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i love taking the train. someone else is doing the driving. less carbon burden than the plane. you can get up and walk around. plus, there are dining cars, bar cars and dome cars.
[url=http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0804104549/ref%3D/701-9623452-7453... favourite travel[/url] book is even "riding the iron rooster" by paul theroux, when he travelled by train in china for nearly a year.
top five train journeys:
- the trans-mongolian (from beijing to irkutsk to moscow, in winter 1998)- deutsch bahn along the rhine - the canadian between kenora and toronto- the southwest chief (chicago to LA, via albuquerque)- the metro toronto zoo monorail
I'm a train buff too, and have read the Patagonian Express by Thйroux, but not his book on China. Will do.
A pity that railways have become so expensive. A friend from Toronto, visiting the Quйbec solidaire congress, wound up flying as there were no more discounted tickets to Montrйal, and the plane was actually cheaper. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]
It is really something that must be supported and lobbied for, though I don't suppose the present crew of ReformaTories could be won over by lyrical references to John A and the Last Spike...
I doubt I'll be taking any of your more exotic trains soon, but I could certainly be taking the DB train along the Rhine, as my friend in Germany lives in a town on the Rhine and I also have friends in Basel, Switzerland, way upstream. German trains are good but expensive - are there any possible deals, or traincards I can buy over here?
Have any babblers crossed Canada by rail?
Sadly, I have relatively little rail experience. The only long train trip I have taken was one from Cairns, QLD to Ballina, NSW in 1991; in this country the only intercity train trips I've taken have been short hops to Toronto and London- in both cases to catch flights. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]
Have any babblers crossed Canada by rail?
My first ride on or in anything in Canada was the train ride from Sault-Ste-Marie to T.O.
Met an P.E.Islander on the train and didn't stop drinking like ole buddies until they closed the hotel bar, not the Royal York I presume, was it the Old Bruswick.
I couldn't remember a thing, even, I'm sure, the next day.
I love trains too, WW. What a good idea for a topic. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]
I know you've taken some wonderful rides. Me, I mainly know Canadian and British and French trains. I've always enjoyed trips on the latter two systems, although the semi-privatized British system just became so weird by the mid-nineties that we've really had to learn to relax to enjoy the experience now sometimes. Especially on British trains I find I can imagine myself back in a b+w film from the forties - so romantic still to moi. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]
What's great about the French trains is that they actually work. They are fast and new and they work! [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]
Canadian trains, a more complicated and sometimes sad situation. I used to love the old CPR line, and I've ridden it from Toronto to Calgary a half-dozen times. Even after the Mulroney government betrayed us by killing that line, I had a chance to ride the last bit of it in reverse - Vancouver to Calgary, by way of Banff, the bit that is still open.
The full southern route was a great trip, although in its last days, the trains were getting a little grotty.
I once did Edmonton to Ottawa to Montreal on the old CN line, now the main VIA line, or whatever they're calling it these days. I don't feel the same affection for that route, but that may be Calgary-Medicine Hat prejudice.
For some reason, GO trains depress me. I don't know why, but they do. It may be just that Lake Ontario depresses me.
lagatta, goodness knows if you still can, but you used to be able to buy [url=http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/passes/eurail_index.htm]a variety of eurailpasses[/url] at student travel shops in canada.
The classic Eurailpass is definitely not worth it for adults as it exists only in First Class (only under-26es have the option of 2nd Class) and as you know well, 2nd class is fine on European trains.
Before going to Italy, I was always about to buy biglietti chilometrici, which deeply discounted a (large) number of km of travel.
Your one or two country passes do look worth it to me, though. I'll check them out. Perhaps there are some other deals.
Europeans have access to a wide variety of train discounts, not only for young people and seniors, but also for people on holidays, people travelling to demonstrations (yes!) and several others.
