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BS: Long train journey - advice

Penny S. 18 May 10 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,mg 18 May 10 - 05:14 PM
Jack Campin 18 May 10 - 05:50 PM
Jack Campin 18 May 10 - 06:21 PM
Rapparee 18 May 10 - 09:51 PM
mg 18 May 10 - 10:51 PM
Jack Campin 19 May 10 - 05:30 AM
Penny S. 19 May 10 - 08:40 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 May 10 - 09:18 AM
The Sandman 19 May 10 - 09:37 AM
Jack Campin 19 May 10 - 09:55 AM
mg 19 May 10 - 11:02 AM
wysiwyg 19 May 10 - 01:28 PM
Jack Campin 19 May 10 - 07:26 PM
GUEST,David E. 19 May 10 - 08:08 PM
open mike 20 May 10 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,leeneia 20 May 10 - 09:01 PM
GUEST,Guest, DaveA 20 May 10 - 09:27 PM
mg 20 May 10 - 09:43 PM
GUEST,Guest, DaveA 21 May 10 - 02:20 AM
Jack Campin 21 May 10 - 05:04 AM
Penny S. 21 May 10 - 05:29 AM
Penny S. 21 May 10 - 05:58 AM
Bonzo3legs 21 May 10 - 07:17 AM
GUEST,Penny S. (elsewhere) 21 May 10 - 11:23 AM
catspaw49 21 May 10 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,mg 21 May 10 - 12:53 PM
Jack Campin 21 May 10 - 02:40 PM
GUEST,mg 21 May 10 - 03:39 PM
Penny S. 22 May 10 - 01:47 PM
Penny S. 22 May 10 - 02:36 PM
Doug Chadwick 23 May 10 - 03:52 AM
wysiwyg 23 May 10 - 08:40 PM
Penny S. 24 May 10 - 02:29 PM
Jack Campin 24 May 10 - 03:08 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 24 May 10 - 03:23 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 24 May 10 - 03:25 PM
Penny S. 25 May 10 - 03:40 AM
Gweltas 26 May 10 - 02:57 AM
Penny S. 02 Jun 10 - 04:33 PM
Jack Campin 02 Jun 10 - 08:34 PM
Penny S. 03 Jun 10 - 03:21 AM
GUEST,Bill the Collie 03 Jun 10 - 04:44 AM
Penny S. 03 Jun 10 - 08:01 AM
GUEST,Guest, DaveA 03 Jun 10 - 05:51 PM
Penny S. 07 Jun 10 - 05:10 PM
Penny S. 07 Jun 10 - 05:27 PM
Penny S. 15 Jun 10 - 02:07 PM
Micca 15 Jun 10 - 05:38 PM
GUEST,Jim Martin 16 Jun 10 - 06:54 AM
Penny S. 17 Jun 10 - 03:37 AM
Dave the Gnome 17 Jun 10 - 05:21 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 17 Jun 10 - 06:14 AM
Penny S. 18 Jun 10 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,Guest, DaveA 18 Jun 10 - 07:37 PM
Penny S. 19 Jun 10 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,Penny S. elsewhare 27 Jun 10 - 03:56 AM
GUEST,Penny S. further elsewhare 28 Jun 10 - 11:51 AM
Jack Campin 29 Jun 10 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 29 Jun 10 - 05:50 AM
Jack Campin 29 Jun 10 - 07:37 AM
lefthanded guitar 29 Jun 10 - 07:37 PM
GUEST,Penny S. Somewhere in the Aegean 04 Jul 10 - 12:24 PM
Micca 04 Jul 10 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,Penny in the Cyclades 05 Jul 10 - 02:39 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 05 Jul 10 - 03:02 PM
Micca 05 Jul 10 - 09:35 PM
GUEST,Penny east of the Pelepponese(?) 07 Jul 10 - 09:31 AM
GUEST,Penny again 07 Jul 10 - 09:33 AM
Micca 07 Jul 10 - 09:56 AM
Jack Campin 07 Jul 10 - 06:10 PM
GUEST,Penny off Albania 09 Jul 10 - 07:56 AM
GUEST,Penny S. off Croatia 10 Jul 10 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,Penny further up the Adriatic 11 Jul 10 - 03:26 AM
Charley Noble 11 Jul 10 - 08:48 PM
Micca 12 Jul 10 - 05:07 AM
GUEST,Penny in Venice 12 Jul 10 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,Penny at the beginning of a long day 13 Jul 10 - 02:34 AM
Penny S. 14 Jul 10 - 04:45 PM
Deckman 15 Jul 10 - 06:55 AM
Penny S. 16 Jul 10 - 02:50 PM

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Subject: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 18 May 10 - 04:24 PM

At the end of June I'm travelling from England to Istanbul by train - several changes and sleeping compartments involved. It seemed like a good idea, rather than flying, because I don't fancy losing out on a cruise because of a bit of volcanic dust. Has anyone any advice about such a journey? Clothing, food, security, etc?

