Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trip 2012 USA: remembering my train journey

I am totally into what I mentioned under point 3 of my yesterday's post: post-pleasure of my trip.

It's fascinating. I suddenly seem to remember the oddest things: San Francisco's blue sky, the muffin I ate at this cute little coffee shop in West Yellowstone, how cute the little bisons and how gorgeous the guys at the beach of Santa Monica (SMILE) were.
At the same time, I have realized that I've never really told you about my train journey. First because there was no WIFI on the train and then because, once I was in LA, there were other topics to talk about...
OK, let's talk about AMTRAK.
First things first though. I am gonna do this again. That is for sure. I hoped that it would be great but it ended to be even better, much better, than in my imagination!

The check-in at the Union Station in Chicago was a bit hectic but I sorted it out and got to meet Angee (with two e's) who was gonna take care of me and my roomette (that is where I was gonna sleep). She had this wonderful African-American slang (they sing, they don't talk, in my opinion).
Soon after our departure from Chicago, José came to take up on my diner reservation. I got to choose between 5, 5.15, 5.30, etc. etc. Welcome to America! They start diner time at 5 in the afternoon! Unthinkable in Europe...
The next 45 hours, I would find out, were actually about three things:

1) being - on the train you just "are". No stress. Nowhere to go. Everything is organised. Everything is wonderful.

2) looking out of the window (and not getting to sleep because I was afraid of missing something - so I was up with the first sun rays!!)

3) getting to know people.

Number three came as a surprise. You get to talk to EVERYBODY (literally) while on the train. Wonderful. Talking to perfect strangers is quite easy in America but on the train? Piece of cake. In addition, in the diner wagon you are seated! You don't get to choose where you wanna sit. No. They waiter decides which got me several different "diner / lunch companions". Here a few examples:
  • My favourite was an older gentleman who was originally from Chicago but who now lives in Wisconsin on a lake (there are lot of small lakes in Wisconsin!). He knew a lot about History and Europe and traveling was one of his favourite! THAT meal was too short for sure ... I could have talked to this guy for hours! Strangly our paths never crossed again (you'd have thought so a train not being Downtown Chicago but no - he winked once from the other end of the wagon but that's it).
  • Then there was this guy from Long Island, NY (actually living in NY and Boston)! Oh my! I talked soooooooooooooooooo fast. Incredible. I'd forgotten I quick New Yorkers talk. Every other American hates New Yorkers but they think they are the coolest people on earth. Same goes for this guy. I had to give him that though: he was interesting enough. Knew a lot about history of trains and America in general. He made me laugh when he told me that he had met this lady from Wyoming (= in the middle of nowhere) on the train and when she heard him talk, she said: Oh my, you talk faster than I can think. Imagine the lady! Hilarious! But even more hilarious was when he said to me, looking apologetic: "I felt sooo sorry for her." They really think they are the coolest :-)
  • Sofia and Maria were these cool Italo-American ladies in her sixties. Apparently, they are doing a "girlfriend" weekend every year. Last year they went to Miami ("We had soo much fun!") and this year it was gonna be Las Vegas. They don't like planes, they prefer trains. I am sure they enjoyed their Las Vegas stay. Buon sangue non mente - as we say in Italy. You noticed their Italian blood because ... they were always totally dressed up - nail paint and all! I felt like being in Cattolica :-) (I told them so - they beamed back at me, happy about me saying so - totally cute).
  • The funniest two guys were Greg and Brad (or something like that), two brothers from Michigan. Totally hilarious. They could have been on American family or so :-) They said I looked like their cousin Barb (short for Barbara) and I was not quite sure if I should be flattered or not??? Greg (or was it Brad - I don't remember) at some point said: "You know, I have been around the world (????? probably to Mexico on a vacation and then to Vietnam with the Army - I didn't ask for more information - but maybe he has been around the world and I am just a nasty girl). I have seen the world but I think that Michigan is the best place on earth." Well, I have been to Michigan, it's a nice place, OK, but THE nicest place on earth? I doubt it. All I said was something like: "How good for you..." and didn't wanna to pursue the topic. Hey, if the guy is happy about living in Michigan, who am I to say otherwise?
Do you understand whey I have to go on a train trip again?

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