Traveling By Train

Day 8 #WorldWatercolorGroup Traveling By Train Interior Train Seats with Window First Class

My absolute favorite way to travel is by train, but unfortunately we don’t have a proper public train system here in America. I only get to experience real train travel on my trips to Europe. I hate driving, and flying on a plane requires the occasional interaction with a flight attendant. Traveling by train is the blissful experience of being able to ignore everyone around you entirely and simply watching the speeding landscape pass while doing whatever you like. You get to eat on your terms by grabbing something out of your bag or heading to the dining car when you feel it’s time to do so. This, of course, is the dreamy first class tourist version of train travel and not likely something felt all the time by daily commuters, but it’s an amazing experience. Until that one time, when heading back to Madrid, I wanted to save a few bucks and try the extreme economy class. That was a different experience entirely.

On the way to Southern Spain, I experienced white linen table cloths and venison pâté in a lovely uninhabited dining car. I felt like I was some sort of celebrity. Not an A-List one of course, as they would be traveling entirely alone, but some C-List celebrity who could just afford to travel well and was too unpopular to ever risk being recognized. When it was time to return to Madrid in order to head back to the States, however, my friends suggested we conserve our cash and travel the lowest class available. Though my initial reaction was full on dread, I found this to be a rather sensible thing to do, so I agreed. Gone were the white tablecloths and I was suddenly spending several hours in a overcrowded cabin, sitting next to a man who was greedily eating jamón chips while wiping his greasy hands all over his legs. The smell was so overwhelming my eyes teared up. This was made particularly awkward, because we were all being forced to watch a Spanish version of the live action Scooby Doo movie.

As people stared at me wondering why this ridiculous movie had moved me to tears, I simply closed my eyes and waiting for the whole experience to end. Actually, that part’s not entirely true, as I rather liked the Scooby Doo movie so I watched it in its entirety first. But after that, I tried to go to sleep. I think I dreamed I was being attacked by a large potato chip that smelled like ham, so it wasn’t a particularly restful slumber. At the time, I was crushed that I had missed out on a truly wonderful bit of train travel during that last leg of our trip. But like all of my experiences, I also rather loved it because it was a new one. Granted, I’ve never signed up to experience it again, but I love the fact that I did. Though it might seem better to recall by trip to Spain as a world of pâté and linen table cloths, I’ll instead remember it for Scooby Doo and jamón chips, and that one glorious time, I truly traveled by train.

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About the Doodlewash

M. Graham Watercolors:  Cobalt Teal, Gamboge, Pyrrol Red, Permanent Green Pale, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Blue. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal.
Day 8 #WorldWatercolorGroup Traveling By Train Interior Train Seats with Window First Class
Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
69 Comments
  1. Margaret Parker Brown 11 months ago

    I love travelling by train and have only truly been on one once…..on one once, hehe that sounds a little awkward but fun….well, back to the train….On my first ever train ride, we hit a truck and were delayed an hour, since no one died, we were released sooner than later. Still fun and I prefer the train to travel nowadays. Your economy trip to Madrid was one heck of a story, so funny, you are right that story will be the one to stick in your memory the most. Great post!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Margaret! 😃💕 Oh my goodness! That was quite an eventful first train ride! Yikes! Glad there were no fatalitites. Never had anything that eventful happen!! Certainly makes Jamón chips look mild in comparison!

  2. Teri C 11 months ago

    I also love train travel. We traveled in a sleeper from Wisconsin to Seattle. What fun. I really felt like a celebrity with our own porter. Taking a shower in our sleeper was another interesting experience. Imagine sitting on a toilet with the shower hose in hand trying to wash with the train lurching from side to side. Ok, TMI 😂😂
    Thanks for the memories with your wonderful sketch!

    • Author

      Thanks, Teri!! 😃💕 Hahaha! That’s an awesome story… is it just me or is TMI just super fun! Lol Love it! Yeah… hygiene is an interesting experience for sure on trains! 😂

      • Teri C 11 months ago

        Yes it is!

  3. magedark 11 months ago

    I love going by train to places, although sometimes due to the price versus planes/the length of the trip versus planes, I have to fly. I like flying as well, but nothing beats the comfort and view of the train. Such a shame the US doesn’t have a wide reaching, decent train system, but when I can utilize them, it’s always a fun time.

    • Author

      Yay! 😃💕 So glad to hear your a fan of trains as well! It’s so true… trains are just so much more comfortable than other forms of travel. I’ve been on planes with so much turbulence that it’s horrible. hehe

  4. Susan Feniak 11 months ago

    My bucket list includes a ride on a train. I have yet to have that pleasure. Thank you for the story Charlie. 🙂 xx

    • Author

      Thanks, Susan! 😃💕 I wow… you definitely need to mark this one off your bucket list. Trains are such a wonderful experience. I’ve actually never ridden on one since I started sketching, so I hope to ride again just to sketch along the way!

