Planes, trains or automobiles?

I love to fly. Even the thought of it is slightly fantastical. It hardly seems possible to do; hundreds of people in a huge machine soaring high atop the clouds– as everything below transforms in to tiny specks of themselves. For long trips, this is my favorite way to go. I like to sleep on a plane, so I much prefer a late-night flight. I love arriving at my destination after a nice nap. My favorite was on my way to Japan from Vancouver. On Japan Airlines they give you steaming hot towels and they provide a lovely meal. On this particular flight I was lucky enough to have a seat next to a window, with no one in the seat next to me, a total coup! I slept, I read, I drank red wine, I listened to music, I watched movies. It was awesome. There are things that I however loathe about travelling by plane. I am incensed when I arrive at my destination with no luggage; though I have been most fortunate that mostly it is on my return voyage that this happens to me. There is also nothing more infuriating than when your flight is so delayed that it renders making all other connections impossible. I especially have hated the delays I have withstood on the tarmac breathing in recycled air. Need I even mention how much I hate putting all my liquids in to teeny-tiny bottles and then having them sequestered in plastic baggies? And to top it all off, I not a real fan of the strip-searching and prodding required before boarding a flight.

Trains are surrounded in an esoteric history in Canada; they are the very things that linked our vast country together. Sadly, most trains stations you find now (especially on our coast) have fallen out of repair and nary a train runs through. The track beds have become trails run more commonly by all-terrain vehicles. I have however, experienced the convenience and delight of travelling by train outside of Canada. I have taken the Flying Scotsman from London, England to Edinburgh, Scotland and marvelled at being able to take in the landscape without worrying about traffic or figuring the way. It is lovely to be served meals on board, have a drink in the bar and retire to your berth when sleepy. Likewise, the Japanese Shinkansen is one of the most wild train rides you can possibly take. It’s like flying on land. Trying to take in the view is a little more difficult and will make you slightly queasy; it is also known as the “bullet train” and runs maximum speeds of 240-300 km/h. It runs within 6 seconds of scheduled time– the Japanese are nothing if not punctual. Truly something to be experienced.

But you can’t discount the appeal of a great road trip in a car either. Singing along with the radio station, or fumbling through CDs looking for just the right atmosphere to accompany the journey; drinking large amounts of stiffly brewed coffee; then stopping for pee breaks at roadside gas stations (which had you not drunk so much gut wrenching coffee, you would not in your right mind drop your drawers in such an establishment).  Long car trips unravel some of the most interesting of conversations between travel mates. I am a terrible reader of maps, but I thrive in the panic of being lost- and I am never surprised that in being lost, I am opened up to find something I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. And, all you really need to know about your relationship will be truly unearthed as you find yourself way off your intended course. How things get handled while sharing close proximity and limited fuel will tell you much of what you need to know about your travelling companion.

I love to travel– any way I go: plane, train or automobile will transport me to a new place, with new opportunities and experiences. It makes no difference to me how we get there!

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