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Friendly Friday Challenge – Trains, Tales and Tall Stories

I opt to travel by train if I can.

Not only is it easier on the body, but it’s also a great way to see the countryside from a different angle and meet some fascinating characters.

Tourists waiting for the Norway in the Nutshell Flamsbåna train

By and large, railway passengers enjoy chatting with others along the way or whilst waiting at a station. For a short time, it is as if there’s a bond between them, a camaraderie that you don’t find on a bus or plane.

Travelling on Regional Trains

Whether it’s been travelling at lightning speed on the Shinkansen in Japan, seeing the eternal snow of Jotunheim, Norway, the stunningly picturesque Swiss Alps on the Glacial and Bernina Express, or zooming down a funicular in Poland, or Hong Kong, the experiences I have had travelling by train, have been unforgettable.

It is always a surprise who I meet.

I’ve received invitations from complete strangers to stay on a Norwegian train; I’ve giggled my way on a two-carriage Rail motor filled with very questionable smoke and ageing hippies bound for Sydney and I’ve crossed my fingers on a German fast train, while authorities detonated an unexploded WWII bomb nearby.

I have tried not to witness lewd liaisons across the train’s aisle travelling through Sweden; and I did walk quickly away from an elderly man who flashed his family jewels at me on the tracks to Brisbane, (they were unimpressive, I have to say); each journey so different and unique. There is always something to see outside the window.

train

A friend met her husband to be on a train 12,000 miles from her home.

And in the remotely populated North-Western regions of the Netherlands, I met a Dutch-born Frisian artist who’d immigrated to Australia after W.W.II. Like so many other railway passengers, he had a fascinating story to tell.

The Netherlands Train from Amsterdam to Hindeloopen

I was en route to the small village of Hindeloopen, and his destination, the town of Leeuwarden was a two-hour journey away. We had plenty of time to become acquainted.

He told of old seafaring legends and folk tales and explained how each village in Friesland had over the years, developed art forms specific to each village. Workum specialised in Earthenware, Hindeloopen in costumes and painting, Makkum in pottery, and Leeuwarden in tiles.

The legends he had learned from his grandparents about the once flourishing villages had me transfixed.

Here is one:

Legends from the Sea – a Dutch Folk Tale

A Sea Captain from Stavoren, (a village in the North of The Netherlands, close to Hindeloopen), wanted to impress a pretty girl from his village.

Whenever the sailor returned home from his journeys to the Far East, he’d bring the lady exotic gifts from his travels. In return for his generosity, she promised to marry the Captain, should he be able to bring her something new and unique when he returned home from the next voyage.

Searching far and wide, the Sea Captain found a grain, the colour of pure gold. So confident was he that this would impress the lady back home, he filled his ship to the brim with the golden grain, and returned triumphantly home, ready to claim her hand in marriage.

Unfortunately, the pretty lady rejected his gift and still refused to marry him. 

The sailor was sad, so sad it is said, that he emptied all the ‘golden grain’ into the town’s harbour, causing the harbour of the town of Stavoren, to silt up. As a consequence, the various trading ships were no longer able to moor in the harbour, Stavoren’s economy suffered and the resident’s prosperity declined. The legend has it that the pretty girl died penniless, and of course, without the sailor by her side.

The tale highlights the unpredictable life and fluctuating prospects of the maritime villages of the former Zuiderzee and the citizens’ attempts to explain the rollercoaster of misfortune. To me, the underlying moral has timeless merit. And – I heard it on the train.

Friendly Friday Challenge Prompt: Trains, Tales and Tall Stories

Do you have a favourite train journey?

Do you have a tall story, a folk tale or photographs of a train journey that you would like to feature in a Friendly Friday Challenge post on your blog?

For the next two weeks, construct a blog post with photographs, stories or verse on today’s prompt, tagging it ‘Friendly Friday – Trains, Tales and Tall Stories.’

Pingback to my blog in your post. Then post the published URL in a comment here, on this post, as ping-backs don’t work from every blog site.

See how you can join in.

Friendly Friday Prompts are released every two weeks. Head over to Sarah’s and Sandy’s blog for more prompts.

Friendly Friday

91 thoughts on “Friendly Friday Challenge – Trains, Tales and Tall Stories”

  1. I, too, have had some interesting train rides, including one in Australia where I went through my friend’s suitcase, throwing all her dowdiest clothes out the train window!!!! Years later we chuckled over this when she came to my wedding in California. Such nerve… but she let me do it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We were going from Sydney down to Adelaide, I believe. We were out in the middle of nowhere, but we got to giggling, imagining the same thing. She had a mink stole with heads on it, for Pete’s sake, and an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse with ruffle.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Personally Political! ( I love the user handle). Train travel has all the advantages and less of the disadvantages that come with long distance travel. I especially like the trains that have the glamorous dining cars. It is like a step back in time. What is your favourite railway route?

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  2. I echo your positivity about trains, particularly as we have just returned home from Barcelona by train – a journey of about 1000 miles. If only this weren’t the much more expensive option at a time when we should be getting planes out of the sky!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. The only mass transportation I’ve taken is a bus to and from work in downtown Dallas. Here in the U.S. some trains are veritable tourist trips. One train I would like to take is the Andean Explorer Train – a luxury sleeper vehicle that carries people through the Andes Mountain in Peru. I think that’s the same one that allows people to sit atop it and take in the mountainous sights.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I like train travel too. I travelled to Turkey from Croatia by train when I was at uni. That was my longest train journey. I’d love to travel by train thru Switzerland and take Flam train like you did.you have encountered some very interesting ppl on your train trips.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Tanja, the Norwegian and Swiss trips were absolutely breathtaking. But this is especially so for me when we live in a country without high mountains and snow. I would repeat the trips again in a heartbeat. And not just for the scenery! How long was the trip to Turkey and what route did it take?

