I’ve always held deeply romantic notions about train travel which I blame on too many period films and Hitchcock himself. The convergence of strangers, sitting together in comfortably appointed surroundings while the scenic countryside becomes a moving picture of lives dissected by this hulking machine.
Taking the Acela as I sometimes do, paints an altogether different portrait with a cast of characters who speak too loudly into their phones and Cafe car attendants who seem inconvenienced by your basic human existence. All of us are thrown together in a whirring tube that cuts through swaths of land mysteriously declared the last stop for tires, couches and other unidentifiable debris. I recognize that my route is one that might lend itself to these unromantic qualities - self important DC politicos, New Yorkers who speak louder than most to be heard over the horns and hum of the city, and a route through land that was never a bucolic paradise but one littered with factories now all but forgotten.
Last week I made the journey from DC to NYC but I was determined to elevate the experience beyond getting lost in a book. With the aptly named London Fog in hand (Starbucks' homage to the British tea drinker) and a berry scone at the ready, I closed my eyes and imagined a far off place, suspended in time.
Cutting through the highlands and lochs of Scotland. At some point, the simple navy wrap lying on my lap became a wool tartan blanket. I was in the land of Macbeth and upon reaching Philadelphia, I was imagining battles fought centuries before - the clashing of clans.
This flight of fancy has piqued my interest in the Royal Scotsman - the luxury train service in Scotland. Perhaps someday I’ll turn my dream into reality…