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 18 May 10 - 05:14 PM

Don't get in a compartment alone. Put a spare credit card in your shoe. Wear your valuables as securely as possible. Don't have valuables in a fanny pack or purse etc. Take toilet paper. Preferably take a toilet. Refuse any offers of help with your luggage. Take food with you.   The only place I had trouble was Italy but it could have been serious. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 May 10 - 05:50 PM

I've done Istanbul-Budapest by train (in the 90s), Istanbul-Thessaloniki in 1981, Prague-Kosice three years ago and Budapest-Romania and back last year, so I have some experience of trains in that part of the world.

Think about when you'll be crossing borders and how much hassle it's likely to be before deciding to take a sleeper. I found it was more trouble to get to sleep with ticket and passport checks in the small hours round the Hungarian-Romanian border when in a sleeper than it was in a compartment with three other people. In the sleeper I was sharing with a guy who was chugging down industrial quantities of Red Bull and arranging what seemed to be drug deals on his mobile; with more people in the sit-up car, there was more normality.

Gizmos for securing your luggage and cycle locks to fasten the compartment door are worth it. I've never encountered any theft on a train but you'll sleep better. Get the window seat if you can, you'll be disturbed less.

The Istanbul-Budapest ride had the largest cultural divides. The food and service within Turkey was great, but the restaurant car stayed there and wasn't replaced. The Bulgarian guard tried to do me out of my change for the visa and pretended not to understand anything I said (shouting loud enough in Turkish for the whole carriage to hear got results). Part of the train was going to Poland, where there was a toilet paper shortage, so the Polish passengers nicked all the TP in every carriage while they had the chance.

Knowing German will help (and French in Romania), but Hungarian staff are quite likely to understand no language but their own. Carry a notepad for doodling and be prepared to wave your hands a lot.

I've no idea what you'll encounter in Serbia, if that's on your route. It was completely unproblematic when I did it, but that was before NATO blew the place to buggery.

I email scans of my passport, tickets and insurance documents to my own webmail account so I can get at them if I lose the paper.

Eastern European trains can go from far too hot to far too cold within minutes. Carry inflatable cushions, bags to stuff with clothes, things that will serve as blankets (I carry both a Palestinian scarf and a Kilt Towel, they both have many uses). Lightweight clothing with lots of inner and secure pockets is helpful - I use Rohan or similar kit and don't care if I look a bit geeky.

Carry a spare mobile, make sure they'll both work wherever you are, ensure you can keep them charged and in credit, and know what the local inward international dialling codes are.

You don't usually need to carry a large stock of food and water, if you have the right money to buy it at stations.

I'll PM you an idea I don't want to make public.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 May 10 - 06:21 PM

And: get a pair of binoculars that actually work (for you) from a moving vehicle. You'll see all kinds of interesting stuff. A camera is not so useful, unless both you and it have millisecond response times. I use a pair of heavy WW2-era British military binoculars that make me look like Monty planning an attack from a tank turret at El Alamein, but they give a very steady image.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Rapparee
Date: 18 May 10 - 09:51 PM

For goodness sakes, be sure you have your towel!


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: mg
Date: 18 May 10 - 10:51 PM

I would consider shipping your cruise clothing to Istanbul if the price is not horrible and taking a knapsack of older clothes that you wouldn't mind if they got dirty, ruined. etc. from travel. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 May 10 - 05:30 AM

I'd missed the bit about the cruise - that's a good idea. (I usually travel with only what I can carry). Perhaps the cruise company could arrange shipping? Or alternatively look at it as an excuse to do some clothes shopping in Istanbul (the shops in Sisli should have anything you'd want for even the most upmarket one). But remember you'll probably want to get those clothes back.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 19 May 10 - 08:40 AM

Thanks for all the advice.

Being European, the only visa stop is the Turkish border (in the night, but online advice is it's not too much of a problem.) I'm not taking too much for the cruise, capsule wardrobe stuff, a smallish trolley case. I'm assuming the sleepers will be women only - and I'll complain if not - so drug dealers are unlikely (though not impossible - a Vietnamese woman was involved with the dealing outside my old home.)

Unfortunately, my languages are minimal - I was planning to get a few Turkish phrases from the kebab shop! And see if I could track down my Hungarian ex-neighbour. I'm glad French works in Rumania.

I would love to get Rohan type stuff. But they assume that half the human race doesn't want it - they don't even go up as far as average size, and the staff weren't very helpful when I tried shopping there. But I'll see if I can manage something like it.

Like the email suggestion, and the phones. I think I'll stick to the camera, which I will need for the geology later (I can do photos of flying bluetits so the same technique should work the other way.) I'm trying to keep weight down, and my bins are not light.

This has given me plenty to think about.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 May 10 - 09:18 AM

Always carry a roll of toilet paper. But then that's a Basic Life rule in any unfamiliar situation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 10 - 09:37 AM

take a harmonica.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 May 10 - 09:55 AM

Romanian border guards like to check passports, with the greatest possible thoroughness, delay and inconvenience, and you wanting to get back to sleep doesn't feature in their priorities.

