Not The Bear, the Station.
Today I had a brief discussion with a non-native Brit who confided that they were scared of taking the train. As I asked for more details, I began to understand that it wasn’t the trains so much as London’s Underground which, let’s face it, can be daunting at times. As for trains, I love Paddington (and St. Pancras!). But I think it’s because I basically love trains and train stations.
For me, they have the openness that airports generally lack. There is a greater accessibility about them. And one need not actually be traveling to hang out there. I do not find it strange to use a train station as a meeting place — at least here in the UK — as there are often perfectly serviceable restaurants where one can sit and partake of the literal or visual feasts all around them.
Of course, that does necessitate having some idea of where you are going…
As I said, I like visiting the Station, too. Coming in on the Hammersmith tube and exiting at Paddington is always fun because you can see both the old and new parts of the structure. They present wonderful visual textures at all hours of the day.
The decorative ironwork — it’s everywhere here… coupled with the clearly very contemporary:
(This image is especially for someone who has a “thing” for construction cranes, as well as the feathered kind!)
Of course, the social space is a great one for people-watching, as is readily apparent and already alluded to above.
And that’s another thing about trains: they’re multi-modal. How many times have I gone into any train or Tube station here (or for that matter, anywhere in Europe — and increasingly in certain more enlightened cities in the US) and seen someone with a bicycle getting ready to board. The fact that this guy is riding a folder was a bonus…
And dogs — non-service ones, at that! The airlines are nowhere as enlightened.
Of course, there’s the station as terminus, not just social space. Travel by train is still an option in this part of the world and I, for one, am enjoying it tremendously. Getting from Point A to Point B, as best one can, and one occupies one’s time as one must:
For once, phone-watchers were the minority.
So yes, I’m a fan of trains. And it’s one of the reasons I’m watching the whole privatization discussion here closely — so many places here one can get to and from by train and they need to be kept running and accessible by all.
Where will I go next?
I could ask these Greek tourists, but they were on there way into London, too, that morning!
Until next time, á bientôt!