December 17, 2010

Train Dreamscapes

Posted in Travel tagged , , , , at 7:52 am by Liliana

Train Dreamscapes

Train Dreamscapes

I love trains.

When I feel the need to escape the limitations and constrains of everyday life, I imagine going on one of the great train routes.

On a frozen morning in Michigan, while driving to work, I might board the Orient Express in Paris, and single out Istanbul as my destination.

I will sit in a luxurious mahogany train car with plush, comfortable seats, and look out the window for hours on end. I will wear a large, elegant hat. I might visit the dining car for a cup of cappuccino and an almond croissant. When we pass through the old Belgrade train station, so familiar to me, the train master will shout loudly, “Beograd!” I will resist the temptation to get off.

If I feel more adventurous, I will board the Trans-Siberian in Moscow and enjoy the great Russian expense for six days and six nights, until I arrive in Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean.

I will contemplate the never ending, snowy forests, and silent, treeless steppes. My traveling companions will tell stories. We will sing sad, Russian ballads and someone will play the balalaika. At night I will be lulled to sleep in my sleeper by the gentle chugging of the locomotive.

If my need for sun and warmth overtakes other considerations, I might decide on a whim to take the Indian Pacific and explore the Australian wilderness. For three days, on my ride between Sydney and Perth, I will sit in a sunny spot by the window and observe the arid, red sandstone desert landscape, the lush gorges of the Blue Mountains, the abandoned, petrified ghost towns.

And just before we reach Perth, one of the most isolated cities in the world, I would be arriving at work.

A new day has started. Train travel will have to wait until tomorrow.

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March 19, 2010

Plains, Trains and Automobiles

Posted in Children, Travel tagged , , , , , , at 7:00 am by Liliana

The City of New Orleans

The City of New Orleans

Yesterday was travel day for several kids in my family.

My daughter Nena and my nephew Sasha go to the same college. Their spring break started yesterday. Each had a trip planned. Nena traveled to Chicago and from there she and her fiancé, Peter, took the overnight train to New Orleans. At around eight in the evening she texted her dad, “Do you know what this train is called?” Jeff knew. It was called the City of New Orleans. So she and Peter traveled on the City of New Orleans to the city of New Orleans. I hope Nena writes a poem about this. I know she had the old song running through her head.

Sasha, and four of his college friends, were starting their drive to Panama City, Florida, at eight o’clock the same evening. Sasha had sprained his ankle while playing basketball the previous week, so we were a little worried. But he had no intention of canceling this adventure. These kids have been working hard and with their graduation coming in June, real life will be upon them before they know it. They wanted one last vacation together.  I called to wish him a good trip. “Have a great time,” I said, “and be good.” He said he would. We didn’t elaborate.

At the very time that Nena and Sasha were leaving on their trips, my son Mike was flying home from Santiago, Chile. He had been traveling in South America for four months, and was coming home to get ready for law school. Sam and I spent the evening getting Mike’s room ready. Sam vacuumed, while I dusted and placed fresh linens on the bed. As the last touch, we placed a vase of fresh daffodils on the night stand.

That is what families do. Say good-byes, send best wishes for glorious journeys, and welcome their travelers back. Life is good.