You won't learn enough Hungarian to be any use in a few weeks, though learning how to pronounce it will help (simple enough). Turkish is a lot easier.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: mg
Date: 19 May 10 - 11:02 AM

I would not assume anything about the women being all paragons of virtue. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 May 10 - 01:28 PM

US stores have a non-fridge tofu. Same as chilled, bioxed tofu but packed airlessly/sans water. Keeps a long time in the box, unopened.

Holds 3 servings-- thus, easy to eat up in a day before it goes bad.

Mix with canned or dried fruit and it gets a flavor. Staple item for us whenever there is no fridge/cooking possible, mixed with instant oatmeal, canned veggie soup, fresh salad natter, raisins....

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 May 10 - 07:26 PM

Cooking is sometimes possible. I have once seen a campstove used on a train - coming back to Glasgow from the Highlands when we were stopped by a landslip. We obviously weren't going anywhere for a couple of hours so some guys who'd been camping brewed up hot drinks for a few of us.

But, you're likely to have long enough stops to buy stuff at stations or even get off for a meal, there's no need to prepare like the Franklin expedition. The schedule will tell you. I can recommend the restaurant at Budapest Keleti if you have time to use it, and the on-board catering on the higher-class Prague-Bratislava train (which is so cheap there is no need to consider the others).

A thermos might be an idea. Romanian train coffee is well worth avoiding.

I just remembered I *have* encountered theft on a train - I was robbed on the DART in Dublin (two guys jumped in at Howth Junction and grabbed my bag). But not on one going any distance.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,David E.
Date: 19 May 10 - 08:08 PM

Reading these posts brings to mind what I always say to my wife:

"And THIS is better than staying home?"

David E.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: open mike
Date: 20 May 10 - 06:30 AM

i would recommend bringing snacks....such as trail mix and dried fruit, and a bottle of water. train food tends to be expensive,
in my experience. and sometimes served at times when you are not
even hungry. but i have only been on trains in U.S.and Canada.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 May 10 - 09:01 PM

Are you an experienced traveller? Tough, confident, resilient?

If you are not, I suggest postponing the trip.

I have travelled quite a bit, and to me it sounds like a tiresome, tiring, worrisome journey.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Guest, DaveA
Date: 20 May 10 - 09:27 PM

I've done this trip (or at least from Vienna to Istanbul) in both directions in 2008. Essesntially, the further east you get the more "interesting" the trains become.
Things can get grim after Bucharest as the sleeping cars are pretty old (don't even think of the passenger cars or even the couchettes) & the trains NEVER run on time!
This isn't a problem going to Istanbul as long as you don't have anything planned for the day of your arrival.
It can be on the way back as there are only two night trains from Bucharest to Budapest. The earlier connection (for the much better train - the Ister) at about 7:00 you won't make and sometimes the later one (about 10:00) you may not make either or it may be booked out. My advice is to book a hotel for that night and next day explore a bit before catching the Ister that night.
You will need to stock up on food & drink for the Istanbul - Bucharest leg. There isn't a restaurant or buffet car and the catering at stations is a bit hit & miss. You do NOT want to drink any tap water on the train. Also, the toilet situation can be diabolical. The conductor I talked to explained that they usually run out of flushing water after about 6 hours!!!
And just to complete the aggravation, the Border stop is non trivial. Expect to be off the train for nearly an hour which can be even longer if the staff aren't there when the train arrives.
But it is an adventure as long as you:
1/   Get a sleeping compartment to yourself
2/   Bring enough food, water & booze AND reading material
3/   Approach it realistically rather than expecting West Europe comfort
4/   Don't get fussed at delays & language difficulties

And finally, you should go to Seat61.com and read the section on Turkey. This is the best train travel website I know and has most of what you'll need including prices, how to book etc etc

Good luck

Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: mg
Date: 20 May 10 - 09:43 PM

Can you buy a compartment to yourself? If not, you just see one empty and decide to go for it, I think that is putting yourself in danger, especially for a woman. Some of the train staff can be creepy too. I would find a compartment that has a couple of women already or a family with screaming kids but I would not take an empty compartment if people were able to join me. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Guest, DaveA
Date: 21 May 10 - 02:20 AM

Compartments have to be booked (at a separate charge from the actual train ticket).
You can book a compartment as a 1 bed (the most expensive), or a 2 or 3 bed (cheaper). In the case of a 2 or 3 bed booking, you share with another person of the same sex.
Couchettes are a bit different. They are 6 berth compartments (mixed genders) and you don't undress to sleep!
Typically, you have to have a 1st Class ticket to book a sleeper, and a 2nd Class ticket to book a bed in a couchette.
So, it's not the open slather you think. And, there is a conductor per carriage and although he may not speak much English he's normally pretty good at keeping non booked people out of the sleeping car (& even selling you a luke warm beer if you run out)

Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 10 - 05:04 AM

My experience of Romanian and Hungarian trains is that they are bang on time to the nearest minute and much more reliable than British ones.

Remeber that the train she'll be getting to Istanbul is an international one, which will be higher standard than the ones that do local trips.

