I’m writing this sitting on a train on the way to Washinton DC. Other than my European train trips when I was in my twenties, this is the longest train ride I’ve ever been on.
There’s nothing wrong with the train, really. It’s relatively clean (though there is a half-eaten sandwich (not mine) in the pocket of the seat in front of me) It’s pretty quiet. There’s a snack bar. Room to move around. There are outlets for our various devices. They’re working on the WiFi. It’s convenient.
But I can’t help but think of movies and books where trains are these romantic escapes. Where dining cars have linens, and the wine comes in real glasses – or even decanters – and not in tiny little screw cap bottles. In the movies, trains aren’t just transportation, they’re adventure itself.
In Sarasota, at the Ringling Museum, they have one of John Ringling’s train cars from his circus days. What a train car it is! Mahogany panels, chandeliers, heavy, carved furniture. Just the over-the-top type of thing you’d imagine from a man who made his fortune by creating The Greatest Show on Earth.
In Harry Potter (the books – I’ve never seen the movies) the train to Hogwarts is where Harry Potter finally feels like he’s free. There are private cars where the characters sit across from one another and chat. Magical food.
And Murder on the Orient Express! What a train that must have been. Lavish and lovely and incredible. I mean aside from the murder part.
So even though I knew that this Amtrak train that runs down the Northeast corridor from NY to DC wouldn’t be romantic, or wood paneled, or festooned with Chandeliers. Even though I knew there’s be no magical food, I’m kind of sorry there isn’t any of that. I kind of wish I’d held my hat as I ran down the platform in my perfectly fitted traveling suit, my hat box flapping at my legs, and that a charming man – also in a hat – had reached down to grab my arm to pull me aboard, as the whistle blew, and my adventure began.