Monday, December 28, 2009

Sometimes I think Sittin' On Trains...

I just counted the stack of tickets on my table and I have at least forty train tickets. This does not count round-trip tickets, tickets that didn't end up on my table, international train tickets, or metro/tram tickets. This means that I have ridden the train well over forty times in three months. So, I spend a lot of my time doing this.

About 2/3 of the trains I have taken are exactly like this. Big, red seats in compartments. The outside is green. There tends to be graffiti. But I love them. I love compartments in all their Hogwarts-Express-esque glory. Sometimes, there is even a woman who comes around with a snack cart.

A lot of the time, I get my own compartment. But if I don't, it's just as well. I find that trains make me fairly outgoing. Since they are also often home to young English and American kids backpacking across Europe, I also tend to find people to talk to on trains. "I can't help but notice you're speaking English," is our code for "Please talk to me!" Also, I tend to find a lot of nuns on the train. Why do I love sharing a compartment with nuns so much? I've become an old hat at watching the train as it gets to the platform to see which car is most likely to have an empty compartment or a compartment with a nun. I love the walk up-and-down the car to find the best compartment.

I love the views I get from the train. While I agree with William Pene du Bois that there is no better way to see the world than in a hot air balloon, trains are much more practical. I remember riding all the way from Penn Station to Plattsburgh this spring and how I saw parts of New York that I had never seen before (and also witnessed firsthand the epic failure that is American infrastructure). But I'm enjoying my train travel here as a way to see more of the Czech Republic.

Usually, I am just riding to and from Prague. But, I have now also taken the train to Dresden in Germany and twice to Bratislava in Slovakia. The latter destination provided me with a much bigger picture of the Czech Republic. There are mountains and fields and everything in between!

I also love that in Europe, trains are also so practical. You see freight trains carrying automobiles, milk trains, and best of all--post trains. I was waiting for my 1AM train to Bratislava and I saw a post train pass me in the snow. I imagined the train full of cards and presents going to brighten spirits all around the country on Christmas and suddenly, waiting wasn't so bad.

I also got to experience the first snow (October 15th!) on a train to Prague. I grant you that we did not have accumulation until last week, it was still beautiful!

One of the best parts of the train to and from Prague? As long as you get the usual one, you can stick your head out the window!

There is no better feeling in the world than sticking your head out of a train window!

Though, you have to be careful, there are poles that come mighty close to your face.

Not all of the trains I've ridden have been the big red bench compartment trains. Some of them are a bit swankier--particularly the longer rides. Sometimes, you can catch a train that is coming from a longer journey and get a nice seat for the 50 minute ride to Prague. This was my train home from Bratislava. It originated in Budapest and would take you to Berlin via Bratislava and Prague. It's insane to me that you can go that many places on one train. They're wonderful, wonderful things.

Note the light, temperature, and Muzak controls! Classy! Though, sometimes I end up in a train without compartments and have to ride in a big room with everyone. Not my favorite. I've also ended up on a commuter train that was like I imagine a 19th century LIRR train to be like... in not a good way.

On my way home from Bratislava, I got to see the snow all over the countryside! Unfortunately, nice train meant no sticking my head out the window.

But I could on this one. This was my ride to Bratislava the first time (3 trains, 7 hours... never again). I got to watch the sunrise through the snowfall on this train. That was, I admit, pretty amazing.

I was looking at apps the other day and there are a frightening number of mac apps for syncing your model trains. I thought Goodness gracious! Who cares about trains that much!?
As it turns out, I do, but I would prefer to be on one, not play with it. Don't even get me started on the glory of my Kilometres Book! 2000 km for 1 crown a kilometer. It is glorious.

1 comment:

  1. I love your views of the train and from the train. How beautiful and relaxing you make it seem. I always enjoy a trainride but unfortunately, don't have much opportunity.