We’re experienced world travelers but that doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally make stupid mistakes. From flushing frogs down the toilet to being mistaken for a dominatrix, here are our top ten travel mistakes, so far: Read more

Is a Eurail Pass worth it?

If you’ve ever dreamed of wandering around Europe with no plans and a flexible schedule you might consider buying a Eurail pass. This special train ticket allows those with not many time constraints to travel over the majority of the continent. But a key question to consider is, “Is a Eurail pass worth it?”

Eurail pass Prague train station

Starting out with a Eurail pass from the Prague train station.

It depends on how you want to travel and your budget. If you’d like to wake up in Prague one morning and say, “I think I’ll go to Berlin today and maybe Copenhagen tomorrow,” the Eurail pass provides that flexibility without having to buy a ticket for the individual legs of your journey. You’ll also avoid ticket lines at European train stations (which can be long) or having to order online. (Except for trains in certain countries which we’ll discuss below.)

What is a Eurail pass?

A Eurail pass is a train ticket that lets you explore up to 28 European countries on the continent plus Ireland. Note that England, Scotland and Wales are part of a separate BritRail pass. The Eurail pass can be delivered to customers across the globe and even in Europe. (That the physical tickets they have to be physically shipped rather than something you can download or just show bar code on your smartphone is somewhat outdated.)

Dining on a European train Prague to Budapest

The meals on European trains put Amtrak to shame.

They come in many varieties: Global Pass for up to 28 countries (Austria, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland (including Northern Ireland), Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey), Select Pass (four bordering countries), Regional Pass (two bordering countries), and the self-explanatory One Country Pass. They can be used for a range of travel days (such as 15 continuous days or 10 days in a one-month period).

How much does a Eurail pass cost?

The price of a Eurail pass depends on several variables: which one you buy, how many countries you want to visit, how long you are traveling for and how many days of train travel you want.

For example, a Eurail Romania Pass which provides 3 travel days within 1 month starts at $81. A Select Pass for 10 days of unlimited rail travel within France, Germany, Italy and Spain during a 2-month period costs $684. The top Eurail pass, good for 3 months of continuous travel within all 28 countries costs $1,784. As you can see, flexibility comes at price—so it’s important to determine what type of trip you’ll be taking. If journeying to only a few destinations on a fixed itinerary you might be better off buying individual tickets and not purchasing a Eurail pass.

Florence Italy train station ticket window

You want to avoid slow-moving lines like this one at the Florence train station.

It’s important to note that for travelers aged 26 and older the Eurail pass is only available in first class, that is unfortunate since European trains are quite comfortable in second class and the option of purchasing a second class ticket would be a lower cost choice. There may also be some added fees: during our recent trip to Europe we learned that high-speed trains in Italy required a seat reservation fee of 10 Euros per person on top of our prepaid pass. This added 40 Euros to the cost of a round trip ticket for a couple, not something you expect when you’ve already purchased a pass. In France the reservation fee is even higher.

A good resource for comparison pricing and determining whether or not a Eurail pass is worth it is RailEurope ( While this is a competitor of Eurail pass, it provides an easy to use web site. There you can price out train tickets for individual routes you might take on your European journey and compare them to pricing for the various Eurail passes. Factor in the freedom and flexibility that Eurail provides to help make your decision.

Further information about Eurail pass is available at

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Evaluating the flexibility, service and cost of a Eurail Pass

We’re global nomads who have been traveling the world since 2011 seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive monthly updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

We found an easier way to get around Paris. Download this Paris Metro map pdf and you’ll always know where you are in the City of Light. This official city map is difficult to find (we’re not sure why), so we’ve made it available for you below.

The entrance to most Paris Metro stations display the map "avec rues" (with streets). Get your own free copy to navigate like a local!

Paris’ public transportation takes visitors just about anywhere. The traditional Paris Metro map shows the train routes as a series of colored lines. That gives a you general idea where the lines are located in the city, and how they relate to each other. But it doesn’t show you, the visitor, exactly where you are compared to the actual streets above ground.

PRO TIP: While traveling, it’s best to follow these tips for what to wear in Europe to not look like a tourist.

