In Elsewhere No.02 we reviewed The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt, a collection of essays reflecting on his life and experiences at different times and places, and “the one place where all these others originate: his mind.” It is a wonderful book, and it is the description of details and of his favourite things that resonate long after you have returned it to the shelf. One of those favourite things is something all of us at Elsewhere share - a love of trains:
I was never so happy as when I was going somewhere on my own, and the longer it took to get there, the better. Walking was pleasurable, cycling enjoyable, bus journeys fun. But the train was very heaven.
Two friends of ours who also share this love are Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries, editors of Hidden Europe magazine and the co-authors of the Europe by Rail guidebook. As a disclaimer – and the reason we are presenting the book under ‘Printed Matters’ rather than writing a review – our editor Paul worked on previous editions of the book with Nicky and Susanne and had a small involvement in this new edition, a much re-vamped and (dare we say it) improved version of something that was already pretty good in the first place.
Europe by Rail is subtitled ‘the definitive guide for independent travellers’ and there is certainly a wealth of practical advice within the pages for anyone interested in exploring the continent by train. But the real strength – and heart – of the book are the 50 suggested rail journeys, beautifully written, that give you a real flavour of the possibilities out there for crisscrossing Europe and what you might discover along the way.
As the editors write on the book’s website, the variety of the routes and the detailed descriptions offer the would-be traveller numerous options and sources of inspiration:
Some journeys are sufficiently long that you could easily build an entire holiday around them (eg. from Amsterdam to Oslo or Hamburg to Budapest). Others are more modest in scope - such as a scenic wander through the Harz Mountains of eastern Germany or a rail cruise along the French Riviera.
Just flicking through the book so many ideas and possibilities jump out at the reader, and it is a testimony to the work of Nicky and Susanne that this is a book that begs to be read, curled up on the couch, as much as it is a guidebook to be stuffed in your rucksack along with your European Rail Timetable before heading off to the station. Ultimately Europe by Rail is a reminder of the truth that Tony Judt himself understood – sometimes it is not about the destination, but the journey you take to get there. See you on platform 5…
Europe by Rail, by Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner is published by the team behind the European Rail Timetable, another publication that is indispensable for the dedicated European rail explorer.
Elsewhere No.02, which features our review of The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt, can be purchased via our online store here.