Aw man, Willowdale Wizard, you almost make me want to cry. When I think of trains, I think of India. I do so miss the train tracks in the rural parts of India. I used to talk walks near them when I was older, and the trains always sounded so romantic and powerful as they chugged by. I was too young to remember when I was actually riding the train. But I remember... something. I remember some feelings. I have a picture in my head of looking out the window at animals grazing in the fields. I'm not sure how real this picture in my head is, cause, like I said I was too young. I know I've been up to this [url=http://www.ooty.com/]hill station (Ooty)[/url] in Nilgiris (in the Southern part of India) with my parents. I was there again when I was older by myself, but I had taken a bus.
The construction of this line was a big challenge as the terrain is rather tricky. It was in 1854 that the first plans were drawn to build a mountain railway from Mettupalayam to the Nilgiri Hills. But it was a good 45 years later in 1899 that the first train chuggrd up this track. This itself is a charming blue and cream with wooden coaches and large windows. It is hauled uphill by steam engines, desgined and built by the Swiss Locomotive Works. Twelve of such locomotive engines survive even today.
I've heard my dad talk about taking the train all the way up to Shimla near Kashmir, but I have no recollection of going that far north. Now, I ride the GO train between Hamilton and Toronto. Sometimes, when I can see water, the scenery is good. But mostly, I see billboard signs. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]
WW, damn you! [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] Now you've got me furiously looking at various railpasses, when I have work to get done!
[url=http://tinyurl.com/dcedj]The Germany pass[/url] is definitely worth it if I'm visiting there, as it also specifies that it goes through to Basel Switzerland so I wouldn't get slapped with a hefty supplement if I visit my friends there.
Don't know if it goes across to Strasbourg, but if not I could simply go to Kiel on the German side and take a local bus over, as so many commuters do now.
There is a lot wrong with the EU, between silly bureaucracy and it being an imperialist power itself, but I think a lot of people on the fortified Rhine never dreamt of people peacefully working in France and living on the German side or vice versa. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]
----Edited to add: Thank you, ephemeral! I was hoping one of the babblers of South Asian origins would mention the famous trains of India! Ooty looks lovely!
[ 08 February 2006: Message edited by: lagatta ]
Originally posted by lagatta:WW, damn you! [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] Now you've got me furiously looking at various railpasses, when I have work to get done!
Oh, I know what you mean, lagatta. I'm looking at pictures of different hillstations and other areas covered by train in India, and I feel totally homesick now. I can even smell the smells of India. But, there are other things I should be working on.... but I would much rather do this.
ephemeral, I've already said thanks for your Indian train post, but obviously I'd be open to seeing more of them! [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]
Train porn! [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]
[url=http://observer.guardian.co.uk/travel/story/0,,1701815,00.html]for you fans of indian trains, 92 tunnels and 2000 bridges ...[/url]
I've taken the Skeena from Prince Rupert to Jasper and connected there to the Canadian to Halifax and back.
Just a phenomal trip.
Originally posted by lagatta:[b]Have any babblers crossed Canada by rail?[/b]
Not all the way, but my wife and I took the train from Banff to Vancouver on our honeymoon trip. Sadly, this is no longer a VIA route. I've ridden Amtrak from NYC to Toronto, and made several rail trips through France, Germany and Switzerland. But none of them compares to the long ago summer trip I made through the western US hopping freight trains. The view from the back of an imported pickup on the top level of a trilevel autorack was spectacular, although the car swaying back and forth cured me of ever doing that again. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]
I used to travel Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto by train when I was akid, because I loved trains (still do). I've been on the [i]Polar Bear Express[/i] between Cochrane and Moosonee in northern Ontario (and by helicopter to Moose Factory island). I wish we had rail service out here, but we don't even have roads, yet. Rails and roads between here and the Labrador Straits right up to Goose Bay would be incredible. There's rail service going north from Sept-Iles either to Labrador City or Schefferville, I think.
ETA: I used to be a model train buff, and am thinking of building a model train layout in the new place I hope to be moving to this summer.
