I realise that sometimes my work requires me to take one for the team; go above and beyond the call of duty. Usually not, but sometimes yes.And so it was that I went to Berlin's Ost Banhof last Thursday morning to get on a train. Not just any train, but the inaugural run of The Danube Express
, a new private train based in Budapest, and offering rather splendid journeys of three or four days to Brussels, Berlin/Krakow and Istanbul.Although not the Orient Express by name, it is again possible to ride the rather luxurious rails from Western Europe to the gateway to Asia; and with the addition of a ticket on Eurostar from London, one can again emulate Agatha Christie (or Hercule Poirot) as you journey through Europe in some high degree of comfort.Cabins are offered in two styles. Deluxe (with en suite
facilities and lots of room) or Classic (standard sleeping carriages, but plushly upholstered and comfortable - shared facilities). There is a fine restaurant car, and a lounge car complete with nightly pianist and a good selection of Hungarian wines on offer.The journey includes stops in a number of interesting places, in our case Dresden (its reconstruction is truly remarkable) and Kosice (an unassuming Slovakian provincial town), and each journey is slightly different offering a broad selection of regions to interest any traveller. The pace is good, the structure is gentle.I love trains, and to spend a couple of days riding through Germany and Slovakia in such fine company was a real treat. For travellers starting to think of next summer's journey to Europe, three days spent exploring from the comfort of the Danube Express would not go amiss.