Back to previous post: Read this

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Drug Warrior

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

March 31, 2009

How we spent Monday
Posted by Patrick at 05:32 AM * 140 comments

Depart Amsterdam Centraal, 7:04 AM
Arrive Frankfurt(M) Flughafen Fernbf, 10:43 AM

Depart Frankfurt(M) Flughafen Fernbf, 10:54 AM
Arrive Mannheim Hbf, 11:24 AM

Depart Mannheim Hbf, 11:36 AM
Arrive Basel SBB, 1:47 PM

Depart Basel SBB, 2:03 PM
Arrive Arth-Goldau, 3:45 PM

Depart Arth-Goldau, 3:50 PM
Arrive Lugano, 5:45 PM

Depart Lugano, 5:48 PM
Arrive Milano Centrale, 6:50 PM

Depart Milano Centrale, 7:30 PM
Arrive Roma Termini, 11:29 PM

Seven trains. Four countries. One day. Everlasting thanks to Elise Matthesen for working it all out, and figuring out that a pair of Eurail passes would be the sensibly cheap way to do it. (Also, of course, thanks to Abi and Martin Sutherland, the world’s best hosts, for putting us up for over a week in the Netherlands and getting us to Amsterdam Centraal at oh-god-oh-clock in the morning.)

We made it, including the terrifying three-minute connection in Lugano. The train from Arth-Goldau pulled in over a minute late, and just as we stepped out of our car the train to Milan across the platform began shutting its doors. From the mass growl from our fellow debarking passengers we were able to intuit that we weren’t the only ones trying to make that train. Perhaps the Milan train’s conductor heard the growl—at any rate, the doors opened again, and we all scampered across, bags in tow.

Speaking of Switzerland, allow me to just say this. We’re both people who spent most of our childhoods in the American West; we’re used to smiling indulgently at the rolling hills that people back east call “mountains.” However, the Alps? Those are mountains. More than that, they’re an endless series of illustrations of the Romantic Sublime. Cliffs that go up and up and up and don’t stop. Crevasses that seem to lead to the center of the earth. Landslides, fresh-looking ones, the size of Central Park. All of which we got to see from the comfort of very nice Swiss trains. There were probably long periods yesterday during which we entirely lost the power of speech.

Now we’re in Rome. And if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to get out of our hotel and go look at the place.

Comments on How we spent Monday:
#1 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:11 AM:

I remember taking that train across the Alps and down into Ticino many years ago, and arriving with a flat nose from trying to look out at the mountains at ridiculous angles.

#2 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:21 AM:

Switzerland?! What do you mean, Switzerland? Are you trying to tell me that our side isn't shattering in its beauty and awesomeness?

Grumble.

#3 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:22 AM:

My one trip to Europe was with the University of Maryland Chorale, back in 1981. We crossed the edge of the Alps on a nasty foggy day, a Wednesday, crossing the Austrian-German border three times along the way and ending up in Garmisch. We could see that there were mountains out there, but we couldn't really see them; the msot I can remember is seeing the ski jumps from the olypmics at one point, and at another point seeing a long line of power line towers marching like toys across a great flat valley. In Garmisch we were split between two little hotels, and as the bus was leaving the one I was in, it got trapped by a dubiously parked car. Eventually the police showed up, and their first step was to retrace our route to the hotel, looking for "no busses" signs. Finally the owner of the car appeared, and the bus was freed.

The next morning was Ascension Day, and I and another fellow went down the block to catch the early mass. When we got back, it was crystal clear, and shortly everyone in our party was on the balcony of our room. You see, the Alps were right outside. After breakfast, we all had to make the same trek past the church, because the bus driver wasn't going to risk getting stuck again. So here we are, in coats and hats, carrying our luggage, and the church bells are ringing madly, and there are about a dozen little girls all in white in front of the church for their first communion; the chilly day is brilliantly sunny, and the snowy peaks are everywhere in the background. I've never had such a Sound of Music rush in my life.

#4 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:29 AM:

Does that train system feature on-board wifi?

#5 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:31 AM:

And: Yeah, being the grandaughter and niece of several people in the Alpine Corps, I have been born jaded about mountains. Alpine songs are composed of a few elements, like death, mountains, mourning, mountains, grief, mountains, lost love, mountains, war, and of course, mountains.

I'm not the only one. My mom, on being shown the Dolomites for the first time, reportedly said: "Nice."

In the house I lived in from age 10 to age 25 we had a large picture window upstairs which looked on the Alps (you can clearly see them from Udine, despite it being on the plain about an hour's drive away). I had my station up there, so I looked at that curtain of mountains for years. It didn't get old.

Later on I would drive back from Padua (where you no longer, thanks to pollution, get to see the mountains) to Udine, and often I would get the "mountains illuminated against a dark sky" or the "mountains painted pink against the twilight" or the "mountain peaks white between dark clouds" or the "rays of sunlight picking out one peak" or the... well, you get the drift, experience.

The fate conspired, however, to ensure that every time I drove to Udine with my partner Emiliano in tow, the weather was uniformly grey and the mountains were not that impressive, especially for somebody who has seen Mount Etna. Therefore Emiliano was always skeptical about this whole Mountains mystique.

When I first was in Vermont my friend Eli proudly pointed out the mountains, to which I turned here and there urgently, asking "Where?"

#6 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:49 AM:

I'm from Mannheim! If I knew you were passing through I'd have rushed over to the train station and attempted to kidnap you. (Not actually feasible: I am currently in Spain. But I like the visuals)

This sounds like a wonderful trip. Looking forward to more updates...

#7 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:54 AM:

re wimpy eastern mountains and railroads: The first "mountain" crossing the B&O had to deal with going west was Parrs Ridge; getting a locomotive over it was a crucial, um, milestone in their plans. At the point where the rails crossed it at the time, Parrs Ridge towers a mighty 837 feet above sea level. How far we have come.

#8 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 07:05 AM:

Ahem. I would refer you all to Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. http://www.skypic.com/ma/7-5692.jpg

It has actual visible contours, and, from some angles, actually occludes part of the sky! I hear from some brave individuals that have scaled it, that the trees start to get stunted and thin out a bit near the top.

So there.

