Insert Sigh Here.

I was going through old Chocolate + Zucchini posts (because that’s where the recipes live) when I bumped into this:

Let me start this post by declaring my love for the Northern European high-speed train network: Northern European high-speed train network, I love you.

Really, can anyone think of anything more enthusing than the fact that London’s Borough Market, Amsterdam’s rijsttafels, and Strasbourg’s flammekueche are just a couple of hours away from Paris, and that the trip to get there does not involve taking off your belt, your shoes, and the filling in your left molar, nor tossing out your only bottle of contact lens cleanser? I can’t either.*

I am so jealous.  Why does the American train system stink?  Why can’t we clamber aboard a train and catapult to  New York, D.C., Baltimore, Montréal?  I know what you’re thinking: Nayiri, you can take a train to New York, D.C., Baltimore and Montréal (but only if you first take a train to New York).  To that, I say Pshaw.

The so-called express train from Boston to New York takes a bit over three hours, barely swifter than the amount of time it takes to drive the 190 miles and running you something like a hundred dollars.  The high-speed train traversing the 440-mile distance between Boston and Washington costs you $175 and almost seven hours of your life — just one hour faster than it would have taken had you been behind the wheel of a car.

On the other hand, the high-speed train between Madrid and Barcelona, which covers 390 miles, takes just under three hours for the same price as our Boston-Washington train.  Ditto the train from Paris to Marseilles: $150-something for a three-hour ride covering 410 miles.

What the heck, Amtrak?  Are you trying to make it difficult for people to travel from city to city with comfort and ease?

Not only is traveling via train clearly a more scenic option than flying (clouds and unrecognizable patches of green both get boring after a while), but it’s significantly better for the environment.  At TerraPass, you can calculate your of CO2 travel emissions; if Keith and I were to fly to New York from Boston, we would each produce 132 pounds of CO2.  Multiply that by the 188 other passengers on our Boeing 737, and things start to get a little scary.  Take those same 188 people and put them on a train with me and Keith; we’d each only generate 77 pounds of CO2.  And that’s only for a 190 mile journey.  Imagine what the numbers would look like for the 440 miles between Boston and Washington, or the 390 miles between Madrid and Barcelona…

Of course, there are some instances in which plane trumps train — I’ll never be able to book a train to take me to my Kenyan safari, or to visit my grandmother in Manila — but the fact remains that trains are not only “greener,” but also more relaxing (no stress at airport security or behind the wheel).  Not to mention you can hop on to most trains’ WiFi, use your phone, and actually move around the cars if you want to stretch your legs.  No waiting until the train is an hour out of the station, unlike planes and their gates.

But here’s one of my most favorite things about train travel, though: you can pack a couple sandwiches and a bottle of wine, and have yourself a nice (moving) picnic as the world whizzes by.  Try doing that on Delta.

* From this post.