The sleeping car I got to Romania in 2008 was more comfortable than a British one. The problem was the amount of disturbance caused by passport checks and the Red Bull guy - if I'd realized this was going to happen I'd have tried to travel at a different time so the border crossing was during the day (I'm not sure if that's possible). I slept much better in the ordinary six-seat cabin, which had three other passengers, though the seats were very hard.

One potential problem - getting on and off Continental trains involves climbing straight up from the trackside on a ladder (US trains did the same when I was there). For a British passenger this feels like something out of an old movie. Disabled people need help being lifted on, and somebody who doesn't fit the standard sizes of Rohan clothing might be in that category. Trains don't stop for long at stations, either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 21 May 10 - 05:29 AM

The return is from Venice, and is booked. I've got a whole day for boarding the ship in Istanbul, plus a day of tours the next before leaving. The ship is booked, so no can do putting off. The trains are booked as far as Budapest - I'm waiting for a call back on the last legs (via Seat61 - thanks for the confirmation on the quality of that.)

Perhaps Rohan have changed its sizing, but they stopped at British 14 when I went, and above that is still normal for quite a few sizes. (16 is average, but 14 still translates as large. I think these sizes translate to US as 14UK=12US, 16UK=14US) I can manage climbing, thank you. ;-)

Thanks for all the advice - towel and loo paper added to list. My sister suggested baby wipes and panty liners, as well.

I do have a day in Budapest, so restaurant information will be welcome, as well as any advice on things to see.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 21 May 10 - 05:58 AM

OK, they have changed their sizing - what a pity their assistant was so rude that day that I never looked them up again. New gripe, though - why only men get the multipocketed jacket? I'm off to the military surplus store to see what they have.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 21 May 10 - 07:17 AM

My advice - take a plane!


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny S. (elsewhere)
Date: 21 May 10 - 11:23 AM

Ash. Unpredictable. Last minute bookings expensive and possibly not possible.

I have bouaght a pockety waistcoat from the local Army Surplus store. (I'm not sure which army things are surplus to) £25, as compared to Rohan's £145 or therabouts. I haven't kep in touch with them, by the way, not out of continued pique, but because I didn't need that sort of stuff any more.

I have a rigid trolley case with locks. It is pink, which I would not have chosen, but it was £25 in a sale, and anyway, I think it may be a deterrent. Any bloke witha pink trolley?

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 May 10 - 11:39 AM

Take an Agatha Christie mystery..........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 21 May 10 - 12:53 PM

There are plenty of women thieves who would love a pink trolley. And anyone could take a can of spray paint and have it black in a minute. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 10 - 02:40 PM

My fave haunt in Budapest is the Castro Bisztro in Madach tér - friendly vaguely-alternative coffee/wine bar that does good food, has free internet terminals, and a pile of interesting leaflets about what's on.

There is a restaurant at the top of the cog railway that specializes in offal. Friendly place, good value, interesting food and a good view on the way up.

Another good view is walking up to Buda from the end of the Chain Bridge.

The Ethnographic Museum has some good stuff. Essential if you want to know where Bartók was coming from.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 21 May 10 - 03:39 PM

I was in Budapest and the food was awesome. Just looking at it. Lemons the size of watermelons almost. Beautiful peppers. Every home was a garden. Every farm was a botanical masterpiece..and this was right after communism. I suspect they are the world's best gardeners but I could be wrong. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 22 May 10 - 01:47 PM

More fun. There is a break in the line near the Turkish border due to floods and tunnel damage. I may end up flying the last leg after all.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 22 May 10 - 02:36 PM

Meanwhile, I have a puzzle about my waistcoat. It has many pockets at the front, inside and out, of various sizes, zipped or velcro'd. Round the back, between the waist level and the bottom, is a pocket the full width of the back, closed with two press studs to the sides, and velcro in the middle. Clearly not for anything secure. Why would anyone want a pocket over their buttocks? All i can think of is it's being for a folded towel (HG style) which would provide lumbar suport when seated. Or, if it were designed for a woman, protection from goosing. Anyone really know what this is for?

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 23 May 10 - 03:52 AM

US stores have a non-fridge tofu. Same as chilled, bioxed tofu but packed airlessly/sans water. Keeps a long time in the box, unopened.

As far as I'm concerned, that's the way it should stay - in the box, unopened. Polysrtyrene lasts longer and tastes much the same.


DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: wysiwyg
Date: 23 May 10 - 08:40 PM

Perfect travel towel, blanket, skirt......

5 yards of cheap cotton flannel. Packs light, dries fast, multi-use.

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 24 May 10 - 02:29 PM

I haven't seen flannel in a fabric shop for yonks. I haven't seen what I really think of as a fabric shop for yonks, either. A few small shops mostly specialising in quilt fabrics. John Lewis mostly specialising in occasion wear fabrics. Even the Indian shops are diminishing in number.

Meanwhile, i think I have sussed the back pocket. A lot of sites advocate wearing the pouch of that sort of money belt in the small of the back, ensuring that the strap has wire in it to avoid its being cut. If that were what I was doing, carrying anything in it would render it hard for the aspiring pickpocket to get to the pouch beneath.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 May 10 - 03:08 PM

I have seen a guy wearing a multi-pocket waistcoat like that where the back pocket came all the way up to his shoulders. Made of extra-heavy bright orange cordura.

