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"I am not a good traveller. I hate the time it takes just to get to the airplane as well as the inconvenience of it. I hate the airplane itself, a plastic-lined cylinder packed with elbow-bumping strangers all determinedly pretending that air travel is the nec plus ultra of modern life. I hate the narrow seats, with the back of the one in front of you practically in your lap."

"I suppose there are people who can spend hours on end staring out the window at the tops of clouds, but I'm not one of them. Remember Agatha Christie's excitement at riding the Orient Express, watching Europe gradually yield to Asia? I had never known that excitement and I felt cheated. We're caught between the unrecoverable past and the uninventable future. Step into a booth on Seventh Avenue, dial Istanbul, and step out of another booth at the foot of the Bosphorus Bridge. That's the only way to travel."

Can't remember now where I first found this quotation, which has just turned up on a back-up hard drive among many other forgotten items. It resonates with me, yes, but with a bit of determination you can still travel at a human speed and with more chance of human contact. My first trip to Provence for work, before the Eurostar, involved a cross-Channel ferry and an overnight stop before I rattled into Nice on a narrow-gauge CDFP train. Other substantial train journeys include Oslo Central to Orleans, Brussels to Vienna and Brussels to Copenhagen.

And while not as neat as Seventh Avenue to the Golden Horn, going to sleep in wintry Calais and waking up to mediterranean sun in Marseille never palled.