Monday, January 21, 2013

Train Whistles

The most romantic sound in the world to me is that of a train whistle.  That melancholy sound says, "I'm going on an adventure -- and you're not.  But you can dream about going somewhere, someday."  And I remember previous train rides.  When I was six or seven, every summer my Dad would put Mother and me on the train from Kansas City, Mo. to San Antonio, Tx. to visit my mother's parents, brothers and their wives and kids.  When Daddy's two-week vacation started, he would drive to San Antonio, visit and drive us home again.

I loved seeing scenery peel past the windows; the cunning way the living room by day transformed into the bedroom at night.  The wheel clack that was so soothing, "Don't worry - relax - I'm taking you there."  

We've ridden the French TVG twice, both times from Paris to Marseilles.  Accustomed to American trains, their interiors were a surprise to us,  more like a plane's interior - pull down trays from the backs of the seats in front of you ... food and drink attendants...  

What on earth prompted this meandering business about trains,  you may ask.  The last page of the February/March issue of National Geographic Traveler (who would know travel better?) is a paen of sorts to the Grand Central Terminal  in Manhattan.    

The Oyster Bar has been shucking (and possibly jiving) since 1913!  It opened just three weeks after the terminal did.  In February, 2013, the terminal will be 100 years old. 

"I'll meet you under the clock at Grand Central" has been a rendezvous for millions of people over the years.  In that same spot, there's a hidden spiral staircase that the staff uses to go from the information booths on the main and the lower levels.

Another secret -- underneath the Waldorf Astoria Hotel there is a hidden platform and a rail car that was used to move dignitaries from the terminal to the hotel.  The rail car pulled up to the platform, the dignitaries got out; one of their staff pushed the elevator button and -- presto, up to the guest's room!  Or... maybe it could have been used to Dixie on the hotel charges... 

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