train

London to Dundee

King’s Cross Railway Station

I arrived in London at about 8 am after an eight hour plane ride and a six hour time difference. There was a bright moon over the Atlantic. I took the Heathrow Express train from the airport to Paddington Station. Instead of messing with the Tube, I just hopped a taxi on to King’s Cross.

I enjoyed watching the masses of people posing for pictures at Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and 3/4. The line was very long. My train didn’t leave until 2 so I had plenty of time to watch them.

Trains are so much more enjoyable than planes. I had a six hour ride from London to Dundee. I met a woman who told me she had been a guest at the coronation the previous day. They had to be there early and by the time it was over they had been there six hours with nothing to eat or drink or access to toilets. It was kind of grueling but she thought it was very exciting. She saw all kinds of celebrities. She was most excited to see Kenneth Branagh. The railway gave each of us a Coronation Chocolate.

I was in first class and the guy in front of me was enjoying a free beer when the ticket lady came by. Not only did he have the wrong ticket but it was a coach class wrong ticket. She was very nice and tried to convert the ticket so he would only have to pay the difference instead of buying a whole new ticket but his credit card never did go through. Lucky for him he wasn’t going far.

The bright yellow crop growing everywhere is rapeseed which is made into oil. I was told it has an unpleasant odor.

We all took pictures of the Angel of the North. Located at Gateshead, the sculpture was finished in 1998 by Antony Gormley. it is the largest angel in the world. It is 66 ft. tall and has a wingspan of 177 ft. And it can withstand winds of over 100 mph.

There were lots of interesting buildings in Newcastle. Hard to capture them on a train. Immediately past Newcastle we ran into fog.

It was foggy off and on from there but lifted at intervals.

I checked into my hotel in Dundee, had a quick supper, drank a bunch of beer, watched the end of the Coronation Concert with Lionel Richie and Katie Perry and others. And then I passed out. I was up for 32 hours and then I was not. I’m just taking I easy today!

Glacier Park, Montanta

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My mother recalls our train trip to Glacier Park:

We recently rode the train—the Empire Builder—from Minneapolis to Glacier Park in Montana for a week with our daughter and grandson—in coach, no less!  Now, many people our age would take a sleeper or roomette, but I guess we just wanted to prove we could still “rough it” and save money!  We weren’t the only ones of our age group, many passengers in coach were also “older”.

We got on the train about l0:30 pm, were given seats and pillows, instructions about bathrooms (downstairs!), dining car (2 cars ahead), lounge and snack bar (l car back), dining hours, and anything else pertinent to our next 24 hours aboard.  All these instructions were given by a charming car attendant—a woman in her late 40’s probably, very professional and efficient, all the while being very friendly and helpful.

The train rolled quietly out of Minneapolis at 11:30 pm, almost on schedule, full of sleepy people.

The seats were roomy—much more so than on an airplane–, but it still was a challenge to find the right angle for head, body and feet.  We took a small travel blanket and pillow, and I had an extra sweater with my winter jacket, Bill his warm jacket, so we managed to keep warm in the air-conditioning.  One woman sitting near us a stuffed shoulder-pillow and an old fashioned tied-comforter, yet!—she looked totally cozy.  The man across the aisle was over 6 feet tall and seemed to exactly fit into his seat with comfort for he softly snored the whole night through.  During the night we made several trips down the stairs to the bathrooms hoping to alleviate blood clots and keep our muscles mobile, more or less.  With the pleasant rumbling of the wheels on the tracks and the often blowing of the whistle, we soon dropped off for a fair night’s sleep.

The sights began with an early dawn over North Dakota—the never-ending sky of a million hues of pink, and the flat, treeless land with wheat, barley, mustard and flax fields intermixed with range country and rolling hills as we entered Montana.  The dining car announced that it was open for breakfast, so we made our way there, enjoying both a good hot breakfast and the passing countryside.

The whole train was smoke-free, so at some stops it was announced that time would be long enough for stretching one’s legs and taking a smoke, if desired.  We stopped at only a few places in Montana—Havre, Shelby, Cutback—and then we were seeing the wall of mountains tipped with snow.  By this time it was evening and the train was a couple of hours late getting into East Glacier, but it still was daylight and the view of the beautiful, nearly l00 year old, Glacier Park Inn, a short walk from the station, with the background of these gorgeous mountains just at dusk was miraculous.

Traveling by train again after many years was a great experience for all of us and a great way to see the countryside and we survived!

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