I’ve taken the train only a on a few occasions. I realize that this is strange to some more urban denizens, but out the suburbs the train only really seems to go into the city or away into the hinterlands. Even at that, this week holds some landmarks for me in riding the train.

My prior trips included a jaunt to New York City. This trip consisted of getting on an Amtrak train in Downingtown, and riding it the entire way to Penn Station in New York. I didn’t have to transfer, and there was only one stop. No mess at all; hardly a train experience.

I later traveled via train to the airport when I left for Paris. This required one transfer at 30th Street Station in Philly, which was only a bit of a challenge, having never switched trains en rout somewhere before. Paris also yielded many metro transfers, which didn’t phase me at the time, but seemed like something different. The interesting bit being that I did not use a car to get anywhere for that entire trip.

Yesterday, I took the train into Philly to be in Philly for the first time ever. It was an interesting experience. Planning the times to catch the right train, figuring out the fares – all challenging in an odd, unfamiliar way. It’s like learning how to get somewhere in a car after you first learn how to drive. This is not something that you should feel at my age, I think.

Then, upon realizing that my stop wasn’t exactly near the place I was going, I figured out today how to use the Philly subway to get there and back. The Philly subway is the cruddiest I’ve ever been on. Still, I managed.

I can’t say yet whether I prefer the train. It takes the same amount of travel time, and depending where you go, costs about the same. The convenience of the car for going when you want to can’t be beat, and waiting in the parking lot for everyone else to file out in front of you is a drag. But not having to actually drive is a pretty nice bonus.

It’s liberating to know - and I always assumed I could, but to actually do it is another thing - that I can move in and around the city now via train, whereas I was always driving before. It’s really nice to know the option is open.