The Exotic Nature of Traveling by Railway Around the World

0

Train Tracks in Thailand

Train travel has always allured me, in spite of the fact that I grew up in one of the countries in the world with the lowest rail ridership –or maybe because of it. There’s an ease, a sophistication and a romance to the railways you simply can’t find traveling any other way.

I’ve made a point of traveling by train whenever possible the past several years, even when it is of significant inconvenience: A 13-hour trip from the Lao border  to Bangkok, Thailand back in 2010 springs to mind. During this period, I’ve been struck by particular railway stations around the world.

Some are downright beautiful, perfectly representing important periods of art and architecture, while others are simply perfectly suited to the cities and countries where they’re built. They’re all quite different, however: I can’t claim that this is a list of the best or best-looking railway stations in the world – they’re just my favorites!

Victoria Terminus in Mumbai, India

Victoria Terminus

Victoria Terminus

One of the most striking and lasting monuments to British influence in India, Mumbai’s Victoria Terminus (which is now officially known by its local name, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) was built in 1887 and is, by some accounts, the busiest railway station in Asia.

Oriente Station in Lisbon, Portugal

Oriente Station

Oriente Station

Completed for the World Expo in 1998, Lisbon’s Oriente Station is much newer than Victoria Terminus, but is no less striking. Interesting fact: Although relatively unassuming, Oriente Station handles as many passengers per year as Grand Central station in New York City.

Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok, Thailand

Hua Lamphong Station

Hua Lamphong Station

I’ve begun and ended some of the most memorable train trips of my life from Hua Lamphong station, Bangkok’s – and Thailand’s – most important railway station. Opened in 1916 and built in an Italian Neo-Renaissance style, Hua Lamphong is also distinctively Thai, with royal colors like pink, purple and gold splashed about.

The Train Graveyard in Uyuni, Bolivia

The Train Graveyard

The Train Graveyard

OK, so remember how I said that not all the railway stations on this list were beautiful? Well, as it turns out, not all of them are railway stations either. The so-called “Train Graveyard” near the Uyuni Salt Flats, in southwestern Bolivia, is a monument to the railway networks that have largely disappeared not only from Bolivia, but from South America as a whole.

Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, Australia

Flinders Street Station

Flinders Street Station

Melbourne is a strikingly modern city, so the old-world charm that Victorian-era Flinders Street station imbues upon it is well-placed. Opened in 1909, the station is a cultural icon of Melbourne and one of the busiest stations in the city.

Ramses Station in Cairo, Egypt

Ramses Station

Ramses Station

The energy at Ramses Station in Cairo is positively electric, and not just because of how crowded both the station and the scene outside it are. “You’d better watch your camera,” a local man warned me, while I was waiting for a northbound train to Alexandria during my 2011 trip to Egypt, just months after the revolution. “They’ll think you’re a journalist and they’ll beat you up!”

Robert Schrader
Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who's been roaming the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as "CNNGo" and "Shanghaiist" along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, provides a mix of travel advice, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of life as a traveler.
Read More Share

Recent Author Posts

Join Our Community

Connect On Social Media

Most Popular Posts

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!