Mark Smith, the Man in Seat Sixty-One, on board Eurostar in Seat 61...

On board Eurostar, in seat 61...

Who is the Man in Seat Sixty-One?

I'm Mark Smith, and I live in England in deepest darkest Buckinghamshire, with wife Nicolette, 8 year old Nathaniel and 5 year old Katelijn.

I'm a career railwayman who ran away from Oxford to join the circus (or as it was called in those days, British Rail) as soon as he could.  Starting out in delightful rural Kent on what was then BR's Southern Region, I became the Station Manager for Charing Cross, London Bridge & Cannon Street railway stations in London in the early to mid 1990s.  After a spell as the Customer Relations Manager for two major UK train companies, I worked for the Office of the Rail Regulator and later the Strategic Rail Authority, ending up at the Department for Transport, in charge of the team regulating fares & ticketing on the British rail network.  Since 2007 I have run this site full-time, as (a) updating it has indeed become a full-time job and (b) it's much more fun than real work...

I've been lucky enough to travel around the world on trains and ships to many interesting places over the years, and I've been on the other side of the counter too - in university vacations I worked in a European rail ticketing agency in London called Transalpino, issuing tickets and advising travel agents across the UK on train travel across Europe.

Seat Sixty-One...

Eurostar's seat 61, in cars 7, 8 11 or 12.

 

Why is it called 'Seat 61'?

Zaharoff, the notorious arms dealer, would always book compartment 7 on the Orient Express to or from Istanbul.  When treating myself to Eurostar's first class, I would always request seat 61 (in cars 7, 8, 11 or 12) to make sure my seat lined up with the window, one of a cosy pair of seats facing each other across a table complete with table lamp, rather like those in an old Pullman car.  It became something of a tradition, and I've left London in seat 61 en route to destinations such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Albania, Tunisia (via Lille & Marseille), Marrakech (via Paris, Madrid & Algeciras), Istanbul (via Vienna, Budapest & Transylvania), Ukraine & the Crimea, Aleppo, Damascus, Petra & Aqaba, and even Moscow, Vladivostok, Tokyo & Nagasaki via the Trans-Siberian Railway.

What does the site aim to do?

First of all, it sets out to HELP people who already know they want to travel by train or ferry, but who can't find out about it through normal commercial websites or travel agencies.  These days, many people want to cut their carbon footprint or are simply fed up with the hassle of flying.  Many of us prefer train travel, and a significant number of people are afraid of flying or medically restricted from doing so.  However, information on alternatives to flying can often be difficult if not impossible to find.  Second, the site aims to INSPIRE people to do something more rewarding with their lives and their travel opportunities than going to an airport, getting on a soulless globalised airliner and missing all the world has to offer.  There's more to travel than the destination.  It used to be called a  j o u r n e y ...

Why did I set up the site?

  The Man in Seat Sixty-One on board the Rangoon-Mandalay Express

On board the Rangoon-Mandalay overnight express

The problem is this.  Travelling by train from London to anywhere in Europe is a far more practical option than most people imagine, in fact it can be easier and less stressful than flying.  But finding out about train travel has become frustratingly difficult, if not downright impossible.  Although many people would prefer a more civilised, comfortable, interesting, adventurous, romantic, scenic, historic, exciting, less stressful and more environmentally-friendly way to travel, the travel industry only wants to sell you flights, flights, car hire and more flights.  The train operators themselves are little help, even Eurostar provides very little useful information on its website for travelling beyond Paris or Brussels, and Italy and Spain (two of my top destinations) aren't mentioned anywhere on their site at all.  What was needed was basic 'how to' information for train journeys from the UK to Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Russia and every other country in Europe.  And how about reaching Morocco, Tunisia, Ibiza, Corsica, Crete or Malta by combining train & ferry?  I thought it was a gap that needed filling, and that I could fill that gap myself...