He was a geologist and that back pocket was a built-in backpack for rock samples.

I have an even more mysterious item of clothing. A pair of Rohan-like tough-nylon lined trousers with a zip below waist level at the back providing one enormous pocket across the bum, covering both buttocks. It would hold a large book or a small cat, but it's not sensibly placed to fit a cushion. Anyone know what it might have been for? (They'd work for a geologist who wanted to walk around with an arseful of rocks, but you'd need heavy-duty braces to hold them up).


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 24 May 10 - 03:23 PM

a small camping towel would seem a good idea for general stuff, they come in their .
Dried whole bananas are a great munchie, though they look like harvested mummy fingers - I use them hiking.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 24 May 10 - 03:25 PM

Edit: [camping hand towels] come in their own little pouch. They dry really quick too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 25 May 10 - 03:40 AM

My goodness, the mind boggles on the rock samples weighing down on the back like that.

I heard a tale from the British geological grapevine. There was a tutor who took his students on major route marches to various outcrops, weighed them down with various hand specimens, and, I seem to remember, denied them the chance for breaks at suitable watering places. One lunchtime he dozed off on the ground, and the students gathered a number of rubbishy bits of who-knew-what to load into his backpack. When he woke, amusement was denied, as he went on without commenting on the increased load. When the practical exam arrived, he had his revenge. Those strange rocks they had so merrily used as ballast turned up for identification.

More difficult with something he was wearing.

I have some little zip bags for the Santorini visit - it'll be quite easy to slip them into that bum pocket - but I'll have to remember not to sit down. Not too heavy though, pumice.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Gweltas
Date: 26 May 10 - 02:57 AM

Hi Penny S,
Please check your PMs, 'cos I have sent you a PM regarding your trip.
Best wishes,
Anne XX.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 04:33 PM

The last part of the trip is now going to be a flight, as there have been floods which have damaged the line between Bucharest and Turkey. Shucks, I'm going to have to take account of all that stuff about what is allowed...

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 08:34 PM

Is the line through Serbia still out of action?

There will be buses between Bucharest and Istanbul (or Sofia - where's the break in the line?).

A considerably more adventurous route would be to go to Constanta and get a ferry. They're probably about once a week in summer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 03 Jun 10 - 03:21 AM

Timing for the last leg is critical, and coach or ferry would be too slow (had thought of it). The latest on the only place I can find out about the blockage (Seat61) is that it may be several months. Since a tunnel collapse is involved, and Higham tunnel in Kent was out over a year, I'm not surprised. I had hoped it was just a small collapse at the entrance, but it isn't worth waiting and gambling on repair sooner. And then I'm going to be completely unadventurous and stay at an airport chain hotel, so I can meet my companion there next day, and use the cruise transport. (And use the washer dryer for undies.)

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Bill the Collie
Date: 03 Jun 10 - 04:44 AM

And please take all precautions to avoid the ABBA tribute groups on the cruise


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 03 Jun 10 - 08:01 AM

Unlikely to be necessary - this cruise is based round a study of Byzantium, with guest lecturers!

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Guest, DaveA
Date: 03 Jun 10 - 05:51 PM

Latest news from Mark Smith of Seat61 is that the line will re-open on June 20th.
Does that fit with your plans?


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 05:10 PM

It would be fine, but as last week it was proposing several months, time was short for a plane booking, and I am now booked on Turkish Airlines for the hop from Bucharest to Istanbul, arriving a day early.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 07 Jun 10 - 05:27 PM

I'm gradually getting all my bits together.

Today flipflops for wearing in showers (sister's advice) from TKMax, and a small coin purse from a charity shop that I won't mind losing. (I lost a very nice useful one in Rome, with various cards and stuff.) I'm charging up my MP3 player so I can listen to recorded radio plays and things - I usually go to sleep with BBC World Service on a pillow speaker, and I won't be able to get it, apparently, where we are going.

I'm still havering about my netbook - I don't really want to take anything I would mind losing, and a very old Palm Pilot I bought in a sale is the most electronics I am thinking of at the moment. That, internet cafes, and I think there is access on the ship (but I'll check on that, I know there's wifi.)

And I'm busy stitching away, at a pair of shalwar type loose trousers (take up tiny space, and no problem if creased), and another project.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 15 Jun 10 - 02:07 PM

Getting closer - and the weather forecast is for heavy rain in mitteleurope - 200mm.

Meanwhile, advice has arrived with my cruise documents, suggesting I don't carry my camera in an expensive looking bag. I do want to do proper photography, not just point and shoot. Any ideas?

