5 train trips everyone should experience

the blue train in south africa While some train routes can seem long and boring, there are many that allow for great views of unique landscape or luxury service. Still, there are some train rides that go above and beyond your wildest imagination. Check out these five train trips that everyone should experience in their lifetime.

The Blue Train
South Africa

The Blue Train travels approximately 1,000 miles between Pretoria and Cape Town and is one of the most luxurious train journeys in the world. Some of the amenities include butler service, two lounge cars (one smoking, one non-smoking), an observation car, and sound-proofed carriages with gold-tinted picture windows, full-carpeting, an en-suite bathrooms (many of which include a full bathtub). Both kings and presidents have made this journey, as the train is marketed as a “magnificent, moving 5-star hotel”. Along with luxury, the Blue Train also takes passengers through unique countryside scenery. Rolling vineyards, pristine coastline, and jagged mountain faces are all right outside your luxurious, gold-tinted view.the west highland lineThe West Highland Line
Britain

The West Highland Line links the ports of Mallaig and Oban and is thought to be one of the most scenic train routes in Britain. In fact, in 2009 the West Highland Line was voted the Top Rail Journey in the World by Wanderlust Magazine, just beating out the Trans-Siberian and Cuzco to Machu-Picchu lines. The West Highline Line not only accesses the remote west coast of Scotland, but also views of numerous sea loches including Gareloch, Loch Long, Loch Lomond, and Glen Falloch. See Rannoch Moore, a National Heritage site, Loch Treig, a steep, freshwater lake, and the narrow Monessie Gorge.

the glacier expressThe Glacier Express
The Swiss Alps

This express train links the two major mountain resorts of St. Moritz and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. For the main portion of the journey, the Glacier Express passes through the Rhaetian Railway, a World Heritage Site in the Albula/Bernina regions. Passengers will also get to see untouched mountain landscapes, lush meadows, seductive vineyards, deep gorges, refreshing lakes, quaint hamlets, and impressive valleys while traveling through 91 tunnels and across 291 beautiful bridges. Some specific Swiss Alps mounains travelers will encounter include the Matterhorn, one of the highest peaks in the Swiss Alps, and the Dom, the tallest mountain to sit entirely on Switerland soil.

machu picchu PeruRail
Peru

The scenic PeruRail lines make trips from Cuzco to Machu Picchu with three choices of train for passengers to choose from. If you’re looking for a sensory experience there is the Vistadome, surrounded entirely by glass and giant panaramic windows for a closer connection with nature as well as opportunities for amazing photographs. For the luxury traveler there is the Hiram Bingham, with cozy intertiors, elegant upholstry, two dining cars, an observation wagon, a bar, and a kitchen. The service includes brunch, dinner, entrance to Machu Picchu, afternoon tea at Machu Picchu, and a guided tour in the citadel. For adventure travelers, there is the Expedition, with backpack racks, seating designed for interaction and mingling, and Andean music to fill the car with cheer. For travelers wanting to visit Lake Titicana from Cuzco, there is the Andean Explorer, a luxurious train ride featuring an observatory car to see mountainous and rolling plain landscapes and Andean entertainment on board as musicians and dancers create a lively atmosphere.

southwest chief trainThe Southwest Chief
The United States

Ever wonder what it must have felt like to live in the Old West? The Southwest Chief can give you a taste of what you’ve seen in classic films. Running daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, passengers will traverse through the mighty Mississippi, take in the Grand Canyon, pass by wheat fields and ranches, ride over dessert landscape, photograph mountains, and see pueblos right outside the train window. Lounges, sleeper cars, and sightseeing decks enhance the journey just that much more.

Video: South African biker saves calf from drowning

This guy must be related to MacGyver. While participating in the qualification trials for the Amageza Run, South African motorcyclist Johan Gray didn’t think twice about stopping to save a baby calf who had gotten separated from the herd and fallen into a canal. While it took him a few tries, Gray was able to use his ingenuity to save the animal and bring him home. Thankfully, he was able to record the entire experience on his helmet camcorder.


