Women Who Travel

Women Who Travel Podcast: Train Tripping Around India With Author Monisha Rajesh

Host Lale Arikoglu and Rajesh explore the joys of train travel—and hear from listeners about their own rail journeys.
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Having grown up exploring much of Europe by train, Lale takes a look at how rail travel can offer one of the most exciting—and interesting—ways to see a new place, and chats with author and journalist Monisha Rajesh about the time she took 80 train journeys around India, and later, the whole world, traversing the railways of Russia, Tibet, Canada, and more. Plus, we hear from a listener about a memorable Peruvian train ride, and catch up with a traveler in New York City on their way to see the fall colors.


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Lale Arikoglu: Hello, I'm Lale Arikoglu, and welcome to Women Who Travel, a podcast for anyone who's curious about the world and excited to explore places both near and far from home. Today, we're journeying on trains, something that's important to me.

I think train travel is acutely under-appreciated in the U.S., but maybe that's partly because it's a country whose infrastructure isn't built around rail travel. But as someone who grew up in the U.K., I was lucky enough to have many family vacations in Europe. And the way that I got to see that continent was by train. Also, my mother had an intense fear of flying, which I think is why we relied on trains quite so much as we did. She's getting over it, now that she has to visit me in New York.

So while school friends were going off to Disney World and all these places I was very envious of as a child, my mother was insisting that we train-hopped with backpacks around Spain, and Italy, and France, and Turkey. One of my earliest memories of train travel was when I was about six or seven. I took an overnight train with my parents from Istanbul to Ankara. It was winter. And I think when people think of Turkey, they think of it as a hot country, but it also does get cold and it snows. It felt like that kind of train travel as another era, as I think any sleeper train tends to do.

We rattled through Turkey at night, and arrived in Ankara early in the morning as the sun was rising, the city blanketed in snow. I'll never forget the platform of the station being covered in a sheet of ice, and watching all of the porters slipping and skidding as they were pulling people's luggage along. It was magical because of its quietness, its peacefulness. Even though, well... Train stations these days and travel in general are kind of the antithesis of that.

[Various Speakers chime in in a blur of languages.]

LA: Today, I'm talking to someone who's endured standing in intense heat on jostling platforms as she criss-crossed India by train. She's Monisha Rajesh, an author and journalist, who at the age of 28, set herself the task of exploring the country through 80 train journeys, an experience she later turned into her book, Around India in 80 Trains. Clearly, she tapped into something.

Monisha Rajesh: One of the reasons why I wanted to do my book, because I had never read anything that I could relate to or that inspired me in the same way. And I thought, there must be a gap here because no one's really traveled all around India by train that I can see. Uh, p- Paul Theroux had done a little bit of it in his Great Railway Bazaar, but not fully. Michael Palin had done some as well. And I thought, there's nobody who's a woman that I can find who's written about this, 'cause I bet that experience [laughs] is different.

You know, Theroux would turn up in a city at 11:00 at night. Just walk into a restaurant, and sit down, and get served, and have a wonderful time. And I thought, I can't imagine as a woman turning up at 11:00 at night into a strange city in the middle of nowhere, and be served, and not have everybody stare at me. And I've always felt like these other people who traveled there have got a completely warped image of this. But because it's the most pressing, and most central viewpoint that's always put across. It's always by white men in red trousers wearing Panama hats on TV riding Indian railways.

LA: Monisha went on to write a second book, leaving from the iconic St Pancras Station in London and circumnavigating the entire world in 80 trains. Train travel gives you a way to see a country that just isn't possible from an airplane window. Even if it's just a local train shuttling through small towns, and villages, and fields, you get a sense of what it's like outside of those big cities.

I've never been on the long months of train journeys that Monisha's done, but I did catch a sleeper train from Saint Petersburg to Moscow when I was 17, a journey that feels inconceivable now. To see Russia by train was an absolute thrill. Here's listener Sherry Knowlton, who took a train in Peru to see an Inca site that is on many a travelers' bucket lists.

