When Travel was Romantic

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by 4drymartinis, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. Nobert

    Nobert Practically Family

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    On the return trip I got to see a nice bit of your neck of the woods--not Manhattan of course, as I'm sure you know the train dives under the East River and doesn't come up for air until the swamplands of New Jersey--but I got a nice overlook of, I think, Brooklyn...maybe the Bronx.

    It's funny, I've come late to train enthusiasm, mostly because my father is such a train nut. A national timetable of routes from about 1908 used to be part of his bedside reading matter. And my grandfather wrote a book called ˆHigh Green and the Bark Peelers, about the Boston and Maine. I had always felt that was their turf, somehow, and avoided it like many young people steer clear of their parents' enthusiasms. Now I feel like I could ride trains around the country indefinitely, had I the do-re-me.
     
  2. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    My Dad was a car nut: He loved them, "love the freedom," and hated public transportation of any kind - "you feel like cattle." Growing up, I thought that way because it was inculcated into me. It wasn't until I left home in my teens that I started to see the benefits of train travel (you can't pay me to take a bus).

    It started humbly enough as I couldn't afford to live in NYC, so I commuted in and found I really enjoyed the train ride as it eliminate the stress of navigating traffic and parking. Also, I could read or just watch the scenery and the seats were pretty comfortable. I even liked developing an informal rapport with the conductors as you saw them everyday.

    Then, overtime, I discovered Amtrak which is great because I live in the one corridor (the Northeast Washington-NY-Boston corridor) that has good long distance train service in this country. It was great for business as the time lost getting to and from airports and the time lost at airport checkin and security more than offset the longer train versus plane travel times.

    Finally, I enjoyed train travel so much that I started using it for fun day trips and even longer vacations (I've gone up to Saratoga Springs several times on Amtrak which runs along the Hudson so your vacation starts the minute the train leaves the station). Now I'm a full-on train enthusiast who reads books on it and always looks at train options first whenever I have to go somewhere.

    You might enjoy this book - "Train: Riding the Rails that Created the Modern World from the Tran-Siberian to the Southwest Chief" by Tom Zoelner.
     
  3. VintageEveryday

    VintageEveryday A-List Customer

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    I dunno about any of you, but I've always wanted to feel like a character in an Agatha Christie novel, traveling to some exotic place, with all those luggage stickers on my suitcase. Of course, knowing my luck, I'd be the one to get murdered. At least i know the case would be safe in the competent hands of Poirot or Miss Marple.
     
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  4. Bushman

    Bushman My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    I have a trunk lying around in the crawlspace used for expansive vacations with locale stickers plastered all over it. Unfortunately, it's a hard plastic 1980s era trunk and not the brown leather-wrapped travel cases you think of when you think of the romanticized vacation to far off escapes.
     
  5. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Those old-fashion luggage stickers do have an appeal (and this has not escaped The Boys in Marketing attention to this day) - both artistically, as some are quite well done, and romantically, as through them you can feel both the time period and exoticness of travel back when it was much less common.

    Also, those stickers highlight the contrast, since most travel today is brutally competitive and mass-market oriented, there is no romance, no "enjoy the experience" to it. Just compared today's mundane bar-coded luggage tags to those Golden Era beauties.

    I image at the upper strata (not where the Fading Fasts travel) there is probably some of the old vibe, but for most of us, planes are buses in the skies and not luxurious busses at that.

    Train travel is the only travel I've done that still has some of the comfort, joy, romance and pleasure of the better GE travel. It's mixed, but I have had some outstanding experiences with Amtrak where the porters and conductors were wonderful, the train clean and comfortable and the overall experience enjoyable in an old-fashion way.
     
  6. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Yes, shorthand - I did indeed mean 'other than by air'. From London, I'd either have to go to Hollyhead by train, then a boat across to Ireland, than a train north, or take the train to Glwsgow, change for Stranraer, boat to Belfast, then another train.... either way, insufferable.

    The newer Airbus those are all using with the double-decks is fantastic, yes. Emirates are wodnerful - the only pain with them is the obligatory stop-off in Dubai, though so fr I've never hadto stay there longer than a couple of hours before the next plane. I flew Qatar to Beijing once. FAntastic service, though a long trip - ten hours to Qatar layoff of six hours, then another ten hours to Beijing....
     
