Across Europe, thousands of miles of railway have been abandoned over the years and left to rust. But in one German town, an old line that once transported Prussian troops and military equipment and later shuttled children to and from school has been brought back to life. Today, you can enjoy a ride along the disused railway on a draisine— or rail bike.
Walls protrude from the tangled undergrowth. Cobblestones cut through the grass with kerbstones delineating old pathways and tracks. Ahead, steps spiral up to what once must have been a grand doorway. A stone plinth stands empty, the statue it once held long since disappeared. Then another plot, this time with a cross – presumably the remnants of an old church. Opposite it, a staircase leads to a former fort. You can still see a tiled bathroom, a relic from a bygone era.
There’s no better way to discover a country than from the gently rocking first-class carriage of a train winding its way through deep gorges and mountain passes. Croatian Railways may not rival the glamour of the Orient Express and the gentle rocking may not always be quite so gentle, but the landscape you pass through is all the more impressive.
In these strange times of self-isolation and social distancing we find ourselves in, it’s hard not to feel a little disconnected from the world going on around us. A world which, for now at least, we’re forbidden from venturing out into.
But being stuck in our homes does not mean we have to press pause on our sense of adventure. Travelling is about far more than just transporting yourself from A to B. It’s about discovery and learning and letting your inquisitive side take over. And thankfully you can do all of this now from the comfort of your own home. So grab your phone or tablet or even stream it on your TV and join me on a stroll through some of Europe’s greatest museums, just without the queues and admission fees.
Relaxing, eco-friendly travel without the queues and security checks of an airport? Here are our top reasons why you should ditch flying and travel the 500 km between Berlin and Munich, one of Germany’s busiest routes, by train.
The air is thick with cinnamon and cloves, roasted almonds and sweet pastries. Artisans busy themselves selling handmade decorations and handicrafts to curious shoppers. There’s stollen (a traditional sweet bread filled with candied fruits) to fortify you and hot mulled wine to warm you up. The Silesian Christmas Market in Görlitz is full of festive cheer, but Germany’s easternmost town is steeped in history and there’s a lot more here to discover.