Tour Manager Nick Firth has led over thirty tours for Great Rail Journeys to places as diverse as the wild beauty of Yorkshire and exotic India. But it's the USA Coast to Coast tour that he names as his favourite.
"When I did my first 'Coast to Coast', I was told there was a 'wow' factor to the tour; and there really is", says Nick. "From the hustle and bustle of 24-hour New York, to the stunning Rocky Mountains and the incredible Grand Canyon, and San Francisco where nobody ever looks out of place, this is a truly unique trip. Due to this sheer diversity, the tour is my favourite, and does not diminish with repeated visits."
Nick cites the Grand Canyon as the tour's stand alone highlight: "Awesome is a much over-used word today, but it barely describes the view from the South Rim, or more particularly from the air", he says. "It is my favourite but only by a hair's breadth over Monument Valley, and the Rockies."
Yet there are hidden treasures as well, which Nick doesn't hesitate to point out; "The guided tour of Queen Mary is not to be missed, as it is absolutely fascinating. The Durango and Silverton Railway is another, because it gives a sense of what it must have been like when the railway was built, looking over the side of the carriage at the sheer drop to the river below, and marvelling at how short a time it took to build with the equipment they had at the time."
Although the Durango and Silverton Railway is just one journey, Nick points out that on this tour you cover a vast distance by rail. "Crossing the USA by train is just fantastic because you get to see the way Americans live by making the journey through their communities in the countryside, through the cities and mountains. Taking the train is one of the slower ways to cross America, so you also have the chance to see the countryside and take it all in, especially the vastness. Heading through the Rockies is always a standout, as is travelling along the Colorado River - in some places where other vehicles just can't go."