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Entries about train

A day in London

Okay a visit with friends, but it is London

sunny 24 °C

Another good sleep serenaded by the early morning gulls. Another breakfast of sweet fresh fruit and croissants that flaked beautifully and we are packed ready to leave. Robert wouldn't take any money for the two calls we made and we chatted for a bit. He has lived all over the place and worked in BC at one time. He commented on some of his more interesting guests...the ones who had to ship their luggage over from the states, the ones who book a B & B in a heritage house then suggest he needs to update and put in a lift. All of a sudden we realize we should be on our way to the train.
We arrive in plenty of time and ask someone if they are waiting for the 10:05 for London. She says yes so we settle in. Her daughter suggests we not listen to her mom, but check, as there are three trains to London leaving in a short period of time. She is right and we move over to platform three and board the correct train. We get a table and seats for four and the train stays fairly empty through most of our journey so we are able to enjoy the space and have our fruit snack on the way. We did pick the regional train, which is much cheaper, and stops at every little town along the way so we do have plenty of time. A family sits behind us and the boy talks nonstop but is really funny to listen to, he obviously says whatever pops into his head and was very excited to visit the zoo.
Our arrival in London is right on time and the instructions I have for the underground are pretty good. We manage to get our tickets and find our way to the correct train, make a transfer and arrive in great time. We are about to call Kerry to let him know we are here as he appears behind us. It is a nice walk to his place so we go on foot.
Sam is waiting at the flat and of course we are on the third floor. The flat is a Counsel flat right on the Thames at Canada Water. It is large for London, bright and open and has doors that open up to the river. Our room is also on the front and the nighttime lights are wonderful. Amazingly the area is quiet. Kerry says behind them is the more expensive higher class places and the other way is a bit rougher. We watched the clippers, rowers, and party boats pass by. This is just an overnight to visit old friends so the sightseeing in minimal.
A bit of a cheese, a bun and a cup of tea and we are on the road. We walk up and catch the clipper across the river to Canary Wharf. We catch a train to the Cutty Sark, which is under repairs. We imagine they are getting it fixed up for the Olympics. From there we find a tunnel and walk under the Thames to the other side. We arrive in Greenwich and walk up the hill for a great vista of the city. Every tour with a busload of teenagers must have been there. We do the picture of us on the Greenwich Meridian, the Prime Meridian of the world before wandering on.
Stella calls and we catch a double decker bus back to the flat to meet up with her. The evening is fun. We start with Prosecco an Italian version of Champagne and order in Indian. The 45 minutes to deliver it turns into 2 hours, but it does arrive and the food is good, the company is great and the day has been wonderful.

Posted by Mari Anne 23:47 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london train friends thames overnight dover Comments (0)

Calais and then Dover

Taking the ferry to the white cliffs of Dover.

semi-overcast 21 °C

The train is comfy, but not as up to date as the ones from Rome to Venice and Venice to Milan. The conductor told us, to lock our door at night, only the door is broken. We devised a "system" using our daypack and Roger's belt to hold the door shut and " locked". Our passports are taken away for the night and returned in the morning along with tea, coffee and "commercial" croissants (better than nothing!). We are arriving at 8:19, lots of time to go from Paris Bercy to Paris Nord for our next train. This one will be first class, but we are only going to Calais.

First class is definitely the way to go! :)

By the way Tracy, the guy in the commercials that we saw in the station in Rome that you thought was the guy in the movie "300" ... his name is Vincent Cassel (there was an interview with him in the TGV magazine on the SNCF train).