Paris Metro map avec rues (with streets)

Screen shot of Paris Metro map ave rues
A screenshot of the Paris Metro map avec rues

But we’ve found a better Paris Metro map: the grand plan lignes avec rues (lines with streets). It has three unique features that make it especially useful for visitors:

  1. The map displays the metro lines with all their twists and turns
  2. It overlays the lines on the actual city streets
  3. The map includes icons of major tourist sights

Download the Paris Metro Map PDF avec rues (It’s free!)

YES! Finally you can look at a map, figure out exactly where you are and where you want to go, then make an informed decision about how to get there. Additionally, when you arrive at your destination stop, you’ll be able to determine exactly where you are in the city.

For me, one of the most frustrating things about taking a subway/metro is walking through the various underground passageways that twist this way and that. The typical metro map only displays how the train lines relate to one another, not to the city itself. By the time you pop up above ground, you are completely disoriented as to where you are.

Classic stylized map of Paris Metro
The traditional stylized Metro map is most useful for determining how the lines relate to each other, but it doesn’t tell you what’s going on at street level.

Heading to Paris? Compare Paris hotel prices using this handy tool!

With the map avec rues, you can figure out your location pretty quickly. Once you get above ground, a quick look at a few street signs will tell you where you are in no time. You can also make more informed decisions about where you’re going, and the best route to get there.

For example, take a look at the screen shot excerpts from the two different types of maps below. The traditional “cartoon,” or stylized map is on the left, the map avec rues is on the right. They both show the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides.

Assuming you want to visit both Left Bank attractions, you use a map to plan your day. Using the “cartoon” map at left, it appears that the first stop might be “Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel” to visit the Eiffel Tower. Then, after doing a quick Google search for the best metro stop for Les Invalides, you’d get three possible options: “La Tour Maubourg,” “Ecole Militaire,” or “Varenne.” Back onto the Metro you go, change trains, and pop up near Les Invalides.

Now, plan out the same excursion using the map avec rues (above right).With the metro lines overlaying the actual city streets, it’s easy to see that Les Invalides is fairly close to the Eiffel Tower. You probably won’t need to jump back on the Metro at all! Additionally, you can see that you have several options for which line to take to the Eiffel Tower at the outset. And take a look at the “Ecole Militaire” stop. It’s right between both sights, AND it drops you off in front of the large park where most people take those sweeping views of the Eiffel Tower—Score!

Download the Paris Metro Map PDF avec rues

In this larger view of the Paris metro map “avec rues” you see exactly where the metro stops are, along with major streets in the neighborhood.

Paris Metro map PDF (and hard copies)

The Paris Metro grand plan lignes avec rues is published by RATP, Paris’ public transit system. The Paris Metro map pdf is available on the RATP website, but it’s a little difficult to find. That’s why we’ve made it handy for you to download here:

Download the Paris Metro Map PDF avec rues (OUR FAVORITE!)

The map is easy to use on a phone or tablet.

Hard copies of the Paris Metro grand plan lignes avec rues are technically available at city ticket offices. According to Paris (the official Paris tourism) website,

“There are detailed street maps, plans of the “arrondissement” or maps showing the public transport network. You can obtain free maps from the ticket offices in metro stations, in the department stores and at all the information centres of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau (the latter is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Russian!).”

However, paper copies of just about everything are getting more difficult to find these days. We suspect (but we don’t know for certain) that this map may no longer be in print. Once existing stock is depleted, it may not be replenished. Therefore, if you are an “old school,” hard copy kind of person, it’s probably not a good idea to count on picking up a copy once you’ve arrived in Paris. We recommend downloading the PDF file and printing it out before you leave home. (If you’re able to find a hard copy once you’re there, consider it a bonus! 😊)

Certainly there are Paris Metro route finder apps that can be downloaded to smart phones or tablets. But based on our experience, this is one case where “a map is better than an app.” The map shows the big picture, giving you options to determine which routes are best for you. Apps, in our experience, don’t always give the best recommendations. (Plus the map is free, and doesn’t take up much memory in your phone or tablet, so what have you got to lose?!)

