June 29, 2009

The Beauty Of Train Travel.

I have previously disclosed that I am a nervous flier. Correction; I used to be. These days I do not ever travel by planes. As a young girl I would board a plane and hated every minute of the flight; as an adult I refuse to fly. This makes traveling slightly complicated and cumbersome in some instances.

However, this post is not about the fear of flying, but about the first part of my recent trip, which I spend with the Irishman and my parents in Prague. I intend to dedicate the next five posts to my trip, which was wonderfully interesting, exciting and absolutely memorable, spend in a company of people that I love the most.

As much as I hate flying, I do love trains. Train travel is highly developed in Europe and the net of well organized and efficient tracks covers the whole of the continent. Crossing borders is easy and at times pretty uneventful. It is first after another voice speaking a new language comes streaming from the PA system that one realizes that a new state has been entered.

There is not a city, small or large that is not accessible by rail. In some instances, trains even board ferries and large ships to cross seas and there are impressive tunnels and bridges build all through Europe that will carry trains through mountains, and to islands across wide sounds. One of the best organized trains systems can be found in Germany (DB). The country owns a multitude of modern, high speed trains which travel with the average speed of 200km/h (125miles/h). And I am sure everyone is familiar with the TGV in France, which can take you from Paris to London in a mere duration of 4h. This is one example of many that shows that trains can in some cases travel faster then planes. Furthermore, the big advantage of train travel is that one is transported from the center of one city directly to the center of another city, cutting back on "to and from airport" travel, which can sometimes take hours.

I again traveled to Prague by train, as I have done a few times previously, where I was to spend a day with my parents, before meeting up with the Irishman.

I took a total of three trains and it took me about 15h to reach my destination. One of the many disadvantages of traveling alone by train is the fact that at all times I have to carry and guard my luggage. I am a high maintenance woman and a vacation of 14 days means tons of clothes and shoes to bring with me, plus the occasional gift for friends and family. Needles to say, I was pretty tired once I arrived.

However, except for the heavy luggage, train travel is a pleasure in every way. I love European train stations, which are organized and beautiful, bustling with travelers, holding a certain aura of adventure. Some are very old and preserved, with majestic waiting halls, while others are small and country like.

My first train brought me to Hamburg in north Germany. It was a gloomy, cold and rainy morning. The next stop was Berlin, one of the most beautiful and large train stations I have seen. Although I have spend a day in the city once some 20 years ago, I decided right then and there that I would love to return here for an extended period of time. Perhaps for a week, preferably with the Irishman who is fluent in German. I think the city is worth a visit on all accounts.

Finally, I boarded a Czech train, which would take me to Prague within 6h. That was the best part of the trip. The train was almost empty and I loved watching the passing landscape, while listening to the monotonous sound of the wheels against the tracks below. The clouds that have been following me the whole day slowly dispersed during the trip, revealing a magnificent sunset. The images captured me and inspired me to make a short movie clip below.

The train from Berlin to Prague travels through one of the most beautiful natural areas, particularly at the German-Czech border, where the tracks follow the river "Labe"(Elbe). It is difficult to take good pictures from a moving train, but I hope the few ones here can illustrate the beauty that can be found in this part of Europe.
As always, please click to enlarge.


Rosezilla (Tracie Walker) said...

Thanks for sharing your train trip! I love trains. I got to go on one trip from Florida to Indiana when I was a little girl. We were going to take our kids across country several years ago, but I landed in the hospital for 2 weeks instead and ruined everything :( Maybe someday! I want to go across the Canadian Rockies by train.

Claus said...

One day I will go to Europe, and I WILL get on a train. There is no train system in Guatemala, hence we don't know what it is like, though it did exist way back in time, and it was considered a luxury. When I was 7 years old, and because of Children's Day, a big national company organized a train trip to a southern department. My parents, my brother and I went on the trip and we loved it. Today, the train station is a museum, and only a few - grandmas and grandpas - have memories of what was like to travel by train. And even though there have been rumors of it reappearing, I don't think trains will ever come back to Guatemala. Pity.

Lovely post!! and I saw a little of Europe! Thanks for sharing.

Diane said...