#9 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 07:51 AM:

Ah yes, the Gotthard line. One of the classic rail routes in the entire world. Difficult to believe Switzerland has so much scenery in such a small country. Did you notice the bit where the train passes the famous church at Wassen three times at three different levels?

#10 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 08:11 AM:

When I go to Pittsburgh for Alpha, I always end up commenting foolishly on the topography. I know there are bigger mountains. I know there are less gentle mountains. But I am from the Midwest, where it is rare for land to be unplowably steep, and I keep realizing, "It's folded. This entire place is three-dimensional."
Who knows what the Alps would do to me.

#11 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 08:31 AM:

Customers who liked "The Alps" also bought:
"Ischia, Capri and Salento", "Cinque Terre", "Sicily", "Central Apennines", "Elba", "Sardinia".

Other items recommended for you:
"Imperial Forum", "Pantheon", "Trastevere", "Ara Pacis", "Baths of Caracalla", "The Catacombs", "Piazza di Spagna".

Items you might be interested in:
"The Colosseum", "All those bloody churches".

Places you would visit over and over again, loving every minute of, but you can't seriously think to live in: "Italy".

#12 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 08:36 AM:

The Thomas Cook Rail Schedule R!U!L!E!S

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 09:26 AM:

The train from Arth-Goldau pulled in over a minute late, and just as we stepped out of our car the train to Milan across the platform began shutting its doors.

Reminds me of the Monty Python skit about a murder mystery where the validity of the murder's alibi hinged on the knowledge of tight train schedules.

#14 ::: Darryl Rosin ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 09:47 AM:

"We’re both people who spent most of our childhoods in the American West; we’re used to smiling indulgently at the rolling hills that people back east call “mountains.”

Mate, you should come to Australia and see our mountains. Then you will know 'indulgence'.

d

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 09:57 AM:

Having been born on the East Coast and having lived on the West Coast, I can say that the eastern conception of mountains is as amusing as the western conception of the dead of winter.

#16 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:00 AM:

Most of the mountains here in New Hampshire are mild stuff by international standards, but we do have Mount Washington, which is where folks in the US lower 48 who are planning to climb an Alp or a Himalaya someday come to practice first. For a mountain that can be hiked up, in good weather and on some approaches, by a well-conditioned troop of Cub Scouts, in other places and in bad weather it can be amazingly nasty; it regularly kills people.

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:15 AM:

Good grief, that has to have been one of the most nerve-wracking of connections. Enjoy Rome, I gather it's a fascinating city.

My own first journey across Europe by train was at the age of three, so I don't remember much of it (including passing the Pyrenees and the Europa Peaks).

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:21 AM:

Serge #15: You would no doubt have been amused by the young woman from the Caribbean who complained about the bitter cold in Atlanta in February. We suggested, less than charitably, that she might want to make a comparison with Minnesota before calling Atlanta cold.

#19 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:26 AM:

I once peeved a Scottish colleague who was fond of hiking by accusing her of "making a mountain out of a Munro".

#20 ::: Stevey-Boy ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:34 AM:

Patrick, may I recommend the roman port of Ostia Antica as a day-trip. I visited in my late teens, and was blown away. The fact that it was no longer anywhere near the coast was fascinating. Enjoy. Rome is an awe inspiring experience for both history and the preparation and enjoyment of food and drink.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:40 AM:

I was rather disappointed when I saw photos of Iceland's Skartaris. The movie's looks much more impressive.

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:41 AM:

Fragano @ 18... Hah! Meanwhile, I've been living in New Mexico for nearly 9 years and it's starting to show because, when I go to the Bay Area, the air feels humid.

#23 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:49 AM:

Fragano @18: When I arrived in Paris in 2001, it was a balmy day in late summer. 18°C. I promptly put on 3 sweaters.

Abi @19: Sounds like this movie.

I'd love to take one of those cable car rides around Lake Geneva, although I'm fairly certain a fit of acrophobia and claustrophobia would kick in about a third of the way up.

tnh and pnh, don't get cricks in your necks from staring at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!

#24 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:52 AM:

Ah, Swiss trains! The sort of place where somebody might conceivably actually consider trying to make a 3-minute connection!

(Lived in Zurich 1958-59 school year and 1966-67. Also visited California, both ends, frequently as a child. I laugh at the so-called mountains east of the Mississippi (I, of course, live west of the Mississippi; by a couple of miles).)

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:59 AM:

Meanwhile, in my backyard are the Sandias, which some of you may have seen if you ever watched Kirk Douglas's Lonely Are the Brave.

#26 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 11:14 AM:

Ahh, Swiss train trips. I will never, ever forget the trip I took from Munich to St. Moritz for Christmas during my junior year abroad (I was lucky enough to have a friend whose family had more money than God to spend the holidays with that year). The mountains just kept getting more and more stunning, and we kept getting higher and higher and I simultaneously was compelled and terrified to look out the window, as the view looking up was glorious, but the view looking *down* was enough to make your heart stop.

There are no guardrails on train tracks.

#27 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 11:23 AM:

Now if you'd posted that *before* Monday, you could have gotten a free beer during that sixteen minutes in Basel.

#28 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 11:24 AM:

"The height of Kosciusko [now Kosciuszko] above the level of the sea is officially given as 7328 feet", from Physical Configuration of the Australian Continent. With Illustrative Maps and Diagrams, by Ernst Favenc (1905), which also informs its readers: "The average height of the Australian continent is 805 feet; not so very much lower than the average height of Europe, which is 939 feet, but it is a mere dwarf compared to Asia, which averages 3189 feet."

There used to be a road to the summit, and a car park. Now the closest you can drive is Charlotte's Pass, possibly our highest weather station. One can still stroll to the top of the continent along a broad walking track with the aged, the halt and lame, and toddling infants.

Ah, but stepping off the bus at Lugarno*, looking across the lake to this slope of blue-grey-green, pointy, cragged rock that kept going on up & up & up & — “Now that's a mountain.”, I said.