So one day in 2001 I found myself at London's Marylebone station looking for something to read on my train home from work.  I wandered into W H Smiths and spotted a 'teach yourself HTML' book costing all of £2.95.  I had just bought a computer and my internet provider offered some free webspace.  I read the book, tried a test webpage, and surprised myself when it worked.  One thing led to another, and here I am.  There's a lot of work involved in keeping the site even remotely up to date, but people seem to find the site useful, and this keeps me going.  If you've any feedback or suggestions to make about the site, please e-mail me or use the guestbook.  I'd be glad to hear from you!

Mark Smith giving a presentation to Cambridge University Railway Club

Giving a presentation to the Cambridge University Railway Club. 

 

Is the site a hobby or a business?

Seat61.com is a personal website, started purely as a hobby.  It's grown and grown, and became my full time occupation in September 2007.  Which is just as well, as keeping it updated has indeed become a full-time job.  However, I'm not a company or a travel agency, just an individual with knowledge that others might find useful.  All the information on the site is provided free of charge to users, with the aim of providing sound practical advice to help people make journeys by train or ship instead of flying, affordably, comfortably and safely.  The site generates income through Google adverts and affiliate schemes, and this supports the site, helps fund my travel habit (...er, I mean research, of course) and buys me a beer or two and now even the odd bottle of my favourite Chateau Musar...

The Man in Seat 61 books, merchandise & T-shirts...

I've written two books based on the site, published by Bantam Press.  The first is an essential handbook for train travel from the UK into Europe that's so far sold over 10,000 copies.  First published in June 2008, a new edition came out in April 2010 with updated timetables and information.  You can buy it  from Amazon.co.uk.  A second book, this time about train travel opportunities worldwide beyond Europe, was published in February 2011.  However, you'll find more up to date info now on the website as both books are a little long in the tooth.  Just for fun, if you'd like a Man in Seat 61 mug, mouse mat or luggage tag, see the online stores at Zazzle USA, Zazzle Canada, Zazzle Australia & Zazzle New Zealand, and click here if you'd like a Man in Seat 61 T-shirt.  There's also a Zazzle UK, but as items are sent from the US, postage costs are a bit high (so perhaps just buy a T-shirt!).  I'm giving all commissions to the UNICEF Syria appeal.

  Caroon of the Man in Seat 61 by Mick Brownfield
 

Cartoon by Mick Brownfield from an article about me in the Sunday Times.  I love it - better than the original me, I think! 

See Zazzle stores in the USA, Canada, Australia & NZ.  There's a Zazzle UK, but beware postage costs.  I plan to give earnings to charities Oxfam & Shelter.

The Man in Seat 61 TV series?  Watch the pilot video

A TV series nearly happened...  A series called 'The Man in Seat 61' was suggested by an experienced film-maker, although so far no sponsor has been found - and Michael Portillo seems to have pinched the job!  A pilot video was made, in which The Man in Seat 61 helps actor Kenneth Cranham travel from Trafalgar Square to Waterloo battlefield on the first leg of an overland journey to St Petersburg, on the trail of Napoleon...

Telegraph Travel Awards 2012...

I'm still a little stunned that Seat61 has won 'Favourite Travel Website' in the Telegraph Travel Awards 2012 - voted by 17,000 readers.  This is in spite of stiff competition from major sites such as Tripadvisor.com!  The awards were hosted by Clive Anderson at the ME Hotel in London on 13 November 2012.

Guardian & Observer Travel Awards 2008...

I'm delighted that Seat61.com won the 'Best Travel website' category in the prestigious Guardian & Observer Travel Awards, held in Fes, Morocco 10-13 October 2008.  Naturally, I travelled there by train and ferry, which helped me update that part of the site!

Receiving the award for Best Travel Website from Mariella Frostrup & Andy Pietrasik at the Guardian & Observer Travel Awards, held in Fes in October 2008.

 

Wanderlust Travel Awards 2010, 2009, 2008 & 2007...

Seat61.com was voted 'Top Travel Website by readers of Wanderlust Magazine in the prestigious Wanderlust Travel Awards 2007, and again in the Wanderlust Travel Awards 2008, held at The Times Destinations Show at Earl's Court.  It made the top three once more in 2009 & 2010 out of over 600 websites, receiving the Bronze Award in 2009 and the Silver Award in 2010.  I'm truly delighted that the site has been recognised in this way, and am very grateful indeed for everyone who voted for the site.

