About Me

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Split personality. Liking the arts, especially opera, and hockey and Los Toros. I know, I know THAT one is non pc currently. But I can't help it saw some in Spain and got hooked, but good. But on the other hand right now opera and hockey are in the forefront!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Travel THEN and NOW!

Driving to the big Airport to fetch a friend from Germany, 
at the rate of one inch at a time gave me plenty time to think about traveling -
that is today's way of travel!

Why this slow when it was not even rush hour?
Several accidents being cleared slowed traffic on 610 to the proverbial crawl. That's why.

As I said time to muse on today's travel!

So, not only do we need to consider the ACTUAL flight time of X hours non-stop.
But even before that, time to find parking spaces, take a shuttle, stand in line for baggage check in,
remember no bottles with liquids bigger than 3 oz., no nail clippers, nail files, handy Swiss pocket knives, corkscrews,  no more 10 shopping bags filled with items - 
NO matter if they are from Saks or Tiffany's (;-) 
and be sure to measure the size, width and height of your carry-on.

Then stand in line some more for the security check! Keep your photo ID out, boarding pass handy.
Take out computers, take off shoes, jackets, belts, watches. For sure Do Not wear anything metal through the scanner.. no more underwire bras ;-).
And if you have any kind of metal implants or replacements - screws, plates etc, -
resign yourself to a deep and wide ranging pat-down even with a doctor's notice!

Then, when you finally, after a restless flight, arrive at your foreign destination, submit to endless lines through customs, when not only your face and fingertips, but often all your luggage is thoroughly scrutinized.
We all look scruffy and hung over after having spent seemingly endless time crowded like sardines into a box of an airliner.

Now compare that to traveling by train (sleeper car with fine dining, natch) to your port of embarkation on a transatlantic or other liner. No need for body scanners, luggage searches etc, then!

First you had time to rest relax, dine well, . meet others. You also had - limited yes - but opportunity to wash and refresh before getting off the train. The train officer usually handled the passport inspection, your main luggage was securely locked into the baggage car. And porters were everywhere to help with it on both entraining and detraining.Transfer to taxis to the port was easy.

And then embarking and settling in for the duration of the voyage.
During which you had time to stroll, breath in healthy salt air (lol), exercise, eat well, dance, see movies, attend lectures, concert, gamble or simple relax with a good book.
Meet others, flirt with fellow voyagers or officers in oh, so natty uniforms (uniforms do cover up much and do look rather fetching :-) - whites on a sultry tropical night for instance).
Not so romantic on winter voyages perhaps - not to mention icebergs!

And even the earlier flights were much more comfortable.. though also much longer!
Checking in at the most one hour prior. But I also twice arrived by the skin of my teeth, to board as one of the last, the plane having been held over for us 2 stragglers! Free luggage as long as it did not weigh more than 72 pounds. And no limit on carry ons.. ah, those bags with duty free shopping!

I remember plenty of elbow - and legroom; real glass snifters for the complimentary post prandial cognac; real silver utensils, real china plates and cups; wines and other beverages for free. And a menu selection of at least 2, sometimes 3, choices..all that on an economy airline. And free earplugs for music and movies, if desired.
Flights (that newfangled way to travel lol) were not always booked solid, so there was room to stretch out along the three seats and sleep, actually sleep under warm blankets on soft freshly linen covered pillows!! There was more room to walk around the plane, chat up flight crews and fellow passengers! Play cards, have a fun conversation. And in those days, smoking was not yet a forbidden thing! And as far as I remember no one overdid it! Most just smoked after meals.

Sure, one had to travel (I did by train-first class Eurailpass) to catch the flight in Luxembourg, which is a delightful little country/city with much to see and enjoy.
And so walkable  - lol! 
Sure, one had to make a stop in Reykjavik or Keflavik in Iceland. But one could  break the trip into two segments to discover the relaxing hot springs of Iceland, and buy fabulous warm sweaters ;-)!
Sure, one had to connect to either a domestic airline or Amtrak after arriving in Chicago, where customs were much easier to pass through than New York, then!

Those were the days when traveling was glamorous!
Those were the days when hanging out at train stations to watch arriving and departing travelers was a favorite pasttime.
One heard a babel of foreign languages, read the destination placards on wagons lit.. Istanbul, Warsaw, Paris, Amsterdam, Moskau, Hamburg. Rotterdam, Rome. Athens, and so forth!


Anonymous said...

This is as close as USA railtravel can get to Orient express.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I did just that en route to Helsinki last fall for NHL Premiere games (Wild vs. Carolina). Sat in the big (24 track) trainshed in Cologne and watched train after train from all over Europe arrive and depart. Then our overnight train (for Copenhagen) showed up, carrying cars for Moscow, Warsaw, Prague and Berlin on it as well. And despite all those destinations, no one got on the wrong car, because they had the locations of each car on the platform and, in typically Teutonic fashion, the train stopped right on the spot!

artandhockey said...

THAT 'stop on the spot' is new.. way back when, one followed the porter...LOL.
But with the high speed trains in use every minute counts.
And I love them.. very smooth rides, comfortable, clean, gets you there as quickly, sometimes even more so,with NO stress instead of driving on the Autobahn :-)!