18 May, 2007

Slow Travel

As some of you know, I love travelling by train in Germany. Most Germans do not feel the same amount of adulation for the Deutche Bahn as I do; they remember Better Times. Yet, if you don’t look back, but only in the present, the German train travel is one of the most comfortable and safe forms of transport on the market. It is definitely my preferred mode of travel, whether it is with the rapid train from Hamburg to Munich or the milk train going up north to my favourite holiday apartment.
The best part about train travel is that it is a form of Slow Travel. It doesn’t matter what speed the train is travelling, if inwardly I slow down, sit back, and just let my attention wander between the passing landscape outdoors and the book on my lap, the world becomes a delightful slow-moving tapestry. By paying attention to my surroundings, quietly, curiously, happily, my mind quiets and ideas start to surface.

When I was in my teen years and early twenties, there was nothing better I liked to do then jump on a plane with only a carry-on piece of luggage and fly off to visit friends or family. Plane travel was like cheating time. Leaping across boundaries by jumping on a plane and puff…

  • Five hours later I could transport myself from my minimalist concentric student life (Waterloo, Ontario) to the open, forever-changing life on an old wooden motorboat (Vancouver)
  • Eight hours later I could leave winter (Montreal) and land in summer (Grenada)
  • Eleven hours later I could travel from ultra modern fast-paced urban (Toronto) existence to rustic, mountainous Heidi-land, stays-the-same-for-centuries lifestyle (Switzerland)

Somewhere in the 1980s plane travel started to become less desirable, or fun. The way it is today is nothing less than patience taxing and ecologically unsupportable. Not only do I feel compelled to question the ecological validity of each plane journey, but also when I partake in the journey, I know the whole experience is likely to be awful, crowded, and exhausting. Try as I might, I can just not get into the same mind-frame as the one I experienced in my early twenties. Some of this has to do with aging. Some of it, the conditions set by the airline industry.

Thank heavens there is the Deutsche Bahn; allowing me to travel in the land of Slow.

1 comment:

  1. I love, love, love the Deutsche Bahn. And it wasn't better in "the olde times". Trains were less numerous, slower, dirtier and much louder. Also to get a ticket I had to have a fight with a very impolite and dumb ticket seller, now I can order it on the net.

    Traveling by train is the best.