Things to do in Durham

Traveling by train to find things to do in Durham is a different and unique way of seeing the countryside that almost seems a part of an era long past. Back in the early part of the century train travel was the most common way of seeing the country, but in our era of cars and airplanes not as many people ride the train as once did. If you are one of the lucky ones that does ride the train, you’ll appreciate the scenic beauty of the nation.

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Imagine chugging along at 60 miles per hour in a comfortable coach car with padded seats, a cold drink in your hand and a soft pillow below your head. Imagine watching the cows in the fields as you pass by, and requesting another mint julep from the waiter as he comes on by. You will know that all the while, you’ll travel in comfort until the next stop, and then have plenty of time to visit. In the US Amtrak provides train service to most major cities. Using Virgin East Cost allows a passenger to travel in comfort. In the UK you can go from York to Newcastle, from sea to shining sea, and all points in between, traveling in comfort. Adding cities and regions to your been there, done that list, like Darlington, Durham, Thirsk, North Allerton, Hull, Whitby, Carlisle, Settle, Saltburn, Redcar, Middlesbrough, Marske, Scarborough, and Selby.

What’s on in Durham

Timothy Hackworth locomotion national museumWhen visiting European locations, the train system is even more extensive. A favourite vacation method in Europe is purchase of a Eurorail pass, or Britrail if traveling in the UK. A Eurorail pass gives you unlimited travel on trains throughout all of Europe, and many college age kids fill up a backpack with a few clothes and canned goods, buy a Eurorail pass and hit the track. Imagine taking a train trip to Paris, spending the day visiting the Eiffel tower and other tourist attractions, and then when evening comes jumping the train and sleeping, only to depart when you arrive at a destination. With luck and the right train, you will have arrived in the South of France, perhaps Nice, or St. Tropez or San Rafael. Jump off the train, carry your backpack to the beach, claim a spot of sand and jump in the water of the Mediterranean Sea to cool off. You are on the legendary French Riviera where people pay thousands of dollars a week for vacation spots, but you’ve got a little piece of sand to sleep on for free, and a train to jump on when you get ready. Try swimming in the ocean or windsurfing and be sure to wear your sun tan lotion.

When done, hop the train again with your Eurorail pass and hit Amsterdam, the most famous city in Holland. Eat some of the famous Dutch croquettes and French fries served with mayonnaise, and take a walking tour of the city. You’ll pass the famous Anne Frank house, and the Heineken brewery. Take a tour of each while you are there, and then try the famous museums, like the Reiksmuseum, and the Vincent Van Gogh. After a few days in Amsterdam, then hit the train again and head to Germany, if possible down to the southern part, in Bavaria. Visit beautiful Munich. See the Olympic Village and if you are fortunate enough to have come at the right time of the year, visit a famous Bavarian beer fest. The most famous is Octoberfest, but there are many small fests held at different times of the year. Try one and see why so many people enjoy Germany. Take the train south to Augsburg and visit a city named after the Roman emperor Augustus, with narrow brick paved streets and friendly people. Go a little further south to Garmish Partenkirchen and visit the ski slopes in the winter, or go backpacking and hiking in the summer. Germany offers something for everyone.

Traveling by train offers a vacation experience, whether in America or Europe, that no other method of transport can match. You have all the comfort of home in your train car, wonderful meals served when you wish in the dining car, great friendly people to visit with, other cultures to get to know, and best of all, someone else does the driving. Try train travel for the best vacation ever.

A Guide For A More Enjoyable Train Travel

silver swan at bowes museum barnard castleAlthough traveling by air is the fastest way to move from places to place while traveling by car is convenient and comfortable and traveling by bus is the cheapest, not one of them can be compared to the unique experience train travel could give.

Train travel to Durham might not be the most popular way people move. This could be because of the length a trip could take compared to air traveling. Another reason could be the monotony of sights that might bring boredom to passengers. Another could be the price one single train travel could cost compared when taking a bus. All these contribute to the decreasing popularity of train travel but it does not mean that train travel is not good at all. In fact, with a little wit and personal creativity, one could enjoy train travel to Durham and and the Durham Dales.