5 best fast food chains around the world

best fast food restaurants While fast food often gets a bad rep, you can’t expect to eat all of your meals sitting in down in slow food restaurants. And, when traveling abroad, you will sometimes find that fast food doesn’t always necessarily mean greasy fries and fattening burgers. Travelers can make their quick dining experiences worthwhile by visiting these five delicious and budget-friendly fast food restaurants, located all over the world.

Giraffas
Brazil

This chain has over 350 restaurants spread across the country and over 30 years of experience. It’s no wonder then that they’re considered one of the best, even handing out steel knives and forks for guests as well as open plates instead of cardboard boxes for those not taking their food to go. And, have you ever heard of ordering Filet Mignon from a fast food joint? Now you have.

Mr.Lee
China

Unlike the greasy Chinese fast food restaurants that many Westerners are used to, Mr.Lee serves lighter options, such as California Chicken, a cold meal drizzled with red and green sauce, and Beef Noodle Soup, made with a unique recipe that can be customized with various spices and sauces according to the customer’s tastes. If you’re having your soup to stay, you can expect to be served in a ceramic bowl instead of styrofoam or plastic.

Nordsee
Germany (and other European locations)

If you look at their website, this certainly doesn’t look like a fast-food restaurant. With an emphasis on sustainable, healthy cuisine, you can expect dishes such as Alaska pollack, grilled salmon, and sushi, all with drink recommendations to accompany your meal. For example, ordering a salmon fillet should be accompanied by a glass of light red wine.

Teremok
Russia

This chain has 111 restaurants and 80 street stalls in Russia, featuring items you wouldn’t normally see on a fast-food menu. According to Sean O’Neill at BudgetTravel.com, you can get salads, soups, and porridges, as well as their most popular item, blinis. If you’ve never heard of a blini, it’s a thin pancake shaped like a triangle and wrapped around the customer’s choice of a sweet or savory filling. For example, salmon roe and red caviar are two filling favorites at this eatery. Teremok also features a low-alcoholic beverage known as kvass, which is prepared using rye flour with malt or sometimes honey beer.

Steers
South Africa

While their feature items may be burgers, these are unlike the burgers that are served at most fast food restaurants. In fact, when McDonald’s first arrived in South Africa in 1995, locals scoffed at the puny 3 ounce meat patties. In South Africa, where red meat is a food favorite, they have Steers, which offers a delicious and filling 7 ounce burger made of 100% pure beef. If you’re still hungry, you can order triple stacker burgers with fresh toppings and full racks of ribs.

Mountain biker vs. antelope in South Africa




Mountain biker Evan van der Spuy earned a new nickname this weekend and it already has a trending hashtag on Twitter (#BUCKNORRIS).

Van der Spuy, a Team Jeep South Africa rider, was competing in the Time Freight MTB Express at Albert Falls Dam. Out of nowhere a red hartebeest decided to cross paths with Van der Spuy and Travis Walker, who captured the whole thing on a mounted GoPro.

So, next time you plan on riding your bike through a game reserve be sure to watch out for crossing antelope. Evan, we’re glad that you’re ok and… that the buck stopped there.

Baboon raider put to death in South Africa

fred the baboon

He was known to his countrymen simply as Fred. The famous baboon’s hobbies included car burglary, stealing fruits, harassing humans, and sunning on a gorgeous stretch of a South African road around Millers Point.

This week, South African authorities decided Fred’s behavior was excessively aggressive, and put him down. While numerous activist groups such as Baboon Matters and the Nature Conservation Corporation pleaded for his life, their requests to spare the primate were rebuked. The locals too fought to save Fred. One Cape Point man tailed the vehicle containing a caged Fred for miles on his death row journey, his mind perhaps filled with action packed scenes of liberating the rebel baboon from his captors. But to no avail, Fred was euthanized.Fred was an expert thief, and had a keen eye for snacks. He would scout for cars with food inside and break in to feed. In 2010, Fred the baboon injured three people with two requiring hospitalization. Some speculate that this aggressive behavior is the result of being fed by humans around Millers point.

As the alpha male of the Millers Point baboon gang, Fred was an infamous character and cultivated a rather large following. The South African authorities cited his reckless behavior and escalating aggressiveness as the primary reasons for euthanizing him. While the cars around Millers Point may now be a little safer, many will miss the baboon burglar known simply as Fred.

flickr image via vgh.media