Responsible Tourism Awards 2010, 2009 & 2006...

I'm delighted that seat61.com won the 'Best Low Carbon Transport & Technology Initiative' category at the Virgin Holidays Responsible Travel Awards 2010.   The awards were presented on 10 November 2010 at the World Travel Market at the Excel exhibition centre in London's docklands.  Seat61.com previously won the 'Best Personal Contribution' category in the First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards 2006.  Seat 61 was in the top 3 finalists and was 'highly commended' in the 'Best Low Carbon Transport & Technology' category in the 2009 Responsible Travel Awards.

The Oldie Travel Awards 2008

Seat61.com was judged 'Best Travel Website' in October 2008 in the Oldie travel awards, sponsored by Voyages Jules Verne.

Receiving the Wanderlust 'Top Travel Website' award in January 2008   Receiving the award for Best Personal Contribution at the Responsible Travel Awards 2006  

Receiving the 2008 award from Wanderlust's co-founder Lyn Hughes.

 

Receiving the 'Best Personal Contribution' award at the World Travel Market in 2006...

BBC TV Top Gear, July 2011

What, the car show?  Yes, I know this was the most unlikely show for me to appear on.  But Hammond and May were building a train out of caravans and needed some 'train experts' as guinea pigs.  An Audi S8 pulling four caravans on rail trolley wheels, it was the noisiest and most vibration-ridden 'train' I had ever ridden.  What you can't see from watching the show is how swelteringly hot that second class caravan was on that bright sunny day on the Great Central Railway at Rothley.  Still, lucky I didn't end up in Scum Class.  That was one crazy day...  The episode is now on YouTube (in 3 parts), starting at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkpCzp0CmjY.  I was able to help Top Gear again more recently, supplying a few shots from my Paris-Milan TGV video to the BBC for the 'race' between Eurostar & TGV and Jeremy Clarkson in a Mustang from Wembley to Milan broadcast in February 2013.  In this case, the train won!

BBC Top Gear, July 2011.  The 'train' of caravans hauled by an Audi S8   On BBC Top Gear, on the 'train'

The Top Gear 'Train' at Rothely. Perhaps the strangest, noisiest, most rickety train I've ever ridden in.

 

In the 2nd class caravan being driven by James May from Rothley to Loughborough.  I'm at back right.

How about a T-shirt?

Or donate to the UNICEF Syrian children's appeal through my JustGiving page, www.justgiving.com/seatsixtyone.

Press room:  Articles, interviews...

The Man in Seat Sixty-One has been fortunate enough to feature in newspapers, magazines and even on TV & radio both in the UK and overseas.  I've been asked to write about train travel for The Telegraph, the Sunday Times, The Observer, The Guardian, The Independent and Wanderlust Magazine, amongst others.  I've also been asked to give presentations to several organisations and societies.

7 March 2014

Interviewed by BBC News on board a Chiltern Railways train about the rebirth of the European rail Timetable, see www.live.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26489897

5 December 2013

I was invited to speak about European train ticketing at the Better Rail Networks conference organised by the Greens at the EU Parliament in Brussels.  It was videoed, you can see me in action here, starting around 02:15:  http://greenmediabox.eu/archive/2013/12/05/better-rail-networks/

29 November 2013

Article written for the Financial Times "All Aboard the TGV to Barcelona"

26 September 2013

Brief interview on LBC radio about Labour vote to re-nationalise the railways.

11 September 2013

Gave a talk to the Oxfordshire Railway Society

2 September 2013

5-minute televised interview between me and Guardian transport correspondent Gwyn Topham "Are budget airlines bad?"  www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/video/2013/sep/02/budget-airlines-train-ferry-debate-video?CMP=twt_gu

30 August 2013

Article written for the Belfast Telegraph following a trip to NI: www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/mark-smith-the-view-of-northern-ireland-from-the-man-in-seat-61-29535572.html.

13 July 2013

CBS This Morning recommended seat61.com on US breakfast TV, see http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50150832n.

1 February 2013

I was asked by Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) to be the keynote speaker at an event at the Charing Cross Hotel to mark 40 years of Deutsche Bahn in the UK.

