Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Slow Train to Switzerland: One Tour, Two Trips, 150 Years and a World of Change Apart” as Want to Read:
Slow Train to Switzerland: One Tour, Two Trips, 150 Years and a World of Change Apart
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Slow Train to Switzerland: One Tour, Two Trips, 150 Years and a World of Change Apart

by
3.75  ·  Rating details ·  279 ratings  ·  55 reviews
In June 1863 an English lady, Miss Jemima, set off by train on the trip of a lifetime: Thomas Cook's first Conducted Tour of Switzerland. A century and a half later, travel writer Diccon Bewes decided to go where she went and see what she saw.
Guided by her diary, he followed the same route to discover how much had changed and how much had not. She went in search of a
...more
Paperback, 301 pages
Published August 29th 2016 by Nicholas Brealey (first published October 1st 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Slow Train to Switzerland, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Gail The #1 item on my Bucket List is an extensive trip to Switzerland, culminating in a visit to my ancestors' town in Othmarsingen, near Zurich. My heart…moreThe #1 item on my Bucket List is an extensive trip to Switzerland, culminating in a visit to my ancestors' town in Othmarsingen, near Zurich. My heart is tugging!(less)
Monika Smith The Author's account is more to see the change. When the first tours came to Switzerland, it was a very different country than the one tourists see…moreThe Author's account is more to see the change. When the first tours came to Switzerland, it was a very different country than the one tourists see and experience today. As the author lives in Switzerland now, he does a fantastic job of explaining how things have changed but from the perspective of someone who understands the culture more than a city-break tourist. Living in Switzerland myself for the last 9 years, I still learnt new facts! Very very interesting, especially if you are familiar with the areas he visits!(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  279 ratings  ·  55 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Slow Train to Switzerland: One Tour, Two Trips, 150 Years and a World of Change Apart
Rachel Inman
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gerald Sinstadt
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Part quest, part history, part guide book (with rather too many statistics), Slow Train makes a beguiling read for the armchair traveller. And there is a mystery which remains unsolved.


The author, a bookseller and travel writer, follows - more or less - the route of what may have been the very first Cook'sTour in 1863. He knows the route because one of the arty kept a journal which disappeared, was found and published, then disappeared again until the two volumes were found in
...more
Laura Bang
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bewes follows in the footsteps of "Miss Jemima", who wrote about her travels in Switzerland on the first package tour there with Thomas Cook in 1863. The success of Cook's trip to Switzerland kickstarted the age of mass tourism and package tours, so it is quite interesting to hear some of Miss Jemima's impressions of the trip (although I did wish there were more quotes from her journal). Bewes adds notes on the subsequent 150 years of Swiss history and comparisons of the scenery in his version o ...more
Nadiya
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: switzerland, history
I absolutely loved this book. It combines history, travel and Switzerland - three things I adore :). The book revolves around the travel journey of Miss Jemina, British Victorian lady who was a member of the first alpine tour to Switzerland organized by Thomas Cook back in 1860s. The author replicates that tour and includes interesting comments from the present and from the past along the way. I've already visited all those places except for 2, but the story is presented so interestingly and she ...more
Andreea
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Indeed, charming! I enjoyed very much the comparison between the old and current ways of traveling.
Tripfiction
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1863 and members of The Junior United Alpine Club set off in a party of 130 to Paris, headed ultimately for Switzerland, in the company of Mr Thomas Cook, entrepreneur and travel aficionado. Miss Jemima Morrell was the unofficial chronicler of the tour, this, the first package holiday abroad organised by Mr Cook (following several failed attempts at home); his travel shops still appear on many high streets across Britain today, and he is still considered to be the genius behind the package holid ...more
Monika Smith
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic account of the historical impact of tourism (and it's modern-day commercialization).
Highlyeccentric
SO LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS BOOK. British chap, living in Bern, gets hold of a mid-20th c reprint of a privately published (for the author's friends) travel journal written by a young woman on Thomas Cook's first Guided Tour of Switzerland. Said British chap, being a travel writer and afficionado of trains, gets his mother and sets out to replicate Miss Jemima's travel - only sticking to modern rail wherever possible. At every stop, from Dieppe to Neuchatel via Paris, Geneva, Chamonix, and dee ...more
MargCal
Finished reading: “Slow Train to Switzerland” by Diccon Bewes
06 January, 2015

The cover of this book has, thanks to the Spectator magazine, the blurb “Charming” and it is indeed. The story of a man and his mother travelling the route of Thomas Cook's first group tour to Switzerland, as seen and experienced by one member of that party. Miss Jemima Morrell's journal of the adventure (which it surely was, nothing like today's packaged tours) was published for the group with which s
...more
Carmen Thong
3 stars leaning to 4.