Armed with this user-friendly map, anyone can soon be navigating around Paris like a native. This map helped us find these less crowded sights in Paris, as well as Pere Lachaise Cemetery. And while we were riding the Metro, we enjoyed some of these entertaining Street Musicians of Paris.

Heading to Paris? Compare Paris hotel prices using this handy tool!

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Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive updates and valuable travel tips subscribe to our travel newsletter here. SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave

Locals warned us to be alert on the Buenos Aires subway, or  “subte,” because the city is the pickpocketing capital of the world. Most major cities have petty crime so we were careful, as we are anywhere, but also wouldn’t let it affect our plans to go out and explore the vibrant city.

On our very first day riding the subway we managed to get a little too close to one pickpocketing and even had an encounter with one of the thieves. We had just stepped off the train at the crowded 9 de Julio station and were part of the scrum headed towards the exit.

Suddenly a man wearing a dark blue t-shirt bumped up hard against my left shoulder. I was ready to give him a Philly elbow back to clear some space when the man abruptly stopped in front of me. This set off my antenna.

Then I noticed that another man wearing a green hoodie, about three feet in front of me, had a white liquid dripping on his shoulder. A common ruse is to squirt something on the potential victim. This marks him to the pickpocket gang, which usually consists of three people, and sets up the next part of the con.

Buenos Aires subte subway two people

Passengers like these know to be extra vigilant.

One of the thieves said to the man that his sweatshirt was stained and started wiping it off to distract him. I tried to warn him but Larissa was standing right next to one of the pickpockets and I wasn’t sure if the whole thing was just a diversion to get to her. I called out “Riss, Riss!” and waved her over to me.

Meanwhile, as the victim was turning to look at his stained shoulder his wallet was lifted by the third man. A woman a few feet away noticed this and yelled at him that he has just been pickpocketed. The man who had bumped my shoulder agreed and pointed down the platform in the opposite direction of where his partner was running towards the exit. I finally managed to convince the victim that the guy pointing was in on it too so he finally ran up the stairs after his wallet.

In the meantime I grabbed the shoulder of the thief who was still there and yelled in my best high-school Spanish, ‘Polizia! Polizia!” Unfortunately I sucked at Spanish and people just stared at me oddly. The thief looked stunned to be accosted but recovered enough to say in his best movie English, “Fu** you!”

I was out of Spanish expressions at that point and called the crook a shrimp (he was pretty short) holding my fingers an inch apart for emphasis. Since no police were forthcoming (for all we know I yelled for a plumber, but we didn’t see anyone running up wielding a plunger either) I parted ways with the criminal.

Buenos Aires subway subte mural

 The tile murals on the subte are gorgeous, just don’t get too distracted by them.

A “charity” mugging in Paris

This was the second time we’d come across a pickpocketing on this trip. In June we rode the Eurostar train from Paris to London. On board we met an Australian couple who had been robbed just outside the Gare Du Nord station in Paris. When they got out of their taxi they naturally reached for their wallet to pay the driver. This let potential thieves know which pocket their wallet was in.

As they walked away from their cab they were approached by several young women with clipboards who said they were getting petitions signed for a charity. We see these people everywhere, including our fair city of Philadelphia. Most are legitimate but the British have come up with a great name for them, chuggers, as in charity muggers.

The woman held the clipboard up to the tourist’s chest and used it as camouflage for her hands to pickpocket him. We hadn’t heard of this scam before and thought we’d pass it along so you can be aware of it.

What scams have you seen in your travels?
28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

When we arrived in Dubai we were struck by how modern the transportation system was but after two months in Southeast Asia we could have used these tips for riding the Dubai Metro. Asia had been hot and sticky and we really wanted to go someplace dry. After learning that Emirates offers flights to Dubai on a daily basis we headed there on a direct flight from Bangkok.

As the plane approached Dubai we saw the skyline popping out of the desert like the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz. Shiny modern ziggurats soar skyward, the largest of which, the 163-story Burj Khalifa, is the tallest building in the world.

Dubai looks like something out of Flash Gordon from the air and continues with this futuristic feel on the ground. When we boarded the Dubai Metro we were a bit taken aback that there was no driver in the front car. The entire system is fully automated and driverless. After we got used to that fact, we realized the Metro is a great way to get around Dubai and offer these tips for riding the Dubai Metro

tips for riding the dubai metro

The futuristic Dubai Metro stations are easy to spot.

