19 April 2010

You mean people still do this?

Ooh look, a train station! The Gare du Nord in Paris, to be precise. Not very long ago, either. So, contrary to the current television news coverage, it is still possible to get about without flying.

Listening to BBC Breakfast this morning, it was borne in upon me to what extent the right to take a plane absolutely everywhere really is taken for granted now. Woeful tales of coming from Rome by train, crossing the Channel by boat, and going to Belfast via Scotland (Stranraer) - sheer torture, evidently. Any of these was quite normal even twenty years ago, because flying was so expensive, and they could actually be the most pleasant and meaningful ways of getting there. Yes, I love flying, but my journeys by land and sea were considerable adventures in their own right, and a real indication that I'd travelled hundreds of miles - I don't suppose I'll ever forget the moonlit journey to Stranraer to catch the ferry to Belfast, or getting on board a ferry from a motorboat off the coast of Norway, or seeing the hustle and bustle of Basle station in the early hours of the morning. Clearly sometimes a flight is justified, and I sympathise enormously with those travellers who are now stranded, but maybe we need to go back to the significance of the journey as part of a holiday, rather than just rushing to get there?