Maria Cook, general manager of Ffestiniog Travel, on why she loves travelling by train around the world and the day she saw a big brown bear from her train window
Our company specialises in escorted and tailormade train tours. Our customers are very adventurous and like to travel far afield. One of our most popular tours is the Indian Hill Railways tours – I went on that tour myself and it was amazing. Christmas and Alpine trips are always very popular. Last year I travelled to Taiwan to research our inaugural departure for February 2020 which was a complete success. I can’t wait until we are able to return thee again.
Our customers are a mix of train enthusiasts and people who like to travel by train. We cater mainly for the 50 plus age group with a mixture of couples and individuals.
We try and be as flexible as possible on our escorted tours so there are no regimented dinners but it’s a fun way to travel as you’re well looked after.
What’s been your favourite rail journey?
I loved my trip on the Kalka-Shimla Railway in India. It’s such a bucket-list train journey. I was also lucky enough to travel on the Rocky Mountaineer – it was an amazing journey and I got to see the Rockies close up I even got to see a big brown bear from the train window – only 100 yards away.
What country have you most enjoyed visiting by rail?
Number one is India closely followed by Corsica. It’s easy to travel around the island by local trains and you’ll have a very authentic experience. It’s not overpopulated and it’s really beautiful.
Where would you like to travel to by rail?
Anywhere in Sri Lanka – I’ve heard the trains there are amazing and they go at a gentle pace.
Who is your ideal travelling companion on a rail journey?
My colleague Michelle. She appreciates the same things as me – amazing scenery, meeting new people and trying out new food.
Are there any particular train trips you’d like to take?
Yes, I’d love to travel through Namibia on the Desert Express.
What’s the best thing about taking a train journey?
Train journeys are so relaxing – you can just look out of the window and watch the world go by.
What do you always take with you on a train journey?
My own food and drink – just in case you can’t find anything on board.
What’s the best memory you have of travelling by train?
Seeing so much snow at the stations on the Glacier Express. I have never seen so much snow in my life – it was wonderful.