Tea, a birthday and the Summer Palace

Tags @GreatRail #GrandTourOfChina The Forbidden City is spectacular and massive. It’s also not forbidden anymore to tourists, and there’s a lot of them. Moving on, we stopped at a Tea House to taste various teas and discover how we've been making lousy tea all this time. For the Chinese, the water doesn't have to be …

Beijing &Tiananmen Square

Tags @GreatRail #GrandTourOfChina So today was the day for exploring Beijing, starting with Tiananmen Square which is enormous. It’s the size of Belgium or something like that. It’s also chock full of Chinese from all over the country paying their respects at the tomb of Chairman Mao. For many Chinese, this may be the first …

Scorpions & Pink Inflatable Gorillas

Tags @GreatRail #GrandTourOfChina Arriving in China is always a bit of a shock when you’re jet-lagged. I can’t think of anywhere more appropriate to go than the Chinese weird food market (I don’t think it’s actually called that) and soaking up the atmosphere, sounds and smells. Deep fried scorpion on a stick or a nice …

The Great Firewall of China

Not long now until China, and the usual problem with posting while on Tour is about to turn up again. China blocks access to many of the most popular websites in the West. Although you can log on to the internet, you can't (usually) access any of the sites, as shown below. We can add …

The Largest City In The World

So... coming up next if the 'Grand Tour of China' and this will probably be the last of the year for me. Winter is very quiet for TimOnTheTrain - there are more Tour Managers than Tours, so if I'm lucky I'll get offered one Tour between November 2018 and March 2019 and if I'm unlucky., …

Busy September

September is always the busiest month for Great Rail Journeys Tours - The GRJ client demographic is of a slightly older person, and as a rule, they don't do heat and they don't do kids... meaning that July & August are quiet months for Tours. But then comes September, and the taps are turned fully …

Livin’, Louvin, Losin’

Nope - not a typo! The Louvin Brothers were an American musical duo composed of brothers Ira (the taller of the two) and Charlie Louvin who performed secular country music, as well as fire and brimstone Gospel. The album cover shown above is for the latter. Designed by Ira Louvin, the cover features the brothers standing …

Gandy Dancers

Continuing my preparation for the upcoming 'Tracks Of The Deep South' Tour and I came across the Gandy Dancers. Their songs, combined with the spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants of Black America feed directly into the creation of the Blues, and since we'll be visiting Beale Street, Memphis, the birthplace of the Blues, …

Zydeco or Cajun?

Think of New Orleans and you think of Jazz, or at least that's the prevailing wisdom. When I think of visiting New Orleans I tend to think of it being another opportunity to enjoy both Zydeco & Cajun music - but what are they exactly, and what is the difference between them? In simple terms, …

Do You Know What It Means…?

Continuing research today for the upcoming 'Tracks of the Deep South' Tour (or, as I like to call it 'The Music Tour'). I'm looking at New Orleans at the moment. Sometime in the next few days I'll post a blog entry about the differences between 'Cajun' and 'Zydeco' music and why I love them both. …

The Million Dollar Quartet

My next Tour is a second chance to enjoy the "Tracks of the Deep South", a romp through the musical heritage of the USA and some of the slightly less well visited states and places in my favourite country. It's early days yet, but I'm beginning to start the process of doing my homework on …

China

Well, it’s a funny old world. I’m in China. This is interesting because I shouldn’t be, at least not yet... My Grand Tour of China tour got brought forward by a week due to some problems for the Tour Manager due to operate it, so I ended up going to work a week earlier than …

Cruising the Douro

We had a lovely, peaceful day cruising down the Douro river from Barca d'Alva on the Spanish border to Peso da Régua. It took all day, but the weather was perfect and the river was almost completely empty of other traffic. https://vimeo.com/234671125

Home

Got back home from Sicily last night and slept for 9 hours, then today. Unpacked.Completed PaperworkPosted QuestionnairesPolished ShoesWalked DogReceived Information pack for next Tour in 7 days Now, relax with glass of red and a very garlicky Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner. And the music to do it all by comes from the woman with one …

Fame at last!

There's a new Great rail Journeys video on their web site, and I'm in it! I'm waiting by the phone for offers from the major studios. A new world beckons - I shall mingle with the stars, live in Hollywood and be constantly followed by Paparazzi no doubt. Fame, wealth, and glamour are calling me. …

Hotel Room Hacks

I once calculated (It's amazing what you do trying to stay awake on a long night flight) that I had spent nearly nine years of my life staying in hotel rooms). If that sounds even slightly exotic to you, then you probably don't travel that much! Over the years I have picked up several good …

How To Pack For A Tour

The internet is chock full of advice on how to pack a bag efficiently. There's so much advice that it's tough to know which method to choose. Part of the answer lies in asking what kind of Tour you're on? Sometimes the tour will stay at one destination hotel exclusively, so you'll only need to …

America’s Founding History

I'm now in the final stages of prep for this tour, and I have to say that I'm rather looking forward to it. In just under two weeks we cover a little bit of the early colonies (Jamestown), The American Revolution (Yorktown), The Civil War (Gettysburg & Virginia) and The Declaration of Independence/Constitution (Monticello, Washington …

Hyperlapse Manhattan

There are no end of Manhattan videos available but this one is really something different and special. If your bandwidth allows, run in HD and full screen. I'll be there in two weeks and will need to photographically up my game if only for my self respect. https://vimeo.com/217449774

The Transamerican Rail Tour

Summer is starting to get busier - after a short rest, I'm already preparing for the next tour and this time it's the big one, the Cadillac of tours; the one that I joined for. It's some way out but so far the weather looks to be more settled than the last time I did this …