Saturday, August 2, 2008

Back on the Long and Winding Road

Just under a week ago, I was sitting, crammed into one of American Airlines' new-age economy seats at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Rendered senseless by fatigue and frustration, I ridiculed the airline. Along with the entire airline industry, they can breathe a sigh of relief next week. Wednesday marks the day I leave for Croatia, but with a twist. Not once will I soar 38,000 feet up in the air. No, I'm taking the train to Hrvatska, via Paris, Milan and Trieste.
My only previous experience of long distance train travel came in China, where I endured "state-regulated heating," invasion of privacy and a snoring bunk-mate. Then again, I loved it, so if anything I'm wary of our Eurostar and TGV jaunt across France and Italy.
Then again, the luxury of no unexplained rolling halts in the middle of nowhere combined with guaranteed heating carry some merit in offsetting the lack of excitement. Whereas Chinese train travel is fun in a more earthy sense of the word. Due to the design of the carriages, people are forced to be more open and social, so the climate arises for interesting and for the most part enjoyable experiences. For the record, yes, I enjoyed that frozen night in Pingyao.
On the other hand, I can enjoy a smooth but somehow less fun journey in Europe. Everything runs at 200km/h+, so I will be able to sample that Germanic efficiency but at the same time, I hope that something interesting will happen.
Still, until I actually get on the Eurostar in North London, my suspicions will remain as such. Unfortunately as the clock winds down to departure, the notion that we're leaving after only arriving back 9 days ago sinks further in. That in itself is not bad, but the accompanying realization is that I have to PACK! (PANIC?)

Au Revoir/ Ciao/ Nabai

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