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Micca
Date: 15 Jun 10 - 05:38 PM

PennyS I find Tilly endurables much better than Rohan, they are, unfortunately , very expensive, but are very hard wearing and durable the trousers have 6 velcro fastened pockets and have a concealed pocket inside the ordinary right hand pocket closed with velcro suitable for bank cards and paper money and is not noticeble to an inserted hand (ie Pickpocket)
I would be very interested in seeing any Santorini pix!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 16 Jun 10 - 06:54 AM

When I travelled to Greece by sleeper nearly 30 yrs ago, my friend's wife had her small hand bag with valuables stolen when we were asleep, people we spoke to reckoned it was a common occurence passing through the former Yugoslavia where the train stopped a number of times and made it easy for the locals to hop on and off. It was reckoned that they were using small cans of gas and ensuring that their victims really were asleep before conducting their misdeeds, certainly we were completely unaware of anything untowards until we woke up! She had the hand bag securely (she thought) underneath her pillow! Train staff did not seem to be helpful (including police on the train) and we did half wonder if there was an element of corruption going on between the train staff and the locals. I have also travelled alone to Bulgaria but not for 17 yrs, I wouldn't dream of doing it now! Many people reckon bus travel between Turkey and Bulgaria is safer and more reliable than by train.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 03:37 AM

Oh, great. But Seat61 does say that the sleepers cannot be opened from outside, even by staff. (I have concerns about that under some circs). Then again, I know that I never slept on sleepers to and from Scotland some time ago, or at least woke up at any chnage in movement.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 05:21 AM

Camera ideas - The new Panasonc G1 looks compact enough but is also fully featured. Assuming you don't want to lay that type of cash out on something that may vanish anyway though I can only suggest putting your camera in a resilient case inside an old duffle bag or some such.

I usualy keep my Fuji S7000 - Which a fair old size - in a standard shoulder bag rather than a purpose built camera bag and it has not suffered any harm - As yet!

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 06:14 AM

We had a chain on the sliding corridor door so we could keep it slightly open for ventilation - big mistake - we should have locked it!


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 05:20 AM

Without going into huge detail, I've an SLR, which I will be needing on Santorini. I had thought of using it en route as well, though I do have the compact option, too. As well as the suitcase, I will have a rucksack for the train, and a coolbag for food. Christmas tree, me. But no handbag on the train. I have an idea for the sleeping bit.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Guest, DaveA
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 07:37 PM

As of 2008, the sleeping car doors do lock from inside. You get ventilation by opening the carriage window. Only the top portion opens and then only about 5 inches. Certainly not enough for anyone to climb in - like all smokers, I tried to stick my head out for a smoke and it wouldn't fit through.
So you'll be safe while you sleep as long as the door is locked from inside.
Have a great trip

Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 19 Jun 10 - 04:47 AM

Thank you Dave.
My sister has enlivened me with a horror story from Rome (where she was watching as I got pickpursed). An elderly couple arrived late at Termini and were offered coffee in a cafe by someone who dosed it with rohypnol and robbed them. The man woke, confused, and walked onto the tracks, where a train hit him.
The tour agent has included with the itinerary a very nice little booklet on how women can travel safely produced for Canadians. It isn't quite as horrific.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny S. elsewhare
Date: 27 Jun 10 - 03:56 AM

So far so good. Sleeper to myself lastt nnight, thogu I ididn't sleep. Pleaase excusee cafe keyboard, which has problems! Language and problem keys. A day t waste now. Usefully seeing thcity.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny S. further elsewhare
Date: 28 Jun 10 - 11:51 AM

TRain bit completed, at airport for last leg. Last night also alone in sleeper, so called, with merry youth one side , and chatty and laughing gentlmen the other, whose combined weight shook the bed. And there were two passport stops.

Istanbul tonight.
Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Jun 10 - 05:01 AM

Dunno how long you'll be there, but Istanbul is a European City of Culture this year so there will be a lot of events to see (I've seen the brochure).

One good place to find out is the municipal bookshop (Istanbul Belediyesi Kitabevi - blue shopfront) halfway up Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoglu (use the Tunel to get there). Or the Mephisto bookshop/CD shop/cafe at the top of the street.

I'm amazed that people are still repeating that bollocks about train gassings.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 29 Jun 10 - 05:50 AM

You may well be amazed, as I was when it happened, it's not an experience I would wish on anyone!


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Jun 10 - 07:37 AM

Train robberies are not unheard-of. Using any kind of gas to facilitate them is physiologically impossible, without leaving a trail of dead bodies and the occasional train-wrecking explosion (incidents that never feature in the urban legand).

Read up on the physiology of anaesthesia and then see if you think these stories make any sense.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 29 Jun 10 - 07:37 PM

Why not take Long Island Rail Road instead- sounds like that would be much easier on the nerves. Just watch the gap. :D


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny S. Somewhere in the Aegean
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 12:24 PM

Off Patmos, actually. I was only in Istanbul one night before joining the ship - did I mention it's a study based cruise with its focus on Byzantium? Santorini tomorrow.

I got all coy about putting precisely where I was while in transit. The dodgy keyboard was Budapest, the airport was Bucharest - which could stand in for Airstrip 1.

No problems, except that my legs didn't like all the sitting, so the time I spent in the 2 Bs I spent in places of transit, because walking was a bit of an effort. My right ankle is still being a pain., and when climbing up and down flights of steps in invoved, means I'm not getting the best out of the trip. Yesterday I missed one monastery on Meteora, which is geologically amazing.

