Win a trip to Europe with Rail Europe

Switzerland. get natural. The Brienzer Rothorn steam-powered cogwheel train in the Bernese Oberland. View of Lake Brienz.  Schweiz. ganz natuerlich. Die Brienzer Rothorn Dampfzahnradbahn im Berner Oberland. Blick auf den Brienzersee.  Suisse. tout naturellement. Le train a cremaillere a vapeur du Rothorn de Brienz, dans l'Oberland bernois. Vue du lac de Brienz.  Copyright by: Switzerland Tourism  By-Line: swiss-image.ch / Christof Sonderegger

Switzerland. get natural. The Brienzer Rothorn steam-powered cogwheel train in the Bernese Oberland. View of Lake Brienz.
Schweiz. ganz natuerlich. Die Brienzer Rothorn Dampfzahnradbahn im Berner Oberland. Blick auf den Brienzersee.
Suisse. tout naturellement. Le train a cremaillere a vapeur du Rothorn de Brienz, dans l’Oberland bernois. Vue du lac de Brienz.
Copyright by: Switzerland Tourism By-Line: swiss-image.ch / Christof Sonderegger


THIRTY years ago I experienced my first encounter with a European train and was instantly hooked. I had just journeyed some 36 hours from Australia on what was also my first ever plane ride anywhere, and arrived in Frankfurt to catch the train to Hamburg to meet what would be my new German “family” for the next three months. It was winter, I was wearing an entirely unsuitable pink tracksuit and ugg boots for a Queensland teenager who’d never even seen snow (I mean, who do you think introduced Europe to the ugg boot?). As I alighted the train they asked me about my journey. “I’ve been travelling for 36 clocks,” I declared, delighted to finally practice my high school German on real-life Germans.
Winter travel Switzerland
Despite murdering their language, somehow they fell in love with me and I with them, as well as travelling by rail around Europe. The only other train I’d ever been on before then was the Ipswich Line from Ipswich to Brisbane, or the “big smoke” as we called it back in 1970s country Queensland. Apart from that, my transport options had been limited to the gold Kingswood family station wagon for our annual holidays to Coolangatta. Oh yes, we were living the dream back then. As the youngest of four children, I even got the best bed in our two-bedroom holiday flat…two seats pushed together. And they wonder why I’m bitter. So imagine my delight when not just one, but many countries I’d only read about in books instantly opened up to me with the flourish of a rail ticket.
Eurostar - Standard Premier
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, European trains have run late over the years, which isn’t great news when you are backpacker on a strict budget and need to snaffle that last hostel bed in Vienna or sleep at the station. Then there was the time back in the days Aussies needed visas to cross almost every bloody border in Europe, a conductor had unwittingly taken mine out of my passport as we nicked the corner of a country, only to attempt to arrive in the Czech Republic a week later to find not only did I not have a visa, but was considered a criminal. My passport was taken, I was forced to sit in a room for 12 hours without food, and I cried hysterically (yes, because crying always helps) until a train arrived late that night forcing me back into Poland that I had attempted to leave. Believe me, it was a long journey at midnight with a bunch of gypsies in my carriage asking for money every five minutes as the train headed towards Germany, and I was a little exhausted from all that crying. But it has become one of my best travel stories over the years.
Swiss 2
And that’s what travelling by train around Europe is all about, as regular readers have seen in my most recent blog posts. It’s real and it’s romantic. Nothing used to beat the glee only an impoverished Aussie backpacker can feel at catching an overnight train in one European country (hence saving on a night’s accommodation), only to wake up in the next. One night, on a train journey from Munich to Hamburg, my boyfriend at the time and I even covered our backpacks with sheets and pillows and pretended they were two extra people in our carriage to ensure we had the compartment to ourselves.
DB train Germany
And now, fellow Aussie bloggers have the chance to win their own Rail Europe adventure. Looking for creativity and inspiration? This is your big opportunity to unplug and daydream. Simply enter the #TailsOnRail competition at http://www.raileurope.com.au/deals/talesonrail and you, too, could be enjoying a trip to Europe. This is a great prize, which includes a flight to Paris, and a one-week train journey with Rail Europe from France to Switzerland. That’s right, flights, hotels, food and your rail tickets are included. Check it out, it could be your chance of a lifetime.
Schweiz. ganz natuerlich. Bernina Express: Chur-Tirano. Landwasserviadukt bei Filisur, 65m hoch und 136m lang. Wahrzeichen der RhB und UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe.

Schweiz. ganz natuerlich.
Bernina Express: Chur-Tirano. Landwasserviadukt bei Filisur, 65m hoch und 136m lang. Wahrzeichen der RhB und UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe.


For those who don’t win, or are considering a trip with Rail Europe, here’s some benefits to travelling by train around one of the truly great continents. By the way, Australia is the top-selling country for Rail Europe tickets.

1. No check-in queues, meaning you can rock up 10 minutes before the train departs (unless it’s the Eurostar, which requires a little bit more time).
2. City centre to city centre connections – no expensive cab charges and traffic.
3. Comfortable and spacious seats in all classes plus lots of legroom.
4. Power points for charging electronic devices – tablet, laptop, camera or phone.
5. No baggage limit, meaning great for shopping, though it’s not advisable to bring on too much or more than you can carry to ensure a comfortable journey for all.
6. Exposed to Europe’s stunning scenery throughout the journey.
7. Go wherever, whenever – a lot of flexibility with Passes.
8. High-speed services often trump flying or driving (no traffic, no queues plus all of the other benefits listed here).
eurostar_lunch
But wait…there’s more!
9. Cost efficient – tickets are cheap, especially when bought in advance – up to 70% off the regular price, bookable up to 120 days in advance.
10. Family friendly – certain trains have kid friendly carriages. In Switzerland, children under 16yo travel for free when accompanied by an adult and on the Eurail Pass, children under 11yo travel for free with a guardian.
11. Environmentally friendly – a lot less carbon emission than air travel or driving.
12. Convenient for day trips to neighbouring towns or wine region (no worries about drinking and driving!).
13. Travel overnight (save on hotel costs).
14. See Europe off the beaten track (with 240,000km of track, rail reaches to almost every corner of Europe that’s not accessible by road).
15. Great way to meet locals – Europe has an extremely efficient rail system used by most locals.
16. Good onboard dining services.
17. A wide of discounts and bonuses come along with the passes (check online).
To find our more, go to http://www.raileurope.com.au. All photos used in this blog are courtesy of Rail Europe.