The train stops at the station just out of town, but the train is just three or four minutes late and the bus has gone. We join with another fellow, Paul, and grabbed a taxi in to the port. Paul got off in the village to eat, and we got to the port in good time and got on an earlier ferry. We showed our online booking and our passports and were given tickets; we then went through security and showed our passports again to the British Customs. Then we gave our tickets to the desk in the departure lounge and were given boarding passes. A bus picked us up, we gave the driver our passes, and she drove us across the area to the ferry where we climbed a long ramp to board.
Wow, now we are settled in the bow area, had a sandwich on nutty bread and Roger is in and out and around the boat in excitement.
The ferry is not full and has plenty of space to wander around. We get splendid views of both coastlines although it is overcast. Roger took hundreds of photos. Our B&B is just up the road. As usual we are on the third floor. I asked for the room facing the cliffs, but there is a common room that overlooks, the road and the coast. We are pegged as being Canadian as Canadians are the only ones who remove their shoes when they enter a house.
We take a wander down the beach and Roger wants Fish and Chips. It is very good, not greasy! As we sit there is a cry and thud from the street as a lady has fallen and hit her head. A nearby nurse is by her side immediately and the police show up soon after. She is shaken up, but is able to walk to the police car in a bit and they all leave. Roger also wants to charge his ipad, but didn't bring a converter so we pick one up.
The Dover village centre is noisy and I must admit at this point I am understanding the conversations no better than I was in Italy. At least in Italy I didn't expect to understand.

Posted by Mari Anne 10:02 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged train castle ferry dover calais Comments (0)

Milan and on to Paris

Why are there no shows in Venice or Milan.

sunny 25 °C

We are the only ones this morning for breakfast. I thought I heard some one leave early this morning. I have squirreled away a couple of yoghurt and crackers for the train rides and we will pick up water closer to the station. The walk is lovely, but gets busier as we near the termini. We watch the masses arrive (especially the ones with loads of luggage ... yah for back packs) and try to figure out where to go from here.
The train does not indicate what track until just 15 minutes before it is scheduled to depart. Coach 6, seats 11 & 14. Only it turns out these tickets are for the 25 of MAY! Same train, same couch, same time, same trip as the one we should be on in, now in July ... The nice conductor sold us new tickets and confirmed our connecting trains to Paris in the evening were for the correct date. Whoops. I guess with planning for over a month I am allowed one mistake (the conductor realized it was an honest mistake, as we had a print out with our ticket for May sandwiched in between two other tickets for July, but he could have charged us an extra 100 Euros fine for not having a valid ticket). We had great seats too. The last row in the car, which are three together and only the two of us taking up 3seats ... :)
We navigate Milan fairly well with just the city map. This is a bigger, newer and more cosmopolitan city (plus wider streets and many of the guys dressed in suits and women in dresses ... Milan is a fashion centre after all). We are in the banking section so we are able to pick up some cash to replace the money we spent on tickets. It was not that much.
Roger was hungry so we had the crackers and yogurt and then went off to find Teatro alla Scala. We were taking a photo in front when a local man stopped to tell us it was closed. We knew that, but he directed us around the corner to the La Scala museum. Wow, the insides are amazing. We got to go in the theatre, in several of the audience boxes where they would normally have chairs for people watching the production. The theatre is huge! They had the large chandelier lowered down and were cleaning it, plus the curtains were open and we could see the whole stage ... wow! It was incredible! Of course, the stage is an opera stage, so it's raked at an angle from the very front to the very back, but it has trap doors here and there, plus lots of hydraulics so the can raise or lower chunks of the stage whenever they need to. It's a technician's dream stage! The audience boxes, the velvet, the historical displays were all worth it. Roger of course was over the top. He had been on stage with La Scala when they came to Vancouver in 1986. He sang quietly from the box we were in ("Caro Mio Bene") so he can now say he sang at the theatre itself ... :)

