It's impossible to capture with pictures the power of a steam engine coming into a station. There's the sense of an unstoppable force rushing forward, steam rolling ahead filling the platform, the tremendous, ear blasting whistle announcing its arrival. Trying to capture its power pulls you towards it, and Will had to tug my coat to save me from tumbling onto the tracks as the train pulled in this morning.
My first thoughts after watching our ride arrive - now I understand the 19th century much better,* and, no trip is going to top that!
Though there were no more adrenalin filled lunges towards the rails for me, we had a good time anyway. We bundled in to 1950s train cars to take a ride with friends to a medieval castle and its Advent festival. The train trip lasted two hours. Because it was cold, we could keep the windows up and avoid the coal smoke. Instead, we watched the clouds billow behind us along the valley floor. Beautiful through the glass, but we all agreed that electric trains were a considerable air-quality improvement.
Once in Křivoklát, we slowly slid down the icy path towards the town below the castle. All the restaurants were full of speedier train fans, so we stomped our way through the snow to the Advent fair, in the castle's courtyard, and dined on klobása and trdelnik, with hot tea to wash it down. I'll post pictures tomorrow of the fair, it's a train day today, but I decided that castles are like cathedrals - they're much more interesting when they are full of people.
We came home on a regular České dráhy train, a few hours after we arrived. Our ride home was much warmer and faster, despite the extra stops and a train change. It wasn't half as exciting, said Caroline, which might explain why nearly everyone fell asleep before we got home.
Sitting at my desk right now, I've just heard another engine blast its warning before the train tunnel beneath Vinohrady. From far away, you miss its fierceness, and only hear the lonely third wavering as it rushes into the hillside, towards its last stop of the night.
Here's a rough schedule for next year's steam engine trips from Prague. The first train of the season leaves Branik train station on Easter weekend, Saturday March the 30th. It's heading to Křivoklát again. With any luck, we will be on it. Thank you W and M for introducing us to the steam trains of the Czech Republic!
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* Have you ever seen Monet's paintings of trains? Read The Railway Children? Monet and Nesbit were right, steam locomotives are dragons of power.
If I'm not working or hanging out with our 10 year old while a bouncy 5 year old dances around us, there's a good chance I'll be hammering away on our piano, reading a book or trying to sketch. I live in Prague, Czech Republic and hail from the U.S. South.