trains, planes and backpacking through europe

A partial re-printing of “trains, planes and backpacking through europe” (SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2007)

When I was eleven, my parents took me to Switzerland to go skiing while we lived in Moscow. Our train wound around the side of the mountain slowly, which gave us time to take in the scene outside our window. Having stopped writing in my notebook, I looked out at fresh, white snow covering everything outside. The tree branches hung low, weighed down by the snow, and the train plowed its way around every corner. I thought to myself that this was one of the most perfect moments in my young life. Right there, I said to my Mother, that I had to return to Switzerland, perhaps live there one day, and ride the train as a respected and established writer.

Soon after the Switzerland trip, I went to St. Petersburg with my parents. As the train sped along, I sat next to the window and wrote in my notebook. I would periodically look out my window at the passing night and would occasionally see the lights of a small town train station go by. We always took the night train whenever we went to St. Petersburg or to Finland. When we went to bed, I was rocked to sleep in the top bunk while my parents slept in the lower two bunks. In the morning, we would be greeted with glasses of hot tea (chai) and again I would find myself seated next to the window and looking out at the passing countryside, now visible in the early morning light.