We had heard shouting in the square across from the theatre the whole time we were inside it so we crossed the street to the square to find out who was protesting about what. A tiny group had signs Alpha Romeo and the word Cobras? I'll look that up later. Needing a WC we stopped at a McDonalds. Roger had a huge meat craving and bought two meals for us (yes they have meal deals at McDonalds in Milan too...) The price was right, the fries were better than ours at home and the location was great for people watching. Venice has one McDonalds, which we never actually saw, and Rome and Milan have piles of them, only they call them Mc Cafe.
Across the square from the McDonalds, is the Duomo, an amazing cathedral/church/structure with figures all around and a very short line up. We decided to go in. While we could take backpacks in, I had to just about empty mine for the security guard before I was cleared. Once again an amazing vista. There are two Cardinals here who have been made saints. I would not really wish my decaying body on display, but I think there is no chance I will ever be sainted.
We walked past all the upper crust stores that you see in every big city and sit in a park serenaded by the toilette in the corner of the park that is beeping, insisting it needs to be serviced.
Milan has mosquitoes!
We enjoy the park and find our way towards the stazione through a very interesting neighbourhood. Lots of Chinese food, Japanese food, Indian food and big groups of men, so I prefer to keep on walking to a more "family area" to stop for a drink. I would have loved some Asian food, but felt a little overwhelmed. We end up at a place that gives you a plate of food with your drink plus a functioning bathroom and a TV with the local news. Major bonus! The wine is good, the toilets so so, the snacks are decent and the news shows a fire at a train station. We finally figure out it is Rome and won't affect us. We have a game of cards in front of the station, watch an animated phone call by a young woman, watch a kid ride his bike around selling Birra, buy some yogurt for breakie, watch some pod casts by Rick Steves on Italy and our train is here and leaves on time. Weather is hot, but not too hot and sunny.

Posted by Mari Anne 10:00 Archived in Italy Tagged venice train milan scala teatre alla duodo Comments (0)

The family divides.

Two to UK, One to Vancouver and two to Venice.

sunny 29 °C

Breakfast is very crunchy bread/toast topped with Nutella and/or spreadable ricotta cheese ... yummy! Roger wanted the bread and Tracy the Nutella which means we have yogurt and muesli to carry with us on the train to Venice ... change in plans ... we actually ended up eating it before we left ... :) (Aren’t vacations wonderful!)?
Roma Cabs picked up Tracy, Joyce and Doris at 10am for the Airport (another handsome young Italian man for their driver). Tracy is on British Air at 13:35. She will get Grandma and Doris checked in for their flights with Swiss Air, which leaves at 15:10. Roger and I will simply walk over to the termini stazione at 13:00 and catch our train. Lets hope all goes well. No lets just assume all goes well ...
Things must have gone well as we have had no messages of despair.
The train was very nice and left on the button. there was a mom and daughter in our seats, but we left them there as they were going to Firenze only. They had been on the road over 24 hours as art of a group of 8 from Florida. Seated beside me the young girl was very good, but tended to take up a lot of space for such a small person and talked non stop until she finally passed out for a bit. When they left a family from China joined us. Ken and his wife and daughter had their train from Rome that morning cancelled due to a strike. They had to buy new tickets at a much higher cost and will have to apply later to get their money back for the first set. It was never quite clear why they were boarding in Firenze; I guess they had to take two trains. Also joining across from us were students, Shirley from Houston and Kate from Minnesota. It is almost time for them to return home. They almost got off at the stop on the mainland before Venice...whoops.
The train arrives and I phone Andrea our host. That is 'Andraya' as in Andrea Boticelli, not 'Andreeea'. He has instructed us to take the vaparetto or common water taxis, but I want to walk. Luckily there is a strike and only one is running so I get my wish. We manage to find the Rialto station and follow his directions to the B & B. Like in Rome we are on the third floor in number 9. How cool is that.
This is his home and it is just like the photos.... beautiful. He is a teacher in his other life and is very helpful to suggest what sites to see and suggests a dinner location when asked. We clean up and begin our travels. No cars, no vespas, no trams, just people and boats. We find Rosa Rossa and are seated inside where there is air conditioning...sort of. While I am not up to a traditional Italian meal with all the courses we start with a litre of house wine and a selection of bread and a plate of cold meat and olives. Roger is still craving meat. We follow his up with our first plate. Roger has the chefs recommended Salmon Lasagna and I opt for a pizza with vegetables and feta. They are both really good! Roger ate his then half my pizza. Time for dessert, Tiramisu for Roger and Chocolate Gelato for me that has a creamy surprise in the middle.
At this point I make Roger take a photo of Johnny Depp's jacket that he presented the restaurant when he was there filming 'The Tourist'. This movie is a must see. This instigates a conversation with the couple at the next table. They are from Philly, and she has been teaching here in the field of law. Her office sent her over. Not a bad deal! We chat until the wine is finito and then some before we wander out again. We find St. Marco's square and enjoy the nightlife as we cruise the warren of streets. They are sparser, but there are still the hawkers of handbags, toxic jelly toys and illuminated flying 'things'. The restaurants spill out into the square and string quartets entertain with pizzazz. Workers are setting up the square for a concert tomorrow night featuring Sting and an Orchestra.
Trying to find our way home is a challenge so we finally manage to make our way to the rialto bridge and from there we are able to find our home for the night.

