Like I said previously (part I of this article), “given the opportunity, I will always choose the train over the car”.
I’ve already went over two very peculiar episodes of my life, related to road trips.
Now the time as come for me to talk about one of two stories related to magnificent journeys, train journeys.
As you will soon become aware, the train, just like the car before on Episode I and II, merely underlines the experiences, sets the background for the memories that stay with you through the course of time.
We are the sum of our experiences, be they positive or negative. The path I have taken has led me to this precise point in my life, for which I’m truly grateful.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
For the time being is all about enjoying the ride.
So, all aboard!
I just arrived to London, Heathrow airport.
The year was 2001.
I was feeling very excited. Not only because this was a business trip and I wanted to close some important deals for the company but, as well, because I love traveling.
I’m a travel junkie!
This time though, there was something different.
The previous day, back home, as I was saying goodbye to the family, especially to my very young son, I felt something new.
I did not know what was it back then, but somebody did.
So, when I arrived the next day to London, I was accompanied by my father on this journey.
“Never been to the UK before! So, while you work son I will enjoy the sights!”, he said a couple of hours before, while buying a ticket at the airport.
“Wow!”, I thought, “This ought to be interesting!”.
So, we found him a hotel and the following days, while I was attending meetings, he was having a blast discovering the wonders of London.
We would meet each evening to talk.
It was comforting.
We did not speak about the reason why he decided to come along with me. It would become clear later on.
For the next stage of my business trip I had to go up north, to Scotland.
“Listen dad, I have to go to Dundee tomorrow. I’ll be gone just for one day so, keep enjoying this amazing City and I’ll see you soon.”
“How are you getting there?” he asked. “By plane, car or train?”.
“Well, you know what, I believe I will take the train!”, I replied.
“Excellent choice. Mind if I join you?”… King’s Cross here we go!
It’s a six-hour journey, by train, from London to Dundee, one that I truly recommend.
When we finally got there it was very late.
As soon as we got out of the train station, we looked for a taxi to take us to our hotel.
I’m very proud of my heritage and I’m honoured to say that I have Scottish blood running through my veins (I have to thank my mother for that).
So, imagine how thrilled was I for being, for the very first time, at the land of my ancestors.
“Good evening! Could you please take us to this hotel?”, I asked the taxi driver with a huge smile on my face.
Come on! I was finally in Scotland! Of course I was happy!
Oh, by the way, did I mention before that was my very first time in Scotland?
Know what that means?
As I was being brought up, the predominant accent, besides the one related to the Portuguese language, was South African and Southern English… getting the picture?
I did not understand a word this fellow was saying!
The Scottish English is marvelous. But, that was my very first time speaking to a Scottish and, not going to lie, it was tricky for me.
Few minutes later, a completely frustrated person pointed at a building just across the street.
He was trying to tell us that our hotel was just on the other side of the road, walking distance…
The next day, as dad was enjoying the beautiful City of Dundee (“The RRS Discovery is just amazing!”, he would say later on), I was taking care of business, quite literally.
Later that day, we met at the train station and headed back to London.
It would be our last day in the UK so, I decided to take the next day off and spent it with my father.
We ended our journey at a Sushi Bar, near by my father’s hotel, that had caught my eye before.
We sat at the bar.
Right next to us there was a Polish fellow. He was there on business as well.
We started talking about one of my favorite topics: History.
It seemed suitable, being Portuguese and eating at a Japanese restaurant, to talk about what the two nations have in common.
“It all started back in 1543″… just kidding. Not going to go over our conversation.
Just going to say that we had a delightful talk that went on for hours, just in front of the kitchen staff, that was preparing the food near to where we were seating.
And what a staff it was!
The house was packed, it was a trendy place, and they stayed focused throughout the night.
As we were heading for the exit (after paying the bill, of course), one of the waiters told us to look back… the entire kitchen staff did a respectful bow and said, out loud, “Obrigado” (Portuguese for thank you).
“They were listening! This is just extraordinary!”, I thought.
When we got out, and I was still going over what just happened back there, my father wished me a happy birthday.
I was not aware of the fact that it was my birthday.
Had I been alone (like I would be, for so many occasions, the following years, for such is the life of a salesperson) it would be the first time spending my birthday on my own.
Remember I mentioned that, prior to my departure to London, while saying goodbye to my son, I had experienced something new?
My parents knew exactly what I was feeling that day.
They had been at that same exact spot years ago… no words were necessary, they just knew!
There is a photo back at my parents’ house, one that my father took of me at the train.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and that special picture tells a lot about my younger self and how grateful he was feeling back then.
Even though he were not together, I felt very close to my son throughout the entire journey… thanks dad!
To be continued…in Greece!