Our latest Recommended Railway Read is courtesy of Anthony Lambert a prolific award-winning travel writer, contributing articles to a wide range of national and international newspapers and magazines and who specialises in rail travel worldwide, Switzerland and Canada. Anthony has evidence of an interest in railways from the age of two and has since travelled on railways in over 55 countries and penned and contributed to 12 books on railway travel and journeys, including the Insight Guide to Great Railway Journeys of Europe. Our chosen book is his most recent Lost Railway Journeys from Around the World which is a celebration of the lost railway heritage and the lines that can no longer be travelled. It takes in the great cathedral-like railway stations of the steam age and the obscure lines built through spectacular landscapes. Illustrated with stunning images the book takes the reader as close as they can possibly get to the lost world of dining cars, sleeping cars, station porters and international rail travel. All of the featured railway routes have stories to tell and the lost journeys are captured in the old postcards and posters that accompany photographs drawn from collections and archives across the world. Below is an extract from the book that takes you to the ‘wild west’ of America and its pioneering railroads.
We are delighted to introduce a female author to our list of Recommended Railway Reads. Over three months, freelance journalist Lorraine Wilson, travelled solo through Europe by train, stopping at 57 destinations in 21 countries and covering 11,500 miles. The result was her delightful book, "Facing Forwards: Europe. Solo. No Looking Back". This railway and life-changing odyssey followed in the footsteps of a financial meltdown, heartbreak, bereavement, and poor health over the previous five years. At the age of 48, single, childless and having sold her home Lorraine was struggling to decide where her life was heading. In the end the best thing to do, she thought, was to head off into the unknown! Facing Forwards is the result - not a conventional travel book, but a journey of self-discovery over one summer with lots of memorable encounters along the way. Below is an excerpt from the book which finds Lorraine in Slovakia and, like most of her journey, chronicles her experiences off the rail tracks as well as on them.
Many of you will be familiar with Ffestiniog Travel’s team members, having liaised with them when planning and booking your rail holidays and train journeys with us. Some of you may have met them face to face as tour leaders, as several have escorted our train tours. Some of the team have been furloughed and others have been busy working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown, fulfilling refund obligations, dealing with suppliers and planning tours for 2021. We thought it would be a good idea to check in with them and find out a little more about what inspires them and their favourite places to visit around the world. Some have been with the company for many years and have benefitted from its in-house training opportunities and moved up the ranks to take on more travel responsibilities – a reward for their continued expertise and dedication to Ffestiniog Travel and its customers. We asked them some broad questions, ranging from their favourite rail journey to their favourite book and meal, so we could give you a little snapshot of the people who help make your rail holiday dreams come true!
For our third instalment of our Recommended Railway Reads we have the pleasure of sharing an excerpt from ‘On the Slow Train’ by best-selling author Michael Williams, which takes you to the very beginning of the book and finds the author at the remotest railway junction in the most westerly part of England! The success of this book led Michael to write a follow-up On the Slow Train Again and his other notable railways reads include Steaming to Victory and The Trains Now Departed. Michael is a journalist and academic – writing, broadcasting and blogging on transport, society, the media and other issues of the day for the national media and many other outlets, including the Independent, the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, and the New Statesman. Michael is also a leading travel writer, reporting on journeys around the world for a variety of publications. In his academic role, he is co-editor and author of the book The Future of Quality News Journalism. He lives with his family in Camden Town, London. Here is Ffestiniog Travel’s introduction to his work.
As the world of travel and holidays takes a breather during the COVID-19 crisis we thought we would catch up with some of Ffestiniog Travel’s tour leaders and invite them to share some memories and thoughts of their tour leading travels with us. It also provides an opportunity for our regular customers and new travellers to get an insight into their world of escorting passengers to destinations around the globe. We sent each tour leader some guided questions to answer and the result is this interesting blog in which they outline their own personal experiences in the first person. Find out about their favourite Ffestiniog Travel tour, top places to visit, some funny travel anecdotes and what it takes to be an effective tour leader!
Welcome to the first in a series of Recommended Railway Read blogs, where we invite you to delve into an excerpt from our chosen book to see if it piques your train travel interest. During this time of COVID-19 enforced lockdown we thought you might enjoy some armchair travel courtesy of a good railway read!
As an expert rail tour operator Ffestiniog Travel will always advocate train travel as the best way to see more of a country at ground level within the timeframe of a typical holiday. If you factor in the environmental impact of travelling anywhere then the train trumps flying and road travel for being the most eco-friendly. As more and more people become mindful of their carbon footprint, how they reach their holiday destination or tour a country is fast becoming a major influence on where they go and how they holiday.
Ffestiniog Travel is always delighted to receive feedback from customers about their rail journeys and holidays, so when we received a picture postcard style slide show from one couple we felt impelled to share their travels and memories as a photo blog.
Ffestiniog Travel once again invites you to enjoy yet another wonderful photo review of one of our recent escorted rail tours by blogger Vince Chadwick. If you enjoyed Vince’s review of his previous Ffestiniog Travel tour to Ireland you will not be disappointed by his bird’s eye view and informed commentary of our Narrow Gauge Steam in Eastern Germany tour in July 2016.
Never is the well-used phrase ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ so pertinent than when parading your holiday snaps, and as a tour operator Ffestiniog Travel actively welcomes its customers to share their visual experiences of our rail tours with us. Keen photo blogger Vince Chadwick recently returned from our 15-day Irish Circular escorted tour and has captured his experience in captioned images that offer a real taste of the ‘Emerald Isle’.
Ffestiniog Travel is very proud of its Welsh roots and maintains a close connection to the country and works closely with its sister companies, the Ffestiniog Railway and Welsh Highland Railways. A percentage of profits from all our rail holidays support the continued preservation of these two heritage railways. As part of our escorted tour portfolio we visit Wales every year taking a group of tourists on a ‘Grand’ Welsh tour and many rail enthusiasts join our ‘Connoisseur’ tours looking behind the scenes of some of the little railway gems of Wales.