Kids activities in Durham

1. Expect to travel for long hours. In this way, you don’t have to look at your watch regularly or ask the crew with the most annoying question you also would not want to hear:  Are we there yet?  Keep in mind that if you are crossing state boarders, train travel could take more hours than driving your own car at your own phase. And sometimes, train schedules are not met so you don’t have to nag every crew with the train schedule.

2. Relax and enjoy the scenery. If you are traveling during daytime, you could see sights that might not be possible to see if you are traveling by plane, bus or car. Try to enjoy the Durham scenery. You can even bring binoculars to help you see more views closer.

3. If you are a reader, this is the best time to read. Trains are more stable than bus. So if you would like to read without controlling the motion of your hand with the book, the train could provide you with stability. Bring a book of your favourite author. You can also consider finalising your report if you are going to present it on meetings.

4. If you are not into sightseeing and reading, you can bring your portable CD player or iPod. Bring your most favourite albums you could bring. Or, if you have an iPod, you can store all your songs to your library. Make sure you have spare batteries.

5. Be friendly and polite. If a person asks favours from you, be more than willing to do it. Train travel would offer you new acquaintances and friends.

6. Do not intrude other people’s business in the best way you could. Respect other people’s privacy.

7. Talk to the crew nicely. Although they would not throw you off the train if you shout to them, doing such is not proper. They are well trained and very friendly, be nice to the crew.

8. Take time to meet other people. Since you expect to be on the train for several hours especially if you are crossing state borders, you wont be doing so much. You can roam around the train and meet other people. This is the best time to have someone to talk to.

9. If in case you are traveling with your children, make sure you provide them with lots of activities. Bring along activity books, quiet toys, colour pens, crayons, papers, reading material, colouring books, and video games. In this way, you keep them entertained.

What to do in Durham

If you’re going to Europe, and planning on traveling, rather than staying in the one place for the duration of your vacation, and you don’t want to spend a fortune, there’s two or three alternative ways that you can travel throughout the continent.

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The first option would be to take what you might call the traditional budget alternative, which would generally be backpacking and traveling by train. Nothing wrong with that at all, and by using a pass on the trains you can certainly reduce your spending, whilst journeying widely throughout many countries.

There are, however, a couple of down sides to this traditional budget planning.

First, whilst it can often be exhilarating and exciting to meet and travel with strangers on the train to Durham, equally, sometimes, it’s nice to have your own space to enjoy the journey, on your own.

Secondly, by definition, trains can only take you as far as the railway station, and railway stations are not always placed where you want them to be placed. In other words, if you have definite target places that you want to see, then you might end up having to take a train, then a bus or taxi (for who knows what distances) before arriving at your destination. This shouldn’t be a problem if the place you so desperately want to visit is in the city, but what if it not?

And, of course, trains run to their timetable, not yours!

An alternative to trains are planes. Flying within Europe is now extremely cheap, and can be reasonably convenient, especially if you are visiting a country that it widely geared up for tourism.

For example, right now, it is possible to fly from the UK to beautiful Salzburg in Austria for £19 one way or to Istanbul in Turkey for £31. See or for more information on availability of flights and fares.

Budget flying, however, carries with it many of the disadvantages of the trains ñ crammed into small seats next to someone you have never met before, the inevitable delays and so on.

So, here’s my suggestion. If you are lucky enough to be planning an extended European adventure, (at least one month) then make it a real adventure of which you are in total control and head to Hamsterley Forest in Durham.

Travel by car. Then, you can go exactly where you want, when you want, you can choose your own company, and, basically, you’re the boss. Maybe you are now thinking, nothing so revolutionary in that, car hire is not exactly a new idea, is it?

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No,. it isn’t, but I’m not suggesting that you use Hertz, Avis or any of the other global car rental companies.

I’m suggesting that you do what I did some years ago for a three month tour of Europe.

