On the Golden Pass Line to Interlaken

These pictures don’t even come close to doing justice to the beauty we saw along the way from Montreux to Interlaken. The weather was rainy at times, but it kind of made the views all the more spectacular. You leave Montreux winding your way up switchbacks with ever changing views of Lake Geneva, you go through beautiful forests and small towns, incredibly green farmland, and lots and lots of views of the hills, valleys, and mountain peaks. It was a fascinating ride.

SNAFU French Style

Well I thought the French high speed train system would run on a tight schedule and missing connections wouldn’t be an issue. And I was wrong. Our TGV from Tours was supposed to connect in Massy (i.e., the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Paris) to hop another TGV down to Avignon. Unfortunately the first train was late and the connecting train was not. Which meant we got to spend four hours at the Massy train station. But we made lemonade. The temperature was comfortable, the toilettes were clean, food was available, and there was a comfy little cafe table for us to while away the hours. I actually managed to write 26 postcards during that time. It turned out to be time well spent.

First Day in the Loire: Amboise

Last summer I lost steam recapping my summer vacation on MyPorch and gave up the chronicle about half way through. I think I was trying to include too much detail and tried to do a day by day chronicle. This proved more oppressive than interesting for me and probably for you all as well. So this year I will post as much or as little as I think you might find interesting. And I will intersperse it with other stuff so it isn’t like being forced to watch someone’s vacation slides.

After a flight that literally and figuratively flew by, we landed at Charles de Gaulle on August 22nd and hopped a fast train to the TGV station just outside of Tours in the Loire Valley. On the train there were two female backpackers that reinforced every stereotype Americans have about Europeans not showering enough. I have no problem with a little musk here and there, especially in the European context, but man oh man, did those ladies reek. Even the locals on the train were covering their noses.

We picked up our rental car without any problem and then drove to Amboise where we picked up our friends Ron and Barry at the train station. The weather was warm and sunny. Hot in the sun but really, really pleasant in the shade. We started things off with a little lunch on a lovely green garden terrace before we walked around town a bit and visited the chateau in Amboise.

Transit in Melbourne

The trams, trains, and buses in Melbourne are really a thing to behold—or better yet, to use. The tram system alone is a marvel. Creating a comprehensive grid across the central business district and the inner suburb neighborhoods, this is not some anemic North American attempt at light rail transit. Instead of one or two lines connecting the airport and the convention center like most modern American systems, the system in Melbourne really makes it easy to get around the entire city. (This is like the kind of streetcar systems that used to be a part of most American cities before General Motors and the petroleum industry set out to systematically destroy those systems in favor of bus service.) And where the tram doesn’t go, there is commuter rail and buses to fill in the gaps.

The Melbourne system uses a variety of rolling stock that includes quaint old street cars to the most modern tram cars and everything in between. Not only is the tram system far quieter than buses, but they emit no exhaust, and, well, they just look pretty.