[ 08 February 2006: Message edited by: Boom Boom ]
Originally posted by HeywoodFloyd:I've taken the Skeena from Prince Rupert to Jasper and connected there to the Canadian to Halifax and back.
ObPendantry: the Canadian, strictly speaking, goes only to Toronto. From there you go to Montreal on one of the "LRC" trains, then get on the Atlantic, which is the one that goes to Halifax.
However that may be, a phenomenal trip as you say.
I took the Atlantic one summer when you could still change at Truro for a dayliner which went through Cape Breton to North Sydney, where I got on the Marine Atlantic ferry to Port-aux-Basques. The Brador Lakes are spectacular.
Later in the same summer, having got to Lake Louise by hitchhiking and bus, I got on the Via train there (when the southern route was still a Via route) and rode that down to Vancouver.
Finally, four years after that, I took the Canadian from Vancouver to Toronto and back. So I've been across the country by train, just not all at once.
Lagatta - for a few years back in the late 80s, I used to travel Winnipeg to Montreal by train a few times a year (this was before they eliminated the north line; it didn't go through the centre of the universe.) It was a wonderful trip; I used to meet all kinds of interesting people, and the neverending forest of Ontario was impressive. The highlights were the moonscape around Sudbury, observing various degrees of fire-damaged forest, finally arriving at the edge of Superior and following it for a long ways, then coming out of the forest into the pre-Prairie landscape just before Winnipeg.
I've also taken the train from Montreal to Dallas (via Schenectady, NY and then across to Chicago - we had long stops in both places and those stops were lots of fun.) It was a totally different experience from travelling across Canada (no forest, for one thing), but I was quite ill for part of the trip, so I don't remember as much as I'd like to.
Of course you are correct lance. I was just being lazy.
I don't remember my longest train trip, when my mother took her kids aged 2, 4 and 6 from Calgary to the Maritimes; I rode from Calgary to Vancouver once and loved it, it was so much more comfortable than a bus. Now that route is gone. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img] I think there may be a passenger train from Edmonton to Vancouver.
I once went on a folk train; we had a couple of old restored cars, incluing a sleeper, hitched onto the back of a freight train that went from Edmonton to Fort MacMurray and back in three days, stopping halfway at Lac La Biche. There were several folk singers, all a little zonked out because they had just been through the Calgary Folk Fest. We talked and sang songs all the way up and back. It was great.
[url=http://www.luxury-train-travel-tours-india.com/]lagatta, travel India by train[/url]
Ha! Somehow I doubt that is the railway travel experience of most Indians, not even my friends in Calcutta who are both history professors..
Have any babblers crossed Canada by rail?[/QB]
Have any babblers crossed Canada by rail?[/QB]
I once hitch hiked from St.John's to Halifax (damn the NF government for ripping up the rails). Then, I took the train to Toronto. Stayed in the Rex hotel for a while before continuing by train to Vancouver.
I have taken the train in Europe, Egypt, and Korea. Now I work for CP Rail and haul freight trains.
I think it is a shame that we do not have more practical access to passenger rail in Canada.
Originally posted by lagatta:Ha! Somehow I doubt that is the railway travel experience of most Indians, not even my friends in Calcutta who are both history professors..
[img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img] You are right. It is for the tourists. If you look up the costs, you'll see they're listed in US dollars (and they're quite pricey too). I remember trains going by with people hanging out of the sides.
Yeah, my friends, who are certainly not poor by Indian standards (though there are professional categories that are far better off than professors) could never even dream of affording that, nor would they want to.
They are very proud of having travelled so much in their vast country, from the Himalayans to the tropics. [img]cool.gif" border="0[/img]
Originally posted by Willowdale Wizard:[b]my favourite travel book is even "riding the iron rooster" by paul theroux[/b]
The Great Railway Bazaar.
Originally posted by Willowdale Wizard:[b]- deutsch bahn along the rhine [/b]
My kids have done that. I haven't yet. What is wrong with this picture?
