Thursday, July 6, 2023

Terrific trains: best bet to explore Europe, UK, Bay Area and beyond

Train day trippers: James B. Ganner and his uncle Bruce Keller take to the rails for a three-day
Bay Area adventure, north from Redwood City to San Francisco, south to San Jose, and more.
Our road warriors,  "Cookie and Keller" ride the rails in England, Asia and Europe, too.



TRAIN TRAVEL offers many advantages over  other modes of transportation.
If you make the time, a train trip offers opportunity to "smell the roses," enjoy the scenery, have a beer or cup of tea, stretch your legs, enjoy the company of your partner, friend or family.
James and "Auntie Cookie" speed toward San
Francisco on the commuter train from 
the Ganner home in Redwood City. 

In a recent scenario, trains offered time to spend with a beloved nephew, James Brian Ganner, who has a lifelong fascination with this time honored mode of transportation.
"Uncle KK," aka Bruce Keller, travel photographer and himself a train lover, spent three days on the road with James, who explained his fascination with trains.
"Trains fascinate me because they provide a reasonably priced service with convenient locations for hopping off and on," says James, who vividly remembers train journeys taken when he was only four and five years old.
Watching the landscape change
is a chief train trip plus.
HE CONTRIBUTED his savings to a fund to help save a vintage train service in Napa because, he says, "I love trains. I wish more people would use them because they help reduce traffic and pollution.'' 
A.B. Pittendrigh, my great-grandfather and third great grandfather of James, was a telegrapher on the Northern Pacific Railroad. His daughter, my gran Olive -- great, great-grandmother to James -- grew up on trains. She passed that affection down the generations and onto our nephew.
James, at right, leaves San Francisco behind
on a ferry with his auntie and uncle. They
reached the ferry terminal via train.

I WAS INVITED to day three of a northern California train adventure with "Uncle KK" and James.
Day one featured a train trip from Redwood City to the ferry building near Fisherman's Wharf and back.
Day two featured a trip south to San Jose and the stadium, a picnic and stroll, then back.
Day three featured a return to the ferry building, and a boat ride past Alcatraz to Sausalito for a picnic and sight seeing, then home.
Cookie has a train ticket in hand, here in Madrid,
awaiting a train to Barcelona, then Malaga.
At age 12, ames says, "I've studied California trains since I was very young.  Caltrain trains are getting older and being replaced. The people who study them are trying to make our state's train travel more 'green' and that's a good thing."
JAMES SHARED this bit of train trivia: railways existed as early as 1550, in Germany. "They were pathways of wooden rails called wagonways,” he says. That marks the beginning of modern rail transport, which made it easier for horse-drawn wagons and carts to move along dirt roads.
JAMES IS EAGER to hop a train or two in Europe, as we do every year. His paternal grandmother, Margaret, lives hear Edinburgh. James would love to take a direct, high-speed train from London's Kings Cross station 
All aboard in Paris, for the TGV train to Bordeaux.
to central Edinburgh and visit her and his many cousins in nearby villages.
"I'd be there in Scotland in 4.5 hours," says James, "and we'd reach a speed of 125 mph. That would be so great!"
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
enjoy trains both modern and vintage. They recently
enjoyed a pair of memorable, different train trips 
on their recent visit to New Zealand. Trains
 allow prime viewing of spectacular scenery.
James and his auntie and uncle believe that train travel is the most efficient way to explore Europe.
  "By the time you get to the airport a few hours before your flight, and wait for the plane, and experience delays, you could be on your way to another country if you'd chosen train," says James.
For "Uncle KK," a lifelong love of trains "combines my love of adventure and respect for ingenuity. What a wonderful way to explore the Earth." 
One of our chief reasons for our train infatuation is that we spend precious time together enjoying the changing landscape. We've traveled pleasantly and efficiently by BritRail, Eurail and rail in South America, Japan and China.  Best of all, we leave the driving to the engineer.
More information on train travel:;;; (Alaska/Skagway Yukon Pass trip)

The beautiful and graceful gannets of New Zealand are
our next feature as we explore nature's wonders worldwide.
UP NEXT: We continue our love affair with the world and its fascinating plants and creatures. Come with us to a magical gannet sanctuary in New Zealand, then on to ocean dwellers at Honolulu's Sea  Life Park, then the country's oldest national park, Yellowstone. More beauty awaits in Madeira and we explore the history of the lei. Remember to explore, learn and live. Catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, performance, nature & family:


  1. Toronto Train TrippersJuly 10, 2023 at 3:23 PM

    We love trains, too, and use them instead of renting a car when in Europe.

  2. We use the train to explore Europe top to bottom. Cheaper than a car, scenic, environmentally superior.