Rome, now … O Roma! … <swoons with envy, or is it jealousy> possibly all human life is there, somewhere. Remember the post here with the burnt Persian carpets flooded by the icecream factory? Or maybe a giant marbled layer-cake, dotted with TV aerials and pines, breaking apart on a crumpled picnic rug under blue skies, with added gilt, art and religion. New Yorkers probably cope better than many others. <sigh> I wish the NHs well, you're carrying a small part of my heart; please greet a cat for me if you can.

*Not the Sydney suburb. (There's another called Engadine.) Ghu! was it really twelve years ago?

#29 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 11:29 AM:

Insert glyph of envy here.

There were probably long periods yesterday during which we entirely lost the power of speech.

I can imagine one or the other of you speechless, but both at once? Wow.

I took a bus from London to Athens once, when I was young and stupid. We really didn't hit much by way of Alps, but I do remember occasionally looking out the window and seeing a schloss perched up on a mountainside, just as if it were an everyday thing. I think I lost some speech, too.

#30 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:04 PM:

Diatryma #10: "It's folded. This entire place "It's folded. This entire place is three-dimensional." is three-dimensional."

Coming from New York (and Boston) I've been getting the same reaction to Virginia. (And I'm not the only one who notices -- half the streets are curved every which way to go around hills!) And nowadays I've started hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains....

#31 ::: Doug Faunt ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:08 PM:

I spent about a week riding a motorcycle in the various Alps last summer, and would just stop and gawk (no better word for it) at times.

#32 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:09 PM:

But I am from the Midwest, where it is rare for land to be unplowably steep, and I keep realizing, "It's folded. This entire place is three-dimensional."

Whereas my reaction to flat places is "Wait--there's nothing to hold the gravity in!"

I am from Pittsburgh. No hills makes me nervous. Even being on top of a big plateau can freak me out a bit. The Texas panhandle nearly killed me.

#33 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:12 PM:

Serge @ 15: Just remember, those Eastern "mountains" are what will happen to those Western vistas. You just wait and see.

On mountains in general: I recall being amazed in Hawai'i and in Salt Lake City. Driving from SLC to Park City was an exercise in self-restraint, as I had to keep reminding myself to watch the road, not the scenery. (That's the downside to driving by myself.)

The Hawai'ian mountainsides were knife-sharp against the sky; I wouldn't even want to try climbing those. They were totally awesome.

#34 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:16 PM:

We rode the train from Venice to Zurich the summer before last. It is a truly incredible landscape -- and of course you're coming up out of a flat flood plain, which makes it all the more dramatic.

Also, a seven-hour train ride with a toddler is a lot easier than an airplane ride of almost any length.

#35 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:29 PM:

Anna Feruglio dal Dan, #2: "Are you trying to tell me that our side isn't shattering in its beauty and awesomeness?" No, only that shortly after we crossed from Switzerland into Italy, the sun went down. However, Teresa, who has been to northern Italy before, was able to explain how the Swiss landscape (and, particularly, the townscapes) became progressively more Italianate as we descended toward the border.

Earl Cooley, #4: None of our trains featured on-board WiFi, more's the pity.

Sylvia (#6) and David Moles (#27), very kind of you, but they would have been short visits!

Tim Hall, #9: Yes, we noticed the constantly-reappearing church, now that you mention it.

Debra Doyle, #16: I will certainly grant Mount Washington as a real mountain.

Stevey-Boy, #20: We're already planning to visit Ostia Antiqua, in fact.

Mez, #28: Your descriptions of Rome get at the thing I've been struck by all day. Postulate that, forgotten to modern history, Rome once had a space program. Perhaps in that historical era after the Risorgimento but before the Renaissance. And during that time, they built a generation starship, miles and miles across, whose entire purpose was to supply an entire colony planet with monumental architecture and colossal, outsized building decorations. Tragically, this vessel exploded on takeoff, scattering its payload in all directions. This would explain some things, but only some things, about Rome.

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:30 PM:

Ginger @ 33...

Still waiting.
Are we eroded yet?
Are we eroded yet?
Are we eroded yet?
Are we eroded yet?

As for mountains that awed me... Glacier Park in 1981. I kept expecting that, at the next turn of the trail, I'd bump into the Fellowship of the Ring.

#37 ::: Chris Sullins ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 12:35 PM:

Last summer my family (visiting me at the end of a semester abroad in the UK) took a day to drive through the Alps from Luzern to Lugano. What astonished me was an old cobblestone road that meandered alongside the modern highway. On the other side of St. Gotthard, coming down an endless series of switchbacks, we saw people making road improvements. Next to them, of course, was a pile of cobbles.

Coming back down out of the Alps is pretty astonishing as well. A mere fifteen minutes or so between ringing cowbells and sun-drenched vineyards. They brought to mind those early landscapes that dealt with aerial perspective, with the rich blues of the deep background against the vibrant greens of the foreground. I think the most amazing thing about European mountain ranges is the complete integration of civilization into the terrain. Castles on the rocky outcroppings, churches on hillocks, and villages nestled into narrow valleys. Like Chinese landscapes, they seem much more impressive when you can see the tiny figures against the cliffs.

I love both extremes, but I'm more familiar with mountains as remote wilderness. So the Alps were particularly intriguing.

#38 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 01:16 PM:

Patrick @ 35: And during that time, they built a generation starship, miles and miles across, whose entire purpose was to supply an entire colony planet with monumental architecture and colossal, outsized building decorations. Tragically, this vessel exploded on takeoff, scattering its payload in all directions. This would explain some things, but only some things, about Rome.

It sounds like a solid premise for a TV series. You could probably get it done relatively cheaply in Canada.

#39 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 01:29 PM:

Serge @ #36 re Glacier Park: Yes. On our memorable family road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and environs, we nearly wore out our LotR soundtrack CD.

#40 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 01:34 PM:

Ginger, #33: Just remember, those Eastern "mountains" are what will happen to those Western vistas. You just wait and see.

Only if you're Lazarus Long!

#41 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 01:52 PM:

The train from Arth-Goldau pulled in over a minute late

Um, in some countries that almost qualifies for ridiculously early.

#42 ::: FrancisT ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 02:14 PM:

3 minutes is entirely reasonable for a connection in Switzerland.

30 minutes is cutting it fine in Italy (in my experience).

