Most people have a place they love to visit where, when they arrive, all worries seem to disappear. Our team shares some of theirs. It might be a poignant time to think about yours too, and plan for happier times ahead.
When we started to chat about the concept of having a 'happy place' here in the office, and amongst our merry team of remote employees, it soon became obvious that this is a subject that not only engages people but also makes them smile. So, we decided to share our team's chat about where, in Europe, they choose as their happy place. The only caveat was, not surprisingly, that it had to be accessible by train. We also encourage you to start your own conversations at work, home or on social media about where your #happyplace is. You will soon see - this is a conversation that livens things up a little.
Where is your happy place?
“Lyon! I love it for the amazing food, the lovely people, the history and the Art! And the fact it’s only a couple hours past Paris. I feel elated and relaxed there. (This got a big thumbs up from Aurelie Butin, Director of Business Development, who hails from Lyon). “ - Mykil Owusu-Boateng, Travel Geek Team
“Definitely Barcelona. Specifically, sitting in a cafe on Carrer Petrixol, dunking xurros in a thick, bittersweet hot chocolate. Since I'm from southern California, Barcelona is the closest place I get can to quickly that feels like home (and it has the best hot chocolate in all of Europe).” - Kaitlyn Tierney, Software Engineer
“Arriving at Cologne makes me happy. The station is right in the heart of the city next to the beautiful gothic cathedral. You’re also only moments away from grabbing a nice cold Kölsch beer from one of the many “Brauhaus” old breweries.” - Paul Sturgess, Software Engineer
“My home town of Athens will always be my favourite. But for getting there by train, Cádiz is my happy place. I visited the place 13 years ago and I still remember the fresh sea breeze and the scent of orange blossoms in the streets.” - Yannis Tsiounis, Marketing Designer
“I love Cambridge, mostly because I have a tradition of meeting some friends there once a year so I always have a very good time there. Very often, you like a place not so much for how beautiful it is but because of the experience you have there. Berlin was a shock the first time I went, maybe because I was not expecting a lot. A truly unique city with the wall, architecture, art and the weight of history. My mother-in-law was born in East Berlin and was smuggled in a car to West Berlin - she gave me a tour of her city and it was truly amazing.
My favourite place in Italy is the Amalfi coast, places like Sorrento or Ravello....When I'm there, the only thing I can think of is Baudelaire's poetry:"Ici tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté, luxe, calme et volupté". - Aurelie Butin, Director of Business Development
“To me nothing beats getting off the train in central Paris, only a short walk away from a fresh pain au chocolat and a stroll along the boulevards. So much better than arriving by plane.” - Francesco Negri, DevOps Engineer
“It’s Brno in the Czech Republic because I spent four years living there and it became my second home. I have a lot of memories connected to this city, both happy and sad. So many things happened there, and I associate them all with the city somehow. I’m visiting my friends there this weekend and when I think of going there I literally can’t stop smiling! At one stage I even wanted a tattoo of St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Brno. Not because I’m religious but because this cathedral and its facade is the first thing I imagine when I think of the city.” - Daria Kaminskaya, Travel Geek Team
“Punta di Campanella - it’s a wild and fairly unknown place of the Amalfi coast. Surrounded by towns where luxury is sometimes the only thing you can see, Punta di Campanella is the perfect place for discovering the wild face of the coast. This place for me means freedom. I have been there a couple of times with friends for super low budget weekends. The rule was not to spend more than €80 (train tickets from Naples included) for a weekend in one of the most expensive place of Italy." - Giovanni Picone, Performance Marketing Manager
“It’s difficult to pick just one place, so I would go for a region: Basilicata. It’s in the south of Italy, between Calabria and Puglia. Travelling across the hilly region while eagles fly above you and abandoned fortresses and stoned cities (Matera) look at you is a very unique experience. The seaside (Maratea) is equally astonishing. It makes me feel very happy travelling in a place that is still so unspoiled." - Cristina Astorri, VP of Marketing
