Why my Train Journey of a Lifetime Started at the Airport

From my travel diary, September 1st, 2021

Stairway into the nothingness…
I avoid flying whenever possible, but today, I had to. The Connecting Europe Express is starting in Lisbon tomorrow, and I’m on board for part of the journey. And my inability to get there without flying just emphasises the point of this train. It would have taken me two days to get there by train, a journey that I couldn’t have booked all in one go, and with no backup plan if one of the trains had a delay. One of the demands in connection to the EU Year of Rail is that booking international connections gets easier, and passenger rights don’t stop at the borders.
Of course, the pandemic isn’t helping. There used to be a pretty good night train from the French-Spanish border to Lisbon, but this connection has been discontinued in March 2020, with unclear prospects for the future. The different gauge in Portugal and Spain is another added challenge.
However, I hope the Connecting Europe Express will contribute to making this kind of travel easier in the future. Even though it’s sometimes nice to see our world from above… the future is in trains!