Maybe it’s because the steady chug-chug of a train is reminiscent of a heartbeat. Maybe it’s the hypnotic speed with which the immediate surroundings – stations, barriers, passing trains – blur from view, while the big picture evolves slowly, pulling at the heartstrings.
Whatever the reason, there has always been a romantic, deeply human allure to train travel: a sentiment beautifully captured in Gestalten’s luxurious escape of a book, The Journey – The Fine Art of Travelling by Train.
Today’s bullet trains might top a mind-bending 300 mph, but The Journey’s stories are not about speed. On the contrary, they show us new routes to experiencing slow living; to feeling that peaceful connection we often crave amidst the fast pace of our modern lives. In a sense, they are journeys back to basics – except, of course, that the experience of being aboard these locomotives is anything but basic.
It’s hard to believe that such old-world luxury and modern comforts can exist on wheels. The look and feel is more high-end, boutique hotel. But no hotel stay can offer what a train trip can: the chance to slow life down as some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes unfold before your eyes, as in a movie (to begin exploring exotic destinations right away, you can see a short movie about the book here). You get where you’re going with no leg room restrictions. And when you step off to explore new territory – without security lines, well-fed, relaxed – you are often right in the centre of it all, ready to explore.
We can’t stop flipping through the book’s stunning photo spreads, which pay tribute to the cultural experiences wrapped up in each journey. In Scotland, for instance, the Belmond Royal Scotsman serves up cuisine by some of the country’s top chefs, not to mention 50 whiskey varieties, to a group of just 36 passengers. The Japanese Kyushu Seven Stars experience, a self-described “journey to discover a new way of life,” offers “a glorious blend of old and new” in its seven glamorous cars. One destination all the featured rail routes – from the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Swiss Gornergrat Bahn – have in common: places and views that cannot be accessed by other means.
Sustainable travel, as The Journey illustrates through inspiring imagery and storytelling, is more than a means of getting around with less environmental impact. It is just as much about finding more thoughtful ways of treating ourselves, our lives, and our time – with rich, uncommon experiences that bring us to places we have never been, whether in reality or in our daydreams.
To add The Journey – The Art of Travelling by Train to your coffee table, or a friend’s, please click here.
All images are provided courtesy of Gestalten.