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Europe is on the right track

I would have guessed that I’d visited almost all of the most populous cities in the European Union. However, on checking a list, it turns out that I’ve only been to five of the top ten, and ten of the top twenty. Somehow, I’ve never visited the EU’s biggest city: Berlin.

The news in Le Monde of the return of night trains from Paris to Berlin might just change that. The idea of hopping down from Newcastle to London on a Saturday morning, taking the Eurostar on a Saturday afternoon, wandering across Paris to connect with the Nightjet at 19.12 and waking in Berlin at 08.26 on Sunday sounds impossibly relaxing, and certainly more luxurious than a connecting flight.

My history with sleeper trains is limited. I vaguely remember taking Motorail night trains through France in my youth, with the family car on board: those services were all discontinued more than a decade ago.

I enjoyed a trip on Britain’s very own Caledonian Sleeper last year. While I’ve had no call to do so this year, I would prefer the sleeper to an evening on the East Coast Mainline and a cheap London hotel if I need to be in London early for work purposes. Showering on a moving train was a strange and memorable experience: I’m pleased to see that, like the Caledonian Sleeper, the Paris to Berlin Nightjets similarly have deluxe compartments with their own bathrooms. I’m a deluxe kind of guy: I read Midnight Trains’s weekly newsletter without fail, and look forward to the day when I’ll be able to check into their ‘luxury hotel on rails’.

While I don’t have a great deal of experience with sleeper trains, I have become increasingly fond of using trains for international travel. That’s only partly attributable to flygskam; the better part of it is that train travel feels so much more laid back and relaxing than flying. It typically takes a little longer, but that’s a virtue: it really allows time to sink into the experience of travelling and to enjoy it for its own sake, rather than as a means to an end. There’s something ineffably luxurious about spending time in the act of travelling rather than rushing from place to place. I’m in the small proportion of travellers who intentionally book very long layovers on connecting flights for that exact reason: I’d rather have time to collect my thoughts and fill my stomach in an airport lounge than to be harried from gate to gate.

The European sleeper train renaissance therefore feels right up my street.

The image at the top of this post was generated by DALL·E 3.

This post was filed under: Post-a-day 2023, Travel, .

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22nd December 2023.

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