Find and book the best experiences in Dubai!

Here are 10 tips for riding the Dubai Metro:

1) There are two lines: Green and Red, with more on the way. The two existing lines cross each other and then run parallel so be sure to check a Metro map before starting your journey to see which one you need.

dubai metro map

dubai metro ticket machine nol2) The system is cashless. Purchase a “nol” card at a vending machine or at the ticket booth and put a designated amount on it. Then you swipe it over a card reader before entering the boarding area. Note that only Visa and MasterCard are accepted for payment. One-way fares range from AED 1.8 to 5.8. (About 50 cents to 1.60 in U.S. dollars.)

3) Don’t be alarmed that there is no driver or any other human on board running the trains. The system is completely automated which is a bit startling at first but you get used to it.

4) Because there is no driver, the view from the front car is not obscured by a driver’s cabin. The train operates mostly above-ground, so the front window offers the best views of the ever-changing skyline whizzing by. Train geeks will want to ride in the front car. But be careful because . . .

Dubai metro riding in front (640x458)

5) Each train has a car reserved for women, which may be the front car for that train so check the signs. I learned this one the hard way one day when I wondered why my fellow passengers (all female I later realized) were all staring at me. Eventually one approached and pointed to the “Women and Children Only” sign. Oops. Women are not limited to this car though and may ride in any car.

6) Don’t get confused by the Metro station names. Most stations on the Metro are named after the nearest important building, which in Dubai tend to be malls and bank headquarters that often start sounding alike. Pay attention to your stop.

dubai metro signage

7) There are separate cars for First Class but the ride is so short they are not worth paying for. The regular cars are cleaner and more comfortable than any subway we’ve ridden on before.

8) If you plan on cycling around Dubai, be aware that bicycles are not permitted on the trains.

9) Because Friday is a Day of Prayer in the United Arab Emirates, the Metro does not start service until 2 PM.

Dubai metro fish sign (300x292)10) Last but not least, do not carry fish on the Dubai Metro. That seems like an odd one but there were signs at the Metro entrance warning against carrying fish on board. That’s not something we’ve seen before.

For more information visit: Dubai Metro.

Find and book the best experiences in Dubai!
Here are the top travel guides to Dubai.

Like it? Share it . . . Pin it!How to ride the metro in Dubai|metro Dubai map|Dubai metro|Dubai travel|Dubai travel tips

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.



The abandoned Michigan Central Station in Detroit is one of America’s most haunting architectural ruins. It shouldn’t be surprising that in the Motor City a train station would eventually fall into disuse. But the building that was left behind by the automotive boom is enormous, reflecting Detroit’s great wealth Read more

I’ve always had a soft spot for street musicians of Paris. It seems like after room and board our highest travel cost is the coins I toss into their instrument cases as I pass by. Maybe it’s because many years ago my fantasy was to move to Paris with my guitar, sit on a park bench in the Luxembourg Gardens and strum vintage American blues tunes. I’d live off what I earned so I likely would have starved but that doesn’t happen in dreams, does it?

While strolling around the streets of Paris we’ve seen a wide array of musicians performing, a few even go to the trouble of setting up an upright piano on the sidewalk. In the Metro they proliferate like champignons. It seems like every station has a musician assigned to it. The acoustics of the cavernous tiled tunnels apply an eerie bass sound to whatever they are playing.

One of the toughest aspects of being a street musician is being totally ignored by the audience, many of whom just wish they’d go away. In London it was the opposite, there the crowd would burst into polite applause when the musical set was finished. I guess that’s just another difference between the French and the British. Here are some of the musicians we’ve come across around Paris.

Street musicians of Paris guitar player park bench

This cool dude was hanging out in the Bois de Vincennes on a Sunday afternoon.

Street musicians of Paris piano player

I wonder if piano players ever wish they had taken up an easier instrument to lug around.

Street musicians of Paris piano player street

Same goes for this guy.

Street musicians of Paris metro sax player man in suit

This saxophone player provided a bit of Dixieland jazz for the afternoon commute. 

