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  • Writer's pictureIvanally Travel and More

Midnight Express: Exploring Europe Under the Stars

Updated: Feb 29

slovenian rail with fog in the woods

The rail

The history of railways in Europe is a tale of innovation, progress, and transformative impact on society. It's a journey that spans centuries, with its origins dating back to ancient times and evolving into an extensive, efficient, and interconnected rail network that Europe boasts today.


The birth of railways in Europe can be traced to the early 16th century when primitive wagonways were used to transport coal and other materials from mines to nearby waterways. These simple wooden tracks laid the groundwork for the railway systems to come. However, it wasn't until the late 18th and early 19th centuries that rail transport truly began to take shape.


The world's first public railway, the Wagonway, was built in the United Kingdom in the early 17th century. But it was George Stephenson, an English engineer, who is widely regarded as the "Father of Railways." His pioneering work led to the construction of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825, marking the birth of the modern railway era.


The success of the Stockton and Darlington Railway inspired more railway construction across Europe. In 1830, the world's first regular passenger railway service, the Liverpool to Manchester Railway, was established. It not only revolutionized transport but also ignited a wave of railway building throughout the continent. Countries like France, Germany, and Belgium followed suit, laying down extensive rail networks.


One of the most remarkable engineering feats was the construction of the Channel Tunnel, which connected the United Kingdom to France via rail in 1994. It symbolized the integration of European rail systems, facilitating trade and travel across borders.


Today, Europe boasts a sophisticated and well-connected rail network that spans the entire continent. High-speed trains like the TGV in France, the ICE in Germany, and the Eurostar connecting major cities have made rail travel a fast, efficient, and sustainable mode of transportation.


The history of railways in Europe is a testament to human ingenuity and a catalyst for economic growth, urban development, and cultural exchange. It's a story of innovation that continues to shape the way Europeans travel and connect with one another, forging a path toward a greener and more connected future.


Me and rail

I have an unbridled passion for trains; they're not just modes of transportation but gateways to adventure.


Among my favorites are the Austrian Railjet, with its sleek design and impressive speed, and the Swiss Treno Gottardo, a marvel engineering that delves into the heart of the Alps. The Railjet whisks you through the scenic Austrian landscapes, while the Treno Gottardo tunnels and snakes its way beneath and around the rugged Swiss mountains.


The rhythmic clatter of wheels on tracks, the vistas that unfold outside my window, and the comfort of train travel make it my favorite mode of exploration. Trains, for me, embody the essence of the journey itself.


Zurich to Zagreb

It was a journey set in motion by the soft click-clack of train wheels against rails, an adventure that whispered tales of nights aboard the iron horses. My friend Eva and I, eager to embrace the magic of European travel, embarked on a night train from Zurich.


As the clock struck 19:40, we boarded, filled with anticipation and excitement for the holiday ahead.


Choosing the luxury of a private cabin, we settled into cozy comfort, dimmed the lights, and let the train spirit us away. Slovenian music in the background as we reminisced about our upcoming adventures in Zagreb, the first stop on our European escapade.


The night train, a vessel of dreams, cocooned us in a realm of pure relaxation. We chatted into the night, giddy with the anticipation of the unknown. Outside, stars adorned the dark canvas of the night sky, gently swaying us to sleep.


Come morning, there was a soft but persistent knock on our cabin door. Breakfast had arrived, served with the care that only a journey by rail could provide. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the air, awakening our senses and preparing us for the day ahead.


As we indulged in breakfast, the train continued its rhythmic journey, transporting us through the picturesque landscapes of south-eastern Slovenia. We couldn't help but marvel at the breathtaking natural beauty unfolding outside our window. Lush forests, serene lakes, and charming villages passed by, offering a glimpse of the untamed beauty of this European gem.


The morning sun bathed the world in soft hues, and as we approached Zagreb, the thrill of exploration coursed through our veins.


Our night train adventure had not only brought us to a new destination but had also woven the magic of travel into our souls.


As we disembarked in Zagreb, we were greeted with the promise of exciting adventures, a testament to the enchanting experience that only night trains can provide.


EuroNight

Ivankally looking at the Slovenian countryside from the EN window

EuroNight trains, also known as EN trains, are an extensive network of overnight international train services connecting major European cities. These services allowed passengers to travel comfortably and efficiently while sleeping, saving both time and accommodation costs.


EuroNight trains featured various accommodations, including sleeping cars, couchette cars, and seated carriages. Depending on the specific service, you could enjoy private sleeping compartments with beds, shared couchette compartments with bunk beds, or seated carriages with reclining seats. Some trains also have dining cars where passengers can enjoy meals during the journey.


The EuroNight train ride from Zurich to Zagreb offers a picturesque and convenient way to travel between Switzerland and Croatia. This overnight train service combines the comfort of sleeper cars with the practicality of saving travel time.


Here are some details about the train ride from Zurich to Zagreb:

1. Scenic Journey: The route takes you through beautiful landscapes, including the Austrian and Slovenian countryside, which is especially stunning if you travel during daylight hours. The journey offers glimpses of mountains, rivers, and charming European towns.

2. Sleeper Cars: EuroNight trains typically provide a range of sleeper car options, including standard cabins with two to six berths, as well as deluxe compartments with private bathrooms. Passengers can choose the level of comfort and privacy that suits their preferences and budget.

