Monday, February 18, 2013

Travel Thoughts

There is a magic in the science of stuffing a couple of hundred people in a large metal cylinder and hurtling them through the skies for several hours before landing in a foreign country, a different continent.

Just as there is a magic in the many trains I traveled in, especially the EuroStar - a high-speed, electric-powered silver bullet that goes underneath the English Channel into France. The track is smooth and the speed hardly noticeable. Down here with the land dwellers there is no turbulence to disturb the ride - just the discomfort of popping ears each time we go through a tunnel, which seems to be frequently.

And there is a magic at being in England, albeit for such a short time. I was sad at not being able to extend my vacation and get to know my favorite city even better. It's a land that seems so oddly familiar and home-like in its foreign-ness. A few minutes here and I already want to drop my rhotic Rs and say:
Toilet instead of restroom
Biscuit instead of cookie
Pence instead of cents

I want to find a pocket-sized Englander and bring him home with me to entertain me with that famous dry, British humor.

At the Marks and Spencer market we stopped at for lunch before boarding the EuroStar, I was enchanted with white grapes instead of green ones, a "ploughman's" sandwich - which actually looked like something my mother would have given me for lunch in high school - thick slices of cheese between two hearty slices of bread. And of course, "digestives," a crunch cookie covered with chocolate on one side. I'm not clear on if they're meant to help you digest your meal, but I feel very British as I purchase a package to go along with my brie, grape and cranberry sandwich.

The landscape flashes by, and I glimpse unkempt backyards, brick houses and chimneys, and dry rambly branches of stick figure trees in the wet winter ground.

As we transition to the French countryside, there are also skeletal trees, but the yards seem a bit more kept. Instead of brick, the houses are covered in a smooth plaster and painted in warm golden and brown tones, which probably glow ina  late afternoon summer sunshine.

As we zip past farming villages, each cluster of warm houses surround a church, made visible by the tall steeple and classic rectangular cathedral shape. I can easily imagine the farmers, skin brown from the sun and hands calloused from hard work, gathering together for a few hours each Sunday, rosy-cheeked children and beautiful, hearty wife in tow.

There is a magic in travel, made possible by the science of transportation. I am excited to become reacquainted with Paris.

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