  5. Carol 11 months ago

    It would be so awkward to travel alone and have to share the allotted leg room with the stranger sitting across from you. Could make for some interesting travels! Planes have closer quarters but at least you don’t have to face each other. I love to visit new places but find the actual traveling part a bit stressful. Since time travel hasn’t been invented yet, I guess we have to go through the necessity evils to explore this wonderful world. Great doodlewash, Charlie!

    • Author

      Thanks, Carol! 😃💕 Oooooo… time travel would be so amazing!! Lol But you’re so right on the leg room… I’ve had some awkward train trips since I have long legs. hehe

  6. Jill Kuhn 11 months ago

    I haven’t had many experiences of traveling by train. I’d love to travel to Europe someday and experience it this way. Always enjoy hearing about your adventures, Charlie! ❤️🎨😄🛤

    • Author

      Thanks, Jill! 😃💕 I highly recommend it… I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but it’s just magical for some reason. I really love it! Someday you definitely have to do it!!

  7. itsmyhusbandandme 11 months ago

    I guess it could have been worse. He could have been wiping his greasy hands all over you! Nice carriage – now why aren’t Southern Trains like that?

    • Author

      Thanks! 😃 hehe… yeah… you’re right. But at one point when his pants became so covered it was pointless to wipe, I almost though he eyed my pants as a possible next victim. lol

  8. memadtwo 11 months ago

    My father worked for the railroad, and back in the day, we could travel for free. That was way before Amtrak…but as a non-driver, I do wish, along with you, that we had better train service in the States. Still, along the east coast and in the NYC metro area, not too bad. (K)

    • Author

      That’s awesome, Kerfe! 😃💕 Yeah… it would be nice to have trains as a real option for travel here. It’s more for commuters and long trips. Would be great to have a high speed train from LA to NYC to catch!

      • memadtwo 11 months ago

        That’s a great idea.

  9. Laura (PA Pict) 11 months ago

    I would love to take a luxury train journey. I’ve touched The Orient Express when it was in a station in France but some day I’d like to board it. Unfortunately most of my extensive train experience was either commuting in and out of cities (for London paying through the nose for a season ticket doesn’t remotely guarantee a seat) or traveling between London and Edinburgh to visit my family (a seat at least but pretty basic).

    • Author

      Yeah, the first class journey wasn’t much more money because they have a deal for overseas tourists. That’s why I sort of regretted not taking them on it for that final leg! Oh well… makes for fun stories at least! Lol

  10. Angie 11 months ago

    I love traveling by train, too, which I am doing quite a bit these days. Thanks for sharing your story. It made me laugh. Love your storytelling. 🙂

    • Author

      Awww thanks so much, Angie! 😃💕 Hehe… glad you liked this story. It was certainly a funny experience, at least after the fact. Not sure if I was laughing much about it at the time though. 😊

  11. Ellie 11 months ago

    Laughing out loud, snorting coffee with your telling of the jabon chips and Scooby bringing tears to your eyes. You are priceless, Charlie. And that Doodlewash – you have such a way with glass and reflections. Wonderful post!

    • Author

      Thanks, Ellie!! 😃💕 Lol… hope I didn’t cause a messy coffee snort… those are the worst! You’re so sweet… thanks for the wonderful compliments. So happy you liked this!

  12. Jodi 11 months ago

    I’ve always wanted to travel by train. I’ll remember to book first class only! 🙂

  13. Tom Merriman 11 months ago

    Your last train journey sounds like the last train journey I went on, Charlie. I was travelling back from Birmingham, somehow I managed to get the last seat, and spent the next hour or so with a man I never knew sat on my shoulder. He couldn’t help it, though, as none of us could move. I vowed never to take the train again after that journey… although I probably will one day. Especially if the carriage looks like your painting!

    • Author

      Oh my! That’s the worst!! Yeah… The love of train travel break downs quickly when it’s a crowded cabin. I hate that! But definitely try again and hope for a light travel day! 😉

      • Tom Merriman 11 months ago

        I may do, one day, once I’ve worked myself up to it again! 😉

  14. SHARON HASCHALK 11 months ago

    After a very stressful day, Charlie, your post was just what I needed. You poor thing, the economy train ride didn’t sound very nice, but like everyone said, it’s probably the one that will stick in your mind the most. But the luxury train ride sounded like something right out of Agatha Christie. I watch Poirot on Netflix and they show him riding the train sometimes, very elegant. It would make me feel very special I think!! Love your painting of the train compartment, too. Have a great weekend Charlie. Hugs from Sharon in Florida.

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Yeah…first class is the only way to go. Mainly because it’s actually affordable on a train! Hehe…I wouldn’t have done it if it’s cost too much. I’m too cheap. 😊 And love Poirot! Hugs back to you!

  15. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 11 months ago

    I wrote a rather long -ish comment about train travel, and WordPress lost it. So I won’t attempt to re-write but will just convey that I like your view out your train window. And those red head rests – oh yeah!

    • Author

      Oh no! Would have love to have read your comment! But thank you for this one! I so glad you liked it! Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕

  16. Anthony Wade 11 months ago

    I love traveling by train! I went on my first high-speed train ride several months ago, and since then, I’ve been angry that America hasn’t built a legit/extensive training system. Hopefully one day

    • Author

      Yeah… totally agree, Anthony! Every time I return from Europe, it’s so irritating to think America forgot to build public transporation.

