The trip there is already half the vacation

Palm trees Traveling by train is a nice perk of European trips. Not the trains in themselves, least of all the companies that run them, but being able to hop from from one city’s downtown to the next, read a book, sleep, enjoy the landscape… all that on a budget blissfully unaffected by US imperators’ occasional fantasies of Persian campaigns and ensuing kerosene price variations…

France’s very own TGV, strikes non-withstanding, will take you from the center of Paris, to within sight of the Spanish border, in less than 5 hours.

Following advice from my therapist at the Internet Rehab Center, I opted for the old-school, not-so-high-speed, version of railroad travels, and crawled my way down the bucolic French countryside in about twice that time. Before departure, it took 20 minutes to the announcer, merely to recite the full list of stops along the way: a poem in its own right.

In addition to the 50% saving (more money for crack), I had a rather great trip, enjoying one full day of forced quasi-analogical leisure: Bad-ass electro beats playing on the nano, a good selection of books in hand, my trusty rum flask to wash down the cookies and most importantly, no way for work or other internet-borne ailments to reach me until my arrival. Like spending a day of heavy procrastination in your living room, with colourfully animated wallpaper in the background, and restlessly bored strangers surrounding you. On that count, I ended up being the only guy in the whole train not sharing my line of seats. This uncanny transportation luck (no kids, no morbidly obese two-seaters, no cologne-drenched salesman… in fact, most often: no one at all) has followed me ever since my small donation to the minor deity of Travel Seating Arrangement made on a remote Pacific Island a few years ago. If only I hadn’t gotten smashed on palm wine that night and peed all over the sacred altar to the god of Good Neighbouring Relations.

I may have failed to mention the part about lower posting rate this past week, secondary to my spending it seated by the pool, busy teaching my mum’s cat the proper way to serve a Piña Colada. But anyway, it is coming to an end already. I will be back in town Sunday night, a crate of Spanish Red Bull in my tow, hopefully to a well-fed, happy cat that won’t have taken to the furniture in retaliation for my short-notice departure.

1 comment

  1. “it took 20 minutes to the announcer, merely to recite the full list of stops along the way: a poem in its own right”

    Lovely. A sweet thought that made me laugh. How I miss England having grown up in London with multiple trips to the downs, the Lake District, Wales, and, of course, Europe. I made the same train trip, perhaps, with my dear ol’ dad, albeit over 35 years ago. Paris to Laredo. I can still hear the street sweepers singing and the donkeys braying at 5 or 6 am. Long time past, I imagine.

    Still, out here on the Saskatchewan prairie in Canada we have finally come out the other side of winter and today the tulips bloomed in my yard, so life isn’t without its attractions.

    Funny to have stumbled over your blog today. Hope your time out was encouraging. May you come to know and love the one true God who desires to be worshipped in spirit and in truth through the Lord Jesus Christ, even as you now enjoy the blessings of minor deities.

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