There’s something quite marvellous about trains. You can sit and think, work, or play while it slowly extracts you from your city and gently inserts you into another. There’s no mess and fuss to do with cars and so forth, and the scenery is almost always interesting, whether it be the backs of people’s houses, where you can see washing lines, pools, gardens, gym equipment, horses and llamas (no I am not joking), coastline_from_trainor those businesses and infrastructure that we don’t often keep on the high street – any number of strip clubs, storage for trains and school buses, lumber yards, power stations, public storage units, yards with endless amounts of rusted metal – or farmland growing crops (sometimes in interesting geometrical arrangements), ocean, boats, piers, oil refineries, and of course surf and beaches. (I’ve some video clips of some of this. Perhaps I’ll edit it all together into a video for you later.)

You can look up from your thoughts, work, or leisure from time to time and gaze out over any of this for a while, drinking in the scenery at will. I find that people on the train are very friendly -almost ridiculously so- almost as though either the train attracts a certain type of person who is conducive to this type of mood, or there is something about going on a journey (at least on these huge ocean-liner-like trains) that brings out good feelings in people. A certain romance that we all subscribe to.

coast_starlight_train_1 coast_starlight_train_2

People not on the train seem to share a little of this too. As the train goes by, it is quite common to see someone stop what they’re doing and just watch the train go by, with a far off look in their eyes, as if thinking of themselves taking a journey, or having taken one that they are fondly remembering. (I’ve seen this on train journeys I’ve taken all over the world. It seems rather universal.) Some people wave at the train as though it has carriages full of friends and family just happening to be passing by. It’s all pleasantly sweet.

While sitting, you can plan what to do once you get to wherever you’re going. The anticipation is actually a large part of the fun for me. What will I do first? Will there be time to do all I want before jumping back on to the train? Where will I stop and eat the lunch I packed? working_on_pacific_surflinerMight I stop and say hi to some old friends I might know in town, or shall I remain anonymous today? A bonus feature for me is that I take the Brompton with me. It sits above me neatly folded in the overhead compartment, and wherever I end up, I’ve got a ride. You don’t need a Brompton or other folding bike to do this. I’ve noticed several convenient bike hangers (looking a bit like coat racks!) for cyclists to use.

When you reach your destination, you simply step off and get lost in the city or town. It’s quite magical.


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