They say that traveling by Steam Train is one of the greatest experiences and that without it your life is just not complete. I am 47 now and I have never traveled in a real Steam Train. Until now. Last Saturday we went to a tiny little railway station in the south of The Netherlands in a province called Limburg.
I like Steam Locomotives, I like the smell of them, the oil and the steam, the soot, and the black and white smoke, I like everything about them. And that Saturday my dream came true thanks to a friend who convinced me that it should be done that day as there wouldn’t be another opportunity in years to come.
The sun was out, it was a very hot day and we were all waiting for a little wind to come up. The grass beside the rail tracks was dry and dust was kicked up with our boots as we walked along the tracks to the loco shed to see the Steam Loco’s before we departed. There were three of them and they were huge!
We had return tickets for the day and we couldn’t wait to board one of these old wagons that were standing at the platforms. They must be at least one hundred years old I thought, judging by the wood finished interior and they were just beautiful! These trains must have been used in their early days by the rich to travel to their holiday resorts in the sun.
On the outside there were riveted panels and wooden windows that could be rolled down. On the inside the luxury wood finished in heavy gloss made it feel as if they could go for at least another hundred years. Above each green Velour seat there was a reading light and when we sat down we sank deep into the soft cushens. The upholstery was as if it was made yesterday, this was like time traveling, I realised, we were back in time!
Then a loud whistle blew for departure on the train on the platform next to us, we all hurried to the windows to see it go. What a noise, hissing steam, the wheels slipping and the cylinders blowing white steam, the spray of water coming our way. We could feel it on our faces and there were bits of soot in the air! Again it blew the whistle and then it left, just like in the old days before electric trains it must have been. Except that then people were most likely less excited than I was.
And then it was time for us to leave. As our train had one of the larger German Steam Locomotives we had more power and it seemed to me that even the steam whistle was far more loudly than the one on the other platform. With a push in our back the Locomotive showed off it’s muscles and pulled us away from the platform, out of the railway station and into the beautiful landscape of Limburg.
Now, anyone who would claim that The Netherlands is flat must be ‘one penny short for each pound up there in his piggy bank’ as this particular part of The Netherlands has a lot of hills. It is not flat! We traveled up and down through one of the most beautiful parts of Limburg, it really looked as if we were in another country.
We stuck our heads out of the window to see if we could see the loco but that was not a good idea, the spray of water was dirty and there were bits of soot flying through the air and in our eyes. But even though, it was magnificent, finally we were in a real Steam Train and we were really moving fast!
And as with everything, all good must come to an end, the journey went far too fast and it seemed like just minutes before we were back at where we came from. But dreams can come true and turn into a vivid memory that will last for the rest of my life. I am happy now.