Let the Midnight Special shine its light on me
I also dismissed buses with utter disdain. I can honestly say I have never been on a bus anywhere at any time of which I didn’t want to get off at the earliest possible inst.
Airplane travel has become loathsome and grows increasingly more so by the day.
Ships and boats are quite lovely and I have been on a cruise, but I have no desire to get on one of those floating small cities just so I can share some ghastly eruption of the bowels along with everybody else on the craft. I only want to travel first class on the new Queen Mary, since I am too young to have travelled on the Normandie prior to World War Two. It was evidently close to heaven afloat.
So, I am going to now go to my absolutely favorite and most cherished form of humanity-shifting – the train!
I love trains and have done so since I was a very young child and would lie in bed at night at my grandparents’ house and hear the mournful and excruciatingly lonely (Hank Williams had that right) whistle of a CN or Great Northern train as it made its way through the misty darkness of Burnaby’s central valley on it’s way to Vancouver’s Main Street Station. That sweet sad song has never left my consciousness.
I only wish that one could travel from continent to continent by rail, and such a think could only be surpassed by Star Trek Transporter. To be ‘beamed up’ would be sheer heaven.
I’ve made a few memorable train journeys in my life. But even the not so memorable (as in Woody Allen’s comment about sex: “Even when it’s bad it’s still pretty good.”) were quite all right.
Here are my favorite rail journeys:
- Norwich to Great Yarmouth in the little BR (in those days) local commuter, two-or-three coaches long shuttle, which passes through some inviting Broadland scenes and then emerges from the woods and pastures to the wide expanse of Breydon Water as it nears Yarmouth.
- Across Canada, Vancouver to Montreal with full bedroom accommodation. Just sit and gaze out the window and watch the entire country go by. The Rockies by train cannot be excelled.
- San Diego to LA. A heavenly coastal journey through some smashing southern California scenery. I’d make that trip again in a heartbeat.
- Munich to Vienna on the then still existing Orient Express. Not a single spy on the train, alas.
- Grenoble to Lyons to Lille to Brussels on the SNCF. From well in the south of France to Northern Belgium in a trice on the most fabulous train I’ve ever encountered. The French may not do everything right (with the notable exceptions of foodstuffs and potables and a Café Au Lait in a sidewalk café) but they sure know how to run a railroad – other than when they’re on strike, every 20 minutes or so.
- London to Edinburgh. Have done that a few times over the years, and never grew weary of the trip.
- Eurostar from Brussels to London via Chunnel. Nothing else needs be said other than to note that the trackbeds in Belgium and France are infinitely superior to those in the England.
- The E&N from Courtenay to Victoria. Antiquated, mechanically unreliable, often late, but the great guys in the train crew make the trip memorable, not to mention the scenery. The breathtaking view of Niagara Canyon on the Malahat near Victoria makes the entire trip worthwhile.
There are others. Maybe you’ve had some great railroad journeys, as well. Would love to hear about them.
Labels: Transports of delight