The train ticket represents part of my travel from Rome back to Paris, after Pater catches his flight home from The Eternal City a few days earlier. It's a questionable itinerary for those of you whose time is tight when travelling, but I've come to love the pace of train travel, and I'm also trying to exercise my solo-traveler muscles in relatively comfortable circumstances.
Last year, as we checked out of our Paris hotel, the friendly receptionist offered to call us a car to the airport. "No, no," we thanked her, "we're taking the train."
"To Venice?" Her eyebrows climbed her forehead. "But how long is that? 12 hours?"
Yes, yes it was. But 12 hours of comfortable seats, wonderful scenery, ample luggage space, and with the added advantage that we could show up at the station only fifteen or twenty minutes before our departure time, rather than the ninety minutes minimum required at an airport. Nor would we have to submit to security screening, with all that means about packing of liquids and so on.
We didn't bother pointing all this out to the hotel receptionist, who'd flown to Venice just the previous fall for her honeymoon and loved it. She readily concededed, though, that train travel would allow us to see more of the countryside and that it was probably less stressful. She even agreed that, given how little luggage we had, walking to Gare de Lyon from our hotel in the 6ème wasn't so outlandish, although she definitely would have taken the Métro, if not a cab.
We're staying at that same hotel next month, but they're getting used to our foibles by now. Rather than fly to Rome, as I've mentioned earlier, we'll wend our way by train to Zurich, then ride the Bernina Express through the Swiss Alps to Turin, and thence to Rome. Time to knit a sock, read a book, walk through the carriages for some people-watching, back to our relatively comfortable seats to gaze happily out the windows. . . .
And I write, on the train sometimes, in my travel journal. Even try 30-second sketches of the scenery flashing by, or slightly longer ones if we stop for a minute or two at a station. Here's my transciption of an entry from this past spring. .
June 1st, 2017, 8:53
And we're on the train speeding from Ljubljana (we left at 8:25 a.m.) for Zagreb. I've been trying to snap train-window photos to capture impressions but maybe I should just try to write them.
So much green -- will it all be dry soon, in this heat? Hilly, even mountainous and occasionally we dive into a tunnel's deep shade. Generally, though, we're moving in a trough and either side of us, houses romp down the flanks with -- always! -- vegetable patches laid out in the best spot, so there's a higgledy-piggledy to the neat order. Sometimes the garden beds are at odd angles to each other, but the rows themselves are even, well-spaced, industriously equipped with supporting poles, sometimes covered with bird-deterring net. Already, the homeowners are out watering and weeding and harvesting lettuces or digging up new potatoes. Reminds me of Portugal where domestic food production was also still a continuation of an age-old, necessary tradition, not an earnestly recovered one taken on as a hobby or ideology.
Crooked -- and skinny! -- telephone poles. Practical, and why not? but they amuse me, so used to our huge, thick, impeccably straight ones.
Also right along the tracks, large plants for mining and quarrying. The last one we passed was right beside a small train station -- at the side of the road, perhaps a hundred, perhaps more, cars parallel parked. Workers' cars, I'd guess, unless there's some kind of park-and-ride commuter train, which I rather doubt.
So many wildflowers -- deep meadows waiting to be moved for hay? Or will they bring cows or sheep to graze?
What about you? Have you travelled much by train? Would you? Or are you quite jealous of your time when travelling and not willing to spend it sitting still, however much scenery might be whizzing by?
And what have you planned for the weekend? We're hosting a Family Brunch here on Sunday and we have a nearly-Nine coming for a sleepover tomorrow. I've started a knitting project for her, a collaborative approach I hope to tell you more about next week. For now, I'm handing the mic to you -- comments always welcome, below.