Sherry Knowlton: When we headed to Machu Picchu, we stopped first in Cusco. And Cusco is at a very, very high [laughs] altitude. I think it's over 13,000 feet. And so, they even sell oxygen in the airport. And it took me a couple of days. And luckily, we were in Cusco a couple of days, to acclimate to the altitude, which involved a medication that my doctor had given me before we left, [laughs] plus lots and lots of cups of Coca tea, which is the local remedy for altitude issues.

We boarded the train for Machu Picchu outside of Cusco at a little town. And u- u- i- the trip started out standing [laughs] on the platform waiting for the train, which is called the Hiram Bingham. And, uh, there were u- u- locals selling hats, so like 10 or 12 hats on their heads, straw hats. Uh, when we boarded the train, it was very comfortable and there was musicians as we, uh, winded our way toward Machu Picchu. It was a three-plus hour ride. There was one duo who played lots of u- very ethereal flute, and then they, [laughs] they ended with the theme from [laughs] The Last of the Mohicans on flute, which was really sort of [laughs] funny, but charming at the same time.

As we u- progressed, the canyons that the train rode through got steeper. The hills got, um, more jagged, and u- greener. One of the things that, uh, we got, u- uh, more than we bargained for on the trip was, we came to one fairly narrow canyon place where there was a steep hill on the one side that was covered in, in grass. And there was a wildfire. And the wildfire had swept from the top of the hill down to the train tracks. And ahead of us, tracks were, um, enveloped in smoke. So the engineer sat there for probably 10 minutes or so, and then he made a decision [laughs] and went forward. And as [laughs] we went through the smoke a- we could see the fire on either side of the tracks. Uh, in fact, if you reached out the window, which of course they didn't open, but if you reached out the, the window, you could've actually gotten burnt w- on you- with your hand. U- the fire was so close.

But we emerged unscathed. And as we arrived, there's a little town at the, at the foot of the, the monuments. And u- we, uh, could see these really steep, green mountains as we got off the train. Seeing Machu Picchu was one of the most amazing experiences. All of those ancient ruins, just high, high up on these mountains. The whole th- experience was re- a whole lot of fun.

LA: If you would like to have your own travel story featured on an upcoming bumper episode we're putting together, contact us at Women Who Travel, at cntraveler.com and share your tales of rituals or ceremonies that you have encountered on the road.

Monisha Rajesh has written for Condé Nast Traveler about trains, in addition to her books. I asked her what drew her to this form of train travel? So you have written two books centered around train journeys. The first was 80 Journeys Ar-

Monisha Rajesh: Three books.

LA: E- three books.

MR: Three books.

LAu: Three books.

MR: Yeah.

LA: One of which was centered around getting to know, or reacquainting yourself with India by train through 80 journeys. The second, you expanded to the world. And then-

MR: Yeah.

LA: You have written a lot about train travel, including for Condé Nast Traveler, across like several editions. What has drawn you to that mode of transports?

MR: I love it. It's... E- there really is no more complicated answer than that. I absolutely love train travel. And n- the last journey that I did in India, just, which is just over the last two weeks, it just brought that back to me. Because I've done... I mean, I, I... Before I went to India, I was not a huge train fan.

And I can honestly say that I didn't have any big links to the railways. I don't have family who worked on the railroad. I didn't have any, sort of, childhood memories of going to visit grandparents and that sort of thing. But when I went out to India to initially do the first book, I, I knew I wanted to travel around the country. I wanted to go back and visit India as a, as a tourist I guess, if I'm honest. I had lived in India very briefly when I was nine. I was born in the UK and grew up there. And I wanted to go and visit India and just see everything that all my friends had seen. And all my sort of gap year student buddies had gone off to see the Taj Mahal, and they'd been to Rajasthan. And they've been to Kerala to the back quarters.

