There is something about waiting for a train in Europe that causes me anxiety. Will I see it? Am I at the right platform? What if it is too short and doesn’t reach all the way down to me? What if I get on the wrong car, sit in the wrong seat, not knowing the language? What if someone is in my seat and won’t move? What if they don’t understand me?
I don’t remember Amtrak being this difficult as a child, but I was a child then, following those older and taller, from Mattoon to Chicago and back. I find the bus easier. Only one door from the terminal, where we can all line up. Only one door to the bus. Only one driver, who you hand your ticket to.
No matter how many times I have read Rick Steves’ advice for train travel, I find a mystery in the train. And I never find comfort until the conductor has arrived, punched my ticket, allowed me to stay seated where I am. But then a new anxiety arrives. What if I fall asleep? What if I wake up 2 hours past my destination? And which of these people near me is going to steal my bag?