Children love trains, and we’re not just talking about Thomas the Tank Engine. Children like trains because they can watch the world go by without being strapped into a car seat.
They can, depending on how old they are of course, stroll around the carriages, grab a bite from the on-board café, and play board games. You don’t have to stop for toilet breaks, fuel breaks and meal breaks. And if it’s a really long journey, they can even sleep in a proper bed. All this adds up to happy children, happier parents and a smart way of covering a heap more miles without losing your sanity.
For an extra special Christmas, consider a white Christmas in Canada.
Christmas in Canada will be special and Rocky Mountaineer Vacations has eight fantastic winter rail journeys to choose from. The six-night, seven-day Winter Wonderland is the pick of the bunch, with a night in Vancouver, a night in Kamloops, three nights in beautiful Banff and one night in Calgary, and two spectacular days on board the Rocky Mountaineer. There are dedicated children’s programs in the specialty car, and fun dishes on the special kids’ menu . Best of all, Santa Claus pops by, after his sleigh breaks down near the train.
Add to that the incredible scenery, with highlights like the Kicking Horse Canyon and the Spiral Tunnels, and you’re on a sure holiday winner.
The Winter Wonderland package kicks off in Vancouver on December 19 or 26, with return departures from Calgary on December 18 and 25. For more information on this and other packages, contact Asia Pacific Travel Marketing Services on 1300 300 713 or visit www.winterrailvacations.com
EURAIL - All Aboard
Time-starved travellers looking to explore Europe by rail can now choose from two new Regional Passes from Eurail Group that will widen options when discovering Europe.
The Czech Republic-Germany pass will give travellers the option of exploring Germany and the Czech Republic, its eastern neighbour, with just one pass. Visit the vibrant capitals of Berlin and Prague, and two great European rivers - the romantic Rhine and the Moldau. A train ride away are impressive landscapes like the Black Forest and Bohemian Woods, and classic middle European architecture in the cities of Prague, Plzen, Nuremberg, Regensburg and Magdeburg.
Poland has been moving up the radar screens of savvy travellers lately, and the new Germany-Poland pass makes it easier than ever to get around this country. Historic city centres of Krakow, Wroclaw and Görlitz were made for strolling, and off the beaten path, the genuine nature of Rügen Island in Germany and the Masuren lake district of Poland beckon more adventuresome travellers.
There are now 20 Eurail Regional Passes available to travellers looking to explore two countries in depth. For more information go to www.eurail.com
Do your bit for the planet by catching trains while you are travelling in Europe. Did you know flying between London and Paris or Brussels generates ten times more carbon dioxide emissions than taking the Eurostar train? Or think of it this way – a flight from London to Paris would fill a double-decker bus with CO2 emissions; while taking the Eurostar would only fill a mini!
As well as being the green alternative, the London to Paris or Brussels rail network is becoming increasingly popular. You can check in right in the city, avoiding long taxi rides as well as lengthy airport security queues and luggage collection. Plus there are the benefits of spaciousness, leg room and being able to move around during the journey.
Rail networks are being upgraded as well. A new station in London, which will open in November 2007, is expected to cut up to 25 minutes off the Eurostar journey.
It’s estimated that 250,000 Australians will use rail at some stage in their European journeys this year. If you’d like to join them, check out the rail and accommodation packages in the Rail Plus “Your World on Track 2007” brochure. Details at www.railplus.com.au
Indian Pacific’s Outback Christmas trip
If you’re planning on taking the family to Perth for Christmas, why not take the scenic route on the Indian Pacific, a rail journey of a lifetime across the heart of the continent? Not only is this one of the world’s longest and greatest train trips, but the annual Outback Christmas journey features two very special guests who are sure to delight the whole family – Santa Claus, plus one of Australia’s top entertainment acts.
This memorable trip features a different performer every year, who give concerts at every stop, entertaining not only the train guests but also thousands of locals who gather for the occasion. In 2006, the trip featured the chart-topping Human Nature, who thrilled crowds en route with their amazing Motown song and dance act. Acts in previous years have included Guy Sebastian, Jimmy Barnes and Nikki Webster. This year the celebrity entertainer will be David Campbell – sure to be a hit with everyone with his easy nature and sugar-smooth voice.
Setting off from Sydney, the three day journey takes in some of Australia’s most iconic outback towns, including Broken Hill, Rawlinna and the gold town of Kalgoorlie. You’ll also make a scheduled stop at the continent’s most remote outpost, Cook – a dusty ghost town, population seven, in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain.
The most fascinating stop, however, is at Watson – literally the middle of nowhere, without even a platform to step onto! Here, you’ll be greeted by the smiling faces of dozens of Aboriginal children, many of whom have travelled for four hours to meet the train, see Santa and to watch the special acapella performance. One of the special moments last year for Human Nature was when these adorable kids belted out the chorus of the band’s chart-topping song, Every Time You Cry – literally knocking the band off their feet! It was one of those special, heartwarming moments that made the trip truly memorable for everyone.
The Indian Pacific Outback Christmas 2007 trip will take place from December 5 – 8. For details contact Great Southern Railway on 13 21 47 or visit www.gsr.com.au.