Exploring Europe: Unique transportation

How do you get around every day? Most of us welcome the familiarity of car rides, car pools, or public transportation like the metro, train, tram, or bus.

To most of us, these modes of transportation are considered normal; we use them every day and, most of the time, we don’t consider why we’d need anything else.

In some areas around the world, climate, culture, and traditions can vary more than we can possibly imagine! So transportation can be different, too. It’s time to explore the world by exploring the world of transportation!

Take me to Lapland, Finland

What if we were traveling in a “winter wonderland?”

Finland is one of the most northern-located countries in Europe, composed of 19 different regions. Lapland, the northernmost and largest region in Finland, is essentially a winter wonderland.

So, what if we were in Lapland, Finland? And how would we get around? Believe it or not, we might ride on a reindeer sleigh—(almost) like Santa Claus. The reindeer is an iconic symbol in Finnish Lapland, because the province has roughly as many reindeer as it has people!

Reindeer sled in Lapland, Finland. Photo from Flickr user Heather Sunderland
Reindeer sled in Lapland, Finland.
Photo from Flickr user Heather Sunderland

Lapland is traditionally inhabited by the Sami people, who have been using reindeer-pulled sleighs as transportation since ancient times. Traveling at a moderate speed, the sleigh ride is suitable for all ages. The rides, lasting anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours, are a “magical experience”—traveling through the snowy forests on a wooden sleigh.

Take me to Wuppertal, Germany

Are you afraid of heights, or do you think traveling up high is more your style?

If we traveled just southwest of Finland—across the Baltic Sea, to Germany—there’s another magical mode of transportation. In Wuppertal, Germany, we find the Wuppertal Suspension Railway!

A train in Wuppertal, Germany. Photo by Wikipedia user Mbdortmund
A train in Wuppertal, Germany
Photo by Wikipedia user Mbdortmund

Officially called the “Electric Elevated Railway Installation, Eugen Langen System,” this unique suspension railway, with hanging railway cars, is the oldest system of its kind! The installation, designed by Eugen Langen, was built between 1897 and 1903. The first track opened in March 1901.

The railway is comprised of one line and 20 elevated stations and runs 8.3 miles long; the entire trip would take us about 30 minutes to complete. The railway has a daily ridership of over 82,000 passengers, serving over 25 million passengers annually.1

Take me to Klein Matterhorn, Switzerland

If you liked the suspension railway, then you’re going to love what we’d find in Switzerland, just south of Germany.

In Switzerland, we could travel by means of an aerial tramway (also known as a cable car, ropeway, or aerial tram). An aerial tramway is a type of lift that uses two stationary ropes for support and a third moving rope to drive the cable car forward.

Klein Matterhorn cable car.Photo by Wikipedia user Papa Lima Whiskey 2
Klein Matterhorn cable car.
Photo by Wikipedia user Papa Lima Whiskey 2

Switzerland has over 100 aerial trams, but perhaps the most impressive is found nestled in the Swiss Alps. Klein Matterhorn, also known as “Little Matterhorn,” is a mountain peak in the Pennine Alps. Reaching 12,740 feet above sea level, Klein Matterhorn is the highest point in Europe that can be accessed by transportation.

And how do we get there? By aerial tram, of course! There’s an aerial tram which takes visitors from the village of Zermatt to the highest mountain station in Europe, the Klein Matterhorn station, which is cut out of the rock face a mere 160 feet below the summit. The cable car has been making the journey for wide-eyed tourists since 1979.2

Take me to Asia

In this article, we looked at just a few of the interesting modes of transportation that Europe has to offer.

In our next article, we’ll travel to Asia—the largest, most populous continent on the map—which has its own array of unique transportation. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Related links

Citations

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuppertal_Suspension_Railway or http://www.wsw-online.de/unternehmen/Download/Geschaeftsberichte/gb2008.pdf
  2. http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/klein-matterhorn-it-doesn-t-get-higher-than-this.html
By Hannah Postlethwait, Go! Staff Writer