We took our kids through the rockies years ago. More recently we took them, and their bigger cousin from Northern Ireland, all the way from Toronto to Regina. Both wonderful trips. There's no other way to show someone from Europe how big Canada is than bumping all the way.
Originally posted by Transplant:[b]my wife and I took the train from Banff to Vancouver on our honeymoon trip.[/b]
We reached our honeymoon in the Bahamas by rail from Toronto to New York, then on to Miami. Great trip, but we stayed in our compartment, pretending we were Lenin travelling through Germany. (Then it was supposed to be by ship to Nassau, but the ship schedule didn't work out. But we went by sea back to New York at the end.)
Originally posted by Boom Boom:[b]I've been on the [i]Polar Bear Express[/i] between Cochrane and Moosonee in northern Ontario.[/b]
Another great trip. Our kids actually have pleasant memories of it.
*sigh* Im planning to take mrs Bacchus to montreal and she would love by train but its soo expensive that driving or flying is preferable
Originally posted by Bacchus:[b]*sigh* Im planning to take mrs Bacchus to montreal and she would love by train but its soo expensive that driving or flying is preferable[/b]
[img]confused.gif" border="0[/img] Are you talking about from TO? I can see how driving would be cheaper - though certainly not more convenient or faster, and I've always found parking and driving in Montreal to be a pain. But is it really cheaper to fly? And how much are you going to pay to get from the airport to downtown?Train tickets are less than $200 return, taxes included, and it only takes four hours from downtown TO to centre-ville MTL.
Flying I can do for $50-75 and driving of course cheaper than that
I lived in Korea for several years in the 90s. When I left in 2001, it was still possible to take a train from one end of the nation to the other (seoul to pusan) for around $20. I realize that korea has amost twice canada's population in a space something similar to vancouver island, but as a Canadian I cannot help but be envious of nations that have much more econimical and efficient public transportation.
I personally find train travel much more relaxing than travel by air or car, and especially by bus. I wish we had trains here.
I do too. Moreover one can work or read on a train; it isn't wasted time. I can't read seriously on the bus; the motion makes me a bit carsick - at best I can leaf through silly magazines.
In Europe, even a lot of the modern trains (that don't have the cute little compartments anymore) still have four seats; two seats facing each other, with a little tray table in between, so you can read comfortably, work on a computer or eat and drink.
On the Paris-Amsterdam swift train, I had the great pleasure of meeting a Doctor Without Borders who had worked in Grozny and was delighted that I not only knew where it was and the rudiments of the conflict, but knew other warzone medical people. But on the train back, I recall being opposite a young couple who were kissing in the way that they were discovering each other's tonsils. I didn't know where to look...
There's the North America Rail Pass, good for 30 days of travel throughout Canada and/or the United States.My Wife and I are setting up such a trip, planning on mid-March to mid-April. Should be fun....I hope.
Thirty days travel? Awesome. The best I had ever gotten was Via's CanRail pass, which was good for twelve days travel in thirty days.
I have a friend in Ontario who absolutely raves about Amtrak's RailPass. There's details online someplace.
Hoo-WEE is this evocative. Of delight, the barcar from Montreal west or west to Montreal, or even the shorter ones to Halifax. That lovely window, people's homes and miles of forest, reading a book (once Margaret Laurence, stopping every few pages to cry, for crying out loud), then a crowd gathering as the day wears on, always interesting people. I remember one guy slagging off on the Jews, me teasing him in response in a way that went over his head but a young couple appreciated: little encounters like that. Deep stories too, as one gets travelling.
The ideal bar experience on one of the ideal travel experiences...I loved the train.
Then came the later 80s, and Prime Minister Valdemort, who didn't just neglect the trains like the Liberals but actually gutted them; and then came no-smoking; and then they cut the bar-cars...every trip a little worse, although still good enough to repeat. Just barely, last time, Montreal-Halifax in '99 or so.
