|Gare de Lyon in Paris.|
Train travel is romantic, in the 'inclined toward excitement and mystery' definition of the word. You don’t have to wear a seatbelt like in an airplane. There are food cars! I knew I wanted it on my list because I’d enjoyed it so much before, and wanted to make it a semi-common practice in my life.
When I wrote that list, I wasn’t sure that I’d be coming to Europe for the summer, which made checking this item off the list fairly easy. Not only do I take the tram (lightrail train) almost everyday in Grenoble, but also the high-speed trains are one of the cheapest, fastest, and convenient ways to travel around the country and continent. Last Thursday, I took the SNCF train to Paris, and while writing this post, I’m on the train back to Grenoble.
Each type of train has different pros/cons, but the high-speed, double-decker, long-distance trains are by far the best. The seats lean back further than on an airplane. Everything is roomy, and your baggage doesn’t go in compartments far away, there are shelves in each train car. That way, if you accidently pack your lip gloss, Bible, or water bottle in your "checked" bag, it’s only about ten steps away. No one throws your bags or squishes them or leaves them sitting outside to get rained on. You know where your bags are at all times.
Trains take you through spaces of land you would NEVER see apart from the train ride. I’ve seen so much French countryside during the six hours of train riding to and from Paris. It looks a lot like the Willamette Valley. Green. Numerous farms. Trees. Sheep. Cows. Even the clouds look Oregonian: Low. Fluffy. I guess this comparison makes sense, considering the comparable latitudes of Oregon and France.
|Metro line RER A in Paris.|
Second, the crowdedness. This is to be expected in a massive city like Paris, full of business people to tourists, and the rest of the population that falls somewhere on that spectrum. You can easily figure out the social status of any respective neighborhood based on the people getting on and off at the metro stops. Some were clearly business districts, while others were places I’d rather not venture alone at night.
Even though it takes a little longer, I think I prefer train travel to airline travel--winding through the hills and the trees, rather than winding through the clouds.
Seeing the world at eye-level out of substantial windows, instead of from a birds-eye-view out of tiny airplane windows.
Of course, if I was an exclusive train-traveler, I wouldn't have been able to cross the ocean to be here.