GREAT CONTINENTAL RAILWAY JOURNEYS: Season 5
Airs Mondays, Dec. 4-18, 2017 & Jan. 8, 2018 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV
Monday, December 4, 2017
Credit: Courtesy of American Public Television
In Season 5 of GREAT CONTINENTAL RAILWAY JOURNEYS, host Michael Portillo continues his travels through Europe, following suggested itineraries from the 1913 travel guide "Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide and General Handbook."
As he journeys across Transylvania, Switzerland, North Africa, Italy, Finland, and The Netherlands, he stays in recommended hotels, explores the sights and samples local traditions.
Combining the modern with the historic, Portillo also provides early 20th century context for the places he visits.
Episode 1: “Transylvania To The Black Sea" airs Monday, Dec. 4 at 10 p.m. - With his "Bradshaw's 1913 Continental Railway Guide" in hand, Michael Portillo ventures east through Romania.
He encounters a bloodsucking vampire in Transylvania and brown bears in the Carpathian forest before visiting a fairy tale castle with modern conveniences in Sinaia, striking oil in Ploesti, tapping into the nation's musical soul in Bucharest and loading cargo from a 100-foot crane in Constanta.
Traveling through what was, at the turn of the 20th century, one of Europe's youngest nations, Michael sinks his teeth into a Victorian gothic best seller and uncovers an unlikely fellow fan of his Bradshaw's guide.
Episode 2: “Zermatt To Geneva” airs Monday, Dec. 11 at 10 p.m. - Michael Portillo travels from the Swiss Alps to the shores of Lake Geneva.
Along the way, he is caught up in a war zone with the Red Cross and rescued from an "avalanche" by a St. Bernard puppy.
He takes to the skies in a vintage biplane to retrace the epic journey of the pioneering pilot who was first to fly over the Alps and tries his hand at watchmaking, James Bond style.
Episode 3: “Tangier to Marrakech” airs Monday, Dec. 18 at 10 p.m. - Michael Portillo leaves Europe behind to take in the sights, smells and tastes of North Africa as he travels from the Mediterranean port of Tangier to the Berber city of Marrakech.
Morocco bound, he discovers in Tangier how, in the year before his Bradshaw was published, this once proudly independent nation fell under the control of the French, as rival European powers scrambled to extend their empires in Africa.
At Asilah, Michael lends a hand with the construction of Morocco's new £3 billion high speed railway line to Casablanca.
In Fez, he dodges the donkeys and learns how to make lamb tagine before being scrubbed down in a traditional hammam.
Arriving in Casablanca, he makes straight for the most famous gin joint in the world.
He later visits the vast and beautifully decorated Hassan II mosque which boasts the world's tallest minaret, before boarding his Marrakesh Express.
Episode 4: “Genoa To Brenner Pass” airs Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 at 10 p.m. - Michael Portillo embarks on a glorious action-packed adventure from the Italian Riviera to the Austrian Alps.
Along the way, our man of the match discovers how an Edwardian Briton brought "the beautiful game" to the historic port of Genoa. Michael is ambushed by singers of the city's legendary trallalero and learns to whip up a mean pesto Genovese.
He takes the train as it clings to the cliffs along the Riviera Di Levanti, to reach the impossibly picturesque and remote villages of the Cinque Terre, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national park.
In the waters off La Spezia, Michael discovers how Italy's imperial ambitions put her at the forefront of modern aerial warfare. He is piped aboard the frigate ITS Virginio Fasan to learn about naval technology today.
Italy's most famous ingredients, Parmesan cheese and Parma ham go down well in Parma as does a trip to the exquisite Teatro Regio opera, where the company is rehearsing work by the hero of Italian unification, Giuseppe Verdi.
On the winding roads at Rovereto, he discovers how one of the world's best- known car makers sealed its international reputation by winning the 1913 Alpine Trial in a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.
To cap off his journey, Michael travels to the Austrian border and the famous Brenner Pass, mastered by the railways in the 19th century and the scene today of a ground-breaking engineering project to build one of the world's longest rail tunnels.
More episodes to be announced.
Distributed by American Public Television. © 2017 Fremantle Ltd.
To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.