And I thought, I wanna do that. I wanna do it myself, and just spend a few months kind of getting to know the country properly. And I realized that just, quite simply, the cheapest and easiest, and probably most efficient way of getting around, was by train. And I did a bit of research, and I could see that they did... They don't do them anymore unfortunately, but Indian Railways used to sell these Indrail passes, which I remember at the time in 2010, it was $540 for 90 days. And that included all my sleeper trains and most of my food. And so I just bought this ticket, and I turned up in India in Chennai, in s- south of the country. And the main thing was that it brought me face to face with quite honestly a microcosm of Indian society onboard.

'Cause at the time, there were about eight, eight classes in total. So you've g- right up at the top, you've got this very closed off, compartmentalized first class with air conditioning. And nobody really comes out, and people travel in pairs. And then right down at the bottom, you've got general class with wooden slats, and farmers, and laborers, and just all kinds of people coming and going. And you could just walk up from one end to the other and chat to anyone, and anyone will talk back at you. And I just gathered so many amazing stories from people. And by the end of the four months, I realized that the trains had actually become a key character in my book.

They weren't just a means to an end. They had characters of their own. And there were steam trains, express trains, mail trains... These Rajdhani, lovely overnight trains, and then Shatabdi, which were speed trains. And I even visited a hospital on wheels, which parks at rural areas for five weeks at a time and invites patients onboard to have surgery. And I just came away thinking this, this country's amazing. And it's held together by the railways.

So after that, I sort of... I spent a couple of years [laughs] just working a normal desk job again at a magazine. And thought, I just had this itch to go and do it again. And I didn't so much want to replicate what I'd done in India, but I wanted to see if other countries around the world had railways that were, uh, central to their existence, I guess, and, and had such a kind of deep-rooted history in the way that India does with its railways. And so I set off to do my second book, which is Around the World in 80 Trains. And I spent seven months traveling from London, to in essence, as far as I could get over land, which took me through most of Europe, took me through Russia, China, Mongolia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Canada, the US, back through Kazakhstan and all the Central Asian countries, and back through Europe, and back to London.

Now, I have two small children who are five and three, and they're obsessed with trains. They love them. They... And they also know, they know what Mommy does. They know that when I go away, I'm on a choo-choo train. And they love it. They love the pictures, and they love to ride on trains as well which makes work easier for me, 'cause I've taken... I've actually taken my five-year-old along with me on a couple of sleeper trains, and she's had a great time. But also, I think the, the key thing now, with climate change being such an enormous, obvious pressing problem, and people wanting to travel in a more eco-friendly way, and being really mindful of their carbon emissions... I found myself moving much more towards trains, even just... Not for work, not for writing about them. And, and also trying to push people to do the same.

LA: Was that something in, back in 2010 when you first, kind of, embarked on sort of som- this, somewhat of an odyssey... Was that playing on your mind? And was that an impetus behind it? Or is that something you've become more conscious of, as 12 years has passed-

MR: [laughs]

LA: And perhaps it feels even more urgent than it did in 2010?

MR: Yeah. Actually, in 2010, it was definitely an element. It was really important to me that I didn't fly around all over India.

LA: Remember, to stay up-to-date on all things Women Who Travel, make sure you're subscribed to the Women Who Travel newsletter by the link in our show notes and that you're following Women Who Travel on Instagram. After the break, stay with us for the joy of getting to know your fellow passengers.

If you're enjoying this new incarnation of Women Who Travel, please leave us a five-star review and tell us what you love about the podcast. Were you thinking of Jules Verne with the number 80?

MR: Oh, yeah.

LA: Yeah. [laughs]

MR: Yeah, absolutely. I thought, I need, I need some kind of goal when I'm doing this journey. I can't just sort of haplessly travel for months on end. And I figured that I could... Four months would give me enough time to do an average of about 20 trains a month. And some of those, I mean, a lot of them were overnight trains that were sort of 20, 22 hours long, but some of them were half an hour or just an hour here and there.