9 January 2013

The Man in Seat 61 website mentioned in Parliament!  The brief but (I hope) balanced assessment of UK long-distance rail fares versus equivalent European fares which I posted online a few days ago was quoted (and the Man in Seat 61 website mentioned by name) in a House of Commons debate on the cost of travel.  In fact Seat 61 was mentioned twice, by Iain Stewart MP and in his summing up by Normal Baker, Under Secretary of State for Transport, www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=12164 at minutes 06:44 & 07:21.

Dec/January 2012/13

Interview with me appeared in Red Report, the in-flight magazine of TAM airlines.

3 November 2012

Wrote an article in The Independent:  'On track for adventure' a journey from New York to San Francisco on the Lake Shore Limited and California Zephyr. www.independent.co.uk/travel/americas/on-track-for-adventure-8277216.html

14 April 2012

Wrote an article in The Times:  'Italy by Rail:  A Tale of Two Trains' contrasting the new Thello sleeper to Venice with the Venice Simplon Orient Express.

4 March 2012

Wrote the front page feature in the Sunday Telegraph travel section, Vietnam - The View from the Train.

4 March 2012

Seat61 named as one of the top ten green travel blogs by The Ecologist.

26 October 2011

In the Daily telegraph readers' travel awards 'Favourite Travel Website' category, 'The Man in Seat 61' is one of two runners up to Tripadvisor.com (the other runner up is Alistair Sawday).

August 2011

Seat61 makes number 10 in the 'Top 10 Travel Websites' in the Condé Nast Traveller Magazine Readers Travel Awards 2011, see www.cntraveller.com/awards/readers-travel-awards/the-readers-travel-awards-2011/travel-companies.  Seat61 may be in tenth place, but with the other nine including such illustrious sites as Booking.com, LastMinute.com and Expedia, all probably the result of multi-million pound investment, tenth place isn't bad for a site started with £2.95.

31 July 2011

I wrote the headline article on the Sunday Telegraph travel section, 'Tracks of History', about a Singapore to Bangkok journey on the Eastern & Oriental Express.

16 July 2011

I appeared on BBC TV 'Top Gear' as one of the 'rail expert' passengers on board Richard Hammond's and James May's 'train' made of an Audi S8 and caravans.  Perhaps the craziest train journey I've taken, certainly amongst the noisiest!

14 July 2011

I was invited to give oral evidence to the House of Lords inquiry into the European Rail Market and the Role of the Channel Tunnel.  See www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=8857.

23 March 2011

I was interviewed on BBC Radio London, on the Robert Elms show

16 March 2011

Q&A answered in the Daily Telegraph 'Taking the train to Baden Baden'

12 February 2011

Article published in The Independent about the closure of Singapore station.

5 February 2011

Article published in The Times 'From coast to coast by train for less than $200'

4 February 2011

Q&A answered in the Daily Telegraph 'Taking the train to Italy'

4 February 2011

Article published in the Financial Times 'Five Great Rail Journeys'

28 December 2010

Interviewed briefly about high-speed rail by Richard Quest on CNN Europe.

25 October 2010

Now one of the Daily Telegraph's panel of experts, answering a reader's question on overland travel to Spain.

19 October 2010

Interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live, about high speed rail.

12 October 2010

Interviewed for French national newspaper Le Monde "La Magie du Voyage en Train".

24 September 2010

Interviewed by Simon Calder in an Independent podcast at www.independent.co.uk/travel/

20 September 2010

Wrote a panel in The Guardian World News section about DB's intention to run high-speed ICE trains from London to Germany.

15 August 2010

Interviewed by Lesley Joseph on BBC Radio London

24 May 2010

Guest on TV's 'Holiday Show' on the Travel Channel

17 May 2010

Guest on BBC Radio 4's The Travellers' Tree.

2 May 2010

Your carriage awaits, a front-page feature article on European train travel by yours truly in the Sunday Telegraph.