Street musicians of Paris guitar player metro Dylan

Close your eyes and he could be Bob Dylan.

Street musicians of Paris guitar player metro open case

Street musicians are used to being ignored by most of the people passing by.

Street musicians of Paris metro Asian instrument case open

 This Asian instrument provided some treble notes on the normally bass sounding Metro.

The video showcases several of the above musicians including a guitar player who stepped into a Metro car and announced in his French accent, “And now something from Robert Zimmerman.” This led one knowledgeable commuter to yell out “Dylan!”

The Paris Metro is very convenient but can be confusing. Here’s where to find an easy-to-use free Paris Metro map.

We were waiting at the Berlin railroad station for our train to Frankfurt. With only about 20 minutes before departure I decided to make use of a land-based toilet. I’ve been a bit wary of train toilets ever since I was “toilet trained” in Malaysia several months ago, where I had an “I Love Lucy” episode involving a mysterious foot pedal and a gusher of water. I found out toilet humor is funny when it’s happening to someone else.

The Hauptbanhof in Berlin is huge and fairly new, it oozes a Space Age vibe with lots of shiny glass and state-of-the-art escalators.  The bathrooms were no exception.  Signs pointed me toward the “W-C Center,” sort of implying a type of toilet shopping mall or amusement park.  There were gleaming stainless steel tiles with icons indicating showers, baby changing areas and lockers in addition to the more mundane toilets.

Hauptbanhof Berlin WC center

These guys look as confused as I was. 

This pristine porcelain did not come without a price. In order to answer nature’s call I had to fork over 1 euro at the main entrance. It seemed a bit much for a 20-second squat, but my train was due to leave soon and I was in no position to argue.

Typical of these leading-edge technology spots, the entrance operation was automated, with ticket machines attached to high-tech “turnstiles” made of thick glass that opened briefly to allow the patron into the coveted inner sanctum. I watched a few people plonk a coin into the machine, retrieve a paper ticket along with some change, and pass through the security barrier unscathed.

When my turn came, I dropped in my €1 coin ready to meet a 21st-century latrine. The barrier opened as I retrieved my ticket, which I noticed read “€0.50.” Thinking perhaps I had misunderstood, and the fee was only 50 cents, I turned back to the machine to the coin return slot, only to find it empty. By this time the thick glass barrier at the turnstile had closed again, and did not seem inclined to reopen.  A line began to form behind me, people with the same sort of painful “I really need to get in there, so could you just get a move on” kind of look that I must have had myself.

I didn’t have any more change and there was no attendant to plead my case. The train was getting ready to leave so I had no choice but to race back to the platform. I followed the LCD monitors to the smooth and sleek escalators back down to the gleaming platform. It was all very quiet, modern and efficient.

But as the train slid silently out of the station, I still had to pee. 🙁

Read about Larissa’s unfortunate toilet experience on a train in Malaysia.


We were on the train from Singapore to Malaysia. Friends in Singapore had advised us that the toilets on the train left something to be desired, but it was a five-hour journey so eventually nature called.

The facilities were better than we expected. There was even a choice of a Chinese style squatter or a Western style toilet; not that I was actually going to sit, mind you–but enough said about that.

Just jiggle the handle

When I went to flush I was flummoxed. Where was the handle? I finally spotted a foot pedal below the bowl so I stepped on it. Well, it flushed all right, unfortunately not the toilet, but the entire floor of the bathroom. A little spout next to the pedal that I hadn’t noticed began to shoot water all over the floor with a level of pressure that was rather impressive. If you’ve ever been to Niagara Falls then you get the idea.

What followed was a frantic little crab-like dance by me as I tried to keep my feet from getting wet by wedging myself up against the walls of this tiny compartment. (Thankfully I no longer had my pants around my ankles or I would have been wearing the toilet seat as a necklace.)

Surely it would stop any minute–just like those sinks in public bathrooms, right? Well, no. It just kept pouring out. So I gingerly reached out a toe and tapped the pedal again. I was rewarded with yet more water gushing onto the floor.

And the Oscar goes to . . .

