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|Flying Gulag Express to Gooberville Regional Airport|
|Written by Rich Truesdell|
|Wednesday, 30 June 2010 16:10|
Pondering the joys of train travel while flying at 36,000 feet
As an automotive journalist, I travel a lot--it's part of the job. At 1:00 p.m. EDT this past Saturday, I had just finished taking photos at the Carlisle GM Nationals in Pennsylvania and was headed out for a two-hour-30-minute drive to Philadelphia International Airport, 120 miles away. I had to be back in Orange County, California by Sunday morning at sunrise to shoot 200 vintage, classic, and exotic cars as they entered the Concours field for the Dana Point Concours d'Elegance. The only way I could pull this off is by airplane, an eight-hour ordeal connecting through Salt Lake City that got me into my home airport of San Diego sometime around 11:00 that night (2:00 a.m. East Coast time). I was home by 12:30, hugged my Golden Retriever Savannah, and climbed into bed knowing the alarm would ring at 4:30 a.m.
I'm not complaining, far from it. I love what I do, and I wouldn't trade the life I have for anything, because I love cars and, in spite of the hassles, I'm still totally passionate about travel. But after reading "Railway to Heaven" starting on page 82 of the July-August issue of National Geographic Traveler, I know there's a better way. For all the travel I've done in Europe, I've taken only one train trip. It was a relaxing journey from Geneva to Vienna, where I connected with a friend arriving from New York. We were there to pick up a Graz, Austria-built Jeep Grand Cherokee for a road trip to Bucharest, Romania... yes, Bucharest. It's a long story, for another time....
But the gist of the National Geographic Traveler feature is that instead of putting up with the trials and tribulations of modern-day air travel, we should do as the Europeans do instead and travel more by train. (The author's message was particularly relevant as I crouched over my semi-opened laptop on Saturday's flight trying to type, unable to deploy my 15.1-inch widescreen fully because the amount of seat-to-seat space wouldn't allow it.)
Europeans take their train travel seriously. Their trains are fast and efficient, their metro stations frequently architectural wonders that are almost always clean and safe. And, as at European airports, you hear that sound of the timetables spinning and clicking, updating departures and arrivals. I absolutely love that sound--which has been co-opted in the current series of Kayak.com television commercials.
A sidebar to the articles lists "Europe's Top Ten Trains," including:
So, the next time you're stuck in the last row on that packed 737 in a seat with no recline on a cross-country trip, realize that there's a better, more romantic way to get from point A to point B. Take the train instead of the plane.
Read the whole story at National Geographic Traveler Online.