I do get a bit peeved by the rules of the monasteries, which don't like women and demand we show respect by not wearing trousers - (the cheap response is "this is from men in skirts?"). But my real objection is that their demands emphasise that they do not respect women in return. If they asked for people to show respect for a place of worship, fair enough.

I can't remember which of the trains had the most enormous gap I have ever seen between train and platform. Bigger than the gap between the tender and the ship!

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Micca
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 12:41 PM

PennyS I would be interested in any/all pix you take of Santorini!! especially if there is one of the "Hole that used to be Thera"!! and the sense of scale, Its on my "Bucket List" but I dont know if I would be able to do all the steps( I am told) a visit requires. Enjoy!!
Micca


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny in the Cyclades
Date: 05 Jul 10 - 02:39 PM

Micca, I don't think you would be wanting the entire 512 Mb card contents, would you?
There is an airport on the eastern side, which is gently sloping. There are coaches which can pick up cruise passengers on the caldera side, and a cable car. And donkeys, but not advised.
The scale is surprising, you just don't get it from the TV - I'm going to be sticthing some shots into panoramas to give some idea. It is huge. Unfortunately, I ddi not manage to get the panorama from up in Fira, because it was time for lunch - I reckoned I could get back to do it afterwards, but just missed the tender.
Not only views, but also rock shots of different formations, and of teh recent lavas on Nea Kameni. And the old mine workings, and some caves.
Penny (Athens tomorrow - I keep having the chorus of Nana Mouskouri singing "The White Rose of Athens" in my head, but can't remeber the verses.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 05 Jul 10 - 03:02 PM

On my travels, I'd spend most daytime looking out the train window.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Micca
Date: 05 Jul 10 - 09:35 PM

Penny, if you PM me when you are back in the UK I would happily send you a 2Gb card to copy what you regard as "significant", Maybe I could exchange some Alaskan blue glaviers and humpback whales to you.or the train trip through the Rocky mountains in Colorado ? I have looked at Google maps satellite pix(of Santorini) but I'm sure it doesn't convey the reality of scale and scope being "on the ground" would,
Many thanks, I hope you are enjoying (and continue to enjoy) your trip!!
Micca


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny east of the Pelepponese(?)
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 09:31 AM

My doom has come upon me. Athens, a blitz of pickpockets - the police station had a lot of complainants, several from our ship did not bother to report their losses, followed by a blitz of police on the Metro. Able to open bags unnoticed. Cards gone and stopped. About 50 euro in euro and turkish lira gone. Fortunately I had unused forints and lei, so am solvent, and on ship it is all found (there is a little issue about paying the ship for services on board, which I think should be solvable with online banking. Solves the getting home by train without loss problem. The general belief is the varmints are Rumanian, and having seen the place, theft is understandable. They have been stolen from, and badly.
Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny again
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 09:33 AM

Micca, where are you? I have an idea we might be near enough for you to get to choose - and I could throw in a couple opf dophins as well.
Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Micca
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 09:56 AM

Penny S, I am in East London UK!!and work in education, so the summer hols are about to start, so I am free to travel moderate distances.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jul 10 - 06:10 PM

How on earth do you manage to spend or exchange lei in the eurozone?


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny off Albania
Date: 09 Jul 10 - 07:56 AM

Jack, I simply went to the first booth in Athens I came across, offered my forints, as being most likely to be changable, and having had them agreed, offered the lei, too. No problem. I didn't shop around, though, being desperate. I had thought it would be impossible, and was set up to take them back to the travle agent in Dartford where I got them from.
Micca, I'm in New Ash Green in kent, and frequently pass across the eastern part of Sarf Lun'on.
I'm skipping the trip to Botrint this afternoon - pickpocketing capital of the world, Albania, apparently, not that I have anything left for them - I'm really trying to get my legs to look normal. Coach trips have not been good to them. I watch people walking into the lounge in the evening, and most of the women have the same problem. The others are slender.
Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny S. off Croatia
Date: 10 Jul 10 - 12:56 PM

Today I saw a five-master off Dubrovnik, apparently a training ship, and there were some teenagers in the city, thought to be from it. Do they have strongbodied sailors as well, and experts to go up the rigging?
I tried to get a decent picture, but it was overshadowed by a very large cruise ship behind it - it's going to take months of photoshopping to get every trace from out of the rigging.
Someone else got their pocket picked today, making four that I know of. So I'm split about my performance at the end of trip concert tomorrow - currently booked as The White Rose of Athens and Blow the Wind Southerly. Should I substitute Lionel Bart?
Not to mention my comic parody of Cosher Bailey.