OH -- once I was actually [i]duffled[/i], Paul Theroux's word from The Great Railway Bazaar: hopped off in northern Austria to find a beer or something, turned around and the train was leaving with all my stuff...worked out OK.
For info about the NA Rail Pass check out AMTRAK site or VIA rail site. Pretty good deal.
Trains are my favourite mode of travel. I feel ill on long bus or car trips, can't read anything. The motion on the train is very soothing, I find (although there can be occasional jolts). I can read, and also write a little if there's not too much motion. You can look at a landscape, not a highway with a bunch of other vehicles. You can get up and walk around, socialize with others if you want to. Apparently, it's more ecologically sound than some other ways. It can be also more expensive than those other ways, but there are more things to consider than cost. (I wonder if air travel will get more expensive as fuel costs rise?)
I have travelled on the VIA "Canadian" line several times. In 2003, I went from Edmonton to Toronto (arrived in Toronto the day after the big blackout), and returned from Toronto to Vancouver. The next year, I did it again, this time starting in Vancouver and going to Toronto. Then I went to Ottawa, Montreal, and took "the Ocean," from Montreal to Halifax. They are running a newer train on this route, faster than the older stainless steel cars they run on the Canadian, but smaller -- and less comfortable, in my opinion. Then I went back all the way from Halifax to Vancouver. The Toronto to Vancouver run takes three days; the Montreal to Halifax is an overnighter, taking about 21 hours.
I travelled economy class the whole time, using a ViaRail pass, which is really worth it if you're planning to stop in more than one place. Any kind of berth is now in the "upper class" and is prohibitively expensive, unfortunately. It includes a meal plan and access to certain areas of the train the plebes aren't allowed in - and showers. I managed to get by with sponge bathing and washing my hair in the tiny sink -- all while the train clips merrily along. For sleeping arrangements, luckily, I have no back problems, and travelling alone, had no seatmate (unless the train is very full, they won't seat overnight passengers who don't know each other next to each other) -- so I could curl up across two seats and sleep okay, if not well. Brought my own little pillow and blankie to supplement the VIA-provided ones. The trains are air-conditioned and rather cool at night.
The "Canadian" journey is marketed as a "once-in-a-lifetime" trip, but the train should be more than an expensive tourist experience (like the private company now running tourist trains on the Vancouver-Banff-Calgary line). From what I could see, many people on the Prairies and in northern Ontario were using the train as a mode of transportation, not for tourism.
There are a couple more train routes in Canada I'd like to go on: the Skeena across B.C., and the Chaleur (to the Gaspesie) I haven't travelled by train in the States, but would like to. I've been thinking of taking the one down the west coast -- just not sure if I want to travel alone outside Canada.
[edited to correct a couple of words]
[ 08 February 2006: Message edited by: hawthorn ]
Originally posted by ephemeral:[b]I've been up to this [url=http://www.ooty.com/]hill station (Ooty)[/url] in Nilgiris (in the Southern part of India).[/b]
I have to get there. Family history demands it.
In 1898 my great-uncle Sydney Edge, 29, was in Ooty. My grandmother, Celia, 27, went to India to visit her brother. (Was this a bold thing for a woman to do in 1898?)
Her first cousin Lt. Col. Henry Montfort Gardner was with the 1st Lincolns who fought in the battle of Khartoum 2nd September, 1898, and went on to India in November, but Henry did not go with them. He got typhoid fever, and during this illness Celia cabled him from India and proposed. He returned to England to recuperate, and they were married Oct. 12, 1899.
Henry rejoined the regiment in India, taking his new (and newly pregnant) wife with him. My aunt Dorothy was born at Secunderabad July 27, 1900, at the army quarters where the 1st Lincolns were stationed. (This was the British cantonment, the north half of Hyderabad. It had a vast Army presence, and was also the headquarters of the South-Central Railway.) Celia was very ill after Dorothy was born, and they both went to the hills of Ooty, 450 miles to the southwest, to stay with Sydney again, to convalesce.