Posted by Mari Anne 03:19 Archived in Italy Tagged venice england train vancouver rome flights Comments (0)

Naples, Italy

Pompeii and Herculaneum

An early start had us off the ship and looking for the Stazaione. It took somewhat longer than we had planned. We were following the GPS but then switched over to signs when we saw a directional sign. Only they disappeared. We asked several people and found our way. We bought tickets at 4.50 Euros for a train to Pompeii and back. The train was packed with locals, many heading out to the beach. Lucia called to say her train was late, but we ended up in Pompeii at about the same time.
She bypassed the ticket line and we walked up the old Roman road into the city. Having studied Pompeii in school I was a little more aware of its history, but nothing can prepare you for the actual thing. The ruts in the rock from the chariots, the sanitation system, the complete devastation of an entire city, to see a man and women trapped by the ash and rock in their final moments is a truly amazing and humbling thing. Lucia's knowledge was extensive and she led us through some of the more traveled sites and then off to see some areas that were off the beaten path.
It was hot and dusty, but the time flew. Yes the three hours were gone and there was still so much to see, but one can only absorb so much. We wandered back out to the entrance and said a quick goodbye as the train was coming. This was a newer train and flew back to Ercolana Scavi where Herculaneum is located. We headed down the hill and stopped at a pizzeria that Lucia suggested for a pizza baked in a forno. We ordered a Margarita pizza made with Buffalo Mozzarella and local tomatoes, a Caprese salad to share and it was great! The pizza was four Euros and was a full twelve-inch pizza. Great deal ... we could have shared two.
We walked the rest of the way down and were able to view Herculaneum from above. We decided we would not appreciate the site enough to pay the entrance fee. Too much of a good thing. The ruins are different. They of course were destroyed by a wall of superheated mud from Vesuvius and their excavation has been much more difficult as the mud solidified after it cooled.
It is our day for making connections as the train arrives very shortly after we entered the station. We are back on the older train with many returning beach goers.
The other place that needs viewing is the museum in Naples where the artifacts from Pompeii are housed. That is the artifact that exists. The many bronze statues were taken away to be melted down for weapons. Some things never changed.
Joyce and Doris planned a bus tour and were only half pleased. The first part of the trip was in Naples itself and it is a dirty, dirty town. The streets are littered with garbage and there are huge piles of trash all over. This seems to be an ongoing issue. The second part of the trip was much better and gave them chance to see something other than garbage.
Only one moment made me nervous today. With all warnings of pickpockets we are pretty aware of who is around us. This morning as we walked to the train an older man, was hanging around, as we passed he changed demeanor and fit himself in between Tracy and me. As I moved closer to Tracy he looked at me sideways and scowled. It was not a good feeling. Then he just drifted off to the side. So maybe nothing, but...it didn't feel right.
So we are packed, we have said good-bye to Paolo and Adrian and the activity staff and a few random people we have connected with over the cruise. We will catch a bit of the show and dance some before we meet Charlotte for a game of scrabble at 10:30.

Posted by Mari Anne 21:48 Archived in Italy Tagged ruins train guide tour naples herculaneum pompei garbage erkolano Comments (0)

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