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  7. That is a long trip. The longest I've made (door to door), and am currently on, is from Houston to Sumatra. It's about 12.5 hours from Houston to Moscow, about 1.5 hours in Moscow, then 10 hours to Singapore. After about 7 hours in Singapore (though if you have a choice of any airport in the world in which to be stuck, you'd want it to be Singapore), it's a short 45 minutes to Pekanbaru. But all told it's about 35 hours from the time I leave my house to the time I arrive at the destination.

    On my way back, however, I won't be stopping in Moscow, but rather Manchester in the UK. Never been there, so I don't know how long or complicated the process will be.
     
  8. skydog757

    skydog757 A-List Customer

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    The most enjoyable part of some of my trips with my wife have been when we've had to take a ferry. Two of the best: Port Angles, WA to Victoria, British Columbia. We stayed at a small European style hotel over a restaurant, took the early departure and pulled into the harbor in Victoria (the Parliament building and several tony hotels are right near the water). It was impressive. Arriving in a different country's Provincial Capitol by boat was quite a thrill. The other that sticks in my mind is the ferry from Prince Edward Island to Caribou, Nova Scotia. We had a group of White Sided Dolphins running along side of us for most of the trip. Both trips were shorter than two hours, but there were points where the land just disappears while at sea. These were just part of larger, longer trips but were great bonuses.

    I know people don't normally think of ferries as inherently romantic, but these had large open and elevated decks where the cars were out of sight. The sound and smell of the sea, the wind in our faces, the views, the thought of all of the new experiences laying ahead in places we had never been before made for a very enjoyable time. Mind you, I have also been on car ferries which have been nothing more than a dreary necessity on my way to someplace else but there have been some which have "made" the trip for me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2016
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  9. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Call Me a Cab

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    I like ferries too. Just about any mode of transportation for that matter. I'm of the deranged and hopelessly romantic opinion that travel is inherently adventurous, mysterious, mind-expanding, worldly, literate, and full of possibilities. Or should be. It is a fun fantasy world to live in, but --as you can imagine-- I often have to look the other way to avoid bitter reality. Make fun of me, if you must. When I was a kid, airline travel was so rare and special (for us) that my family always dressed up. Now I'm a bit discouraged when I find myself seated next to someone in sweats who is eating pizza out of a box. I get the practicality of wanting to be comfortable in "cattle class" but I still always kind of dress up, if only to stay true to the particular dream-world that I live in. For a very long time I was addicted to train travel; I just loved the clickety-clack and being able to walk up and down the length of the car. My wife and I would often have a little lunchtime picnic, complete with wine, in our compartment while watching the landscape roll by. That has slowly dropped behind us, however, as trains too are now often "completely booked solid" and as bargain airlines are now frequently as cheap as the train and faster too. Sigh. One of my fantasies is to one day do a North Atlantic crossing on a grand Cunard dame. (Generally, I hope to stave off "cruise ships" until I am of a certain age. We have a friend in her 80s who still travels the world, only she uses cruise ships these days. So they definitely have their place.) Anyway, back to the point: I suspect that, in reality, travel was always --or usually-- crowded and uncomfortable. However, I much prefer the fantasy of "Murder on the Orient Express", flying on a Pan Am Clipper, or running between New York and Southampton on the Queen Mary. In my own quirky Don Quixote way, I still try to live the pipedream to the extent that I can delude myself and get away with it. See that guy dressed in a tweed jacket with a copy of the Times under his arm, wearing leather shoes, and having a cocktail before his flight is called? That's me.
     
