A New Adventure: Connecting Europe Express

When you open a wine bar, then a wine shop, and then suddenly you get invited to travel across 26 EU countries for five weeks on the Connecting Europe Express. So cool!

Such a long time without posting, how are you folks? Not that there was so much to say in the past year or two. We’ve all been through at least a couple of COVID19 lockdowns (I hope you’re all safe and vaccinated), waiting for life to take its regular course again.

In particular, if your decision has been, between one lockdown and the other, to open a wine bar in Brussels, like I did, then you have probably been quite idle. So, to kill time I have decided to also open a wine shop in Brussels. What do you have to lose, right?

What? How’s life working in your own bar compared to your previous office job? Good question. But not the one I’ll discuss here, perhaps in another post. Here the story goes that I had just started to enjoy my new life as a bar and shop manager, tasting good wine on a daily basis, serving happy customers, when I got an interesting phone call from my former employer.

Yes, because in my spare time I set up a Communication agency and in such role, I am able to work on several types of projects (just casually putting it out there). That’s how the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission asked me to be part of an exciting journey: the Connecting Europe Express.

Listen how cool this is: the Connecting Europe Express is the flagship project of the European Year of Rail, a special train that will leave in exactly 1 day and 11 hours as I write. That is on 2 September from Lisbon, and it will stop in over 100 cities and 26 countries in the EU.

Wanna know what the best part is? That I am going to be on the train through the whole journey, following the many conferences, events, exhibitions and activities taking place on the train or at the stopovers, but also telling my story of the journey, of course. This is so exciting, I never got to take the so-called interrail, as many young European do as students to travel around the continent. At the time, I wasn’t aware of these opportunities. But here’s my chance, although I am far from being a student anymore. I’ll do it with the eyes of an adult on a mission, but also a passionate traveller.  

Plus, I looooooove travelling by train! It’s just the perfect travel dimension to enjoy a journey. You get to your destination quickly enough, but have the time to look at the landscape, to comfortably read or write, or talk with a random passenger if the mood strikes. And it is much more sustainable than driving or taking a plane!

The last long-distance ride I took was on the Tran-Siberian train in Russia, a slow serpentine-like rail going through the never-changing Taiga. It took me a whole month to cover only half of Russia, from Vladivostok to Novosibirsk, with only 5 stopovers. Now, in the same amount of time, I will go through 26 countries. Incredible, if we think only at the magnitude of 26 countries having an integrated rail system. But that’s Europe for you!

I expect during this journey to see lots of nice places, talk with many people, but also understand and learn about trains, rail, what it means to connect 26 countries with one EU Rail system, and perhaps what still needs to be done to make this mode of transport easy and accessible for everyone.

I’ll be posting as regularly as I can. But If you want to engage on Twitter, then #ConnectingEurope Express  #EUYearofRail 

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