One thing I found particularly amusing about Rome was the 2 subway lines (one less than Milano).
Line 1 has new and posh trains. Line 2 has trains than are generally 100% graffitied on. This example from my wife's blog is one of the less graffitied ones - http://www.imagesdemiho.com/serendipity/uploads/P200309_14.43-blog.jpg

Rome as a whole does tend make you (well it made the wife and I) a bit blasé about antiquities. "Oh its only 500 years old? not done by Leonardo da Vinci. Boring."

#43 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 02:44 PM:

Serge@36

bump into the Fellowship of the Ring

Just be sure you're out of the area before the ring falls into the volcano...

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 02:45 PM:

Lila @ 39... Rosenman's, or Shore's? :-)

#45 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 02:55 PM:

By the way, my house is seeming really empty and quiet now. I'm used to walking into the living room and seeing the Sutherland Bar and Internet Café set up on the dining room table: Patrick drinking genever in front of his laptop, Teresa sipping Kahlua in front of hers, and plenty of space for me beside them.

It was good having the Nielsen Haydens over. I want them back.

#46 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 03:00 PM:

One place where the layer cake is especially evident is the basilica of San Clemente. Here's a description from their web site, but the neat thing is that you can go down and see all of these levels:

"In 1857 Fr Joseph Mullooly, O.P., the then Prior of San Clemente, began excavations under the present basilica, uncovering not only the original, fourth-century basilica directly underneath, but also at an even lower level, the remains of a first-century building.

At this third level there are two separate buildings. One is a brick building in the courtyard of which there is a Mithraic temple of the end of the 2nd century. The other is a more magnificent, rectangular structure, constructed around a courtyard.

In the 4th century, the ground-floor rooms of this structure and the courtyard were filled in to the level of the first storey to provide the foundations for a church in memory of Pope Clement. The courtyard of this new level became the nave of the church, while the rooms that once overlooked the old courtyard on either side were converted into the side aisles.

The completed basilica survived until about 1100 AD when it was found that the building was unsafe and should be abandoned. The fourth-century basilica was then filled in with rubble to the top of its pillars and on this foundation a replica of the old basilica was erected."

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 03:13 PM:

Abi @ 45... Photos?

#48 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 03:20 PM:

Serge @47:

I took a couple with Teresa's camera, which will probably appear somewhere at some point.

At the moment, there's only this.

#49 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 04:25 PM:

Abi @ 48...

"Everybody comes to Abi's Internet Café Américain."

#50 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:02 PM:

"You played it for her. You can play it for me. Play it!"

#51 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:08 PM:

Yeah, I said that to Patrick, and he told me I had to fix the knob on my guitar first, because it was making the string buzz too much.

It never works out like it does in the movies. There weren't any Nazis around either.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:10 PM:

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that blogging is going on in here!"

#53 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:15 PM:

I'm now having a rush of nostalgia for the two weeks I spent in Lugano some eighteen years ago. It's a beautiful (and rather vertical) city.

#54 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:16 PM:

And also for Glacier National Park, where my wife and I honeymooned in 2000.

#55 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:21 PM:

Okay, Serge, since you asked.

The exercise of pure reason suggests that the photo was taken by Martin Sutherland. Either that, or Fiona and/or Alex are better with cameras than I was aware.

#56 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:24 PM:

(And we ourselves miss Casa Sutherland already.)

#58 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Meredith #26

If you're scared of heights, then I don't recommend some of the hiking trails that run parallel to many of the most spectacular Swiss alpine rail routes.

If you take a camera with you, the hikes will take ages, because every time you come to a spot with a good view of the tracks, you have to wait for a train to photograph (the lines are busy, so you won't have to wait for long).

My favourite bit is the the section of the Lötchberg south ramp between Ausserberg and Hohtenn; where the railway runs along a narrow ledge high above the Rhone valley. Part of the hiking route is a steel walkway bolted to the side of the Bieschental bridge. This is a steel arch hundreds of feet above a ravine, and the open mesh of the walkway means you can see the floor of the ravine below your feet.

And the bridge shakes when a train crosses it; and the line is sufficiently busy that it's more likely than not that a train will pass while you're half way across.

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:27 PM:

Patrick @ 55... the photo was taken by Martin Sutherland. Either that, or Fiona and/or Alex are better with cameras than I was aware.

That doesn't sound beyond Alex's capabilities. I've been told that he recently was so determined to prove that the tooth fairy doesn't exist that he wanted to booby-trap his tooth.

#60 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:35 PM:

I have been trying fruitlessly to make a clever comment about Abi's Café Americain and Patrick's delighted discovery of Filet Americain*, but I have failed.

I blame the rye whiskey. Which means it's Patrick and Teresa's fault; they brought it into the house.

-----
* A reaction that was only exceeded when he tried the mustard soup in the restaurant in Maastricht. I cannot quite describe his face at that moment, except to say that it looked like he'd stuck his finger in an electric socket.

#61 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:36 PM:

You know, every time I hear the Marseill  Marsaill  that French patriotic song they sing in Casablanca I think "I should learn to sing that."

Then I look up the words and discover that no, I probably shouldn't.

#62 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 05:47 PM:

An impressive delight of trains, and connections, even in those places where a very short connection is thinkable!

We hugely enjoyed the portions of our traveling in France that were by train in the summer of 2007: the regular run from Paris to Cahors, and the astonishingly quick TGV from Avignon back to Paris.

My only (so far) trip through Netherlands south to Rome was with my family, on a tour bus, and took several days. The ride through the Alps and down through the Dolomites was as astonishing and amazing and wonderful as you all describe: wow! And yes, Glacier National Park, particularly the Road to the Sun, is as wonderful.

Eroding no matter with what languor...

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:32 PM:

Xopher @ 61... Ever noticed that the music of both songs is similar enough to be be played side by side - at least until someone decides that people are having too good a time?

#64 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 06:39 PM:

At this point I would like to compliment the Dutch on their excellent taste in national anthems.

#65 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 07:00 PM:

Serge: Shore's of course. I didn't want rotoscoping flashbacks.

#66 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 07:35 PM:

Bah. Mountains are for people down south who dress weirdly, talk in strange ways which they expect everyone to understand, produce even stranger music on various bizzar instruments, and have somehow convinced the world that these things as well as their oddly three-dimensional scenery are typical for the country as a whole.

