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.
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.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. 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!