Thursday, August 22, 2013

Abundance of Love for Trains


I've probably written this out before but I think it's worth writing again:

I love trains.
I love them!

I love the clacking and the bumping and sticking my head out the window for hours...


Americans, we're really missing out. The thing I love about European trains is that some of them have windows that open. I feel this goes-to-your-toes unadulterated bliss from leaning my head out the window and watching mile after mile of foreign land whizz past my face.

Romania has been exceptionally pretty. We've been going through the Carpathian Mountains and, over and over again, I see towns that posses you to exclaim, “Wow.” Weaving around and spotting valleys and small villages. My favourite village was Iza. I hope to live there someday. I will cut grass with a sickle.




We've seen hundreds of small farms and the patch work of fields in progress.
Villages.

One of my favourite train comforts is also when we go through tunnel. Today was swell because there was a 7-minute tunnel. I like the rushing white-noised loudness and the blinding darkness. I like the overwhelming of the senses with the depravity of site. I felt peace.

My favourite trains are the ones in Ukraine and Russia. They have a layout that I haven't seen in any other country. They involve lots of beds so you can roll around and stretch and change positions comfortably. I wrote about it HERE.


Romanian trains have compartments. You can stick your head out the windows.
Hungarian trains have compartments and for a bit more, they also have Western-style trains  wagons– sealed shut windows, air conditioning, and rows of seats.

Someday I hope to have a travel companion who likes trains as much as me – or at least enough to want to travel by them over and over again.

I've talked to older folks who said they've gotten sick of trains after crossing the country time after time.

I wondered if that might happen to me, but I think I'll be spared. I still get a crazy thrill each time I have an upcoming train trip. When I learned I'd get to ride one for 13-hours, I rejoiced. These train rides are so much fun!


So far, this year, I've spent 207+ hours on trains. After this trip, I'll have spent a solid 9.2 days and nights on a train this year. I still have a many more hours to go. I'm glad.

I'd rather do 82 hours on a train than 5 hours on a plane.
Sometime I'll write about slow-travel.

Update:

It's a good thing I wrote this in the afternoon and not the morning. I think I slept around 2-3 hours last night. As for those 2-3 hours, they weren't the solid-asleep-feel-like-a-champ kind. They were the kind that leave you sore and wondering if you actually slept but you know you must because the time on your watch has changed.

Ukrainian and Russian trains have beds for all. I love that.
American trains, unless you fork over a lot of cash for a bed, have chairs that lean back.

And then there's Romanian trains.

This is my experience from “sleeping” in second class.

You're put into a compartment with five other people – three facing three. The seats are stiff-upright. You're supposed to sleep like that. Legs collide. The head rest is too high for short folks like me. Sweet dreams?

I took a few naps, luckily, during the day when our compartment was still empty and I could recline horizontally. I tucked myself in under the quilt (and sometimes the fellow passengers tucked me in) and was able to doze off for an hour or so.

One couple and I had down this phrase, “Sleep?” they would ask. “Si. Dorme.” or “Yes. Sleep.” I would say.

I went down again at 9 PM, but my 10 PM, our compartment filled up and being horizontal was no longer an option until around 3 AM. In those five hours, I tried over and over again to sleep, but it just wasn't happening and, when it did, I felt peculiar and wasted. I tried to read Jane Austen to put me to sleep and found myself unable to comprehend a single sentence, but my body still couldn't sleep.

Later on in the night, when we'd make eye contact at 2 AM and other ridiculous times when we felt exhausted, I'd say, “No sleep?” and they'd laugh and say, “No sleep.”

In my liminted perspective, I assumed this would go on forever. But the other passengers left at some point. Then, the couple said, “Sleep!” and I smiled and said, “Sleep!”

I was able to conk out until a bit before Timişoara.

I was not necessarily a happy camper during the night on that train. Not unhappy. But not entirely chipper. That's ok.

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