More seriously, it's pretty impressive that the schedule worked out for you. I think I wouldn't have dared to use plan like that myself.

#67 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 07:45 PM:

Ginger @ 33 Honeymooning in the Canadian Rockies (Banff/Jasper area), I was the one driving and I had a serious problem with watching the road when every corner opened up new vistas of mountains.

I did at least finally work out how to describe the UK's Lake District to North Americans: "it's as if you took the Rockies, made them much smaller, then aged them for enough thousands of years."

#68 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 08:18 PM:

Ginger @ #33, not all our mountains are knife-sharp. I can see those from my driveway, and other than the green-ness they remind me of the Rincons and Catalinas around Tucson.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 08:19 PM:

Lila @ 65... Speaking of rotoscoping flashbacks, did you know that Tim Burton worked on Bakshi's Wizards? He was in charge of rotoscoping Eisenstein's hooves.

#70 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 09:01 PM:

Serge @ #69, no, I didn't. Somehow I am not surprised.

(Huh, IMDb says he worked on Tron, too. As well as a bazillion other things.)

#71 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 09:30 PM:

dcb @ 67: I'd love to visit Banff and Calgary. One of these days, I promise myself, we'll go up there.

The Lake District is much like the Mid-Hudson Valley, which is also much like the area around Shanghai, or so I am given to understand. The Mid-Hudson also reminded one of my grandmothers of her hometown in Ireland (and I saw the resemblance). I think most of Earth is made of places that are reminiscent of 'home', wherever that may be. One of the neat things about travelling is seeing what is the same everywhere, as well as what is different.

Linkmeister @68: OK, not all Hawai'an heights are knife-sharp, but enough of them are. And all of them are still awesome. I wouldn't want to live in Hawai'i (too warm for me), but it was fun to visit.

#72 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 09:51 PM:

Serge @ 69: That's an interesting discovery, which feels much like my discovery that Hayao Miyazaki had worked as an apprentice animator (a betweener, I think) on two of the animated films I remembered watching as a kid in Japan. (One was a version of Puss in Boots, and the other was an utterly weird SFnal movie involving gigantic monster crabs and a flying pirate ship.)

#73 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 09:57 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 72... I recently found that out while reading a lengthy interview with comic-book artist Mike Ploog, who had worked for Bakshi on Wizards, for which he also did the still scenes.

#74 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 09:59 PM:

#69.

And Bakshi got his start by working his way up the ranks of Terrytoons by establishing a reputation for doing things cheap and on deadline.

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 10:15 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 74... If you type "Bakshi Wizards" on YouTube, you'll find a muti-part interview where he also talks about Terrytoon. Most of his movies don't really appeal to me, except for Wizards, but I'm bummed that he had to bow out of this year's worldcon.

#76 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2009, 11:51 PM:

Tim Hall @9: I knew about the Gotthard line, but I didn't realize we'd be traveling on it until we were. It's astonishing -- and yes, we did notice the church at Wassen! I could feel that we were climbing hard in the tunnel, but I yelped out loud when I saw the church reappear far below us.

Giacomo @11: Just Rome and environs, this trip.

Yesterday, while Patrick was still processing the initial rush of "Holy shit, I can't believe I'm in Rome," I guided him first to the Pantheon, then around the back to Bernini's droll elephant. Then, without giving him nearly enough warning, I took him into Santa Maria sopra Minerva, with its deceptively plain façade and its absence of swarms of tourists. The effect was not unlike knowing you're going to be traveling by train from Basel to Milan, then getting the Gotthard line.

Some of my favorite Patrick lines from yesterday:

"I hate to sound like a cliché, but this thing is bigger inside than it is outside."

"They just leave great art lying around."

"It's like New York. Part of the weirdness is that it's an extreme landscape full of people acting like it's normal."

"Why have I been resisting gelati?"

The Forum and perhaps the Ara Pacis are on our list, along with Ostia Antica, San Clemente, and other astonishments.

Places you would visit over and over again, loving every minute of, but you can't seriously think to live in: "Italy".
It's oddly similar to New York.

Serge @25, I've been to the top of the Sandias. Every city should have its own mountain range. That's an especially good one.

Abi, we miss you!

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:09 AM:

Teresa @ 76... Hopefully you will get to go to the top again in the not-too-distant future.

#78 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:42 AM:

Sigh. I want to go and see Rome and mountains and trains.

Someday.

(It sounds wonderful. I am sure I am not alone in desiring pictures, when and if available,)

#79 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 01:40 AM:

Caroline, you're not alone in that wish. I went through the Alps with my parents in 1984 on an AMEX guided bus tour, but we never got closer to Rome than Lake Como. I want to go back.

I did get a thoroughly washed-out photo I later scanned into Flickr on that trip.

#81 ::: bad Jim ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 04:09 AM:

800 miles in 16 hours is still only 50 mph - not bad for a train, but one still might wonder whether a car would have been quicker while quite as scenic, or a plane even cheaper and quicker though less scenic. (For the last-mentioned reasons I opted to fly from Amsterdam to Copenhagen a scant few years ago, though I was stunned by the speed and ease of travel by train within the Netherlands.)

I'm sure you've seen it, but if you haven't, Buonarroti's Moses languishes unregarded in San Pietro in Vincoli, just around the corner from the Colosseum. Tell'm Sigmund sent you.

#82 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 04:17 AM:

Bad Jim, #81: Car would have the downside of one person being forced to concentrate on the road. And in some cases the journey itself is part of the desired experience. Plus, Interrail passes are pretty cheap.

#83 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 05:14 AM:

Having traveled on the train with *NH, I can tell you that getting there by rail is half the fun for them.

The journey is partly my fault; they were going to fly until I suggested the train to them. They leapt on the idea with real delight. And Elise's mad and magnificent itinerary was the icing on the cake.

This is how we get stories that we tell for years to come. Even (especially?) had the plan failed, requiring them to stay in Milan overnight, it would have been an adventure to remember.

#84 ::: bad Jim ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 06:02 AM:

Most things would be worse than being forced to spend a night in Milano.

