The Philosophy of Train Travel.

I am currently writing this on a train going from Naples to Florence. I’m looking at the beautiful Italian countryside, and I can’t help to think that travelling by train is perhaps the best way to travel.

I feel that train travel is to air travel what organic whole food is to junk processed food. Yes, both provide calories, but there is a difference. A plane gets you places, and in some cases it takes you places that you cannot reach any other way. But, you arrive and feel like shit. The stale air, the uncomfortable seats, the security lines, all the additional overhead of travel such as going to the airport several hours early, and then having to travel back into the city once you arrive — it adds up.

With train travel, I arrive feeling refreshed. Train travel provides an environment that caters to introspection and contemplation. As the world outside the window transforms, one’s thought processes undergo a similar transformation. This gradual change in scenery allows for deep, uninterrupted contemplation. Every hill, river, town, or city that the train passes brings new stimuli that engage the mind, provoking profound thoughts about our place in the world. I can have similar feelings on quiet long-distance flights, but it’s rare.

As a species, we’re working on ever faster methods of travel. London to Tokyo in 30 minutes in spaceships. But the world is not just a series of cities, of dots on a map. The journey itself can often be more meaningful than the destination.

I look out of the window of my train, and I see a house on a hill, and I wonder what it would be like to live there.

What stories does it hold? What lives have been led there? The fact that I can see that house, that I can contemplate its story, adds a depth to my journey that no airplane could provide. I am not merely transported; I am connected to the world through which I travel.

This is a truth seldom realized in our fast-paced era. While technology has enabled us to reach our destinations faster, we often miss out on the essence of the journey itself. The hypersonic trip from London to Tokyo might symbolize progress, but I can’t help but feel a pang of loss for the stories, sights, and experiences that such speed would overlook.

Trains engage us in a symphony of experiences, a dance of sights, sounds, and thoughts. The clattering tracks sing a lullaby of continuity, while the shifting scenery paints a never-ending fresco of life outside. The clickety-clack of the wheels against the rails seems to beat in rhythm with my thoughts, giving birth to insights I never knew I was capable of. I find myself not just moving in space but also time. I feel I am not just crossing geographical distances but also traversing the expanses of my mind. Each station we pass, each hill we cross, contributes to the rich tapestry of thoughts and ideas that my journey by train stimulates.

I arrive at my destination not just refreshed, but enriched. I feel a kinship with the world I have witnessed, an intimacy with the sights and sounds that I’ve experienced along the way. I carry with me not just memories of a beautiful journey, but a host of questions, insights, and stories that this voyage has sparked in my mind.

To me, that is the philosophy of train travel — it’s not about rushing to a destination but enjoying in the journey. The path becomes a conduit for reflection, contemplation, and connection, a canvas for painting our thoughts and dreams. The allure of the journey itself makes train travel, in my eyes, the best way to travel. And it is through these reflections and experiences that I realise — travel is not just about seeing new places, but also about seeing in new ways.

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