Towards the end of this coming August, I shall board a flight bound for Lisbon. This will not be my first visit to Portugal’s capital city, but it will be the first time I travel there not as a crew member on board cruise ships.
However, that’s not to say that a different mode of transportation won’t be playing a major role in this upcoming trip. In fact, the entire reason I’m heading to Portugal involves transportation.
I’m not talking about airplanes or taxis or even buses.
I’m talking about trains.
And plenty of them. In fact, thousands of kilometers worth of train travel.
The plan, after spending a few days in Lisbon, is to wake up on September 1st ready to embark on a journey unlike any other. This day shall mark the start of…
THE ULTIMATE TRAIN CHALLENGE?
Dreamed up, and turned into reality, by Michael Hodson of GoSeeWrite.com, the Ultimate Train Challenge is a ‘race’ of sorts, one that involves six participants traveling by train from Lisbon, Portugal to Saigon, Vietnam.
The goal is simple – to set the world record for the longest continuous train journey.
However, there is much more to this challenge than having six people sitting around on trains making faces at each other for thirty straight days. In fact, all of the participants won’t even be traveling together. Each of us has the freedom to create our own route as we each attempt to rack up the most amount of train miles as possible while traveling across Europe and much of Asia.
We will have to follow a handful of important rules in order to ensure our train journeys are continuous, rules that include not being able to sleep anywhere but on a train, not being able to backtrack along the same stretch of track and also, once we exit a particular country, we will not be allowed to return to that country again.
Then, whoever arrives in Saigon having traveled the longest continuous distance shall be deemed the winner (and probably also deemed the person most in need of a long shower).
MEET THE PARTICIPANTS
In addition to Michael (@mobilelawyer), the event’s organizer, my four other fellow train travelers will be:
This is also a good time to give Chris Richardson of TheAussieNomad.com a series of high-fives for setting up the Ultimate Train Challenge website and for being the general IT guru behind the entire operation.
MEET THE SPONSOR
Many, many thanks also go out to Eurail.com, the primary outlet for purchasing Eurail Passes, and now a major sponsor of the Ultimate Train Challenge.
For those who might not be familiar with Eurail Passes, these unique train tickets offer travelers an opportunity to travel all around one or more European countries for a fixed price. You simply choose a Eurail Pass that covers the countries you want to visit and that lasts for the number of days you need, and then, with your Eurail Pass in hand, you’re free to travel as often and cover as much distance as you wish, all for that one fixed price.
It doesn’t get much easier than that, especially if you’re planning on spending a couple of weeks or more in Europe. More information can naturally be found at Eurail.com.
MY REASON FOR PARTICIPATING
At first, I was quite hesitant about confirming my participation in this challenge. This was partly due to the fact that rolling across Europe and Asia on one continuous train journey for almost 30 days straight initially seemed as appealing as hopping around the world on a pogo-stick while eating nothing but mayonnaise.
But the more I learned about the event, the more intrigued I became, and before I knew it, this crazy idea suddenly seemed quite tempting. I’m always writing on this blog about how once you get out in the world you’ll discover endless opportunities that you never before imagined. Well, standing before me right now is one of those unique opportunities.
And besides, every single person I mentioned this challenge to all had the exact same reaction: Why wouldn’t you participate?
Good point. Why wouldn’t I participate in the Ultimate Train Challenge?
The fact that as of right now I have no clue as to which train route I’d take or how I’ll manage to keep up with my online projects, including this blog, while in places such as the middle of Russia, without internet, and with only the clickety-clack of the wheels on the tracks as my companion for days on end, is not something I’m really going to worry about. That’s always been my travel style anyway. I’ll figure things out, whether two weeks before, two days before or even two minutes before I actually need to get something done.
And so, because I couldn’t come up with any real reasons not to participate, off to Lisbon I shall go.
AN INVITATION TO JOIN ME
I certainly want to invite you to follow along with this journey, both on this blog and on the official Ultimate Train Challenge website. I’m also very open to any input you may have to offer, perhaps based upon your own train travel experiences or simply based upon your ideas and thoughts about this event.
And if you happen to live in or will be traveling through any of the countries between Portugal and Vietnam during the month of September, do let me know. Meeting up for a quick chat and coffee in between train connections would be a most welcome addition to this adventure!