While the concept is interesting, and his writing is clear - it felt like he spent too much time trying to bend the structure around the concept (following Miss Jemima around) to the detriment of actual content that I wanted from a travel book in Switzerland. There were some interesting information but he really could have given us more than repeatedly admiring the tenacity of Victorian travellers, which - while correct - gets repetitive. Focuses more on Thomas Cook and mas
...more
Lee
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1859 a small group of tourists made a trip via boat, train, mule, and foot from England into Switzerland. It was quite and exciting trip and is recorded in Miss Jemima's Diary. One hundred and fifty years later the author and his mother made the trip again using as much as possible the same route and transportation. It was well documented and the comparisons are very good. I enjoyed reading about a country I may never see but have always enjoyed hearing about.
John
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I'm biased! Switzerland is my favourite country outside the UK, and this book describing two parallel journeys 150 years apart concentrates on my favourite areas, Geneva and the Alps, the Bernese Oberland and Lucerne and its surroundings. I was astonished at the level of hardship gentile middle class travellers on Thomas Cook's first tour were prepared to endure; the length of their traveling days was frequently 14 hours and upwards. This is a nice gentle read which informs as it entertains.
Surani
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book!! The different view point from Miss Jemima in the 1800's and Diccon Bewes' was fascinating. I could almost imagine how it might have been like back in the day when they wore all those long scratchy dresses. Diccon Bewes brings to life the majestic Alps that to me are Switzerland!!
Nancy
Mar 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever concept and very engaging writing. The trip itself isn't terribly exciting, but if anyone has even the remotest interest in the history of travel or Switzerland, this book is filled with wonderful details.
Suzanne
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: switzerland
Two travelogues in one! An interesting comparson of what it was like to be one of the first travelers through Switzerland in 1863 versus what it is like to travel there now. Loved the descriptions of the places I've visited, like Lucerne (or Luzern). Enjoyed it.
Quiver
Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-english
The idea behind the book is Interesting and makes it more than just an ordinary travel book. Chatty and easygoing, although at times a bit loaded with facts and comments. Could do with a bit of editing for general appearance – the text on the page looks scarily black, dense, and impenetrable.
Scott Hermiston
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this one. We did 1/2 of this trip with Roger Mason in 2012, and it was fascinating to see how the same trip had gone 150 years ago. I liked the 1863 heroine very much - much more dauntless and fun than you'd expect a Victorian middle class lady to be.
Sue
Dec 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author decided to retrace the journey of a Victorian lady traveller. My husband read this in a couple of days and really enjoyed. I spent about 6 months reading it on and off. It was OK but could have been a lot more interesting.
Abbey
Apr 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read but not exactly a page turner. For those that have travelled through Switzerland more than others I think.
Margaret Phipps
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
Recommended to Margaret by: saw it advertised
Loved it, just read it for the second time. Wish he would write another about the Graubunden region. Have read all of his books and enjoyed them.He certainly knows his Switzerland.
Ipswichblade
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely well written book following in the footsteps of the original Thomas Cook tour of Switzerland.
Judge
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Travelers
Shelves: travel
Read this book while traveling through Switzerland in May of 2015. Was a great read, especially while traveling through many of the places that is talked about in the book in CH and FR.

Susan Fehr
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
an easy-going arm chair read. A gentle look at how travel, culture and expectations have changed in 150 years. Nothing demanding, a good book for an afternoon in a garden chair with a cup of tea.
S.P. Moss
There's a lovely idea behind this book: to follow in the footsteps, mule prints and coach/railway tracks of Thomas Cook's first tour of Switzerland, conducted in June 1863. On that tour was an English lady, 'Miss Jemima', who wrote and illustrated a journal of her experience. Together with her brother, 'Mr William' and 3 other young ladies plus two more young gentlemen, she christened the travelling party the Junior United Alpine Club.

