It Takes A Train to Cry

Note: I met Rebecca Mashaw when I hired her to replace me as publications manager at Denver’s Rose Medical Center. I subsequently would convince her to exchange the security of a real job for the manic mysteries of freelancing. The fact we are still stellar friends nearly 30 years later–her home in the D. C. area, mine here in the Rockies–speaks volumes. Thanks, my dear, for sharing your European train adventures. ❤ C. . 

I’ve had nice enough trips on Amtrak from DC to New York and back. The ride from London to York was wonderfully memorable, featuring both gorgeous scenery and a tea trolley manned by the spectacularly named Gerald Kneebone.

But I seem to have a gift for royally cocking up train travel. I painstakingly planned a trip for my husband John and me from Edinburgh to points southwest to avoid changing stations in Birmingham—where the suggested transport from one of its 75 or so stations to another kept showing up as “foot.” Finally, I found a way to avoid “footing” through the city with five overstuffed bags.

I had brilliantly planned for a three-hour stop in the incomparable city of York, where we strolled through the Shambles, walked the ancient walls and had tea at an outdoor café with a perfect view of the Minster.

Except it turned out we really had just 15 minutes between trains. The time when I thought we were to leave York was in fact the time we should have arrived in Birmingham. I (deservedly) spent the rest of the journey to Stratford-upon-Avon sprawled up against the train’s luggage rack in a sort of crucifixion pose.

So I should have known better than to arrange a sleeper train trip from Paris to Florence. I expected it to be romantic and nostalgic. It was not. Paris is full of stunning train stations, but the tiny station for the night train was a rathole in an area that bore a strong resemblance to the worst slums of Baltimore. Our compartment had no bathroom. I am a middle-aged woman, which means I had to stumble down a swaying train to the loo three times that night. And the noise a train makes in motion is not a nice lullaby-like rocking. It’s more like being tossed in a cement mixer. Sleep was not to be had.

But it was all worth it. We saw Paris and Florence, viewed great art, had some fabulous food. And I got this picture of the sign in our compartment. Or ‘compartiment.’

Yeah. I love trains. 

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One Response to “It Takes A Train to Cry”

  1. Oh gosh, I love this sign. It’s easily as good as any instruction book put out by Japanese electronics manufacturers, which are always an adventure in the puzzling complexities of language and translation. What a hoot!

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