Today, I embarked on a four-week train trip of Central Europe, which seemed to me like a good excuse to resurrect Stone Soup. Three years earlier — almost to the day — I took a six-week train trip around the United States, which I also blogged on this site. Like then, I’m blogging now to capture memories for myself and to share practical advice to aid those planning their own trips to these regions.
I’m beginning my trip in Berlin, where I arrived earlier this afternoon. From Berlin, I will journey entirely by rail, staying primarily in hostels. My itinerary will take me slightly behind the former Iron Curtain, through Prague and Budapest (I’ll save Russia and the former U.S.S.R. for another day), to the one-time seat of the Habsburgs in Vienna, the hills of Salzburg, Munich (in time for Oktoberfest), followed by Milan, the French Riviera, Provence, and Paris. I’m particularly looking forward to visiting key locations from World War II, opera, Mozart, and (of course) the Sound of Music, among other personal areas of interest. But I am also acutely aware of the fact that while I tour Europe for my own edification, tens of thousands will be making their way through these same cities driven by necessity and hope for a better life. I arrive at the Budapest Keleti station next Monday, September 14, where our paths will likely cross for the first time.