The Goddess’ Briefs: Travel & Lifestyle tips for strong, smart, sexy and spiritual women (and the great men who love us!)

2008-2009 072
YOU’VE GOT TO GO TO GLASGOW
Twenty years ago, when The Global Goddess was a rookie backpacker doing the Australian working holiday in London rite-of-passage thing, she ended up in Scotland working for a summer. In what I reckon was one of the best summers of my life, I arrived during the Edinburgh Festival, worked all day and then went to shows all night with my then-partner and two of my best friends. At the end of the festival, I found myself waitressing in a small inn in the Scottish Highlands. Days off were spent sailing the lochs, traipsing the mountains and looking for hairy cattle, and of course, Nessie. (There may have been a whisky or two as well thrown in). But I never got to Glasgow. The Global Goddess recently had breakfast with the fine folk from the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau who convinced her why she should go to Glasgow in 2014. Among a range of reasons, next year it’s hosting the Commonwealth Games and will be home to a range of festivals, activities, performances and celebrations. And if there’s one thing the Scots know how to do well, it’s party. http://www.seeglasgow.com
Pipers
TAKE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
Earlier this year, when The Global Goddess was in Fiji, the weather was, well, less than perfect. But it didn’t matter, as there’s plenty to do away from the beach when a tropical low blows in. I was fortunate to go on the Off-Road Cave Safari in a cool red, open-air jeep, to Naihehe Cave, Fiji’s largest cave system. This fun and fabulous tour is run by the same people who operate the Sigatoka River Safari. These tour operators have recently demonstrated their continuing social conscience by purchasing 10 new laptops for Mavua District School. Established in the 1930s, this school enrolls primary students from neighbouring villages, kids who have never heard of a computer before now. So every time you take one of their two tours, in a way you are contributing to improving the lives of the villagers in this lovely land. http://www.sigatokariver.com
FijiOutrigger 013
I AM WOMAN, SEE ME TRAVEL
The award-winning team behind Travelscene Nowra on the south coast of New South Wales are poised to launched Shoalhaven Solo Sisters, a new project to help open up the world to independent female travellers. Travel entrepreneurs Leonie Clay and Julie Preston (pictured below) are the brains behind this project which will offer annual group packages to targeted destinations around the world. Single travellers can join the group and be matched with a like-minded person to share accommodation and bring down those prohibitive costs that we single girls face. It’s also aimed at eliminating safety concerns while providing companionship for solo female travellers. The Global Goddess reckons any initiative that gets more women out and about in the world is a good one. Shoalhaven Solo Sisters will be officially launched on November 21 and the inaugural trip planned is to Norfolk Island. nowra@travelscene.net.au
Left to Right - Leonie Clay and Julie Preston - Helicopter
FRIDAY NIGHTS WITH A TWIST
Regular Global Goddess readers will know that she gains enormous benefit from my her Monday meditation class. For me, going to meditation helps slow my crazy, busy mind, and makes some room to gain perspective and enhance creativity when it comes to every aspect of my life. (So, I haven’t yet been able to conjure up a bloke, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time). Now, my lovely instructor Rhia Valentine (don’t you just love that surname?) is launching Friday nights with a twist. Once a month, you can attend a three-hour Friday evening session on Consciousness, Expansion & Improvement. These sessions are in inner west Brisbane. The first session will be held on November 22 at 6.30pm and then monthly in 2014. To book a seat contact rhia.valentine@bigpond.com or 0450 520 438.
scan0001
AND THE WINNER IS….
Thank you to all of you who entered The Global Goddess’ latest competition, in conjunction with one of her valued Travel and Lifestyle partners Kayleen Allen, from A Life of Sundays. Goddess followers were asked to write what their idea of a Life of Sundays was. A big sleep in, it appeared, was among top of the list. And the winner is…Tanya Targett. Here’s an excerpt of what Tanya’s perfect Sunday would look like: “My perfect Sunday is rather boring, but so amazing I can feel the sun on my skin right now. You see, it’s sunny… Perfect weather to take the family out in the boat. And, luck is on our side, the tide is just right so that we can board said boat at a nice sociable 9.30am, having had a glorious sleep in. The air is so warm, the water so exquisitely salty, and the children and husband so fantastically happy. It’s the perfect Sunday, a day in the Sun, that recharges the soul and the spirit for another six days… Til we “repeat as above”.
***
Congratulations Tanya, you have won a place at Kayleen’s “Heal Your Life, Achieve Your Dreams” workshop in Brisbane on December 7 and 8. This prize is valued at $850. Please email Kayleen on the address below for details.
***
For those who didn’t win, but are interested in Kayleen’s range of half, full-day and two-day programs and retreats where you will learn to feel valued and appreciated for who you are, loved, nurtured and safe to explore your story, past beliefs and to unlock your true potential, contact her at kayleen@lifeofsundays.com.au
Live your Dreams Oprah