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The 10 best long weekends in Europe by train

Ditch the plane for the train and travel Europe with a clear conscience. Train travel expert The Man in Seat 61 lists his top 10 short breaks by rail and our accompanying interactive guide shows you how to take them

Cutting down on short-haul flights and travelling by train could give a new lease of life to your travels as you rediscover a more relaxed and civilised way to go, where the journey becomes part of the fun. Here are my top 10 destinations for long weekends or short breaks from the UK by train.

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A brief history of the passport

From a royal letter to a microchip

The concept of being under one ruler’s protection, while in the lands of another, has probably existed since rulers and lands were first invented, but the earliest mention of an object we might recognise as a passport appears in the Bible, in the often overlooked boo of Nehemiah.

In the month of Nisan in the 20th year of the ancient Persian king Artaxerxes (around 450BC in new money), the prophet, who was working as a royal cup-bearer, is granted letters from the king requesting the governors of the lands beyond the Euphrates to grant him safe passage to Judah. The purpose of Nehemiah’s visit, incidentally, was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

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