And so, it did pan out to being about 20 a month. And it wasn't a race. I wasn't competing with anything or anyone, but it gave me a nice framework, with which to also separate sort of 20 trains in each corner of the country as well.

LA: I'm so fascinated [laughs] to know how you mapped it out, because it sounds-

MR: [laughs]

LA Incredibly complex to get an understanding of this very intricate railway system-

MR: Mm-hmm.

LA: In a country that is so vast and figure out how to do it in four months. How much did you plan it and how much did you give yourself up to chance? And was that part of the adventure?

MR: I didn't do very much planning for either book, if I'm really honest. I just got maps of... I put a map of India on the wall. And I wanted to do all these things that other people had done, going to the Pushkar Camel Fair, go to taste tea in Assam. I wanted to go to Kanyakumari, which is the southern-most tip of the country where the three oceans meet together.

So I just got a box of colored pins, and I stuck them in. And I peppered this map with little pins and then notelets saying, "This is a date where there's going to be a solar eclipse. This is where you want to go to have the best kebabs in Bombay." And then, I just tied string, and I figured out how I could get to each one. There were certain... I mean, Diwali happened to fall on one point. And then, there was another festival, and then there was something else. And I just worked out... So it was, it was a fairly haphazard route, but it was also a fun one because I don't like planning stringently. And I also knew that if I was going to write a book about this, no one was going to read [laughs] about a journey that just worked perfectly from day one to, you know, the end of the journey. They wanted to know that there were delays. They wanted to read about cancellations and break downs. And if I ended up somewhere just in the middle of the night, what did I do if I needed to get away?

And I knew there would be an adventure behind the whole thing, and I wanted to be as honest as possible about it. And I think if I planned every single train, booked every single seat, it would've been a very, very dull process. Not just for me, but for also my reader. And so I left a lot of it to chance. I booked some of the more popular journeys, 'cause trains book up to 120 days in advance in India. So you have to make sure the key journeys are sort of locked in place if you want to get a sleeper service booked in, or if you want to make sure that you can travel, especially during festivals and holy days. It's always really crowded. So I probably, I would say I reserved about, maybe about 30 to 35 trains, and then I just let the rest of them to chance.

LA: You know, you ta- in, in the book and then also you kind of mentioned at the start of this conversation, that so much of it was about these s- sort of interactions you had with so many-

MR: Mm-hmm.

LA: Different types of people, and so many strangers on the trains.

MR: [laughs]

LA: Did you explain to them what you were doing? And what were people's reactions? [laughs]

MR: I did! I just told people u- my plan is to travel around India in 80 trains. And I'm keeping a diary, and I'm writing about everything. And I just want to explore the country. And they were really lovely about what I was doing. Most Indian people were... Some of them thought it was compete madness that a young woman was traveling by herself with a backpack. I had a photographer with me for a few weeks here and there, but we sort of separated and then rejoined at different points, depending on what we each wanted to do.

Um, they just thought it was complete insanity [laughs] that I was traveling with a backpack, and I was on Indian trains. And why on Earth did I find them so interesting? And I think they... A, a lot of Indian people have this real sense of national pride. And they really liked the fact that I'd come back as an Indian-born, obviously Indian person with Indian origins, with a genuine interest in the country and wanting to discover it. People would take my phone number, and they would give it to cousins that they had in the town that I was in. And then I'd get a, a random text message from somebody saying, "This is so-and-so. You met my cousin onboard the train. I hope you're safe. I hope you're well. If you need anything, let us know."

LA: Yeah.

MR: The passengers act- these people shaped things for me. So my, my rigid plans were very much-

LA: [laughs]

MR: Sort of bent awry because of them. [laughs]

LA: I love that, which kind of leads me to my next question, which is... Is there a particularly memorable encounter you had with someone that's a story you always tell about... You know, when, when I was doing all these train journeys, this person did this thing or showed me this thing.