To avoid the rushing tide I pirouetted into a toe-stance that would rival Natalie Portman in Black Swan. It’s a good thing I was wearing my nerdy Keen hiking sandals with the big goofy rubber toe design. Did I mention that the train was doing its part to enhance this experience by swaying to and fro and hitting every bump on the line to Kuala Lumpur?

I stood there transfixed and unable to figure out how to stop the gusher. By now I had enough of my own personal water park. I briefly toyed with the idea of sticking my big toe into the faucet to plug it up but you know how that would turn out. The train was approaching our stop and I could see me stuck in the bathroom with my toe even more stuck in the faucet. Visions of something Lucy and Ethel would do. Finally the water stopped.

Planning my exit strategy

Now all that remained was to plan a hasty exit that would be perfectly timed with the train swaying so the water would slosh away from the door at the critical moment. I took my leap, hoping no one in the rail car noticed me catapulting myself out of the bathroom, surreptitiously wiped my feet on the floor in the aisle and scurried back to my seat.

Michael then patiently explained to me that this was one of those old-style trains where toilets just drain out onto the tracks, so there was no flusher. But wasn’t it nice of me to clean the floor?

North Platte, Nebraska is a railroad lover’s paradise, for freight trains in particular. On a daily basis more than 10,000 rail cars rumble through town as they head for the nearby Bailey Yard, the largest train yard in the world. To live near the tracks that cross Nebraska from east to west is to live with the ever-present sounds, sights and smells of the freight train: the night-and-day tug of the piercing whistles, the clang of the wheels, the dust the train hurls up from the tracks and hurls in its wake like mini-cyclones and the never-ending wait at crossings for the trains to pass.

Bailey Yard

If you’re a train geek, and let’s face it, if you’re reading this you probably are, the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte is a must-see destination. The 8-story high structure provides a grand viewing platform overlooking the 2,850 acre Bailey Yard; known as the place where east meets west for the Union Pacific Railroad. At any time of day or night there is a continual blur of motion as the powerful locomotives engage in their unending ritual of coupling, uncoupling and humping. (I’m not making these NSFW terms up by the way. That’s really what they call it.)

Golden Spike Tower

Golden Spike Tower

The numbers at the Bailey rail yard are daunting. It is eight miles long and pumps more than 14 million gallons of diesel fuel per month to power those 10,000 cars. I can believe those figures. I drove on the old Lincoln Highway across the entire length of Nebraska and was never far from the Union Pacific tracks.

On the long drive, filled with unending stretches of lots of nothing, the clanging wheels and blaring whistles of the trains were my steadfast companion. Back east the arrival of a freight train is something unusual to be noted. Not so in Nebraska. Here they run constantly with the frequency of a New York City subway train.

Their presence is unrelenting in the local’s lives. I asked a woman in a shop near the tracks if she ever gets used to the noise. She replied stoically, “What noise?” I guess I had my answer. The laid back rhythms of Midwestern life are reflected in the rhythm of the freight trains. I wonder which came first.

The view from the Golden Spike Tower makes you feel like Gulliver peering down on a Lilliputian railroad system.  From high above the yard looks like an old-fashioned department store’s model railroad Christmas display. If from tall heights people look like ants, then the Union Pacific locomotives, painted in their yellow and black coats, appear like so many worker bees buzzing around the hive. If you’re into this sort of thing, and I confess that I am, it can be mesmerizing. I found myself staring down on the trains for what seemed like an hour before I even blinked.

Suspender-clad retired train buffs are stationed around the tower to provide a running color commentary for the goings on below. As a train hauling 100 cars of coal slid by, the guide pointed to twin smokestacks, each as tall as a fifty-story building, just visible in the haze on the western horizon. They loom over the Gerard Gentleman Station; a coal-fired power plant that is Nebraska’s largest. The guide noted that this plant alone can burn over 19,000 tons of coal, or enough to fill about 150 freight cars, per day. I repeat, per day. That’s a lot of coal but just a drop in the bucket compared to the 500 million tons passing through North Platte each year.

You can watch all this activity from an indoor viewing platform with panoramic windows and an outdoor platform as well. The Golden Spike Tower is one of those travel experiences that won’t compare to anything else that you’ll ever see. I highly recommend it.