Sure, cd, the driver can't see as much as a passenger, but driving itself, especially over mountain roads, has its own compensations.

I prefer trains where they're practical, which is to say, on vacation in Europe but not at home in California. Considering carbon costs, and assuming that I and my mother are going to travel together, it turns out, I think, that it's both cheaper and more efficient for me to drive us in my little car up and down California's lovely valleys, over this mountain pass or the other. The journey to my sister's house doesn't take us near our big mountains, or often let us glimpse them, but the usual grades we climb are lovely enough as they are.

#85 ::: FrancisT ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 06:27 AM:

bad jim @81

I think you'd be pushed to do it faster by road. You probably could if you had a pair of drivers and no stops apart from fuel and restroom. But it wouldn't be a fun drive and even then you might not.

I've driven, at various times, most of the route you would take - I assume it would be Luxembourg, Mannheim Strasbourg (or just across the border in Germany) Basel Lugano, Milano, Firenze, Roma. The good news is that this is almost all highway. The bad news is that there are frequent jams on them. I've spent hours in jams on the bit down the Rhine, getting into Swtzerland at Basel, getting out of Basel (actually that may now work better they've finished most of the construction there), in the Alpine passes, getting out of Switzerland and into Italy, on the Tangenziale around Milano and most recently just outside Firenze. Any of these could cause you to have an hour long delay at a standstill and that would push your required average speed up significantly.

#86 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 07:59 AM:

These aren't the slow trains, but I doubt they could build the line in some parts of Switzerland.

#87 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 08:20 AM:

@Dave Bell #86

They are building a Gotthard base tunnel, which will cut the journey time from Basel to Milan significantly, but at the expense of missing out the most scenically spectacular part of the journey. They will be retaining the scenic route for local trains.

#88 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 09:23 AM:

I feel deeply envious of Patrick & Teresa. Rome is one of those places I'd love to visit.

Four years ago, Gail and I went to see my mother in Coruña. We were able to take a day to visit Santiago de Compostela -- getting Gail into the right position so that the Obradoiro would come as a surprise was an achievement. And another day to visit Betanzos, which is not as well known but has some well preserved mediaeval churches in its old town.

Xopher: What's wrong with expressing the hope that the impure blood of a foreign invader will soak into the furrows of your ploughed fields?

#89 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 09:23 AM:

I feel deeply envious of Patrick & Teresa. Rome is one of those places I'd love to visit.

Four years ago, Gail and I went to see my mother in Coruña. We were able to take a day to visit Santiago de Compostela -- getting Gail into the right position so that the Obradoiro would come as a surprise was an achievement. And another day to visit Betanzos, which is not as well known but has some well preserved mediaeval churches in its old town.

Xopher: What's wrong with expressing the hope that the impure blood of a foreign invader will soak into the furrows of your ploughed fields?

#90 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:59 AM:

Serge 63: Ever noticed that the music of both songs is similar enough to be be played side by side - at least until someone decides that people are having too good a time?

Yes, musically it's a fairly impressive quodlibet, and anyone who doesn't love that scene either has no idea what the movie is even about, or has no heart whatsoever. But I take your point, except that, while the songs are equally martial (or perhaps I'd even give the edge to the M-song), in the context of the time one is the gloating of the victorious and the other is the defiance of the downtrodden—which is what makes that scene so moving.

Fragano 88: What's wrong with expressing the hope that the impure blood of a foreign invader will soak into the furrows of your ploughed fields?

Why, nothing, if you assume that there's such a thing as "impure" blood, and are absolutely rigorous about your definition of 'invader', and don't mind eating crops grown in human blood (and "impure" blood at that!) spilled by violence, and...well, which I, respectively: don't; don't trust people to be; and really, really do.

(Yes, I know you were kidding. Just taking the opportunity to explain. AND: the later verses of our national anthem are all full of blood and threats too, but we never sing them.)

#91 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:18 PM:

Giacomo@11: Places you would visit over and over again, loving every minute of, but you can't seriously think to live in: "Italy".

WORD, man. WORD. And I lived in none of the showy bits, although I did have Venice nearby. Which, once you get over the WOW OH MY factor (and you do, in about thirty years), is a very tiring place full of people with extortionate prices and terrible climate.

#92 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 12:51 PM:

800 miles in 16 hours is still only 50 mph - not bad for a train, but one still might wonder whether a car would have been quicker while quite as scenic,

That would be an awfully high stress drive - few breaks, no time to enjoy scenery, and unlikely to actually go that fast, once you factor in delays from traffic. The road signs are different enough to sometimes be confusing, and even the person not driving has to spend much of the time on alert and navigating. For two people, you'd be lucky to get 25% of the total scenery enjoyment time - 50% gone to the attention of the driver on the road, and another 25% to the attention of the passenger to navigating.

And I doubt you'd make it that fast - when you add in time to stop for gas, stop for food, stop for the bathroom, and stop to stretch your legs, I don't know anyone who can mantain 50 mph average over 16 hours, and still drive safely and sanely.

The train trip, while it sounds as if it had a few exciting moments (3 minute transfer!) sounds relaxing and enjoyable. 99% of the time, just sit, relax, and enjoy the view. Plus the chance of interesting conversation with strangers, and good stories of adventures to share with friends. And you get to sit and enjoy your meals, rather than having to eat junk food in the car while trying to stay on schedule.

I don't know that there would be much savings, either, once you factor in the cost of renting a car, and gas, which is much higher in Europe.

Now, to rent a car and do the same trip over 16 days, rather than 16 hours, might be a lot of fun!

#93 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 01:16 PM:

Xopher @#90: Ah, so not singing The Marseillaise is a vegetarian thing, I get it.

the later verses of our national anthem are all full of blood and threats too, but we never sing them.

In our modern world of "we don't torture" this seems like it's nudging up against some important truth about our national character...not a good one.

#94 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 01:51 PM:

Xopher @ 90... in the context of the time one is the gloating of the victorious and the other is the defiance of the downtrodden—which is what makes that scene so moving.

I couldn't agree more.
Here it is.

#95 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 03:11 PM:

Mary Dell, no, it's a "non-cannibal" thing.