20 April 2010

Interviewed by Simon mayo on 'Drive Time' BBC Radio 2

7 November 2009

Guest speaker at the Globetrotters Club in London

4 November 2009

Guest speaker at the Geographical Society, Trinity College Dublin

8 July 2009

Interviewed by Simon Calder in the Independent in 'Crossed Lines'

14 March 2009

Independent 50 best travel websites (seat61 makes it to number 14)

1 March 2009

Sunday Times travel section InterRailing for Grownups:  Four great rail journeys.

1 February 2009

The Observer Slow Train from Thazi.

19 October 2008

The Observer Me and my travels- interview.

18 October 2008

The Guardian A Winter's Trail- The Man in Seat 61's top winter train trips.

29 June 2008

Sunday Times The Man in Seat 61's eight great train escapes 4-page guide to European train travel

29 April 2008

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4 on 'You and Yours'

28 April 2008

Interviewed on BBC Radio Cambridge

26 April 2008

The Guardian, Saturday travel section, 'Long-haul train journeys' in '100 no-flying holidays'

16 April 2008

Interviewed by BBC Radio Bucks, Beds, Herts

7 & 14 April 2008

Guardian online, My top train trips & More of my top train trips

30 March 2008

Daily Telegraph, 101 most useful websites

9 February 2008

Featured in The Telegraph magazine, 'Eco heroes', with photo of yours truly standing on Stoke Mandeville station platform holding a world globe (as you do...)

5 January 2008

Guest on BBC Radio 4's 'Excess Baggage' travel programme, hosted by Sandy Toksvig.

December 2007

Asked to write a paragraph for Where's hot for 2008 in The Observer

October 2007

Appeared on BBC World's 'Fast Track' TV programme as rail expert in feature on the luxury Eastern & Oriental Express from Singapore to Bangkok.

September 2007

Appeared on BBC World's 'Fast Track' TV programme as rail expert in news item about the new 'Rail Team' alliance of European high-speed train operators.

9 August 2007

Featured in The Guardian's Top ten green websites.

July 2007

Featured in The Times best 100 travel websites.

3 July 2007

Interviewed on BBC World Service radio on "The World Today" about the new European RailTeam initiative.

28 April 2007

The Independent, "Best 50 travel websites".  Seat61 was listed as, er, well, number one..!

24 April 2007

BBC Radio Newcastle, asked about European Motorail on the breakfast show.

21 April 2007

The Guardian travel section InterRail back on Track by yours truly.

30 March 2007

The Man in Seat Sixty-One quoted in USA Today.

24 March 2007

The Guardian travel section Why hurry? by yours truly.

2 March 2007

The Guardian travel section The Right Kind of Snow by yours truly.

1 February 2007

Seat61.com wins the Top Travel Website category in the Wanderlust Travel Awards 2007, as voted by readers of Wanderlust Magazine.

31 January 2007

BBC Radio 2:  Seat61 was Miles Mendoza's Website of the Day on Steve Wright in the Afternoon.

30 January 2007

Seat61 mentioned in The Guardian editorial, In praise of...seat61.com.

30 January 2007

Feature on seat61 in the 'People' section of Railnews, the UK rail industry's staff newspaper.

20 January 2007

The Man in Seat Sixty-One was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Excess Baggage, hosted by john McCarthy.

20 January 2007

Article in The Guardian travel section, Two Tickets to Marrakech, please..., by yours truly.

16 January 2007

Article about me and seat61.com published in Haaretz newspaper in Israel

12 January 2007

Seat61 mentioned in Metro newspaper, London, in 'A greener way to travel', about taking the trainhotel to Spain.

29 November 2006

The Guardian travel online:  10 best long weekends to Europe by train, by yours truly, complete with interactive map.

November 2006

Seat61 'Website of the Fortnight' in ComputerActive magazine

28 October 2006

The Guardian 'Maltese Crossing'.  A week's holiday to Malta by train+ferry, by yours truly. 

16 September 2006

The Times: '50 people to know in travel'.  Yours truly makes it to number 48, right behind Michael O'Leary of RyanAir and EasyJet's Stelios. 

9 September 2006

The Daily Telegraph, 'Travel without leaving a trail'.  Yours truly called "an international man of mystery".  I think I can live with that.... 

