Monday, February 6, 2012

Trains, part three

I clearly remember the joy I felt in 1949, soon after I had returned from naval service in the Far East. I was lucky to have spent time in Ceylon, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaya, Sarawak, China, and Japan. Now I would be able to return to the Continent of Europe, off limits since 1939, due to the German occupation.

My elder sister and I, with two friends, took a train from Calais to Paris, where we entered a train that took us to Austria, a wonderful journey. In Zurich, we changed into a train that took us almost all the way to Obergurgl, for our first skiing holiday. (We had to walk the last leg of the journey, while our baggage was brought up by road, but it was all part of a thrilling journey.)

A few years later, I remember the excitement of a train journey to meet my fiancée in Venice, my first visit to that romantic city. Then there was the trip awarded me by business friends on the reconstituted Orient Express. Three memorable train trips in Europe. But for sheer luxury, I have to choose the Blue Train journey Barbara and I made from Pretoria to Cape Town. We also loved the train ride to the Copper Canyon in Mexico.

We still love long distance train travel, although the many journeys we have made on AMTRAK from the Bay Area to Denver lack the luxury of those in Europe or South Africa. In fact, we are scheduled to take the overnight journey again next month. We start at 9:10 one morning, and arrive on the following evening in Colorado. Alas, AMTRAK has to yield to freight trains, so arrival time is not up to Mussolini's standards!

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