By rail, no doubt.
P.S. on Ooty: "The construction of this line was a big challenge as the terrain is rather tricky. It was in 1854 that the first plans were drawn to build a mountain railway from Mettupalayam to the Nilgiri Hills. But it was a good 45 years later in 1899 that the first train chugged up this track." This means my grandmother and her new baby girl were among the earlier passengers on it. [img]cool.gif" border="0[/img]
[ 09 February 2006: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]
Originally posted by gabong:[b]I lived in Korea for several years in the 90s. When I left in 2001, it was still possible to take a train from one end of the nation to the other (seoul to pusan) for around $20. [/b]
Yikes, prices have gone on a steep inclrease then. Just checked, and its around 40 for the KTX now though it gets you there in style and only takes a couple of hours.
Haven't read the book about Chinese train travel in the OP, but I just got back from a trip to China that did involve lots of train travel. 22 hours from Qingdao to Xian, and a lot of amazing scenery on the way.
[url=http://www.johndarm.clara.net/silkroute/intro.html]i'd love to do a variation[/url] on this trip sometime in my life.
Never crossed Canada by rail, but our good friends at VIA often simulate the experience on the London to Toronto "run".
Takin' the iron horse to Teranna Friday. I have already lined up the Sherpa's for the trip from the platform up, up, up into the car. And, since I have planned to have a coffee at about Brantford-- just before we start to creak crawl and cry through the escarpment-- I have updated my imunization record.
Awwwwwl A bored.
Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:[b]Never crossed Canada by rail, but our good friends at VIA often simulate the experience on the London to Toronto "run".[/b]
I've made that trip a few times. I find going the reverse to be worse.
The couple times I've been coming back from Ottawa and Montreal, our train got delayed for about an hour just outside Toronto. We get into Toronto and have to rush over to the train heading to London, which is being held specifically for us.
Unforuntately, there are two trains that go from Toronto to London. One is pretty direct, while the other makes a wild detour through Waterloo and Guelph. It's a difference in time of about an hour. It would be faster to take a bus.
Originally posted by Bacchus:[b]Flying I can do for $50-75 and driving of course cheaper than that[/b]
There's something deeply wrong with the fact you can fly for less than half what it costs to take the train. The train has always been full on the runs I've taken.
I regularly take VIA at least 4 times a year on return trips from Belleville to Toronto. When you factor in gasoline and Toronto parking rates, VIA Rail is cheaper.
Back in 1968, I traveled Toronto to Vancouver by CP Rails "The Canadian" and back from Vancouver on CN's "Super Continental". In those days, CP service far outshone CN. Yhe meals were superb and served on china with real silverware. An often neglected part of the trip was the Lake Superior north shore from White River to Thunder Bay. I was surprised that I was not bored by the prairies from a dome car but just overwhelmed by the open spaces. And nothing beats the ride up the Bow Valley through Kicking Horse pass to the Spiral tunnels.
The trip back via CN was a disappointment. The food and service was not as good as CP and we had to sit on sidings to wait for passing freights. Our return to Toronto was over 6 hours late. CP was on-time into Vancouver and freight trains waited on sidings for us.
But rail cruising is really a tourist experience. The intercity service between Montreal/Ottawa and Toronto is fast and convenient with six trains a day in each direction on weekdays.
Back in 1968, I traveled Toronto to Vancouver by CP Rails "The Canadian" and back from Vancouver on CN's "Super Continental". In those days, CP service far outshone CN. Yhe meals were superb and served on china with real silverware. An often neglected part of the trip was the Lake Superior north shore from White River to Thunder Bay. I was surprised that I was not bored by the prairies from a dome car but just overwhelmed by the open spaces.
