Nobody can sleep on a train

Well I certainly can’t and I have been riding trains since a very early age.  Growing up in England and not owning a car the only practical way to get around was using the good old train.  Those were the days before the high speed trains in England and so a trip from Somerset up to Scotland took hours and hours and hours.  And only the posh people had sleeping compartments.  My poor mother being a Navy “widow” had to take care of three kids and all the suitcases on all the connections all on her own.  Fortunately she was a “looker” and there was always a willing porter around to help hold one of the babies.


Oh the excitement many years later as a grown up when I got to experience a “sleeper” train with our own compartment.  Such fun making up the beds – watching the countryside go flashing past.  This was in South Africa and the night came quickly so very soon we could see very little from our compartment.  Oh, I thought to myself.  This is going to be amazing. Cuddling down in my bunk being gently swayed to sleep by the rhythmic clatter of the wheels.

Well – no!  I tossed, I turned.  I peeped out the window at every little stop along the way while boxes were loaded and unloaded.  The slow chug chug chug out of the station until we were out on the open rail again when we gathered up speed and then that long lonely train whistle in the night.  Yes – I heard everything.  And I did not sleep.  By the morning pulling into Durban I was a wreck.

And this is a shame because I have always seen myself doing something incredibly romantic like the Orient Express.  But I don’t think I could.  Just think what I am missing out on.  The Ghan speeding through the outback in Australia!  The Blue Train from Cape Town to Johannesburg.  The Trans Siberian Express!  Now there’s a train for you.  Moscow to Beijing in sevendays.  SEVEN DAYS!   Ye gods.   Still if Joanna Lumley can do it then so could I.

Well this doesn’t look too bad.

I could handle a week of that.  Don’t know if I could travel steerage though….
This is the third class cabin on the Trans-Siberian.

Kind of a taste what we are in for with our no-frills airlines maybe?

For me the best kind of train trip is a day time one – preferably non stop in Europe. Fantastic on time service – always love to book over lunch time and treat myself to premium or first class.  Super service while the European countryside flashes past.  Much easier than catching internal flights within Europe.

And then I can get to my next stop without having to go through ABA (otherwise known as Another Bloody Airport) and have a proper sleep in a proper bed.



By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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