Tag Archives: Train

Vienna to Budapest on the OBB Railjet – A Visual Feast

By Rohan:

When planning your Eastern European getaway, rail travel is absolutely the way to go when it comes to traveling between countries. The past few times I’ve visited Europe, I’ve always traveled by train since it is fast, scenic, and usually, quite affordable. But no train has made my jaw drop more than the OBB Railjet, serving many parts of Eastern Europe, but in particular, its famous route between Vienna and Budapest. Your journey lasts about three hours and you are treated to some of the best vistas around.

While riding the Railjet, you will be treated to a stylish and luxurious train trip without having to break the bank. The carriages are equipped with television screens, free Wi-Fi, and delicious snacks to make sure you feel at home on your way to your destination. Gizmos and gadgets are great and all, but the real treat here is the view. With huge windows, every seat is fantastic for taking in some of the most beautiful scenery around.

The Railjet’s Cafe Car has treats for even the pickiest of foodies. The Caprese Panini with fresh mozzarella cheese, imported tomatoes, and creamy basil pesto was a treat to our tastebuds. If you’re in the mood for dessert, the train is stocked with Belgian chocolate and other local favorites to satisfy your sweet tooth to the fullest.

Overall, the Railjet between Vienna and Budapest is an experience that you simply cannot afford to miss. With delicious on board food, picturesque vistas, and comfortable seating, it’s a great way to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Plan your scenic journey from Vienna to Budapest at

http://www.oebb.at/en/Services/Trains_and_equipment/Our_trains/OeBB_railjet/index.jsp 

How To Do A Day Trip To Pisa From Rome

By Lakshmi: (Updated Sep 20, 2014)

Who?  If you are visiting Rome and are looking for a day trip that will be fun and take you to a much mentioned tourist attraction, this could be an attractive journey for you.

What? A visit to Pisa, a city located on the banks of the Arno river takes you to that divine food centric part of Italy, Tuscany.

How? You could rent a car, take a guided tour, take a bus or a train.  We decided to take the train.  Trains run every half hour or so from Rome’s Termini station to Pisa Centrale.  We got second class tickets, taking the early morning fast train to Pisa (takes about 2.5 hours) and took the slow train back on the same day late in the evening.  Here’s a link to train time tables to plan your journey:

http://www.italiarail.com/timetable

Why? Pisa is a a city most famous for its leaning bell tower (The Leaning Tower of Pisa) caused by an inadequately set up foundation during the build.  Restoration efforts over a period of time have resulted in stemming this lean.  I first learnt about this landmark in a science lesson as a kid, where it was mentioned that Galileo dropped a couple of balls of different masses from the tower to demonstrate that their mass did not impact the speed of fall.  This interesting hypothesis is now credited to be a fable.

We had a few Italian friends tell us to avoid Pisa and go to the less commercial Lucca which they consider to be a hidden jewel.  Unfortunately, given our time limitations, we decided to go to the tower which each of us held an ardent desire to see.

I would say that we unanimously felt that the trip was worth it.  The walk from the train station through the fabled walls and long shopping streets leading to the Arno river and subsequently to the Duomo and tower was a very picturesque one.  We also went at a time when tourists were not flooding the place, leading us to see more of small town Italian life.

The tower itself is beautiful, the hike up to the top is fun and the views from the pinnacle are worthwhile.  We walked around, had a leisurely, totally yummy lunch, watched artisans at work and needless to say, spent time shopping the street markets.

For a visual journey through Pisa, please visit our photo essay on this trip.

https://aglobalaffair.com/2012/12/18/a-day-trip-to-pisa-from-rome-part-2-in-pictures/

A Day Trip to Alexandria from Cairo – You Can Do it on Your Own

By Lakshmi:

Alexandria – Just the name of the city conjures up so many images of Egyptian history.  Alexander the Great, the Library, the Alexandria Lighthouse, Cleopatra, the list could go on.  So on our trip to Egypt, visiting this ancient city was a must do.

Against many a well wisher’s advice, we decided to do this day trip on our own. Our concierge got us train tickets to get out of Cairo early morning, returning back late at night.  We also asked the concierge to write down the Arabic names for the library and the light house locations, so that we could get to these places easily.

We got to the train station really early for a 6:00 am departure and it immediately felt like I had been transported to Mumbai.  The ambiance, the food stalls, and the people all seemed like a case of deja vu.  The three hour 15 minute train ride took us through towns and villages, leading us through tremendously congested areas and open expanses.

Upon arriving in Alexandria, we were immediately accosted by multiple cab drivers.  We walked briskly away from the train station, hailing a cab from a side street and quickly providing our destination to the driver.  The drive was interesting to say the least.  We passed through some poultry markets, witnessed a street fight, watched people shopping and then drove along the ocean side promenade to get to the library.   (A side note – when we saw the uprising in Alexandria on TV, it was a bit eerie that we could recognize some of the areas).

The Bibliotheca Alexandria also known as the New Library of Alexandria was designed at the location of the old library to capture the spirit of the original  which was completely destroyed.  Designed by a Norwegian architectural firm, the library is a stunning masterpiece not just visually, but for all the usability issues that were considered in its design including lighting for the readers to avoid eye strain, energy recycling, etc.

The ultra modern design against the blue of the ocean and the palm tree-lined promenade is just an amazing juxtaposition of elements.  We spent several hours admiring the various facets of the library, including partaking in a free tour that showed us the various rooms and special exhibits, including a very informative one tracing the life of Anwar Sadat.

To me, this library along with the Library of Congress in Washington DC are just very special places of learning.  After several hours of immersion, we were ready for a leisurely lunch at the on site cafe, taking turns to watch the ocean and the people.

At the end of our visit, we took a long walk to see where the original lighthouse was in Alexandria.  While this ancient wonder of the world is no longer there, there are plenty of divers trying to find artifacts in the Mediterranean Sea.

With mixed reviews on the Catacombs, we decided to spend the rest of the day perched on the wall overlooking the Mediterranean.  We people watched for hours, our most entertaining moments coming from watching a persistent diver dive multiple times, each time emerging with the same prize….a soda bottle!

After taking a brief stop to have a coffee and some snacks, we continued to watch the people of Alexandria in this beautiful sea breeze soaked ambiance.   We watched college girls giggling, tempo buses dropping people off from work, guys just talking and arguing and couples walking very respectably along the waterfront.  It was also a great place to flood the mind with all the images from history, trying to imagine what this crucial historical city might have looked like thousands of years ago.  It was one of those days where we could have just sat there forever.

But we needed to catch our 7:30 pm train back, so we headed back to the station.  As we grabbed our magazines, snacks and drinks, a guy who had been observing us walked over and asked where our tour guide was.  When we replied that we just adventure on our own, he told us we were a gutsy group!  He was a businessman from California, back in Egypt to visit family.

We don’t remember much of our ride back, since we all fell asleep, only to wake up as the train pulled into Cairo at the end of a really full and enriching day.

To learn more about the Bibliotheca Alexandria, click here:

http://www.bibalex.org/home/default_EN.aspx

To get train timings from Cairo to Alexandria, click here:

http://www.seat61.com/Egypt.htm#Cairo – Alexandria