      • Anthony Wade 10 months ago

        Perhaps, in the future, it will improve. Fingers crossed!

  17. […] I don’t know whether I am regretful or thankful that U.S. trains are not like Spanish trains. […]

  18. My Travel Addicted Life 10 months ago

    I agree, the states train system is embarrassing. I loved using the rails in Europe.

  19. […] then I find them rather enjoyable, even without my trusty activity book. I think this is why I love traveling by train. Nobody ever asks you to stop what you’re doing and drive it. You can simply focus on the […]

  20. APlaceWeLike 10 months ago

    YES YES YES!! Trains are the coolest way to travel, period 🙂 We are planing on doing a train trip: Krakow – Prague – Vienna. Two days in each city, night on train.. can’t wait! Is the train system that bad in States? Always thought it’s very good, maybe because of the movies 😛

    • Author

      Thanks! 😃Your trip sounds awesome! But yes… train travel is horrible in the States. hehe…. not quite the same at all!

      • APlaceWeLike 10 months ago

        Who would have thought! I’m loving your blog, I’m giving you a follow 😊 and stop-by my blog if you want to read some of my travel articles! We’ll keep updated with our train journey !

      • Author

        Awesome! I’ll definitely check it out!

      • APlaceWeLike 10 months ago

        Thanks a million !

  21. Foxstreet 10 months ago

    Reblogged this on Secret Admirer Society.

  22. Marrakech Tours 10 months ago

    Thanks for this wonderful post! 🙂

  23. Sarah 10 months ago

    I love travelling by train but I agree – in first class when you don’t have to talk to anyone coz everyone is just as aloof as you pretend to be 🙂 .. currently planning a Trans Canada rail trip – in a sleeper of course!!

  24. capturegrab247 10 months ago

    I love the relaxation of travelling on a train. Alone time to watch the journey unfold second by second, the constant view of new scenery that takes away your breath. The different sounds and light rush through the pane and become as one! Great post.

  25. theartofwanderingsite 10 months ago

    I love this, it explores a different and usually not recognised way of seeing the world. Im going to be sure to check out the rest of your blog as it’s truly inspirational to someone like me who has just started their own travel blog! thank you

  26. […] via Traveling By Train — Doodlewash […]

  27. mycountryepoque 9 months ago

    I live in Europe. And I hate travelling by train. I rather fly from mine to the other pond. It is indeed very hectic travelling by trains which is more likely to be overcrowded at all times. But then on the good thing travelling by trains is that you get to see the beautiful country views as the trains speeds along the rails.

    • Author

      I’ve never lived there for a long period of time, so I’m sure it’s much different when you do! Or maybe I picked some really odd times because the trains I was on weren’t crowded. If they were… I would probably jump off and run on foot to the nearest airport! 😉

      • mycountryepoque 9 months ago

        Thanks Charlie. Living here yes, that’s what I meant that I rather fly than take the trains.

  28. keepcalmkami 9 months ago

    I love this! I’ve had my fair share of weird train experiences. And I recently wrote about a weird almost train experience (albeit minus the jamón) on my blog too. I’m heading to Europe at the end of the month and I’m so excited to experience the public transportation. It seems like an adventure!

    • Author

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 That’s awesome! I is really fun… particularly if you’re just visiting and don’t have to be a commuter heading to work, of course! hehe But hope you have an awesome trip!!

  29. Ankita Shreeram 8 months ago

    I remember writing a school essay about long-distance train travel. The scenes that pass by outside the window – they always seemed like secret glimpses into alien lives to me.

    • Author

      That’s a such a wonderful and fun way to think about those glimpses out a train window! Thanks for sharing that, Ankita! 😃💕

  30. deahh 8 months ago

    I love train travel. If I have to choose between a two hour flight (with a cab to the airport, one hour minimum arrival, then a cab into the city from the destination airport) and a train ride, I will always pick the train ride. For longer journeys, if the price is right, an overnight train ride is awesome because you arrive at your destination, awake and ready to see the sights, and you didn’t have to get a hotel or hostel! Trains are the way to go!

    • Author

      Totally agree!! Overnight trains are so wonderful!! such a fun way to travel. And I can actually sleep on trains… I never can on planes which makes long travel super tiring!! 😊

  31. insight Wanderlust 6 months ago

    absolutely agree. trains are totally missing in America! Japan and parts of Europe have amazing train systems 🙂

  32. nextvacationstore 5 months ago

    Reblogged this on #TRAVEL TO #INSPIRE.

  33. mrstressbuster 5 months ago

    Recently, I made a 1400 kilometers (2 full days) train journey, it has its own charm. we went to the World’s highest motorable road, you may like to check it out : http://wp.me/p8p4rd-v9

    • Author

      Wow! That sounds like a fabulous trip! Thanks so much for sharing! 😃💕

      • mrstressbuster 5 months ago

        Indeed, it was an awesome experience to be surrounded by mountains at 18000 feet high.

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