MR: Oh, I had... It wasn't actually on a train, but there was one particular incident where I'd gone to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar. And I'd just separated from my photographer. We'd actually had a big fight, [laughs] and I had run off in the middle of the night by myself and decided to carry on traveling.

And I was feeling very hot, and very tired, and just quite drained because I'd been traveling for about three months. And I went to the langar, which is where they feed people... They feed the public at the Golden Temple. They do it in all Sikh- in, in gurudwaras. They offer food to anybody who wants to come and eat. It's all completely donation based. You don't even have to give a donation. But they had a luggage storage area. And I went in to leave my bag just before going in to eat, and I just felt so stressed, and tired, and I was hungry. And I was just... I felt really lonely as well, and I didn't want to go into the huge hall by myself.

And the gentleman behind the counter could obviously see that I was exhausted and a bit tearful. And he actually took my bag, and he stacked it away. And then, he just called me around the table and he said, "Just come, come this round." And he laid out some blanket and cushions, and then he took out his own meal. And he poured out his lunch, and he gave me some chapatis that he got rolled up. And he just made a space for me on the floor, and he said, "Just eat here." And he was so sweet, and I literally [laughs] wept into the food. But he was so sweet, 'cause he could obviously see that I was just by myself and that I'd clearly been having a bad time. And people are like that-

LA: Yeah.

MR: For the most part. They-

LA: That's-

MR: There was a very, very genuine kindness.

LA: I feel like what you described is such a specific thing to traveling. Which is-

MR: Mm-hmm.

LA: There are those moments where you're just so hot, so tired.

MR: Yeah.

LA: It's a bit lonely.

MR: [laughs]

LA: And you just want someone to be nice to you.

MR: Yeah, exactly.

LA: And he saw that need.

MR: He did. He did.

LA: Through those sorts of interactions and you described the train and the network of trains is a sort of microcosm of the country... H- after those travels, and after you kinda set out to, to get to know India in a new way, and as a sort of, a Western tourist, but also someone with heritage and connections-

MR: Mm-hmm.

LA: To that country... How much clearer is your view of India now?

MR: Oh, it completely changed. I think the issue for me was that when I'd lived in India when I was nine, it was two years. I'd had a really awful experience. My whole family had, had a bad time, and we'd come straight back to the UK as soon as we could. And so I did have quite a bitter taste in my mouth about all the corruption, the schooling system... Uh, you know, the horrible incidents we'd had with various people. And I needed to let go of all of that.

Because for me, India represented all these negative things. And so when I went back, I wanted to undo all of that and just see how it had changed in 20 years. And also see how I'd changed, and I had. And by the end of it, I realized that all those things were just... They were very temporary. Nothing was permanent. All of the people had gone, and the situations were over. And everyone and everything had moved on and, and changed.

LA: You said something really interesting near the start about how lots of your friends in the UK had gone off-

MR: Mm-hmm.

LA: And done the gap year thing in India, and backpacked around.

MR: Yeah.

LA: And had got to kind of see it as young adults before you got to.

MR: Hm.

LA: Did you feel like by going you were sort of reclaiming something? That it has felt like, that hadn't, you hadn't had yet?

MR: Yeah, definitely. I felt a really s- odd sense of shame, maybe. That when friends would come back saying, "Oh, I had the best time. And you know, you, you must know about this place in Goa?" And I would sort of shrug a bit saying, "Oh, my brother went, and I know a bit about it, but I don't." And then someone would look at me and say, "You know, that system of doing this in the temple." And I would again, fain, sort of, knowledge or something that I just didn't have.

And I came away from lots of conversations with people thinking, I really wish I could respond better or have an informed opinion about these things. And I think a lot of second generation children do feel that way about their supposed mother land.

LA: You were for portions of the-

MR: Hm.

LA: Indian train journeys, um, with a photographer.

MR: Yeah.