The author, accompanied by his mother, retraces t
...more
Cheryl
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kathy Stockham loaned me this book -- I enjoyed it a lot. When we went to Germany in 2016, our Rhine River cruise ended in Basel. I looked at touring Switzerland, saw all the trains that looked interesting, but there just wasn't time -- we went during to the Zurich train station. I loved the train to Salzburg, Austria. I remember being amazed at the green mountain sides in October -- not Heidi's Switzerland!

I enjoyed the author's re-creation of Miss Jemima's 1863 trip 150 years later -- the com
...more
Popup-ch
A century and a half after Thomas Cook's first tour to Switzerland, Diccon Bewes sets out to recreate it as closely as possible, together with the diary of one of the first Tourists - and his mother.

Some things have changed and lot - Goiters, beggars and horse-drawn carriages are gone, sanitation much improved, and trains are even more ubiquitous than yesteryear. Other things are the same - the views on and of the mountains remains as stunning as then. Tourism was already an importan
...more
Georgia Giannopoulou
4 stars for the level of research that led to this book. It's a treasure of unknown information about Switzerland, even for people who live long or actually come from the Alpine country. I do admit that I got tired at few points, feeling that I was reading an academic essay due to the volume of trivia, numbers, references and quotations. On the other hand, it made me look at Switzerland from a different viewpoint and even inspired me to take a couple of weekend trips to places Miss Jemima visite ...more
James Lang
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this account of the author's attempt to re-trace the travel experience of a woman who participated in one of Thomas Cook's first package tours in the 19th century. It's a first-hand account of the birth of modern tourism, and it's fascinating to learn about what travel was like a hundred and fifty years ago (short answer: a lot less comfortable and a lot more fast-paced and harried). The premise of the book felt shaky to me at times, but overall I enjoyed it, and would recommend for fe ...more
Kelsey
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think all readers have a weird old book that they love for very specific reasons. For this author, it is Miss Jemima's Swiss Journal, the diary of a Victorian lady who spends three weeks trekking across Switzerland.

The author recreates her journey. It's an interesting jaunt around the country written in a style that manages to be both snappy and, at times, ponderous.

One of the rare instances where I think I would have preferred this book to be a blog, complete with color pictures comparin
...more
Steven
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a colloquial and quirky jaunt through past and present-day Switzerland. I really enjoyed the author's accessible writing style, wry observations, and insights into the development of Switzerland. I really had no idea how things had been (from a daily-life perspective) in Switzerland in the 1850's and 60's, and it was eye-opening to see how much tourism, specifically British tourism, impacted the country.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Gilded Chalet: Off-Piste in Literary Switzerland
  • White Dolphin
  • Almost Home
  • Hawkwing's Journey (Warriors Super Edition, #9)
  • Beholding Bee
  • Thunder and Shadow (Warriors: A Vision of Shadows, #2)
  • The Girl from Atlantis
  • The Shortest History of Europe
  • Asterix and the Normans (Asterix, #9)
  • Rule Britannia: Brexit and the End of Empire
  • A Year in Chiang Mai
  • The Bone People
  • Slow Trains to Venice: A Love Letter to Europe
  • Olga
  • The Gods Will Have Blood
  • The Quest of the Holy Grail
  • Only in Vienna: A Guide to Unique Locations, Hidden Corners and unusual objects
See similar books…
“Mercenary armies were abolished in the new Swiss federal constitution of 1848, although existing contracts were still honoured (how very correct) until the government banned all forms of fighting for money in 1859. The sole survivor of the bloody practice is the Pope’s Swiss Guard, which has been protecting his Holiness since 1506. To serve in Rome, the men must be under 30, over 1.74m tall, single and have completed their Swiss military service. Being both Swiss and Catholic are somewhat essential as well.” 0 likes
“Railways ushered in an era of faster, cheaper mass transport – 25 million passengers in 1880, 240 million in 1910 – but for many Swiss it was still out of reach financially. What was affordable for British visitors was a luxury for locals. Transport history centre Via Storia reckons that most of those 240 million passengers were tourists and the small layer of Swiss society with money, but the middle classes could at least contemplate a trip for the first time; not often or far, but a possibility, although in third class most likely, as first class was double the price, and mountain trains were even more expensive. Someone from Zurich might manage a day trip once a year to Lake Lucerne or to another Swiss city, one that had probably been an economic rival until then.” 0 likes
More quotes…