by Diane Covington
rains have always been romantic. In films, the hero and heroine gaze at each other in the restaurant car, or kiss goodbye as the train starts to pull out of the station. Theres something so electrifying about the experience the bustle of the crowds, the conductor blowing the whistle, then the excitement of moving through space, watching the world go by.
the excitement of moving through space, watching the world go by.
Im writing this from France, where were traveling by train. We started in London, took the train to the countryside for a week, then the Eurostar under the Channel to Paris, and now are in Annecy, in the mountains, almost to Switzerland.
Yesterday, as we sped across France on the TGV (the fast train), we sat back in plush seats facing each other across a table, chatting and laughing. We relaxed someone else was in charge, our job was to enjoy the beauty of the countryside as it unfolded in front of us.
We passed bright fields of sunflowers, neat farms, quaint villages clustered around a church steeple. We watched the sky change as rain clouds danced across it and majestic mountains came into view.
We walked to the restaurant car for breakfast, then wandered back and snuggled into our seats to read. As the train rocked and rattled along we both drifted off for a delicious nap.
All the time, we were traveling fast the distance from San Francisco to San Diego in three hours.
Part of what defines romantic traveling for me is having adventures together that are not part of our normal routine at home. The trains not only provide that, they are reliable, reasonable and much more romantic than getting lost in rural roundabouts and possibly arguing about asking for directions, in French.
As Americans, were used to arriving in a city, renting a car, pouring over maps and figuring out freeway signs. Thats usually our only option. In Europe, their amazing network of trains makes it possible to bypass the car and the high gas prices, toll roads, confusing signs, traffic and stress.
We bought France rail passes, getting a discount because we are traveling together. If youre over sixty, youre eligible for another discount. Its economical, fun and youre doing something for the environment the train is much more green than driving.
And the romance factor rates so much higher than driving. Can you hold hands across a table in a car? Exclaim together at the beauty outside the window if one of you is gripping the steering wheel? Give each other back rubs as youre standing in line in the restaurant car? Nope! That makes it so simple: For maximum romance, take the train.
Diane Covington is a travel writer based in Nevada City, Calif.
Eurotrain en route to Paris
Moments with Each Other come Easily on a Train