LA: How conscious was that decision to have some sort of traveling companion with you? And how did that contrast to the times where you were alone with your backpack when the two of you would split up?

MR: It was a hugely conscious decision. In fact, it was the key decision for me to be able to go off and do this travel. And I'm not ashamed to say it. And u- oddly enough, I actually got criticism. And I did get criticized on my second book in a review by a woman travel writer, an author, who said, "Oh, it's really... It's awful that she openly says at the beginning that she's scared that various things might happen along the way. And so she feels the need to have a husband with her to protect her."

And I thought, ooh, that's coming from a very interesting position of white privilege. Because you as a travel writer have been received very easily and with a lot of warm welcomes in so many different countries, but I wouldn't get received in that same way. And I know that Black women friends who've traveled absolutely will not be responded to in that way, and they certainly don't get that kind of reception. And I knew when I set off to go to India that I would have a very different reception being a solo traveler, with a backpack, [inaudible 00:25:11], and just doing what I usually do. And I needed that confidence with somebody to be able to go to certain places at night. T- 'cause I knew that I would be on night trains. I knew that I would arrive in places after dark where I didn't know anybody, where I couldn't speak the language, where I perhaps hadn't got a hotel.

And I just wanted to have that assurance that I would be safer... Not necessarily absolutely fine, but I would be safer traveling with a male companion. And I did feel the difference. As soon as we separated, I could feel that people would hover near me a bit more. They would approach me and talk to me more. Not necessarily with any kind of negative agenda, but I did feel a bit more exposed and quite vulnerable when I was by myself. You do hear absolutely horrific stories about women being attacked, and raped, and beaten. And I had to just stay in places where I knew that I would be safe.

I thought back to all these male travelers who've written books. I mentioned before William Dalrymple. We've got Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Um, you know Paul Theroux, Geoff Dyer... All of them have partners in their books, all of them. And they're written into the books, but they're very much sort of background. And it's almost taken as given that the man is just doing his adventure book and the woman is lurking in the back, and she's a bit of the story. But as soon as a woman travels and has a partner with her, they very much focused on the fact that I... W- well, you took somebody along with you. That's, you know…

I said, "Well, so do all of these people, but you don't criticize them for having their partners in their books. Or that, that it was weak of them to take them along." They just sort of tag along as part of u-

LA: Well, you c- you can't-

MR: The package.

LA You can't win, right? Like-

MR: Not at all.

LA: Either you're weak for taking someone along with you, or you're putting yourself in danger by traveling alone.

MR: By traveling alone, yeah. Absolutely. And I just found the hypocrisy of it quite extraordinary.

LA: It's interesting because there's... And I think th- you know, especially in the, the last sort of 10 years or so, there's been in pop culture and in movies, this sort of narrative that's been spun of like the inspiring, usually white, young woman who-

MR: Hm.

LA: Travels alone, and is intrepid. And you know, it's the movie Wild. It's Eat, Pray, Love.

MR: Eat, Pray, Love. Yeah. [laughs]

LA: And it forces you to think that if you don't go down that road, y- then you're, you're doing something wrong 'cause you're not being this certain type of woman traveler.

MR: Yeah, absolutely.

LA: Having done many a sleeper train in my time, and never been able to sleep on it, how do you sleep on trains?

MR: I've got so used to sleeping on trains now that it really doesn't bother me if there are jolts and shakes. I've done it so often that clanking, and shaking, and whatnot doesn't really bother me too much. But I would say to people, absolutely take the ear plugs. I think people think that sleeper trains are gonna be really romantic, with the sort of gentle, da-dum, da-dum, in the background. And often, it's a big of a shock 'cause some of them really aren't like that.

