Follow by Email

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Inimitable Joy of Train Travel

Whilst we lived in Stockholm, we rarely took the train to another destination. With low cost airlines bringing air travel prices way down, the mere time it took to get somewhere else from that far north city was rarely worth it. So when I looked into getting to Bonn, Germany via train for the Association of International Churches in Europe board meeting, I was pretty excited that it could be done quite easily. Plus, it gave me my first chance to take the Chunnel and who could resist that?! Plus, airport transfers in London are a huge headache and can be expensive and with the train station just 3 tube stops from our house, it was a pretty easy choice.
St Pancras train station is a cool place. Very organized with many food options.
So clever...the stirrer also doubles as a sort of plug over the opening so you don't spill everywhere!
I purchased a lunch for later, a coffee and yogurt and granola for now and found my way through security and passport control as I readied myself for the first leg of my journey: A two hour train ride to Brussels, Belgium. The train was decidedly uncrowded so I had lots of space to stretch out. The sun was shining brightly upon my face and the chu, chu, chu of the train was so soothing. I was impressed with how much less stressful train travel is than airplane travel. Plus many of the stations sport pretty neat architecture!The English countryside was super green and idyllic. The Chunnel was rather unremarkable in that it's just like any other tunnel, but at 99 miles a hour covering a mere 23.5 miles, you are across the channel and into France in remarkably good time! The service on my phone worked throughout the Chunnel crossing but as soon as we popped out in France, my British carrier stopped. I was amazed it still worked in the Chunnel and texted Doug just because I could!
The sun was still shining and the countryside remained lovely as we chugged across France into Belgium. Soon we arrived at Brussels Midi and I needed to make my first change. I found the train to Köln and off I went a mere 10 minutes later. Again, I had plenty of space and time went quickly by. Once in Köln, I asked about a regional train into Bonn Bad Godesberg and one was leaving in 10 minutes. While I had shown a ticket on each of the the 2 prior journeys, no one checked for this one. Once through the initial security from England to Belgium, I didn't have to hassle with security again. I didn't have to be concerned about what I had packed, if my liquids were too large and I even carried water and coffee on board with me! I never once had to remove my computer from my bag. I showed up 10 minutes before my connecting trains and had plenty of time to catch my trains. I'm telling you...train travel is so much less stressful than airline travel!
We arrived right on time and my colleague met me and we walked to the cute little German hotel that will be my home for the next two night.
So 5 hours and 4 countries later I'm relaxing after a lovely dinner with my colleagues on the shores of the Rhein River. I really enjoyed my sojourn by train and am thankful that we are now living so much closer to the continent so that we can more readily enjoy this mode of transportation.