4 September 2006

Article about seat61.com written by Robert MacPherson syndicated to Yahoo and South African, Canadian, Taiwanese, Malaysian, French, Greek & Italian newspapers.

4 September 2006

Article about seat61.com published in 'La Republica', the Italian national newspaper.

3 September 2006

Mail on Sunday, seat61 featured in property section for travel to Spain.

2 September 2006

Financial Times (weekend):  "All aboard for the future of real travel", Seat61 featured and yours truly quoted.

26 August 2006

The Guardian, 'Sites that changed our world'.

19 August 2006

The Guardian, 'A hotel on wheels', of businessmen and goatherds on the trainhotel from Spain.

31 July 2006

Interviewed on ABC local radio, Perth Western Australia.

23 July 2006

The Guardian, 'Into the Valley of Vines...', by train to discover the valley of the charge of the Light Brigade.

24 June 2006

The Guardian, "Take the train not the plane', a weekend to Poland by train, written by yours truly.  Now a monthly column.

10 June 2006

The Times (travel section), 'Sitting pretty', top tips for train travel by yours truly.

20 May 2006

The Guardian, "Back on track", train travel to Greece, Syria & Petra, written by yours truly (with nice photo of Nicolette..!).

May 2006

TNT magazine, "On the right tracks...", The Man in Seat Sixty One quoted.

29 April 2006

The Times, '100 best travel websites', seat61 the first of 10 sites in the rail & ferries section.

9 April 2006

The Observer, travel section feature:  Guide to Rail Travel, written by the Man in Seat Sixty-One...

27 March 2006

The Times Online:  Seat61 recommended and yours truly quoted in 'Rail Travel' by Ginny McGrath

8-15 March 2006

TimeOut magazine:  Seat61 recommended in "The Good Life" article.

March 2006

CNN online:  Quoted in Ultimate train journeys - The Orient Express.

March 2006

Seat61 featured in Adventure Travel Magazine.

March 2006

Seat61 featured in Lighter Life Magazine.

19 November 2005

Daily Telegraph - seat61.com mentioned in the Gill Charlton travel advice column.

13 November 2005

Wisconsin free radio - The Man in Seat Sixty-One interviewed live on 'Here on earth'...

26 September 2005

Irish radio RTE1 - The Man in Seat Sixty-One interviewed live on the Ryan Turbridy show...

20 September 2005

Seat61 recommended as explaining greener travel options in 'Your planet and how you can save it..' by Julia Stephenson...

15 May 2005

London radio station LBC 97.3 - The Man in Seat Sixty-One interviewed live on the Charlie Jordan show...

23 April 2005

The Independent - Seat61 'one of the 50 Best Travel Websites to Browse...'

5 April 2005

The Times - Seat61 one of the 70 best travel websites & the deputy online travel editor's five favourite travel websites.

17 March 2005

USA Today - Seat61 mentioned in 'Globetrotters click online for advice'

March 2005

South China Morning Post (Hong Kong's main English-language newspaper) - Seat61 'a peerless hymn to train travel'.

8 January 2005

The Guardian - The Green Consumer, recommended for those 'doggedly insisting' on rail & sea travel.

16 December 2004

The Guardian - Cream of the Crop 100 best websites.  Seat61.com one of the five in the Travel category.

23 October 2004

The Times - seat61 mentioned (and yours truly quoted...) in 'Holidays by Rail' feature.

October 2004

Living France Magazine - 'Website of the Month'.

19 September 2004

The Observer - Recommended in 'A family holiday to Syria?  You can't be serious..!'

18 September 2004

The Daily Telegraph - Recommended in 'On the case' readers' travel questions answered.

28 March 2004

The Brisbane Sunday Mail - Recommended in 'Escape' section.

13 March 2004

The Times - 'Website of the Week' in the Travel section.

11 March 2004

BBC World TV - Recommended in 'Click Online'.

11 March 2004

The Guardian - Mentioned in Guardian Unlimited.

2 February 2004

BBC TV - Recommended on BBC1's 'Holiday 2004'.

22 January 2004

Recommended in 'ComputerActive' Magazine.

21 January 2004

Recommended in 'Rail' Magazine.

