*Who is the man is seat Sixty-One?
The man is seat Sixty-One is Mark Smith, an Englishman and a bit of a train buff. This is his personal website which is a wealth of information about worldwide train travel. Why seat 61? It is Marks favoured first class seat on the Eurostar service.
The homepage reflects the style of the whole site, a pretty basic design, but this is a personal site remember.
Running horizontally along the top edge are a number of options most of these links are used for making bookings for train and ferry tickets, rail passes and hotels. The ticket service is not just limited to the UK either so can be very handy for buying rail passes for foreign countries.
Vertically on the left hand side is a very extensive list of countries. Clicking on a country will open up a new page with an amazing amount of information.
As an example I have clicked 'China'. The first information you receive is a list of train operators in China and links to their websites. There is then some general information like time differences, exchange rates and other tourist and visa information. Now it all starts to get very interesting and every time I have used this site I am amazed at the level of the information it gives.
First there is a description telling us all about Chinese trains, the amenities are discussed and in most cases picture are provided showing interiors in different classes. There are lots of tips about the trains and how and where to buy tickets both inside and outside of the country.
Now the detail gets even more in depth with schedules for all of the train services. Not just a timetable though this site talks about the trains in much more detail, providing recommendations and also more pictures of specific services in many cases. Also included are some reports submitted by other travelers.
Overall this is a fascinating site and the best resource I have found for making train journeys especially overseas.
*The site has won several awards including:
Guardian & Observer travel awards 2008 - Best travel website;
Wanderlust travel award 2007 & 2008 - Top travel website;
First Choice responsible travel awards 2006 - Best personal contribution.
This year Mark Smith has published the book 'The man in seat 61: A guide to taking the train through Europe'. It is available from Amazon for £8.52.
The site: www.seat61.com
The book: www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0593058682/themaninseats-21
Maybe you don't like flying, or are concerned about air travel's contribution to global warming. Or perhaps you just prefer real travel by train or ship, where the journey is part of the adventure... Either way, The Man in Seat Sixty-One will tell you how to travel overland comfortably & affordably where you might think that air was now the only option.