“Bernadette: What is it about trains that you like so much?
Sheldon: What an interesting question. When I was a child, life was confusing and chaotic for me, and trains represented order. I could line them up, categorize them, control them. I guess you could say that they gave me a sense of calm in a world that didn’t.”
Most certainly I would not answer the question the same way as the most famous Sheldon Cooper from Bing Bang Theory, but I do love trains and the fact that as most of my life it focuses on sustainability. I told you already about the infamous ride in India. I did a couple of 20+ hour rides in Australia as well. A dream of mine is to take the longest train route in the world going from Portugal to Vietnam. Last year I took a train from Nice to Hamburg, also about 20 hours. The main difference to all train rides before is, that in Europe you have transits all the time (for instance a very scary 2 hour overnight transit in Frankfurt, to a point that I already said my peace to my family and waited for something bad to happen…).
To further emphasize UPM’s and my sustainable approach (and follow my love for trains) I also caught a train to get to in Barcelona to attend Incos 23. When I planned my trip everything seemed fine… 12 hours from Heidelberg to BCN, 2 transits, eaaaaaasy money… well, that was before the super strike was announced exactly for that date. On top of that, it was also the peak of French protests (which I did not know until I was in Paris). After neglecting the hell out of the strike for a while, one day before it was time to face the music. Since the train I was supposed to take does go to Paris, just not starting in Germany, I just had to get to Straßbourg. Rome2Rio helped me finding a Bus going from Heidelberg straight to Straßbourg. The bus left 4 hours before the train was supposed to start and I might be many things but definitely not an early bird. So there I was, at 5 in the morning, feeling like a bear waking up from hibernation and being kicked in the ballsack at the same time, walking towards the bus (I think I walked, the time until the bus felt like trance, the only thing I remembered is having a conversation in Italian with the bus driver only to find out later that he is actually French). The only issue with this bus, the stop was at the opposite side of Straßbourg, and there was not a single taxi at the bus stop. Hence, the only option left? Walking… with my suitcase in one hand and my suit in the other and as beautiful as cobblestones are to look at, pulling a heavy suitcase over them is definitely not my definition of fun. With all the noise I felt like a moving jackhammer, people even came out on their balconies to hear what’s causing the rattatatat. As soon as I jumped on the train, I (finally) laid back and started working. After arriving in Paris I grabbed a bite to eat and wanted to take a Taxi (just like last time) to go from Gare du Lyon to Gare du Est, well this was the moment I realized the strike was happening. No Taxis within Paris whatsoever, a random Dude with his more destructed than working car (I don’t know whether I can still call it windshield with a crack or rather a crack with a little bit of windshield in between) drove me for 100€ from A to B, walking or any other mode of transportations weren’t an option if I wanted to make it in time to my next train. While taking the last steps to enter Gare du Est, my suitcase broke and all my cloths fell out. But hold on…to put the cherry on the cake, while waiting for my gate to be announced, I received an Email saying my train was cancelled. I’M LOVING IT!
Well, there I was wallowing in my pain, sitting on top of my broken suitcase in front of the information display contemplating every single life decision I have made so far… a woman approached me (I still don’t know whether she worked for the train company or just felt my pain) and helped me finding a train to Perpignan, close to the Spanish border and another Bus going from there to Barcelona (again to the opposite side of the city, but hey at least the right city, right?).
In a nutshell: I left my apartment around 5 in the morning and arrived at 12:30 at night. Around 1:15 I was in Bed, it took me about 2 minutes to fall asleep and right away I started dreaming of a 12 hour train ride… what a dream. What don’t we do for the environment, right?