—it took eleven drilling machines and 13,000 people six years and 4.65 GBP billion to install it. At 31.34 miles long, it is the second longest undersea tunnel in the world. Its lowest depth is 250 feet underwater!

Since it’s opening in 1994, millions of people have enjoyed the convenience and comfort of this fast zip from London to Paris. If it’s not on your travel bucket list, it should be!

Tickets for the Chunnel are released about 6 months prior to travel date, and it can start as low as $65 if you grab yours early! They also have senior fares available. A regular one-way ticket may cost around $120-180. There are 3 classes on board: standard, comfort and business. Standard class is family-friendly, with access to a buffet car with snacks. Or if you’re traveling in comfort class, your journey will include a light snack and first class seats. Want to travel in style? Business class comes with a 3-course meal and your choice of fine spirit on board, plus access to the exclusive Eurostar lounges at St. Pancras or Gare du Nord stations.

Did You Know?

–         A contest was held to determine where to place the Chunnel.

–         Both the British and French started digging from each side at the same time, but they didn’t quite meet in the middle—the English side tunneled the greater distance.

–         French engineer Albert Mathieu was the first engineer to propose the tunnel in the 19th century, and his plans included an artificial island half-way across for changing horses.

–         Much of the chalk marl bored on the English side was deposited at Lower Shakespeare Cliff in Kent, now home to the Samphire Hoe Country Park.

–         One of the eleven boring machines remains buried under the Channel. Another was sold on eBay for £39,999 in 2004.

–         Up to 400 trains pass through the tunnel each day, carrying an average of 50,000 passengers, 6,000 cars, 180 coaches and 54,000 tonnes of freight.

–         The lining of the tunnel is designed to last for 120 years.

–         Shuttle trains are 775 metres long – the same as eight football pitches.

–         The Queen and President Mitterrand were the honored guests on the inaugural ride. The royal party travelled from Waterloo to Calais at a sedate 80mph. The presidential party sped to the coast from Paris at 186mph.

 

Willamette Intl Travel designs and books train itineraries all over the world. Our rail expects can explain the nuances of train travel and book Eurail tickets, rail passes and city passes. In a hurry? We can issue your tickets in-house with just a day’s notice! Make an appointment today, call 503-224-0180.

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Filed under England, Europe, France, Travel by Rail, Where in the World is the WIT Client?

All Aboard to Europe with Avanti Destinations!

On the lookout for a quick getaway to Europe this year? Our friends over at Avanti Destinations, a Portland-based travel operator, offer several rail packages to choose from! Here are some sample itineraries to inspire! Call Willamette Intl Travel for more options, general questions, or to book one of these fabulous European escapes. 

Norway in a Nutshell—Explore Oslo, Flåm and Bergen by Rail & Ferry (3 nights)rail3

During this 3-night excursion, take the scenic rail journey from Oslo to the mountain station of Myrdal, and transfer to the Bergen Railway for a stunning natural experience. This train moves slowly so you can take in the spectacular scenery of Norwegian waterfalls, mountains and fjords.

Read more!

 

Culture and Tradition—Madrid, Cordoba, Seville and Granada (8 nights)

Spin away for a week to the land of flamenco dance and tapas. Rail is the best way to explore Andalucia, and the major cities: the grand capital Madrid, architecturally exquisite Cordoba, artistic Seville, and the Moorish Granada.

Read more!

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Majestic Mountain Experiences—Tops of Switzerland (4 nights)

The Tops of Switzerland rail and hotel package includes 5-days of camera-ready rail travel through the lofty splendor of Switzerland, including excursions to two renowned mountaintops. You’ll visit the unforgettable alpine wonderland, Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest-altitude railway station with a 100% guarantee of ice and snow and heart-thumping, panoramic views as far as the Vosges Mountains in France to the Black Forest in Germany. Then it’s on to Lucerne and a unique rail trip up Mount Pilatus – via the world’s steepest cogwheel railway

Read more!

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Cosmopolitan Adventure—London and Paris (6 nights)

Steeped in tradition and history, these world-class cosmopolitan cities are easily accessible by high-speed rail. Experience trendy London’s cosmopolitan energy and three delicious nights in Paris, the City of Lights.

Read more!

 

rail2Prefer a Roadtrip? Try Avanti’s jaunt through Three Romantic Roads in Germany.

Who is Avanti Destinations? They offer fully customizable tours in a range of destinations in Europe and Latin America. Read more about them in our previous blog post.

 

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Filed under Avanti, Europe, Travel by Rail, Vendors, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?