****** ****** had an engine
which he sailed round the Aegean
as it chugged along the coastline
it left smuts on every clothesline

now the weather it was swelt'ring
and there was nowhere for shelt'ring
all the passengers were melting
the aircon needed a good belting

There is a website about this ship.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny further up the Adriatic
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 03:26 AM

Today we saw oil rigs - not drilling, presumably drilled already. One of the crew counted 19. Off the east of the ship, so presumably whichever Balkan state lies there.
Our GReek guide said something odd on Santorini while discussing water, desalination, and energy needs. The Greeks know that there is oil in the Aegean, but there would be problems with Turkey. And they know there is oil in the Ionian, but the oil companies won't drill there.
I thought they drilled anywhere they could.
Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Charley Noble
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 08:48 PM

Penny-

Sounds as if you're doing fine, from someone who has traveled well off the guide book routes. Do keep the reports coming in. Or we may have to send out the famed Mudcat Flying Squad for a rescue.

A 5-masted training ship? I wonder which ship she is.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Micca
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 05:07 AM

Penny, could this be the Ship you saw? Royal Clipper as she is the only 5 master I could find that might haave been in the area.


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny in Venice
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 08:21 AM

It was indeed the Royal Clipper, and as we had someone who has been on the staff of the Greenwich Maritime Museum, and has sailed on her, we had a bit of input about her. Apparently the Russian captain used to run training ships where people actually had to haul ropes and stuff, but has adapted very well to pressing buttons. you wouldn't have thought she was mechanised from looking at her.

Back to the train advice. Tomorrow we disembark, and the ship is providing me with a taxi to the station of St Lucia. At 10.30 am. My train leaves at 20.57. A fun day will be held, during which I will be feeding myself by methods not involving expenditure. I am going to need my remaining dosh in Paris on Bastille Day, I think.

After this arrangement was made, it transpired that they were providing passengers who had booked flights through them with a hotel to fill the idle hours, and I asked if I could pay them to include me in this arrangement, but it wasn't possible for some reason for them to arrange a taxi from there to the station. And, of course, I can't pay a taxi.

As I can't pay the ship in the normal way through my credit card, they are allowing me to leave a promissory note and pay later, but I suspect they may not be wanting to add too much to my account, in case I cheat on them. I feel somewhat resentful.

It seems odd to me that it cannot be arranged for the innovative ways mobile phones are used in Africa to transfer funds to be made available in Europe. Or for me to go into a bank anywhere, open up my account on a secure computer, transfer money to that bank and them to give it to me. The nearest is to go to a bank with my passport and bank details, but it takes several days and is useless when cruising. I did suggest to the ship that I transferred money to them immediately after the theft, but they did not find this a good idea.

I suspect there are rules about busking. My singing went well last night. One of the crew sang, with a good voice and pelvic gyrations, Delilah - most people joined in. Do they listen to what they are singing so cheerfully? At least Mack the Knife sounds nasty.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: GUEST,Penny at the beginning of a long day
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 02:34 AM

Two hours to kill until I leave the ship, including 14 minutes left of computer time, then 10 hours on S. Lucia station. I have Kakuro problems, a Tandy chess machine, crochet, a book by John Julius Norwich, sundry edibles acquired from the restaurant, three bottles of water, a notebook and pen, and a very small amount of money.

I need to save 1.50 euros for the Metro, and something to tip the taxi driver from the ship, and can do the rest on my bus pass.

15 euros. I might be able to get some computer time there. time hangs heavy.

9 minutes now.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 04:45 PM

At home.

The day on the station was fine, and not as long as I thought. Fortunately I checked the time, an hour earlier than I expected! Unfortunately, as I settled into my room with its funny little basin I was supposed to wash my face in, it transpired that the crank to turn to make a breeze was inoperative. The whole coach had no aircon, so I was moved. From first to a couchette - not shared, but next to the loo. 3 hours after leaving Venice, we stopped for new passengers at Milan. Young people filled the rest of the compartments, called to each other up and down the corridor, tried my door and were still at it at 12.30. Everytime someone went to the loo, I knew. No bedding, no towels, no refreshments, no breakfast. No sleep. I woke fully about 5.30. At Bercy I was given an address to write to about a refund.

Bought a croque monsieur and a cafe in a boulangerie opposite the Gare du Nord after discovering the strange absence of escalators in Paris. Got home to Kent to discover a) the shop on the station does not use euros, and b) the local taxi drivers do, so the last leg was not on bus pass.

Totally moneyless, I found the new debit card at home. Hooray.

My brain, while I was hobbling over a bridge in Venice, brought up from the depths a bit of G&S I haven't heard or thought of since my 20's I think. "I will never never never never never never never never never never never go to sea again." Amazing link to the duke of Plazatoro on such a bridge.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Deckman
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 06:55 AM

Reading this very interesting thread reminds me of TWO THINGS: Just how helpful catters are ... and, HOW MUCH I HATE TO TRAVEL! bob(deckman)nelson ... still hiding out in the Seattloe area with lot's of loo paper!


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Subject: RE: BS: Long train journey - advice
From: Penny S.
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 02:50 PM

While on the station in Venice, I emailed my neighbour/travel agent. I wrote - I'm sitting on a railway station, got a ticket for my destination...homeward bound, I wish I was...

And she texted back "That reminds me of a song - wasn't it Simon and Garfunkel?"

Penny


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