Beginning in the seventeenth century and continuing for approximately 200 years, the grand tour [of the European continent] was a rite of passage for wealthy young men, mostly from England. Lasting from several months to several years, the tour was its own reason for being–travel as a broadening and educating experience. Train travel during the industrial revolution robbed the grand tour of its patrician associations but brought about the birth of modern tourism. This year, the Swiss Transport System has launched the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, a suggested itinerary that can be started from any point on a 750-mile route that travels over 5 alpine passes, 22 lakes, and 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Along the way, the trains glide through Switzerland’s 4 language groups, each with its own distinct culture. For individual travel throughout the tour all that’s necessary is a Swiss Travel Pass (www.swisstravelsystem.com), which provides unlimited travel during a designated time period, or specific travel days during a longer stay. For travelers who prefer a prearranged route and hotels, an 8-day/7-night package is available that includes all the train travel, 3-star hotel accommodations, plus the off-route excursion to the top of the Jungfrau from Interlaken, an incredible value.