#96 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 03:20 PM:

[SCENE: A whole lot of people sitting around being French (or looking French, anyway, eating French toast and French fries and French kissing in the corners, stuff like that). One of them goes to the piano and strikes up The Marseillaise. Everyone joins in singing it, but then a deranged bald man rushes in:]

XOPHER: Cannibals! CANNIBALS!! CANNNNNIBALS!

[The French people barely seem to notice. The droop of their Galoises from their sullen lips is unaffected. Their eyes, lids weighted by decades of jade, hardly widen. The bald man continues shouting until ejected by the gendarmes.]

#97 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 08:40 PM:

Xopher at #96, and the French people then say to one another:

"avez-vous entendu quelque chose?"

#98 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 08:45 PM:

It's really good to read this stuff. And I'm so glad all the transfers and connections worked out.

Now I can't wait to hear about the Olive Oil Adventure....

#99 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 09:03 PM:

Xopher #90: I have a national anthem which invites an imaginary fellow living up in the sky to confuse the plans and infantile plots of the enemies of a gracious old lady, so I can't complain too much. Or, in the alternative, I have a national anthem which asks the same imaginary gentleman located in the sky to use his powerful imaginary hand to guide us. Or, in the third alternative, I just watch the grenadiers march by.

Still, there's something, ahem, intriguing about the ferocious soldiers mooing as they engorge our ranks....

#100 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 09:47 PM:

You were very lucky in your connections; we sat for at least an hour in Zweisimmen (doing Montreux-Gstaad-Zweisimmen(-Meiringen)-Luzern because we didn't have an accompanying mob to lean on the doors with us when we were a minute late. OTOH, I suppose the NHs \deserve/ an entourage....

But I'm surprised that doing Amsterdan to Rome was so complicated; there are least used to be long-distance trains (e.g., around Confiction (1990)). After the above, we did Brussels-Copenhagen on one train, and Basel-Amsterdam on the second half of a run that had started in Italy. Montreux-Luzern was our only complicated leg, and that only because we wanted real scenery instead of the flatter and faster route.

I will quietly envy you Rome; thanks to juggles, of the 6 months that I was in Europe and not in school, I spent just 7 hours there -- and a couple of those were in line at the AmEx mail pickup.

Ginger@71: Calgary etc. were well worth a few days last fall; see the Glenbow museum, and local-specialty parts of the zoo (but in late October a lot of the other interesting stuff, e.g., ]pioneer village[ is closed). Also worth noting: about as far away as Banff in the opposite directions is a badlands that coughs up dinosaur bits almost every spring; there's a respectable museum in the middle of it, featuring the province's very own dinosaur.

TNH@76: when you get back, look for Whole PaycheckFoods; a number are now selling some very interesting gelati.

Now -- who knows \without/ looking it up what's significant about Meiringen?

#101 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 09:55 PM:

"Peut-être une souris, grinçant dans les griffes du chat."

#102 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 12:22 AM:

Teresa @76: Ohhhhhh, I LOVE Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. My favorite church in the whole wide world. Or at least that was my opinion when I was eight, and I've seen no reason to change it since.

My mother and I stayed at a hotel close by, and every day after a full session of touristing, we'd go to S Maria sop Minerva and decompress. It also got us on a "Find Catherine of Siena relics" mini-game that kept us going through most of Italy.

#103 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 03:13 AM:

sigh... I've never made it to Europe, anywhere in Europe. I've been wanting to for the last 30+ years. One of these years...

#104 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 05:58 AM:

My favourite train trip was in the spring of 2002, from Vienna to Paris overnight. My (then fairly new) partner was visiting her father in Paris and I was temporarily not quite as broke as usual in that period of my life. So I booked myself on train no. EN262, which to my utter delight carried the name Orient-Express on the route cards.

I had a good meal in the Austrian dining car before Salzburg, then a horrible night across Germany with Americans constantly getting on and off at intermediate stations and a cello wedged across the couchette. On the way back I ran into some people I knew and we held a party in an empty compartment. I've got one of the route cards on my wall.

Later, I once travelled from Toulouse to Egham by train in a day, in less happy circumstances. Which is 815 route miles according to the Googles, and we did it at an average speed not far off 100mph despite the transfer across Paris. TGV Toulouse-Bordeaux-Poitiers-Paris, Eurostar into Waterloo, suburban train home.

#105 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 06:07 AM:

"There were 172 nations on the Earth at this time, but only one had a national anthem that consisted of gibberish punctuated with question marks". - Slaughterhouse-5, I think.

#106 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 06:24 AM:

Driving Amsterdam-Rome would be a full day 2-driver marathon and cost around €1000, say $1300. You'd arrive in bits.

#107 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 09:17 AM:

I want to know about the 12 minutes in mannheim - I always kind of wanted to visit. Any impressions, other than being in a rush?

#108 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 10:39 AM:

96:[SCENE: A whole lot of people sitting around being French (or looking French, anyway, eating French toast and French fries and French kissing in the corners, stuff like that). One of them goes to the piano and strikes up The Marseillaise. Everyone joins in singing it, but then a deranged bald man rushes in:]

XOPHER: Cannibals! CANNIBALS!! CANNNNNIBALS!

[The French people barely seem to notice.

Because they're all under 30? And gay?

#109 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 11:49 AM:

@ *nh and elise, how did you end up choosing those trains?

I plugged in "Amsterdam-Rome" on the French and Belgian railway websites (I couldn't find it on the Dutch site, my Dutch being next to nonexistent.)

The French one gave me Amsterdam-Paris, then a Paris-Rome night train*.

The Belgian one gave me the exact same timetable you followed.

I would have picked the former were it not for your travel stories. Now, if I ever have to go there, I'll plump for the breathtaking** version instead.


*Took this in my first and only trip to Italy as a lone traveler. Pitch black outside, so I saw nothing, but shared the compartment with a young Mexican and his parents. He was taking them on their first-ever holiday outside Mexico. His parents spoke no English, I spoke very little Spanish, but we had a wonderful time. At around midnight, the father opened the bottle of special tequila he'd been saving to celebrate.

