The singer-songwriter is soothed by the rock and lull of Europe’s railways en route to Austria
Travel pieces tend to be written by daredevils, the type who, when asked if they fancy a trip on a raft up the Limpopo, cry, “Not half!” and grab a pre-packed rucksack. I’m not that type. I’m more the type who thinks the Limpopo might be infested with crocodiles or hippos, and who needs at least a week to make a list of essential toiletries before wondering which size suitcase to take. I don’t like cliffs or sheer drops, or skiing, or cable cars, or heights, so I’m still not sure how I ended up, in the rapidly fading light of an autumn afternoon in Innsbruck, slowly inching my way down a mountain path in inappropriate footwear, and wishing I were dead.
I’d come here with my friend Lavinia on a European adventure by rail, because of all things travel-related, what I love most is a train. Both my grandfathers were train drivers, so perhaps it’s in my blood. And being a non-driver, I am grateful for any form of transport that requires nothing more of me than gawping out the window. We’d planned an itinerary that would whisk us in two days from the centre of London to the heart of the Alps, beginning with a Eurostar to Paris, followed by a Swiss TGV Lyria train to Zurich. There we stopped overnight in the charming Lady’s First hotel, opened in 2001 exclusively for women, though now admitting men, and occupying a 19th-century town house in a quiet, leafy neighbourhood by the lake.