Monday, 12 January 2009

The lost glamour of travel...

What happened to glamour in travel? Was it the collapse of capitalism? The rise of capitalism? The Metro of St Petersburg is absolutely amazing, and I'd rather have visually stunning stations to keep me calm during rush-hour than the piped in classical music at depressing Brixton station. Or maybe there never was any 'glamour' in travel and it was always the cake box 'Catch Me If You Can' Pan Am advertising fantasy of travel that sucked us into believing in this phantom glamorous, golden age of travel.

I suppose if there was ever a golden age of travel, it has long been associated with trains. And if there ever was romance associated with air travel, if was romance of the post-modern variety, while rail travel is Romantic with a capital 'R' - think of the Grand Tour or for a modern, nostalgia infested version of the Grand Tour, Paul Theroux's 'The Dark Star Safari' (which incidentally is one of my favourite books). Even now, there is last year's restoration of St. Pancras station, which knocks Heathrow's new Terminal 5 out in the first round. As for dining, the legendary Le Train Bleu restaurant at Paris' Gare du Nord station has no airport counterpart (at least not that I'm aware of).

Just compare the photos below. Airplane or train: I know which one I'd rather be on...

The horror that is Ryanair!

Much nicer... First class on the Eurostar.

Even Esquire thinks the new St Pancras station is sexy enough for a fashion spread.

Passenger hell at Heathrow Terminal 3.

The new terminal 5 - a glorified box. Yawn!

The new St Pancras - well sexy!

Le Train Bleu, aka the most amazing train station restaurant ever. It's in Paris, mais bien sûr, Gare du Lyon to be precise.

The Gare de Lyon - not as sexy as St Pancras - but still pretty...

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