How Very Civilized

It’s back. Oh no, really? Yes. It’s here again.

I’m speaking of the entity known as jet lag.

It’s percolating on a “medium” setting at this moment, but give it another day or two and I’ll be at full on speaking gibberish and wandering around catatonic.

I’m quite certain zombie mode will come on full strength right about the time I have to give my very important presentation to a VERY large crowd.

This post has only just begun and I’m already digressing.

This is your brain. This is your brain on jetlag.

Anyhoo, there was a topic I wanted to talk about. What was it? Oh yes, I got it.

As I made reservations for my trip to the UK on my work travel system, it asked me nicely if I wanted to rent a car, to which I replied “oh hell no.”

Driving on the other side of the road in another country and through one of the largest cities in the world just after coming off a ten hour airplane flight does not sound like my idea of a good time.

At all.

It was recommended that I take a train from London to my destination about an hour and twenty minutes away. “It’s easy,” they said.

“They” being people who live here and are used to it. It’s a different perspective if it’s what you know.

Me, I was a bit nervous. I’ve always heard that the rail system in Europe is amazing beyond belief, but you never know until you are up to your eyeballs in it. It requires a bit of jumping into the deep end to see if you can figure out how to swim.

I was advised to take something called the Heathrow Express to London’s Paddington station. For fans of children’s books, that’s the same train station where the famous Paddington Bear was found by the Brown family.

The Good Man wanted to pin a note to my shirt saying “Please look after this Karen. Thank you.”

Then from Paddington I was guided to take a train to Newbury. Sounds easy, but I was a little tentative. I can easily get spun around in a busy place.

Turns out, it really was easy. I mean, quite incredible how well organized and very easy to navigate this transit system is.

I think the only hitch in my travel was that my suitcase was a little too large to easily pass through turnstiles and narrow passages.

The train conductor on the First Great Western was a little bothered by where to put my large suitcase (they have only small overhead storage for luggage). But even that wasn’t too challenging.

As I rode for a little more than an hour on the very clean, smooth and efficient rail, I was just so happy. And a little pleased with myself, too.

Until today, I’d considered the T in Boston, the Metro in New York and Atlanta’s Marta to be the high water mark when it came to easy transit in densely populated areas.

Move aside US transit. Ya’ll got nothing on this.

First Great Western trains in Paddington Station.

Image from the Guardian.

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