Eurasia By Train
If you only get to take only one major trip in your lifetime, make sure it is this one! Europe, The Middle East, and India are some of the most beautiful places on the planet, and with this useful (and economical) travel guide, you can see it all! And wouldn't you rather see the world on a gorgeous, well-facilitated train than an ugly bus?
Facilities are plentiful in the prime tourist countries of Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. Trains are luxurious and well-running.
Facilities are almost as good in Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Macedonia, and Greece as those of Western Europe. However, there are not nearly as many trains. Note: All international trains to and from Greece have been canceled as of September 2012.
Western Turkey is accustomed to tourists and have the usual facilities. However, Eastern Turkey is generally more sparse and there are not as many tourists there.
Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are mostly tourist-friendly. They are mountainous but the people are very nice. Note: There are no trains running between Armenia and Azerbaijan. You have to go through Georgia to get from one of these countries to the other.
Israel is not a place you should go, because any evidence of having been in Israel will deny you access to Syria, Iran, and possibly Pakistan.
Jordan is an excellent tourist destination. Very modern and liberal. No strife here!
The situation in Egypt is not great right now, but if you really want to travel there, you can. Be 'extremely' careful, though!
Do not visit Iran (or any Muslim country) during Ramadan, unless you want to fast. Other than that, Iran is not visited a lot, so the people aren't accustomed to tourists, but they are very friendly. Keep your cool when dealing with the police, as well as in Eastern Turkey, Pakistan, and the Middle East.
Pakistan has always been a tourist destination, so most facilities are in working order.
India is a hotspot for tourists. Hotels and restaurants are here, but India is a very poor country, so be prepared for dirt, filth, and poverty.
Visas are required for Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and India. These can be acquired through the embassies of those countries. The other nations on this route either do not require a visa or issue travelers visas on arrival. Total costs for these visas can come to about $500.
US citizens can apply for a visa at the Iranian Interest Section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, . However, US citizens must have an MFA-approved guide to accompany them for the entire trip and must have an exact itinerary. This generally precludes crossing into Iran at any border, as your guide would have to meet you at the border. Tour guides, however, are generally friendly to Americans, understand the process, and can work with you to set up a custom itinerary for you. To get the visa, US citizens must work in advance with an Iranian travel agency to set up a guided itinerary; only then, that travel agency may apply for a visa authorisation number from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Once approved, the authorisation number is transmitted to the interest section. At that point, the applicant can then apply for the visa. Turnaround times can be as short as a week, but the interest section does not reliably answer emails or phone calls.
This trip actually can be done if you just hop on buses and trains and never take any of the side trips. In the fastest way possible, the journey's schedule could look like this:
Of course, that is if you do not actually spend any time in any of those places and just hop from one train to another. Those times do not include the side trips to the Caucasus, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, or Bangladesh.
This trip is quite expensive, a lot more than a flight from London to Kolkata. Visa costs alone come to $500 or $600, depending on which countries you plan to visit.
You can travel Eurasia by rail in every season, but autumn and spring are the best because in the winter snowfall is heavy in Turkey and Iran. In the summer India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are quite hot.
London is in the southern United Kingdom and the starting point for this trip, but you could start anywhere on this route, or in Kolkata at the other end. Trains from many European countries run to London, and cheap flights are available from the US and Canada. From many eastern United States ports, the Cunard Line runs passenger ships to Southampton, 128 km from London.
London to Greece
Side Trip: Rome
There are daily trains from Milan to Rome, as well as from Rome to Bari. You can look up train times at www.trenitalia.com
London to Greece via Italy costs about $390 in transportation costs for 2nd class.
London to Greece via Germany is about $560 in transportation costs for 2nd class.