I loved the praire part of the trip too. As for the Lake Superior portion, of course that's gone now as the Canadian takes the CN route through northern Ontario -- hundreds of miles of virtually featureless boreal forest, and then (if you're travelling east) the visceral shock of the ugliest bits of the Sudbury slag heaps, red creeks and all.
I found it interesting, though, that it stops at little fishing camps (or was still doing so in 1993 anyway), with fishing guides apparently using it to commute between camps.
As for the golden age of rail travel, from what I've been told both railways wanted to get out of the passenger business as early as the 1950s. (I don't doubt for a minute that CP had better service than CN, of course). They couldn't run it profitably, but it was a condition of their operating licences (or whatever) that they took passengers. VIA Rail was created to relieve them of this responsibility.
But I'll see if I can't find some sources to back this up, as it's just hearsay at the moment.
Ooh! What a timely thread.
I've only ever taken a few different train rides, the first (and most exciting) happened when I was eight. I was in Switzerland with my family, and we took [url=http://www.pbase.com/sue_w/image/33638147]'the world's steepest cogwheel train'[/url] to Mt. Pilatus. The other times it's been the same route, between Victoria and the Comox Valley. It's beautiful, but not very long. Cheaper and nicer than the bus, and goes through the Goldstream Park.
I don't know how neat of a ride it'll be, cos never really been to the US at all (with the exception of Pt. Roberts and the Houston Aeroport) but I'm planning on going to a music festival at the end of April; It's in Indio, California, so I'll be taking the train I think.
part of the fun is arriving at stations.
gare du nord, paris:
When I was seventeen I headed off to Europe armed with a tent, a one month Brit Rail pass and a three month unlimited Eurorail pass. I'd never been on anything but the Go Train before that. I was so afraid leaving the airport on the train! I didn't really know where I was headed or even how to get off. I came to really love it though, and all of the characters I met. The best trains were definitely in Germany. The scariest journey was a night train from the Czech Republic to Italy - some scary 'imposter' train employees tried to take our passports from us, while looking around to see how well our bags were secured. There were also some really great ferry links and wee boat trips included with the pass, including a beautiful tour on a lake in Interlaken, Switzerland.
I took a lot of crazy train rides in India, the summer before last. The most memorable was the 'toy train' to Shimla. Packed in like sardines on a steady uphill climb, not quite sure if we'd actually make it to the top. It seemed like an impossible feat for this rickety old train. Incredible scenery. Unfortunately, I had Delhi-belly and spent much of the ride in the squat position, with the train track flying by beneath my bum.
I spent a lot of time sipping sweet, hot tea out of little one-use clay cups in train stations in India as well. And an overnight train from Delhi to Jaipur, hugging my backpack as tight as I could. A friend had his stolen almost from underneath him the week before on his way to Varanasi, so I was quite wary.
During university, I always travelled from Ottawa to Oshawa and back on Via Rail. I'd rush to the back of the car, to those seats by the emergency exit reserved for groups of 3 or four. Usually there weren't any such groups and the train wasn't too busy so I'd get to spend the trip with my feet up on the seat facing me, getting some good reading done as the countryside whipped by.
I'm on my way to London next week, accompanying a friend 'on business' for his new, rather posh job doing CRS for a law firm. I think perhaps we'll visit the bar on their tab!
When I was about 8 I had cousins who lived in Strathroy, about 45 minutes from Sarnia where I lived. Occasionally my parents would take me to the train station and put me on a train, and my aunt and uncle and cousins would be there to meet me at the other end and I'd stay for the weekend or whatever.
At the age of 8, 45 minutes of true autonomy and adult freedom is like a drug! Mind you I mostly just read a book and listened to the clickey-clack of the (at that time unwelded) tracks. I'm sure the conductor was looking in on me regularly and all, but I certainly felt like I could do whatever I wanted, free of meddling adults and their namby-pamby ways. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]
My only regret is that now they weld the tracks. Like, did somebody complain about the clickety-clack?? Bastards.