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Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber. Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet. Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little. I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


"As a child I found railroad stations exciting, mysterious, and even beautiful, as indeed they often were."
                                                                               - Paul Johnson

There is an allure to trains and train travel which is almost mystical. We've all been raised with the images and sounds of rail systems around the world, from the lonely high-pitched whistle of steam locomotives chugging through the European countryside to the deep-throated honk of Disney's monorails.

L.A.'s Union Station
New York's Grand Central
Yesterday's DAILY ESCAPE featured this photograph of the central train station in Rome, Stazione Termini. Subsequently that image got me to thinking about the variety of train stations around the world, particularly those I have visited and photographed over the years. Like many other of my Travel images, train stations weren't really a focus -- pun unavoidable -- they were interesting sidebars.

Being an American, I was raised with the romance of rail. It's an image highly ingrained into each of us, but one which is only dimly reflected in modern day reality. Unlike Europeans, Americans largely dispensed with rail service with the growth of the auto industry. We embraced our cars, and left the trains behind.

However with the 21st century came a tightening of resources, making a returned glance at rail a necessary part of regional and urban planning. Too many cars, not enough oil, overcrowded airports and the relative cost of railroad services have brought about a renaissance of sorts to the industry. Light rail is all the rage in American cities. And even inter-city service is showing renewed possibilities for the weary traveler.

California, usually at the forefront of trends in the States, is building the first true high speed rail service across the state. (It continues to be controversial, primarily to those people who see only outgoing dollars instead of an investment in the state's future.)

The author transiting The Chunnel
For myself, I am convinced in both the viability as well as the desirability of rail service as a major mode of transportation. And not without some experience in the area: as a small boy I (apparently) rode the Japanese bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto and back. Later, in adulthood, were rides on Europe's premier high speed rail systems -- Eurostar, TGV, Thalys and Le Frecce -- as well as trips up  and down the Eastern seaboard aboard Amtrak.

None of this includes the uncounted trips on a variety of subways and light rail systems in cities around the world.

BART, San Francisco
Some day my plan is to take rail trips from Chicago to Portland, from Perth to Sydney, and something -- as yet unfound -- in South America. Each of these promise to be an adventure, and that's what traveling is all about. It's often not about racing to a destination, but the stages and viewscapes in-between.

It's often what you see on your way TO something else that makes an adventure worth having.

And that...is where rail excels.

Train station, Monaco grandeur

Tren Italia

Rain, in Genova

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