3. Convenience: Traveling by EuroNight train from Zurich to Zagreb offers a practical overnight solution, allowing you to sleep through the journey and arrive in Zagreb the next morning. It's an efficient way to cover a considerable distance while minimizing the need for additional accommodation expenses.


The EuroNight train service offers a comfortable and memorable way to experience the journey from Zurich to Zagreb, showcasing the diverse and beautiful European landscapes along the route. For the most current information regarding schedules, ticket prices, and availability, you can check the official websites of the respective railway operators or consult with travel agencies.



NightJet

The Nightjet is a popular and modern overnight train service operated by ÖBB (the Austrian Railways). It offers comfortable and efficient travel between major European cities, making it an excellent option for those who want to maximize their time and minimize accommodation costs while exploring Europe.


Key features of the Nightjet service include:

1. Comfortable Sleeping Accommodations: Nightjet trains offer a range of sleeping car options, from standard berths to deluxe compartments with private bathrooms. Passengers can choose the level of comfort that suits their preferences and budget.

2. Couchette Cars: In addition to sleeping cars, Nightjet trains have couchette cars, which provide shared compartments with bunk beds. These are a cost-effective way to travel comfortably while sharing space with other passengers.

3. Routes and Destinations: Nightjet services connect a wide range of European cities, including Vienna, Munich, Zurich, Berlin, and Venice, among others. The network continues to expand, making it an increasingly convenient option for travel across Europe.

4. Environmental Considerations: ÖBB places a strong emphasis on sustainability, and Nightjet trains are designed with eco-friendliness in mind. Traveling by train is generally a more environmentally friendly option compared to air travel.

5. Travel Comfort: Nightjet trains are known for their attention to passenger comfort, providing amenities like power outlets, free Wi-Fi in some cases, and bedding for passengers in sleeping cars.


The Nightjet has become a favored choice for those who appreciate the convenience and charm of overnight train travel. To plan your journey on the Nightjet, including information on routes, schedules, and booking options, you can visit the official ÖBB Nightjet website or consult with other trusted travel resources for the most up-to-date details.


The Nightjet train journey between Vienna and Zurich provides a comfortable and efficient means of traveling between two of Europe's most vibrant cities. Here's what you can expect on this route:

1. Scenic Route: The train journey from Vienna to Zurich offers picturesque views of the Austrian and Swiss landscapes. You'll pass through beautiful regions, including the Swiss Alps, Lake Zurich, and the Austrian countryside.

2. Sleeper Car Options: Nightjet trains offer a range of sleeper car choices, from standard berths to deluxe compartments with private bathrooms. You can select the level of comfort and privacy that suits your preferences and budget.

3. Couchette Cars: If you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Nightjet also has couchette cars with bunk beds in shared compartments.

6. Convenience: The Nightjet service provides a convenient overnight solution, allowing you to sleep through the journey and arrive in Zurich the following morning. This approach saves you both time and accommodation costs.


Traveling on the Nightjet between Vienna and Zurich offers the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of Austria and Switzerland, making it a memorable and comfortable way to bridge the distance between these two European cities. For the most up-to-date information regarding schedules, ticket prices, and availability, you can visit the official websites of the respective railway operators or consult with travel agencies.


Interrail: making the most of your trip

Embark on the ultimate European adventure with an Interrail or Eurail pass, your golden ticket to traversing the continent in style! 🚆✨

Dive into the cultural tapestry of Europe, where every city is a new chapter waiting to be explored. The best part? Night trains whisk you away to dreamy destinations, adding a touch of magic to your journey. Just remember to snag those cozy reservations for the night train experience!

With the freedom of rail travel and the convenience of night trains, your European escapade becomes a kaleidoscope of unforgettable moments. Say goodbye to airports and hello to scenic landscapes, charming villages, and the thrill of discovery. All aboard for the adventure of a lifetime!


Insider tip:

Embark on a night train adventure in Europe, where the journey itself becomes an unforgettable part of your travel tale! 🚆✨

1. Dreamy Destinations: Night trains whisk you away to your dream destinations while you sleep. Wake up to new landscapes, charming towns, and cultural wonders.

2. Stars Above, Tracks Below: Imagine the magic of watching stars through your train window as you glide along the tracks, cocooned in comfort.

3. No Accommodation Hassles: No need to worry about finding a place to stay; your comfy bunk or private cabin is your hotel on wheels.

4. Eco-Friendly Odyssey: Train travel is not only a greener choice, but it also connects you with the ever-changing European scenery.

5. Meet Travel Companions: You're bound to meet fellow adventurers, swapping stories and forging friendships while on the move.

6. Sleep in One Country, Wake in Another: Night trains make the borders blur and give you the magical feeling of teleporting to another world overnight.

7. Daylight for Exploration: Arrive fresh in the morning with an entire day ahead of you for sightseeing, all thanks to the time saved by night train travel.

8. Romantic Rail Rendezvous: There's a touch of old-world romance in every night train journey. It's like stepping into a classic movie scene.

9. Bucket-List Bliss: It's a travel experience you'll cherish and recount with a twinkle in your eye, making night train adventures a must-try European escapade.


So, why travel by night train in Europe? Because it's the dreamy, eco-friendly, and enriching way to embark on the adventure of a lifetime! 🌍🌙


Ciao, e al prossimo viaggio!


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