PALACES ON WHEELS
THE BLUE TRAIN
The Blue Train, a window on the soul of South Africa. A relaxing, elegant way to travel between Johannesburg and Cape Town, in either direction, is on the luxurious and legendary Blue Train. This “pampering palace on wheels” departs early in the morning and arrives at its destination the next day at noon. (more)
THE ROCKY MOUNTAINEER
The Rocky Mountaineer - It will be remembered as one of my favorite train rides. On a recent two day journey from Vancouver to Banff, with an overnight stay in Kamloops, I had a chance to savor superb service, excellent cuisine and a masterpiece series of ever changing landscapes, as the glass domed train climbed high into the Canadian Rockies. (more)
The PeruRail train ride from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and the pueblo of Machu Picchu takes three hours. The journey begins slowly as the train makes three switchbacks to climb the steep terrain. We pass people living in shacks close to the tracks; a senora washes clothes in a purple drum; a shoemaker sits mending shoes; old dogs wave their tails as we chug by; a bush of yellow flowers is in full bloom; a fat pig feeds in the mud; chickens peck away at garbage; ponies, sheep, llamas and cows graze on the fertile soil. The train's whistle fills the morning air as we wind our way slowly up the Andes. Two attendants pass out blue and gold blankets; lunch is served. About two hours into our climb, the train passes under an arch in the village of Katica, signaling that we have reached an elevation of 13,000 feet, the highest point of our climb. We descend into the Sacred Valley, crossing the Urubamba River. A young boy pushes a wheel barrel filled with vegetables; we pass houses painted blue, yellow and green. The train makes two stops; villagers walk the tracks selling crafts that we grab through open windows and throw money back in kind. Peruvian music plays softly on a speaker; the swooshing and clacking of the train rolling over the tracks, and the occasional toot of its whistle sounds like instruments playing in harmony. It is the melody of a pied piper leading us up the mountain to the sacred ruins of the Inca Civilization. The train makes two stops to accommodate four-day and four-hour Inca Trail trekkers before reaching the touristy pueblo of Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes.