There is something undeniably romantic about travelling by rail.
Maybe it's incredible landscapes dominated by noble Alpine mountains, deep blue American skies or the orange tiles of a Mediterranean town. Maybe it's the comforting chug of the Scottish Jacobite steam engine or the golden interior of a restored 1920s carriage on the Swiss Pullman Glacier Express. Perhaps it's the Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint influence which lends a romantic touch to rail travel.
Whatever it is, tales of romance on trains are always a joy to hear and report. One such story can be found in our Great Rail Journeys history.
To hear it, we have to go back to 2001. Tony Blair has just won his second UK general election and the first Harry Potter film has been released to cinemas.
Patricia Wright has just been invited by her friends, Don and Maggie, on their inaugural holiday with Great Rail Journeys. Impressed with both the organisation itself and her professional Tour Manager, this would be the first of many of Patricia's trips as she skirted around the peaks of Switzerland, admired the ancient ruins of Greece and cruised down the rivers of France. Along the way, she would graduate from unconfident solo traveller to a seasoned European rail explorer with the help of Great Rail Journeys' escorted tours.
Fast forward to 2010. David Cameron has just become the UK prime minister in the first hung parliament since the Second World War and the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland has erupted for the first time in centuries.
Patricia is now a Great Rail Journeys veteran, having experienced a number of rail holidays, criss-crossing the countryside of Europe. This year, she receives an invitation; it is from Don and Maggie, the same couple who accompanied her on her first tour back in 2001. They wonder, would she perhaps like to come along on the Austrian Lakes tour, organised by Great Rail Journeys. Ever-eager for a new rail expedition, Patricia agrees, unaware of the significance that this particular tour would play in her life.
Settling down into the plush leather of Eurostar's Premier Class, Patricia and her friends gaze out of the windows, watching as the grey of London transforms into the rolling greenery of the English countryside. A polite cough interrupts the scenery. A gentleman, amiable and charming, politely explains that he's been allocated to sit with them, and their small group of three becomes a four. Over the course of the journey, from the shimmering azure Lake Traunsee through the peaked domes of Salzburg and the snow globe village of Hallstatt, they learn that the gentleman, named Brian, is widowed and has recently discovered the joys of rail travel through Great Rail Journeys, just as Patricia had done nine years before.
Come the end of the tour, Brian expresses his interest in seeing Patricia again. Despite having reservations after living for 28 years on her own, Patricia agrees to meet up, since he lives only a short distance away.
A number of years later, in 2014, from a relationship born between the chalets and valleys of the Austrian Salzkammergut region, Brian Bromhall and Patricia Wright were married. Quite naturally, the new Mr and Mrs Bromhall spent their honeymoon with Great Rail Journeys on the shores of magnificent Lake Garda.
To experience the romance and charm of Europe for yourself, be sure to explore our selection of European tours, including the Austrian Lake District where Patricia found love and the Lake Garda tour where they spent their honeymoon.