more articles like this
On a slow train from Poland to Austria
updated: Jan 09, 2010, 9:00 AM
By John McCafferty (aka McSeas)
Eastern Europe... O heavy sigh... the train from Krakov to Vienna was crawling slowly, how slowly, along... It was nearly an empty train, 10 cars long, averaging a few passengers to each car.
A Sri Lankan guy was having a great old time talking to us -- interestingly and amazingly -- about the tsunami last year, but his cough was chronic and ominous. When he mentioned that he was not in his assigned seat, Sharon politely hinted that he should move. (SD notes: I said exactly and gently, "I'm afraid I might catch your cold.") He said he didn't have a cold, just a cough, but, to her relief, he moved.
It was early in the morning and I craved coffee, so I walked about four cars to the bar car. Two server types were banging on the door of what appeared to be the kitchen. I said, "No coffee? I walked several kilometers to get here!" They shook their heads, NO, and kept banging. I guess the "cook" was oversleeping.
Damn Eastern Europe! I thought. But, oh well, five or six hours to go and we'd be over the Polish and Czech borders and back to civilization.
SD, meanwhile, was out in the aisle trying to stop the trashcan lid from rattling incessantly.
Rocketing along south, and across the end of Czech Republic, suddenly I felt sentimental. Seeing the yellow fields of rape (source of canola oil) growing amidst miles of what appears to be grain, I heard Gordon Lightfoot singing somewhere in the corridor of my mind (he and Jackson Browne pulled me through my midlife crisis). "Comin' down through fields of grain on the summer side of life …"
Maybe I was sentimental because I was leaving the Old Europe for perhaps the last time. Why would I go back? More important, who cares? So, enough a'ready.
…"In the early mornin' rain … with a dollar in my hand… with an achin' in my heart, and a pocketful of sand …"
Except that I might come back to set something straight: I'm still thinking about Prague and feel sure that it is the queen of centuries-old architecture. The "old town" part is overwhelming, huge, borderline amazing. Don't miss it … I wanted a happy feeling about Prague to stay with me, not the sadness of a friend's death, not the crowds and the pickpocket.
…"I'm a long way from home … and I miss my loved one so … in the early mornin' rain, with no place to go …"
Old Bruges, Belgium, is outstanding on a smaller scale, as are other old towns here and there, like Krakow's. But there's only one Prague … sigh …
"Let us go then, you and I …" this time to Salzburg, Austria, home of the divinely created genius W.A. Mozart, and near the home of that fiendish freak of nature, Adolf Schicklegruber. We'll pass on Hitler's hometown, Braunau, Austria (his family home is still unmarked, I read, but who cares?).
We had to change trains in Vienna for a short ride to Salzburg. That would complete our visiting of the three classical music capitals, with Prague and Krakow.
Guten Nacht aus Osterreich.
One of the many fields of rape planted across Europe.
# # # #
Two Czech farm boys, through a smudged train window.
# # # #
2 comments on this article. Read/Add
# # # #