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Switzerland was the first country I ever heard about.

My father lived there when I was a child, and since then I’ve always wanted to go to the land of chocolate, cheese and clocks. I finally got the chance to do so this past weekend and zigzagged through the country abroad a variety of trains, boats, buses and cable cars.

And then I realized: chez nous there is a lack of desire to travel by train.

For a country whose Transcontinential Railroad was a feat of its times, it seems quite ironic that we now scorn trains.

Perhaps it is because our trains (mostly) don’t pass by scenic routes. That, in turn, is perhaps due to our society’s negative association of the tracks. No one really wants to live by train tracks, loud and shady, and certainly not on the other side of the tracks. Consequently, our train system is less expansive and much slower than its European counterparts, and definitely less nice. [Although this depends on the area as well – San Francisco Amtraks are significantly nicer than those in Chicagoland.]

It would be nice to see Americans slow down and appreciate the beauty of our nation while they’re crisscrossing the country, whether for business or pleasure. People would appreciate the natural wonders of our land more and no longer think solely of New York when they’re asked to describe the States. But knowing our final-product-driven society, that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, enjoy a few pictures taken while on the tracks of the world’s most efficient rail (and boat) system.

*This is my first Dispatches From the Train from Europe. When I first started DFTs back in June, I knew I would be riding trains et al in Europe, but I had no idea just how much. So stay tuned for more.

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