4 January 2004

The Observer - mentioned in 'Ask the Experts' in the travel section.

September 2003

Reviewed in 'Web User' magazine.

9 August 2003

The Guardian - recommended in an article 'Freedom of the Net' in Saturday travel section. 

21 June 2003:

'The Nation' newspaper of Thailand - site reviewed 

8 June 2003:

Alpha Radio, Darlington area - The man in seat sixty-one interviewed 'live'...

12 April 2003

The Guardian - 'the most useful railways site to bookmark' in 'Best of the Net' in Saturday travel section.

4 January 2003:

The Guardian - one of five 'websites to watch in 2003' in 'Best of the Net' in Saturday travel section.

15 November 2002:

The Wall Street Journal - recommended as top choice in a 'Desktop Traveller' article on train travel.

13 October 2002

The Sunday Times - seat61 'an essential global rail guide' in an article called 'More rattling good trips by train'.

7 April 2002:

The Sunday Times - featured in the 'Doors' internet section in an article called 'Home page heroes'.

December 2001:

Reviewed in 'Wanderlust' magazine.

5 May 2001:

The Guardian - featured as 'Website of the Week' in the Saturday travel section.


Top travel tip...

"Never travel without a good book and a corkscrew..."


A few favourites...

Favourite cities:   Cairo, Istanbul, Havana, Tangier, Bombay.  
       
Favourite hotels:  

Windamere Hotel, Darjeeling - Afternoon tea to the sound of a piano, dinner by candlelight served by white-gloved, turbanned waiters. At around £65 per night including food, it's not the cheapest hotel in India, but it's worth every penny.  See the Train travel in India page.

Baron's Hotel, Aleppo, Syria - Where else can you pay just US$45 to sleep where Roosevelt, Agatha Christie and T.E. Lawrence slept? Lawrence's bill (unpaid...) is still on the premises, in a glass case in the lounge.  See the London to Syria page.

Pera Palas, Istanbul - The grand hotel built by the Wagons-Lits company for their Orient Express Passengers, and still a very grand hotel. Around £75 a night for a single.

Raffles Hotel, Singapore - THE place to stay in Singapore!

Strand Hotel, Rangoon - Raffles' little brother, but with even better service and unlike Raffles all 32 suites are in the original 1901 main building.

Royal York, Toronto - A grand hotel, Canadian-style, and so handy for train departures from Union Station across the road!

Savoy, London - Pure class, where Nic & I spent our wedding night. Possibly the best hotel breakfast ever.

Hotel Queen Mary, Longbeach, California - A classic British 1930s liner, and you can actually stay aboard her...

 
       
Favourite journeys:   London-Fort William on the Caledonian Sleeper - For as little as £19 one-way including berth in a 2-berth sleeper, you can travel 550 miles North of London straight into the magnificent West Highlands.  In spite of having travelled all over the world, it's still one of my favourite journeys. And even Siberia is hard pressed to match the bleakness on Rannoch Moor on a cold February morning, seen from a warm sleeping-car room.  The sleeper runs daily except Saturday nights, year-round.  See the London to Scotland by sleeper page & West Highland Line page for information.  To book, call ScotRail on 0845 7 55 00 33 or you can book online at www.scotrail.co.uk.

Auckland-Wellington on the Northern Explorer (formerly Overlander):  New Zealand's epic train ride, see the Northern Explorer page.

Chicago-Oakland (San Francisco) on the California Zephyr - See the California Zephyr page, or visit www.amtrak.com.

New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling on the Darjeeling-Himalaya Railway - Narrow gauge, and still partially steam-worked.  56 miles in 7-8 hours, but still more comfortable than the bus (which takes 4 hours).  New Jalpaiguri is the railhead where the overnight 'Darjeeling Mail' to and from Calcutta arrives and departs.  You can book Indian Railways (and Indian Rail passes) through an excellent agency in Wembley - SD Enterprises.  Visit www.IndiaRail.co.uk for details.

Mandalay-Gokteik & Nyaungshwe-Thazi in Burma - Old colonial railways through the hills, see the train travel in Burma page.

 

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