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Published:December 21st, 2008 14:00 EST
Exciting Train Trips Part 1

Exciting Train Trips Part 1

By Askin Ozcan (Mentor)

I won`t argue the practicality, comfort and the low price of air travelling nowadays. And in despite of hi-jacking and the increasing airplane accidents which are probably due to the lowered maintenance quality due to the financial crises in the world, air travelling is still the safest, compared with sea voyages, driving and even train travelling, which is also expensive, uncomfortable and time-taking.

But, in despite of its disadvantages, I prefer train travelling whenever I can. I have used twelve Eurail cards and thirteen Interrail tickets of one month each. Besides, my single train journey tickets in Europe make a big pile which I keep as a souvenir.

Looking back at my past, I recall some of these train trips I made, with utmost longing. If I had a chance, I would make these trips again: 

From any point in Europe to Paris:  

The magic of Paris is contagious. For me, it is the capital of culture, humanity, freedom, art and gourmet food and café-life. I always had a fine feeling when travelling by train to Paris. Arriving at a railway station in Paris is always exciting. Arriving early in the day will give you a better chance of finding a hotel room in the vicinity of the station. But, there are so many very fine and inexpensive hotels scattered throughout Paris, away from the stations, which offer personal service, one shouldn`t be lazy and forget about them, just because they are not in the vicinity of the station. Experience in Paris and a good guide book will reveal many wonderful one-star hotels to you.

Travelling from Venice to Paris is always my favourite trip. On one hand, memories of Venice, on the other, going to Paris and expectations of a wonderful stay and new adventures in it, tops all the train trips on my list. Other passengers are usually happy too, in the train, after their explorations of Venice, perhaps the most inspiring of the cities in our world.

Coffee cups get bigger, as the train rolls away from Italy and excitement of exchanging views about Venice, with other fellow passengers, is extended until the late hours. Arriving in Paris is always nostalgic. If one has time, a cup of coffee and a croissant at the station, either with a new friend one has met in the train or an old one who has come to meet you, is a convincing proof that you are in Paris, no matter for how long a stay it may be. 

From Paris to Nice: 

This is my second choice on the top of the list. After a week in Paris, one needs a bit of rest and getting away to Nice, by train, is a very good choice. Although there are very fast trains which will get you to Nice in four hours, I prefer the night trip in a sleeping car. Old sleeping cars are much better, as one can roll down their windows to get fresh air. In the new sleeping cars, windows are sealed and one feels imprisoned in the compartment. Wagons are quite comfortable and the berths afford you, in their luxury, a good night`s sleep.

Before arriving at Nice, the attendant will bring you fresh coffee and croissants to cheer you up. A little later, you are on your way to a fascinating city with its Promenade des Anglais, cafes, comfortable hotels, a wonderful climate, a multi-colored population, a crowd of tourists and with a colourful fruit market, an unforgettable beach and plenty of sea-food restaurants.

Nice is close to Monaco and the Italian Riviera on the east and to Cannes, St.Tropez on the west.

In the past the French have asked the Ottomans, to conquer Nice from the Romans and give it to them and the strong Ottoman fleet has done it and given Nice as a present to the French.

As a thanks to this, the French have given a splendid villa to the Ottoman Admiral then and this very same building is used today as a Museum for French-Turkish friendship. It is located somewhere midway on the auto-route between Nice and Monte Carlo