Train travel in Italy with TrenItalia, Italy. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Train Travel and Taking Time Out for Reflection.

Train Travel and Taking Time Out for Reflection

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Train travel. We’ve always loved it – as much for the opportunities it affords us to sit back and simply reflect, as for the chance to people-watch, as well as take in scenery you don’t get to see from the seat of a car, bus or plane. Train travel is our favourite form of travel in Europe.

Train Travel and Taking Time Out for Reflection

We’re trying to travel by train as much as we can, in keeping with the sustainable and slow travel themes of Grantourismo – but only when it makes sense, which means when it doesn’t take more than 24 hours to get from point A to point B, a luxury we can’t afford on our grand tour.

We travelled overnight from Jerez to Madrid in Spain on the superb Trenhotel, where a three course dinner and wine is included when you book the sleeper. Bliss.

Train travel in Italy with TrenItalia, Italy. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Train Travel and Taking Time Out for Reflection.

We took a charming old antique from Barcelona to Perpignan in France, then caught the super-fast train from Perpignan to Paris (although unfortunately during the chaos of the French train strikes), and we just recently spent a day taking three trains to get from Alberobello to Venice, via Bari and Rome.

These journeys have reminded us why we love train travel so much…

Train travel in Italy with TrenItalia, Italy. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Train Travel and Taking Time Out for Reflection.

 

From Alberobello to Bari, we took a private Puglian train with plenty of people-watching opportunities – Italian teenagers flirting, mucking around and cramming for exams – and from Bari to Rome and Rome to Venice, we travelled first class on the high-speed TrenItalia Eurostar trains, thanks to our friends at Rail Europe.

The interior of TrenItalia’s Eurostar trains (oddly, no relation to the Channel Tunnel train by the way) is very sleek and stylish, with chocolate-coloured seats that are comfier than those on most airlines, good-sized tables to work at, and powerpoints to plug in your laptop.

But best of all, and a wonderful surprise, there are complimentary refreshments, which included a glass of Prosecco and crackers – also more than you get on some planes these days!

Train travel in Italy with TrenItalia, Italy. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Train Travel and Taking Time Out for Reflection.

The people-watching opportunities were just as fascinating on our train from Alberobello too – Italian business-people in smart suits doing the commute between regional capitals, affectionate Italian couples (young and old) heading off on weekends away for romance or to catch up with family, and affluent foreign travellers in Birkenstocks, from college-aged American kids to sun-tanned retirees from Down Under.

But despite the amusing distractions and the conveniences that gave me no excuses for not working, I couldn’t help but spend most of those journeys simply gazing out the window at the countryside rolling by.

 

Train travel in Italy with TrenItalia, Italy. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Train Travel and Taking Time Out for Reflection.

When we drive in Italy I’m too busy navigating, identifying the routes we need to take, and figuring out directions and parking for the next town, and Terence, the driver on our team, is obviously preoccupied.

With train travel, there’s none of that, just opportunities to savour the scenery, to take in the variety of landscapes, and to reflect upon the very nature of travel itself.

With train travel, there’s time to make meaning of the insights we’re gaining with each glimpse we get into people’s lives… farmers working the fields, housewives hanging up the washing, teens kicking a football around, kids playing in their yards, and, inevitably, people gazing at computer screens…

Train travel in Italy with TrenItalia, Italy. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved. Train Travel and Taking Time Out for Reflection.

I know what I prefer to be gazing at.

If you’re heading to Europe for the summer, don’t miss our guide to Europe’s best summer train trips.

Is train travel the best form of travel for taking time out for reflection? What do you think?

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AUTHOR BIO

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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

5 thoughts on “Train Travel and Taking Time Out for Reflection”

  1. I enjoy train travel in Europe more than anything! I can’t think of a better way to get to point A to point B. I once took a 30-hour train ride from Lisbon to Paris!

  2. I love train travels! We did a fair share of it during our last stay in Italy, and as you say it provides a lot of opportunities for people watching. And the photo of Terence with the laptop? That was me. Except I’m petite. And less hairy… ;)

  3. Ha, I think I need a barber. I saw one the other day on a walk, but damned if I can find it again…

  4. Totally agree, best way to not only see the country side but also to watch and at times interact with people. I love watching people going about their daily lives. Also as you said, a time to navel gaze. Trenitalia is a fantastic service.

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