Riding the rails in Europe is such a joy and delight, especially with a first class Eurail Pass that is always on sale in the winter. No matter what the topography; flat in Holland, rolling hills in central Germany or Provence, or the majestic Alps, the large windows affords you a unique position to peek into a country.
As one scene after another goes by, so quickly you can move from forests to farmer’s fields to large vistas of countryside, from small villages and towns through industrial areas to large metropolitan areas. I love this vantage point to observe glimpses of everyday life, the architecture of towns and cities, and the glorious rural beauty. No book or “device” can provide better or more soothing entertainment for the mind and soul. The natural lull and rocking motion of the train gives way to a peacefulness, a slow down from the daily hustle and bustle, while any stress for the future or from the past, melts away as your mind is filled with a kaleidoscope of scenes. Lots of leg room and comfortable reclining seats provide a lovely perch to watch the world go by, to just relax and enjoy, perhaps nod off from time to time, or exchange smiles with strangers and maybe begin a conversation, even if the smile offered is not returned. Most strangers are happy to chat to learn a bit about each other.
Especially fine are the THALYS trains that run in Belgium and France. If you are lucky enough to be on a new train, you will have a quiet and comfortable seat from which you can enjoy a three course meal with bon vin rouge! (no cell phone conversations are allowed within the train cars and signs are posted to remind passengers)
My last train trip, from Paris to Brussels is on a THALYS train, but unfortunately too short for a meal. One overnight in Brussels, then I head home to NC. It has been a grand European tour and easy to leave as I am already planning my summer villa in Provence!
Last night, we caught special views of the Eiffel Tower, as clouds danced around it. A lovely way to say à bientôt (until I see you again) to Paris!