All stations to Athens: crossing Europe by train and boat

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Travelling overland from London to Greece allows time to soak up the atmosphere and scenery as you ride through France, Switzerland and Italy

There’s been a rockslide somewhere in the Maurienne Valley, deep in the French Alps. By the time I’m due to set off on an intricately planned, early autumn European rail trip from London to Athens, nearly a week has passed since the incident. My intended path through France, Italy and then on to Greece via sea had relied on a connection from Lyon to Milan passing directly through this region. Now the route is out of action and it could be months before the railway tracks are dug out from the rubble. Initially, I’m irate. En route to the Eurostar terminal at London’s St Pancras at 6.30am, however, I encourage myself to think differently.

My decision to opt for a flightless pilgrimage in search of late-September sun wasn’t only environmentally driven. I’d also chosen to take the slower way in the hope of learning to enjoy the journey; seeing it not as an inconvenience but as a part of the adventure. Diversions needn’t be a drag, I tell myself, but an opportunity. In this case, to visit Switzerland.

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