**from stress, panic, fatigue, or awe. Mostly awe.

#110 ::: Arwel ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 12:39 PM:

pendrift @109: The Deutsche Bahn site gives exactly the schedule the *NHs got, if you plug in Amsterdam and Roma with an 07:00 departure, with platform information as far as Lugano - http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

#111 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 02:11 PM:

ajay @ 105: "There were 172 nations on the Earth at this time, but only one had a national anthem that consisted of gibberish punctuated with question marks". - Slaughterhouse-5, I think.

Breakfast of Champions, I'm pretty sure.

#112 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 03:25 PM:

re @105, @111, someone else made note of this: Star-Mangled Banner

#113 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 03:42 PM:

David Manheim, #107: I'm afraid my impressions of Mannheim are mostly formed by the rather industrial bits we sped through. The train station seemed nice, though.

#114 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 06:45 PM:

DavidM@107: I spent a few days in the station hotel a \long/ time ago; the town as I recall was rather industrial (we were there to pick up a camper conversion of a VW minibus). But the area was pretty, as Patrick notes; we took the trolley to Heidelberg, which is in a gorge where Mannheim was flat.

#115 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 09:24 PM:

Quoth CHip @ 114 ... Heidelberg, which is in a gorge where Mannheim was flat.

The latter is, as everyone knows, due to the steamroller.

#116 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 10:31 PM:

Not long back I read Riding the Rails, by Andy Isaacson (NYT, 8 Mar 2009), about his cross-country USA rail trip. It ends with a list of Noted Rail Journeys, including The Overlander – Auckland-Wellington, New Zealand – and something like your Alpine experience.

Glacier Express, Switzerland
This breathtaking, seven-and-a-half-hour journey from St.-Moritz or Davos to Zermatt through a Swiss alpine wonderland rollercoasters across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and over the Rhone and Rhine Rivers and the 6,670-foot-high Oberal Pass. The postcard views include the Matterhorn. (www.glacierexpress.ch; www.raileurope.com) …
The Ghan – full trip Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin, southern to northern coast of Australia – didn't make the list.

… I should get out of Sydney for a while. Help a regional economy …

#117 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 11:14 PM:

*puts a bag over Clifton's head, cutting off his air supply*

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 11:51 PM:

Xopher @ 117... Isn't Clifton's suffocation a bit extreme? Besides, I rather liked it myself.

#119 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 12:36 AM:

117, 118 Re 115: It wasn't a pun, but what should it (properly) be called?

#120 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 12:49 AM:

Xopher@117: If you do that, you'll never get the full story; all you'll have will be Clifton's notes.

#121 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 01:44 AM:

Epacris, #116: I've taken the Ghan Adelaide-Alice Springs, almost 10 years ago (I think the rest of the line up to Darwin wasn't finished). It's a beautiful experience!

#122 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 01:50 AM:

Rob @ #119, Autofill?

(ducks)

#123 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 03:12 AM:

[Pops head out of bag briefly] If it's not a pun, then at least you could admire its craftwork. [Retreats into bag again]

#124 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 05:34 AM:

The Overlander – Auckland-Wellington, New Zealand

I have fond memories of The Northerner, the opposite train going north overnight (a rare bird - a night train with an observation car!)

#125 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 06:14 AM:

cd @121, yes, there was a ‘temporary pause’ in construction in 1926. It arrived at Darwin in 2004.

Not unlike Sydney's Eastern Suburbs Railway, or still-planned second airport. The Parramatta-to-Chatswood Rail Link bids fair to become another on indefinite hold.

Alex @124, NTBCW The Overland, which does Melbourne-Adelaide. Night observation sounds lovely. Sydney-Melbourne used to have The Spirit of Progress or Southern Aurora, but the Public Transport Prevention Group's Special Rail Section delights in quashing such fripperies.

#126 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 06:47 AM:

Speaking of puns, I believe that being thrown from a moving vehicle into traffic deserves its own word, and it is insufficient for it to be merely categorized with mundane defenestration. A name for the act of jumping from a moving vehicle into traffic (to avoid a pun, or for other, lesser, reasons) also deserves some consideration from neologismitects.

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 07:40 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 126... Would 'discarded' do?

#128 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 08:22 AM:

Xopher@117

cutting off his air supply

Don't think a paper bag will be enough for that. Ear plugs might work. Unless Clifton has the music turned up very loud.

#129 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 08:30 AM:

115, 117, 118, et seq.:

Is Xopher Cross?

#130 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 08:46 AM:

Ginger@129

Hope not. Cross Xopher's can cause all kinds of problems. Especially with continuity and that sort of thing.

#131 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 09:13 AM:

126: well, "currus" is a chariot, and "e" or "ex" means "out of", so what about "eccurrence"? It would do for both; you could eccurr someone, or simply eccurr.

...any particular reason you need to know this?

#132 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 11:58 AM:

Well, to find out whether I'm cross, I'll have to take a Journey to Cairo, where I'll be a Foreigner. Once there I should be able to determine the crux of the matter.

#133 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 12:43 PM:

There's gotta be a Hot Cross Buns joke in there somewhere.

#134 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 04:21 PM:

Mez: it's under the pony.

#135 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 06:43 PM:

The Spirit of Progress

A science-fiction conference should have been held on that train.

#136 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 08:23 PM:

I am eagerly looking forward to asking questions about the Olive Oil Adventure. I hear that T was botanizing like mad.

#137 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 12:30 AM:

linkmeister @79
Wait, you vacationed in *both* Switzerland *and* Fresno in 1984? That's ... full spectrum traveling, that is. Surprised you didn't get the bends.

Clifton @103
I didn't get to Europe until I was in my 50s (after the dot-com bust layoff of blessed memory). Believe me, it's still good. I called it "The Knees Are Still Good" Tour.

#138 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 11:01 AM:

Enquiring minds would like to know: which part of the marathon trip's Swiss leg was the pretty one, Basel—Arth-Goldau, or Arth-Goldau—Lugano? An unexpected trip to Switzerland is in the works.

#139 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 11:49 AM:

Pendrift @ 138: i can't address the question directly, but I spent a couple of weeks in Lugano once and loved it. It's gorgeous and nearly vertical.

#140 ::: Carrie S. sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2012, 10:16 AM:

It's a substantive comment, but not for this thread.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.