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5 Gorgeous Train Rails Beside Mountains

Travelers Today       By    Rida

Updated: May 13, 2016 06:00 AM EDT

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Swiss Beauties, Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Tren Ecuador, Seward's Trolley, El Transcantábrico, The Canadian Mountaineer

1.      Swiss Beauties

Switzerland is a world capital of one of humanity's great indulgences: chocolate. At the same time it epitomizes discipline and punctuality with its watches and trains. The two magnificent scenic trains are the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express.

The Glacier Express, from Piz Bernina to the Matterhorn, climbs some 6,600 feet, crosses 291 bridges, 91 tunnels and crosses the Oberalp Pass on a journey that distills the beauty of the Alps into an intense eight-hour experience.

The Bernina Express from Chur, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy, makes the highest of all rail crossings of the Alps, going from glaciers to palm trees. It crosses 196 bridges and passes through 55 tunnels, while winding around countless spectacular switchbacks on the UNESCO-cited Rhaetian Railroad. If only Hannibal had known that he could take this scenic train from St. Moritz to Tirano and enjoy lunch in Italy in just three hours' time.

2.      Railroad in the Sky: Tren Ecuador

The journey starts in the Northern Andes towards Otavalo. The highest peak in the equator, the snowcapped Cayambe volcano appears. The landscape changes constantly: from fertile green valleys to yellow dry forests as we continue to Otavalo and its millenary market. A restored steam engine awaits us at Otavalo train station.

You can experience skilled woodcarvers who keep alive the renowned Quiteña School style; a tasting of the rich Ecuadorian Gastronomy, and local traditions featured in weavers, musicians and healers. Then descend 3600 meters (11811 ft.) from the heights of the Andes to the shore of the Pacific Ocean, traveling along the famous "Avenue of Volcanoes". Here, the Andes split into two ranges that run to the south.

3.      Seward's Trolley

See the wilderness of Alaska located between Anchorage and Seward on the Alaska Railroad's Coastal Classic Train makes the remote and rugged accessible to riders. The train climbs mountain peaks, passing glaciers and river valleys along the way. At almost every bend in the track, rail riders can expect to see something amazing, whether it's mountain vistas, glaciers, ragged coastline or such wildlife as moose, dall sheep, grizzly bears and bald eagles. The ride finds itself prominently included among several itineraries in Alaska Railroad's catalogue.

4.      The Path of Pilgrims

El Transcantábrico saloons are delights of railway heritage, some of them being original 1923 Pullman cars. All of the carriages have been specifically renovated and decorated for these luxury trains. This is a truly wonderful, evocative way of travelling around the beautiful landscapes of northern Spain, from Galicia to the shores of the Bay of Biscay, taking in the rich culture and cuisine of Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country, Castile and León. All the while, regional gastronomy, art, monuments and landscapes are presented to travellers from the comfort of a five-star 'train hotel'. The itinerary makes El Transcantábrico Clasico a unique mode of transport for this less-visited part of Europe.

5.      The Canadian Mountaineer

The Canadian Rockies comprise the Canadian segment of the North American Rocky Mountains. They are the eastern part of the Canadian Cordillera, which is a system of multiple ranges of mountains which runs from the Canadian Prairiesto the Pacific Coast. The Rocky Mountaineer is the Grand Tourist Experience with prices to match, and it's now the only passenger train on the 1885 Canadian Pacific route between Banff and Vancouver.

  • Over theCanadian Pacific Railway(CP) on theFirst Passage to the West route from Vancouver, British Columbia via Kamloopsto BanfforCalgary, Alberta.
  • Over the Canadian National Railway (CN) on theJourney through the Clouds route from Vancouver via Kamloops to Jasper, Alberta.
  • The Rainforest to Gold Rushroute over the CN operated portion from North Vancouver via Whistler and Quesnel through Prince Georgeto Jasper.
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