My favorite form of transportation is train travel. I love watching the countryside go by out the window, fresh air blowing through the carriage, and arriving at a foreign destination withOUT jet lag. After spending 5 years in Germany and a semester in Italy during college, I have really grown to love train trips. They are much less stressful than flying, you are not trapped in your seat like a car, you can stretch your legs and meet other people, you can bring as much luggage as you can carry, and you can even sleep in a bed if you book the right type of carriage. I remember my very first train trip in Italy – from Florence to Pisa – I would have to rate that day as one of the best in my life. Seeing the Tuscan countryside for the first time, walking up to the leaning tower of Pisa, the best, long, leisurly, Italian lunch (with lots of wine), and meeting a whole new group of friends on my study abroad trip. Plus, by an amazing stroke of luck my husband-to-be, Alex, was visiting me in Italy that week so I got to share the whole experience with him.
That was the beginning of our travels together. For that six months in Europe, while Alex was studying in London and I was in Florence, we went all around Europe on the train: to northern England, through the Chunnel (the Channel Tunnel from England to Paris), up and down “the boot” of Italy, even from Alexandria to Luxor in a 3rd class compartment (a mistake never to be made again). And when we moved to Germany, we simply picked up where we left off: all around Bavaria on the Schoeneswochenende (beautiful weekend) ticket, overnight to Vienna through Salzburg, back and forth to Milan several times (to visit family friends), up and down the coast of Spain, all through Switzerland… I’ll admit, we did fly plenty of places as well, but it’s the rail journeys that were the most memorable. Taking time to arrive in a new location, adjusting your mind to the realities of travel, and meeting new people on the way.
Even when I go back to my parents house in CT, we always take at least one trip on the Metro North railway down to New York City. 45 minutes and you’re at Grand Central. It’s amazing to think about how transportation has changed over the years. What you can see from the window of a train is like looking back in time – the right and wrong side of the tracks, the cities and towns growing larger as you near the station. Riding in a train almost makes me feel part of history.
Tuscany picture from: http://www.italytraveller.com/images/home_tuscany.jpg
Rail map of Germany from: http://www.europeonrail.com/pics/maps/Germany.gif
Grand Central picture from: http://www.darkworldbynight.com/rooms/9012/images/nybn_grand-central-station.jpg