Dona and Joe’s European Vacation, Episode 9: Rocking and Rolling on the Rails and Otherwise

We took the train from Edinburgh to London today. It’s a high-speed route that rocks and careens and covers nearly 400 miles in just over four hours—basically a super powered roller coaster without the rises and dips. Really enjoyed the scenery, especially in the first part of the trip through southern Scotland. Mostly sheep farms and seacoast, the kind of landscape a writer craves, and I had to keep reminding myself the winters here can be brutal.

Speaking of the rock and roll ride, the most interesting aspect of the otherwise superb train system here is that you’re not allowed to use the on-board lav when the train is stopped in a station, which means you have to use it when you’re ripping along at 100 MPH and it’s enough of a challenge just to keep your balance, let alone aim. I know, ick. That understated British sense of humour, I suppose.

So let’s talk about music, as in what the various locations have offered so far on our trip. Mostly it’s been a selection of American pop from the 1980s-90s. Lots of mid-career Michael Jackson and other forgettable fare. Maybe the hotels and restaurants are just trying to appeal to what they think is a typical tourist aesthetic, but maybe this is really what Europeans want to hear. It wasn’t until this evening, when we finished at our hotel bar and listened to their mix of UK House that I heard something palatable. (Yes, I really do like that stuff, but Dona finds it sickening. She’s a country girl, and we won’t get into what I think of that.) Can’t wait until we get to Paris to see what they’re playing, knowing ahead of time that French pop is right up there with Italian pop as possibly the worst stuff ever composed.

Dona spent the train trip planning our London activities, which now include Westminster Abbey, the Churchill War Museum, Buckingham Palace, and the National Portrait Gallery—and that’s just the first day.

Dona adds: Thanks to everyone who’s offered recommendations for dining and sightseeing so far!

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One Reply to “Dona and Joe’s European Vacation, Episode 9: Rocking and Rolling on the Rails and Otherwise”

  1. I love trains, whether in other countries, or in the U.S. I always seem to meet the most interesting conversationalists. I can still remember the most interesting (and poignant) conversation that I had with someone on a train in the British Isles. I was talking to a man in Ireland, and we happened to pass a whole field of beautiful flowers, I think they may have been yellow. When I exclaimed over their beauty, he got a very sad look on his face, and told me a story about them, a personal story. It seems that when he was young, he had innocently let the family’s cows into a field of the flowers, which apparently were something like jimson weed, and they had poisoned and killed the whole herd. His family had ostracized him at home, and no longer welcomed him when grown. Sad, very sad. It made me feel irresponsible along with him, to be a blameless though naïve tourist. I wish you many interesting conversations on your travels, I hope happier ones than that.

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