I'm with you... I love train travel. Well, as long as the travel doesn't take place on a bank holiday. Some of my most memorable (and by 'memorable', I mean 'miserable') trip were on bank holidays :). Otherwise? Love it!

Gal Friday said...

Because, I too, am deathly afraid of flying, train travel appeals to me, but we don't have a train sysem like you are lucky enough to have in Europe(and then there is still that little problem of having first to fly over the ocean to GET to use the trains in Europe).
What a wonderful trip that must have been-wish I could make a trip like that. Maybe one day(like Claudia), I will do it!
Good to hear that what little you saw of Berlin intrigued you enough that you may go back. And yur Irishman seems even more amazing, considering he is even fluent in German! (I think I may have mentioned to you that I have family still in Berlin, but I haven't been there since 1989-just before the fall of the Wall)
I think the photos you took from the train are very good, and how like you to even capture a sunset, too. :-)

Hilary said...

That looks so quaint, colourful and beautiful. I wouldn't be able to tear my eyes away from that window. I love trains too so thanks for sharing this part of your trip. Looking forward to much more. :)

Holly said...

All of your posts have been just lovely!!! First off, I am very glad for you that your garden did so well in your absence, and reading about how your house gets so hot in the summer and you actually ENJOY it has me convinced that you belong here in the desert!! (We have fantastic air conditioners and yet we still complain and act picked on. :))

I traveled to California from Utah once by train and I really enjoyed it as well. It is relaxing to have that free time with the humm of the engine and rhythm of the motion. I am so happy for you (and JELOUS) that you visited Prague. Someday.......... :):)

Hazel Designs said...

A traveler after my own heart! As you know that I absolutely love train travel as well :) I can't wait to hear more about your vacation!

Unknown said...

oh one day id love to have long travel by train. It feels so cool and the view's just awesome. BTW i don't sleep when traveling especially road trips. And when i take the plane i don't sleep either. Am to excited to land. hihihihi.

great photos!

Zuzana said...

I am glad you enjoyed this story.;)) To bad you missed that train ride, but I am sure another one is in store for you. I agree, the one through the Canadian Rockies must be an experience of a lifetime.;)
It must also have been fun to travel from Florida to Indiana through such a changing environment.;)

you leave always such beautiful comments. I am sorry that trains are underdeveloped in Guatemala. How do people travel then? By planes and cars?
I am happy that you have the memory from your childhood at least perhaps one day you can travel by train in Europe.;))

hehe, I guess the good comes with the bad, right.;)) I am wishing you plenty of more memorable train travel in the future.;)) xo

thank you on complimenting the pictures.;)
yes, I recall you mentioning having relatives in Berlin. I can relate to the fear of flying; I also love to travel and am starting to contemplate boat travel to cross the oceans (but have to win the lottery first;)))
Yes, how odd that many tracks are being removed and stations closed down across the states. Such a pity considering that train tracks were the first means of transportation in the wild west.;)
Always glad when you stop by.;)

so glad you enjoyed this post. I recall all the lovely pictures you once posted from your train ride. There is something extremely peaceful and relaxing about those engines.;)) xo

my dear friend, thank you for your kind words.
Yes, you got it; I would love the desert. I think I told you that I spend 2 weeks about 13years ago in your city and loved every second of it. What I recall most was one evening when a hot wind blew and it felt like I was being exposed to a hairdryer going full speed.;))
I agree, train travel is just magical.;)) And I hope you will visit Prague one day.;) xo

happy to find a kindred spirit.;)) Yes, more updates of my vacation will follow until Friday, I hope you will not grow tired of it.;))) xo

I do not sleep in cars and definitely never slept in planes.;)), but I do fall asleep in trains occasionally.;))
Glad you liked the photos, thank you for stopping by.;))

Kat Mortensen said...

Thanks for that terrific train-journey with you. I haven't been in Europe since the 70s and it brought it all back. (I've never been to Czechoslovakia - only at the border).


Zuzana said...

glad you enjoyed sharing the train travel trip with me.;)))
I hope one day you will be able to make it to the renewed eastern Europe.;))


Adorable, and so fun, that we have the same taste in shoes. =) Getting used to this cooler weather is kinda rough.. I'm so used to being in shorts, sandals and comfortably tissue thin tees. I need to really study Fall Fashion now! :)