Trains and trains and trains

Just back from Portland and the Farwest Show and, of course, we took the train. The Seattle-Portland trip on Amtrak Cascades is lovely and relaxing from the moment we step into the station.

Portland station's ceiling

Portland station's ceiling

Stepping into the Portland station is stepping back in time—motifs on the ceiling, marble arches and ceiling fans. In Seattle, King Street station is still undergoing renovation, as it has been doing for at least 15 years. When will it be finished? They’ve opened up an area of white marblelike walls that looks appropriately old, but the dropped acoustic ceiling still covers the original beauty. There’s one gap where you can see through all the way up, accompanied by a sign that shows you what’s to come. Some day.

In London, we love the organized chaos of stations such as Paddington—everyone is going in a different direction, and yet all movement seems choreographed. We stand in a crowd watching the letters and numbers flip by on the big board until our platform is announced, then off we go to find decent seats and wait for the tea trolley.

Smaller train stations around England provide charming anecdotes. In Taunton one year, a polished steam engine came puffing through. At the station in Cheltenham two summers ago, a Spitfire flew over us; it had just performed at Proms the night before at Sudeley Castle.

Not all train stations are as enjoyable.  Gare du Nord makes me nervous. How will I feel in Rome?

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