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  10. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Call Me a Cab

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  11. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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  12. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    I proposed to my lady in similar fashion, at a now defunct railway station, but magnificent in it's heyday. It was over the Christmas holidays of 1967. We married the following May. In a few months time, grim reaper permitting, we shall celebrate 50 years of marriage. On her bucket list of things to do before I die, is a visit to see New England in The Fall. Annoyingly Mother Nature arranges the fall, in the northern hemisphere, at a time away from our anniversary date, so having got that trip booked, we are going to celebrate with a couple of golden age travel events closer to our wedding anniversary.
    We've already done The Orient Express, that was five years ago. It really was a great day out. So we are planning a journey on a Pullman Train hauled by the legendary Flying Scotsman, and just for good measure I also booked us onto a flight in a ten seater Dragon Rapide biplane, for a 90 minute flight over London and southern England. The two journeys will be in early June and are on consecutive days, it's going to be a frenetic 48 hours.
    dragon-rapide-570-3.jpg flying scotsman.jpg pullman 1.JPG Pullman 2.jpg
     
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  13. Bugguy

    Bugguy A-List Customer

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    We bought the mother-in-laws round-trip train tickets from Chicago to Cincinnati about a year ago. They're both 90'ish, so we thought it was safe for the 11 hours in a sleeper car... it was scheduled in at 12:30 AM, but didn't show till about 4:00 AM. Apparently someone dropped dead in the aisle and was so large that sadly, the EMTs couldn't work on him. By coincidence they were also in a cell-phone dead zone and couldn't call us. Hardly romantic.

    On the other hand, my first long distance ride was when I was 15 and heading with a group of boys from Chicago to Fargo, North Dakota (yes, that Fargo). Imagine the excitement when we found out there were two Playboy Bunnies in our car... again, not romantic, but hormonal.

    On my wish list is the cross-continent train - the Great Southern Rail - from Sydney to Perth, AU.
     
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  14. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Call Me a Cab

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    Mrs Tiki and I are thinking about a quick train trip to Budapest over the long mayday weekend. She said “we could have a picnic on the train like we used to in the old days!” Unfortunately, my response was something like “bah! Humbug! Those days are over. European trains these days are as packed as cattle class airlines.” Of course it depends where and when you are going. But it’s been a long time since we had an old fashioned train compartment to ourselves and room enough to spread out a picnic as forests, villages, and fields of sunflowers flowed by. Back in those days we were young and traveling with backpacks. Paradise!
     
  15. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Looks great. I have a soft spot for steam trains, probably due to growing up with the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland being based at the bottom of the garden, more or less. My intended and I hope to get married in, ideally, March of 2019; that's going to involve a longhaul flight, but I'd take a luxury steam train all the way to Memphis if I could!

    I remember getting the overnight train from Cracow to Prague in my backpacking days. Nice experience, but yeah, these days I'd want a private cabin....
     
  16. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

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    That, my good man would be quite a trip.
     
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  17. Bugguy

    Bugguy A-List Customer

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    I've been thinking about another train adventure - 1972. Backpacking across Japan with a fellow expat, we took the bullet train from Hiroshima to Kyoto, Japan. At that time it ran at about 130 kph - about 80 mph - and unbelievably smooth, and on time. As they've built out their lines, some trains are now running at 320 kph - 200 mph. Makes me wonder why we put up with obscene airfares and driverless cars. (Maybe a topic for another forum)

    In retrospect, this was part of my great adventure in the early 70's. I ditched work, grabbed a ferry from Pusan, and spent an itinerary-free week in Japan. It was an exciting time in my life - mysterious and completely outside my comfort zone. I look back fondly at the experiences and the people I shared them with.

    My pictures of it coming into the station...

    PICT0024 copy.jpg PICT0104 2.jpg
     
  18. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Call Me a Cab

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    Exactly.
     
  19. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Call Me a Cab

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  20. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Oahu, North Polynesia
    Photos of traveling through Greece by automobile in the 1930s:

    https://greece.greekreporter.com/20...emerge-of-tour-of-greece-by-car-in-the-1930s/

    Note the flags on the car hood. At first I thought it looked like the flag of the Teutonic Order. Knowing that was very unlikely, I looked closer at the other pictures and, in the fourth photo you can get a clearer view through the windscreen and you can see a tiny swastika on the flag. It was 1936, after all.

    Wouldn't surprise me if it was a trip to gather intelligence about road conditions, etc. ...Or am I inventing a plot out of thin air? (I do like the pith helmet, however.)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019

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