Traveling abroad

Traveling abroad

My least favorite part of traveling abroad is… the traveling.  I love BEING in foreign places, but the traveling between them can often be tiring.  That’s why, when I travel, I pick a few places to visit for longer periods of time.  Travel can seem very unlike a vacation when you’re just hurrying around all the time.  I mean, isn’t that what we’re doing all the time in our daily lives anyway?  But I digress.

Yesterday morning I left the wonderful Wongs in London.  I had such a nice time visiting them and getting to know the latest additions.  I will miss them, and I hope the almost full bottle of all-natural shampoo I forgot in their bathroom will help them miss me less.

Adorable child playing

I will now, as usual, extol the awesomeness of public transportation abroad.  London has THE BEST public transportation… EVER!  Using the tube is such a pleasure, and not just because of the eloquent woman who announces each stop.  It is also very well organized, clean and reliable.  The bus system is also easy to use and takes you just about anywhere you want to go.  There’s nary a block that doesn’t have a tube or bus stop.  Then there are the boats.  It’s just an awesome city to get around.

St. Pancras train station in London

Paris… well I have some gripes with their Metro.  For one, none of the ticket machines will take a credit card without a microchip.  I had forgotten this from my trip in 2009 until I arrived yesterday during a 1.5 hour changeover during which I needed to reach another train station.  Not only would the machine not work for me, but none of the 6 ticket windows contained a human.  My resourcefulness kicked in, and I offered someone in line at one of the ticket machines 5 euro to give me one ticket (more than double the normal rate).  I found a taker who handed me a ticket he had already bought.  To be fair, the machines did accept euro coins, but if you’re just off a train from London (which I was), you probably wouldn’t have euro coins (which I didn’t).

My view inside the train

So on to international rail travel… My friend Andrew was correct in saying it’s the “dignified” way to travel around Europe.  The seats are spacious and comfortable, there’s plenty of room for your luggage, they serve real food… In fact, I’m so used to traveling on the cheap when I’m alone that I stopped in a grocery before getting on the train so I could buy some fruit – I hadn’t had a chance to eat breakfast before leaving.  I got on the train with my disappointingly heavy luggage, got situated and sat down.  I was happy to have a single seat, which meant I was on the aisle AND the window with no one sitting next to me.  Once the train started going a hundred miles an hour on its way toward the Chunnel, they came around with a nice breakfast of orange juice, tea, croissant and Greek yogurt.  I literally almost cried!  Gratefulness overcame me for this simple meal, and I began to feel overwhelmingly thankful for the opportunity to be on this trip and ride the train.  My only disappointment:  no WiFi on the train, so I spent a lot of time reading on my tablet and ruminating on the complexities of life.

Breakfast on the train

I arrived in Zurich in the late afternoon and was met at the train by my lovely friend Esther.  We then took some more clean, reliable public transportation in the form of a tram to a restaurant for dinner and then back to her place for the evening.  My last delight of the day:  I forgot that Esther had a cat!  Said cat slept with me most of the night.

Swiss cat

In conclusion, public transportation is our friend.

2 Replies to “Traveling abroad”

  1. I’m loving reading these daily… good times.. I really hope you took a photo out the window of the train going over 100 miles an hour… xoxo

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