“I love heading back to Brussels. Three hours from home and I can revisit old haunts. Beer and bargains, friends and frites. It’s the closeness of everything there that I love too, as well as associations of fun times spent there as a student” - Tim Motz, Product Manager
“Bruges is my favourite place because of it’s charming medieval architecture, beautiful cobblestone roads and canals. I like to wander around the market square and soak in everything. And I love delicious Belgian waffles and chocolates.” - Akshatha Udupa, Product Manager
“Almost anywhere in Wales, preferably where Welsh is spoken, because it eases my hiraeth (the Welsh word that sums up a longing for home). I particularly love Machynlleth or Porthmadog (destination for my August holiday, yay).” - Benjamin Alexander, Software Engineer
“I haven’t been there in a while but, when tI went to uni in Sheffield, I loved how close the train station was from the classrooms. Sheffield also has strong music and art scenes, as well as being just around the corner from the Peak District. There has also been a lot of money put into the regeneration of the train station and the surroundings so it’s nice. Wakefield is also worth a visit for the Hepworth museum and is within reach of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Which reminds me….St. Ives in Cornwall is also a happy place for me. With the Tate St. Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum plus the sea, Cornish crab and loads of places to hike from there” -
Alejandra Rojas, Travel Geek Team
“To join the Lausanne-bound local train which runs along the shore of Lac Léman to St Saphorin is for us always a transport of delight. The railway platform at St Saphorin balances precariously over the lake. From there we gaze across the water to the French Alps. Then we hike up through vineyards into St Saphorin village which is surely of the most beautiful in the Lavaux region. The landscapes and wines of Lavaux are most definitely a happy place for us. #EuropeByRail” - Nicky and Susanne, our ‘besties’ at Hidden Europe
“I always love getting off the train in Southease, in East Sussex, as you can walk straight up onto the South Downs. And breathe. There is also a youth hostel there, so a cheap weekend getaway from my adopted home city of London too. Which is great as a single mum to get those lads of mine running off a bit of steam in the most wonderful, windy and wild landscape. And seeing my city kids running wild always makes me feel happy. As well as that, Porto was a revelation to me. It has everything that makes me happy in one place - great wine, seafood, coastal cycling routes and fab beaches for swimming. And as for swimming, my happy place at home in London is definitely the Ladies' swimming pond on Hampstead Heath.” - Catherine Mack, Content Creator
“Lisbon - tenho muitas saudades de Lisboa! I still remember the first time I went to Lisbon. I'd never been to Portugal before, could hardly speak Portuguese, had nowhere to live and no job. But it instantly felt like home. Everyone I met was so warm and friendly. I remember walking home from a miserable day of work, up the backstreets and six million steps from Rossio to Largo da Graca, and an old woman invited me to sit on the steps with her and drink a Caiprinha to cheer up, and celebrate Santos with her. I've so many great things to say about Lisbon. It's the biggest city you can walk across in 20 minutes, and it's surrounded by nature. You forget you're in a city half the time.” - Andy Thackray, Train Geek team
Last but not least, these guys got lots of smileys from our team:
“Lake Windermere for me. It makes me happy because it’s such a relaxing place to be. The world seems like a more relaxing/nicer place to be when I’m there. Worries are replaced by incredible wildlife and stunning views. It’s also where I proposed to my wife so it’s a special one!” - Lee Jarvis, VP of Engineering
“I got married on the edge of Lake Windermere!: Stunning views” - Sean Connell, Head of UX & Design
Photos top to bottom: Happy in Barcelona iStock ©martin-dm, Oranges in Cadiz iStock ©martin-dm, Love Berlin iStock ©suteishi, Brno with starlight sky iStock ©LukinBrno, Matera at sunrise iStock ©bluejayphoto, Brecon Beacons National Park Wales iStock ©fotoVoyager, St. Saphorin iStock ©grauy, breakfast overlooking Lisbon ©Rrrainbow, Lake Windermere iStock ©Daniel_Kay
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