Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Travel Tuesday - Train Travel

Have you ever traveled by train?  

My first trip with with my Sweetie (my mom's mom).  This was fitting as she was the one who had told me the most about train travel.  As a girl she used to ride the train between Houston and New Orleans.  

I love the photo above of the ceiling fans all in a row in this train car.  It makes me think of the grand era of train travel in this country.  

My first trip by train was from Houston, TX to Los Angeles, CA aboard Amtrak.  Sweetie took my brother and I so that she could experience train travel as children just as she had as a girl.  We had a grand time!  We were on our way to visit my dad's parents and my parents met us there too after flying out.  This was special time just my grandma and us.  We had a sleeper car, ate our meals in the dining car and spent our days in the observation car mostly watching the changing countryside go by.  We had made travel bingo games with our own drawings before we left and we joked that people must think we never got out when we exclaimed so enthusiastically over "a cow!  a cow!" or "a windmill!  a windmill!".  I remember liking the trip very much.  I remember stepping off the train just briefly somewhere in Arizona to stretch our legs at the station and that is the only time I've been to Arizona.  I remember playing bingo.  I getting all situated in our "home away from home" for the three day trip in our sleeping car.  I am pretty sure I remember my little brother falling off the top bunk but I'm not sure.  I remember the crowded hustle and bustle once we got off the train in LA.  What a treasure to have those memories and to have had that time with my grandma.  

Besides taking the trains at Disneyland and Astroworld on occasion, I suppose the next train trip I took was a whopping 24 hour trip from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Florence, Italy.  I was a junior in college and part of my university's travel abroad semester in Florence.  We flew into Amsterdam, spent a few days seeing the windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, Anne Frank's house, canals and museums before boarding a train that would take us to Florence.  

We were advised that it would be a good idea to buy food ahead of time to take on the train with us as the food they would sell on board would be expensive.  I bought food and as we were waiting in the train station, a bird flew over and POOPED ON MY BAG!  How could he???? Gross!   Luckily the food was safe but who wanted to carry around their food in a pooped on plastic bag?  A friend had a gallon ziploc that they gave me which was fantastic and so I juggled my luggage for a semester and a bulging bag of food with no handles to loop over my arm.  Oh well!  At least I could eat.  
My most vivid memories from that train trip with 39 other college students and 4 sponsors who were still mostly strangers but who would soon become friends were of waking up in the middle of the night in our little sleeping car with 6 bunks 3 stacked on top of each other on either side and feeling so, so very HOT!  It felt as if we were *roasting* in that train car.  We kept fiddling with the heater trying to get the thing to turn off.  The boys in the next car started beating on the wall.  This is all in the middle of the night.  I decided to give up on sleep for the time being and went out into the small corridor. One of our professor's wives, Frankie, was there.  She told me to be watching.  I looked out the window and very soon, before my eyes came one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  There in the darkness with snow coming down was the Cologne cathedral!  Magnificent!  

Sometime the next day we arrived at SMN!  Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence became one of the places that has had the greatest feeling of "home" to me over that semester.  We would travel and see things and then come "home".  When I went back to Italy two years later and pulled into Santa Maria Novella I was just amazed at how much it felt like home.  Again in 2001 I experienced the same.  What a blessing.  
Have you traveled by train?  Where have you been?  Do you have any stories to tell?  

all photos taken in Grapevine, TX of the vintage railroad


Jenni said...

I don't think I have ever really traveled by train. I can't remember when I was in Switzerland if we rode the train to Geneva for the weekend, but I'm sure we did. All other train experiences are more subway/metro type.....I would love to experience some of what you have shared here. Thanks for expressing it so vividly!

Lorilee said...

Hi Kelly,
Thanks for stopping by Cackleberry Cottage! I have never been to Boerne. Someone elso told me it was a great place to shop! I HAVE eaten at Rather Sweet Bakery.YUM! I love your train post. My husband adores trains. I have never taken a long train trip, but we have been on the train that starts at the Stockyards in Fort Worth, along with the Texas State Railroad from Rusk to Palestine (or is it the other way around) and the Hill Country Flyer from Cedar Park to Burnet. I have also pretty much never been out of Texas! Sad I know!

Jacquie said...

I traveled by train in high school. We rode from Conn. to NYC for the day. It was so nice because we left REALLY early in the morning to get there in time to try and get on the Today show and we came back late at night. So all of us were able to sleep all the way there and back!

Karen said...

All of my train trips have been with you. I loved the trips when I came to travel with you in Europe while I was on Spring Break. The sleeping car with 6 of us crowded in together and yes, did it ever get HOT! And then the Easter weekend fiasco where we were sitting in the aisles because every Italian was going to Rome for Easter Sunday. And finally the trip from Venice to somewhere??? through Germany and Austria. A little side trip, I think. Remember losing our beds in the middle of the night and having to sleep in uncomfortable chairs for the rest of the trip? I loved those adventures. Thank you and Jeremy and your friends for sharing with me.

Jeremy said...

I remember that trip with Sweetie. I remember her not letting us talk about menudo (for some reason we both cracked up ever time one of us said the word) because it was not polite to talk about.
This was also not the time I fell off the top bunk..that was on a camping trip in Sweetie and Poppy's trailer.
I heard recently that they approved a high speed train from LA to San Francisco, so maybe real rail travel in the US is not too far behind.

Jeremy said...

Oh, I almost forgot. Do you remember the crazy train trip with you, me, mom and Aaron Henderson and him talking about his theory of life having to do with hammers and nails. A classic train trip!

Anna said...

The ceiling fan/train photo is spectacular! I love the hazy light and the the subtle colors.