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  5. Trains are the best, especially in Europe. We travelled with our three boys through Europe and the UK by train and it was definitely the best way to travel with a 5-, 8- and 11-year-old. Did the same with my parents when I was 12. Kids had room to move, they usually had tables with facing seats so they could play games or do activities. Just a fab way to travel. I still love it (even despite once having to commute an hour each way by train for 3 years 😉).

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    1. Good point you make, Heather. Trains are an excellent way to travel when you have children as you absolutely can do activities on the tables at your seat and you don’t have the problem and you don’t have the problem of getting motion sickness around bends around and up and down hills as you do on a bus. Did you travel through Germany along the Rhine?

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        1. What wonderful memories! I don’t know Bingen. Must Google it. My memories of travelling by train from Frankfurt to Osnabruck and later on to Berlin included some fantastic views of German vinyards and touring along the river.

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  6. I love train travel…InterRailing through Europe as a student was a wonderful way to experience different countries. And thank you for the Virtual Ride on the Zakopane funicular, which I was sad to miss when I was in Zakopane. Now I’ve seen the views!

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    1. Zakopane is quite magical, Sue. At the top of the funicular’s mountain was a lovely restaurant, amazing view of the Tatras and various market stalls geared at tourists and locals. I could have stayed for a week. I felt a real affinity for the area. Did you try that amazing sheep’s cheese traditional to the region?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I, too, loved that region, Amanda! And, yes, I did try the sheep’s cheese. We had a horse drawn cart ride up into the mountains one day, but alas it was raining quite a bit so the views weren’t very good at all.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I laughed out loud at the image of an Aussie showing you his family jewels in Brisbane! That happened a few times to me on buses in Glasgow… Love, love traveling by train and it is particularly good in Europe. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Japanese trains are incredibly punctual and the Swiss trains as well. The orderliness and structure of moving massess of people and still adhering to timetables is admirable. I loved the regional areas around Fuji. A very special part of Japan, as if any parts of Japan are not special!

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    1. It was actually in Central station that the flasher appeared, whilst I was waiting to board the Brisbane train. I panicked the next morning after breakfast on my way back from the dining car, as I saw the same man on my train! The guard told me he had a first class ticket and travelled up and down to Brisbane regularly.

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  8. Some good stories here, Amanda. No trains here on the Big Island, but I do have fond memories of trains I’ve taken in the past. The first that spring to mind are the old, clunky trains chugging through the jungles of Central America, open windows with no glass, and a very relaxed attitude to timetables!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The South American attitude to train times is echoed no doubt, in other parts of the world. By contrast, Japan and Switzerland are so very punctual. I can imagine the relaxed train trips and the adventures you must have had travelling through Central America. Are the train networks well developed?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This was years ago so I can’t say what they’re like now. Back then, Mexico had a good system, but in the other countries it was fairly rudimentary, buses being more prevalent.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Yvette! I took that video primarily for someone back home who couldn’t come along on the trip with me. I am thankful now that I did – I must cast it to the big screen TV we have one day just to get that sense of being there again.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Now Sarah, you should not go making me jealous, speaking of how you might visit Norway next year! I will grab a cup of tea and read your post. Can’t wait to see your Norwegian itinerary.

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      1. The Virtual Tourist Euromeet will be in Norway (Tromsø) so I’ll be there for that. Some of us are considering whether to take the slow route there via Oslo by train to Bergen and then on the Hurtigruten to Tromsø! Whether the Flam train could be built into our schedule I have no idea but it’s something to investigate 🙂

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        1. The train to Bergen can incorporate the Flåmsbana if you take the train to Myrdal on the Norway on a Nutshell route. From Flam you take a ferry along the Nærøysfjord to Gudvangen and thence a bus to Voss and then back on the train again from Voss to Bergen. This can be done in one long day or as I did it stopping overnight at Stalheim and continuing on to Voss and train to Bergen the following day.
          It is a tourist route. Many people do it. As you can see in the photograph of Myrdal station.

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    1. Whether it is good or bad – it is always an adventure. I really do like travelling by train. Do you have a favourite train journey? (sorry for the delay in replying as I had to rescue your comment from spam!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve really enjoyed taking the train around Europe. It’s a great way to see a different side of things and it makes travelling much more relaxing. Plus their trains are usually pretty clean, comfortable, and are right on schedule.

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        1. Trains right on schedule- yes, in Germany and Switzerland I noticed this. Not so much the regional Swedish trains in Scandinavia, although they have made improvements.
          Relaxing and comfortable is a good way to describe it. Did you have a Eurail pass?

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  9. Fun tales you shared. I only rode on a train once but long to go again! A wonderful way to travel. I slept great every night as it rocked me to sleep. Spent 3 days on at as my family and I traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia.

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    1. A train across Canada that rocked you to sleep each night. Fantastic. And an excellent way to travel as a family rather than cooped up in the back of a car. There are far less restraints on a train so it is better for our circulation as we get older. I take a while before I get used to the rocking of the train on a sleeping carriage, but it is soothing if constant! Thanks for the commnet, Joy.

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      1. We actually traveled through the West to Seattle, Washington and then took a bus into Vancouver. But it was a beautiful scenic ride out West. Yes, being able to move around makes travel so much nicer! And the food was delicious!

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        1. Isn’t eating in the dining car in a train a great experience. I don’t know whether I feel like I am reliving a kind of Orient express indulgent lifestyle for a short time or whether the appeal of dining in a moving vehicle comes from something else?

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