Especially the Amtrak. I had a lot of swerving and snaking around onboard, and got a bit panicked from time to time. But for the most part, it's fun. It's good fun. And also the thing with sleeper trains is that you don't just have to sleep at night. You can also hop up during the day and have a lot of naps. And I think in the times where I've had a bad night's sleep, I like the fact that y- especially on Indian trains 'cause your berth stay down all the time... You can still just hop up at some point and just go and have a little snooze during the day. And it's a nice way to just pass time if you're not reading or gazing out of the window. And then come back down and join the conversation.

LA: I love that. That feels like a lovely, lovely note to end on.

MR: [laughs]

LA: I started this show saying that in America, train travel is under-appreciated. But autumn is when so many people here do take advantage of it, whether to see the fall colors or packing inside carriages on the way home for Thanksgiving. We sampled some passengers of the beautiful Moynihan Train Hall that's in a historic post office building next to Penn Station in New York.

Speaker 8: I love the Amtrak. I went to school in DC, and I'm from New York, so I would take it a lot. And I'm going back to DC for Homecoming this weekend. So I have fond memories on the Amtrak with my, also with my, um, school friends. Although I did take a train in Germany this summer. Um, it was hard to find the train and platform 'cause I don't speak any German. I went, um, from Munich to Salzburg, and it was very scenic. And that was a special train ride. It was very fun.

Speaker 9: Um, the only one that I've been on is the Lake Shore Limited. It goes from Chicago to here in New York. I get on at around Toledo, Ohio. It takes about 15, 17 hours depending which direction you're going. Definitely a lot of sleeping, um, reading, listening to podcasts, [laughs] and things like that. Just little things to keep yourself entertained. [laughs] As you get into u- New York, obviously you know, there's more mountains in upstate New York and everything. But besides that, it's pretty flat. It's a lot of, um, the countryside. You kind of go up by Lake Erie and up by the lakes a little bit, so you can see the lake from the window a little bit. And then there's you know corn fields, small town America.

I had taken my mask with me, ear plugs, and stuff, and that definitely helps. And the trip here was perfect, um, this time. No delays, nothing wrong. When we went to Chicago, there were a few delays. It took us probably an hour or so after it was scheduled to leave, to get outta there. And then there was probably an hour-long delay on the tracks, but that was the only real issue that I've had with it. [laughs] I definitely would recommend Amtrak. I definitely think it's a good source of transportation.

Speaker 10: So, yeah. So I wanna go to, you know, Toronto, Canada. Um, nine hours train there. Yeah. I think one day, I hope so, that Acela will go to Canada, Toronto. Yeah, because you know, s- sometimes you don't wanna, you know, go on flight. And sometimes you wanna, you know, just go on train, and to see outside, and you know just enjoy yourself, yeah.

Speaker 11: I would like to criss-cross London on train and seeing England. I would go to Scotland, all around England and see everything.

Speaker 12: London to Edinburgh, it's a wonderful trip. The scenery changes from city, rolling hills, jagged mountains... You see everything on a short trip. It's, it's breath-taking. New York City to Albany is gorgeous. Going up the Hudson River is actually really pretty too.

Speaker 13: For half an hour, I'm going to train. I'm going to be in a train for three hours seeing fall foliage from New York to Willington, Connecticut. The fall, it's like you see it in the movies. It's, it's real here. So, you see trees like red, like passion, strong red. Yellowy like honey yellow, like three kinds of yellow. And then, there are like the orange one. Oh my god, I wanna say it's, it's, it's dreamy.

So I always take in the day because I wanna make sure I see all the, as many trees as I can. [laughs] So yeah, I will encourage everyone once in a while, just take a train and enjoy nature. It's... You know, you don't regret it.

Lale Arikoglu: Thank you for listening. I am Lale Arikoglu, and you can find me, as always, on Instagram @lalehannah. And follow along with Women Who Travel on Instagram @womenwhotravel. You can also join the conversation in our Facebook group. Allison Leyton-Brown is our composer. Jennifer Nulsen is our engineer. Jude Kampfner from Corporation for Independent Media is our producer. Next week, the kindness of strangers that can be so welcoming.