Retired people travel. Maybe we don’t know what else to do, maybe we are completing our bucket lists. It’s certainly easier to travel if you don’t have to tote the kids. Some just follow the sun – the warmth feels good on tired bones. You don’t have to hurry back and show up at the office. Whatever the reason, a lot of the tourists you’ll meet will be middle-aged or better.
This summer, I’ve taken two trips, so far. I went to Brazil in June, and last week I took my granddaughter with me by train to Seattle. Of course, to get to Brazil, I had to fly. In my book, the train compared favorably. We had a sleeping car, so I could actually lie down to sleep. What a concept! The leg room was better and the view was better. The food was a lot better. You could get up and walk around. Both trips were just short of twenty-two hours (There were two plane changes en route to Brazil). The plane trip was sheer torture. It’s been quite a few years since my last long flight. In the meanwhile, I have gotten older and airplane seats have gotten smaller, with less leg room. Not a good combination. I’ve always been a budget, adventure traveller. I think the next, long trip will have to be something better than coach.
In Brazil, we went to out-of-the-way places and stayed in small pousadas. That’s where I wanted to go and those were the accommodations available. The beds were slightly less comfortable than the one in the train’s sleeping car. I think this bothered my younger companions, in each case, more than me. However, I definitely had more difficulty while in the air than my companion. I was unable to get comfortable to sleep, and at times, even to sit. The meals, which were not great (you know airplane food!), sat like a rock in my stomach. There wasn’t enough room, apparently, for it to travel into my intestines. The after dinner walk had to wait until the stewards were through serving, and then it was short, just the length of the plane. After twenty or so hours of this, when we finally landed in Brasilia, I was a real mess. I had the worst jet lag and motion sickness I’ve ever experienced. I had planned for a recovery day. It took me two days to recover. After that my trip was all it should be: joyful, pleasant, and exciting.
My young traveling companion on the train, who was only eight years old, found the train trip rather a bore. She liked the dining car and having our own little room, but she was much less enamored of the observation car than I was. I could have spent quite a bit of time there, watching the scenery, but of course that was not enough for her. We played quite a bit of “Go Fish.” We took pictures out the train window. Many of the better photos were taken by her. She watched movies on my laptop, while I looked out the window. I could have done so for hours. The Coast Starlight is one of the most beautiful train routes in the country. Even in our tiny sleeping car, I had more leg room than in any airplane. I look forward to my next train trip, which could be solo.