BUY a car ñ a used model, something relatively cheap that you can then resell at a later date, before you fly home. Make sure that it’s a fairly basic model, something that is widely available throughout Europe (so that any required spare parts will be cheap and plentiful) and that it’s mechanically straightforward ñ no turbochargers or superchargers ñ so that if anything does go wrong with it on your travels, repairs will be simple (i.e. inexpensive) as well.

In my case, I traveled to Europe, bought an estate car (a station wagon) in France for $750, drove some 10,000kms throughout France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and so on, and sold it for $650 three months later. Apart from a couple of minor repairs (a new battery) and the cost of the gasoline, I lost exactly $100 on the deal.

In the meantime, I had gone exactly where I wanted, when I wanted and done exactly what I wanted to when I got there! Truly, the freedom of the open road!

Yes, it was travel on a budget, but it was definitely not what I would think of as budget travel!

Eurostar “Chunnel Train” To Slash London-Paris Travel Times This Fall

Eurostar passengers are due for a service upgrade this November. That’s when the famous English Channel Tunnel train starts moving at a faster clip. Introduction of the UK’s first true high-speed line has been much anticipated. It promises a greener, more convenient travel experience… along with shorter trip times between Southeast England and Europe.

It has been over a dozen years since Eurostar initiated direct passenger rail linking London with Brussels and Paris. In that time, the train has become the preferred choice for crossing between Britain and the Continent — more popular than either channel ferries or travel by air. Now, with new high-speed track between London and the coast cutting at least 20 minutes off travel times, the under-sea shuttle promises to be more popular than ever.

Bowes museum GalleryThe skinny on the project is High Speed 1 (HS1), a 68-mi/109-km fast track formerly called the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Over a decade in the making, the line will enable Eurostar to sustain speeds of up to 186-mph/300-km/h. In practical terms that means London to Paris Gare du Nord in two-and-a-quarter hours; Brussels and other points in even less. Also, for the first time, early morning trains will enable UK business travellers to reach Paris, Brussels or Lille in time to do a full day’s work.

At the head of the line, Eurostar will trade its Waterloo terminus near London’s South Bank for the brilliantly restored St. Pancras Station in King’s Cross. St. Pancras, together with neighbouring King’s Cross and Euston Stations, will form a transport nexus befitting 21c London. Beginning in November, high-speed Eurostar trains will converge with six Underground (Tube) lines and trains from Edinburgh, Newcastle, Brighton and the east coast.

HS1 promises to be a boon for south-east suburban passengers looking to avoid the nasty slog into London.

The new station at Ebbsfleet, scheduled to open within days of November’s HS1 kickoff, will incorporate a long-term car park and will be served by high-frequency shuttles to local railway stations and to the nearby Bluewater shopping centre. A second station at Stratford is due to come on line in time for the 2012 Olympics, while the existing station at Ashford will continue to serve international passengers who are headed to Durham.

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High-speed service from London is not limited to Paris and Brussels. Depending upon one’s departure point, a day in Calais — with its bargain shopping and authentic bistros — is an hour’s journey or less. Minutes away are Lille — a historic urbanity with a young and cosmopolitan flavour — and Disneyland Resort Paris. Seasonal runs hit the Alpine slopes in winter and escape to sunny Provence in summer.

The Eurostar experience begins at the station. Long delays associated with air travel are replaced by fast, secure check-in procedures. Departure lounges offer a range of airport-style services and amenities. Once onboard, customised coaches cater to the separate needs of executive and pleasure travellers and all coaches benefit from spacious layouts and comfortable seating. Service levels range from economy-fare travel to a variety of first class options which mean that you travel in comfort to Durham and beyond.

Things to do in Durham conclusion

Speed, convenience and comfort are just part of the overall Eurostar experience. An independent study has shown that air passengers generate ten times greater greenhouse gas emissions than travellers who choose high-speed rail. And, thanks to HS1, Eurostar is committed to achieving “carbon neutrality” by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 25% by 2012.

Eurostar HS1 service commences Wednesday, 14 November 2007, but first day tickets are sold out so if you haven’t already booked your travel you’ll need to adjust your plans so you can find some great things to do in Durham and enjoy the North East of England soon (trains will continue to serve Waterloo through 13 November).