Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Adventures while travelling

Most of our trips are well organised before we leave home and we travel local transport where possible so, for instance, we new there was a bus stop right outside the rail station at Merced.  Approached the first bus that came along but it wasn't going our way but the driver got on the radio telephone and every bus in Merced new there were two New Zealanders waiting for the No 3 bus.  Next bus and the driver says not his bus but it would be there soon (if we didn't melt in the heat waiting).  Sure enough No. 3 bus came and we got a wonderful ticky tour around the city seeing streets and sights we would never have seen in a taxi going straight to the motel.

Leaving San Francisco I asked if I could take my knitting on board and it was no problem but as we were leaving Frankfurt from the 4 hour stop over I was pulled aside and they nearly took my set of 4 double point steel that had belonged to my grandmother away.  I was told it was wrong and got my knuckles whacked but begging let me keep them.  Because of all the problems in Greece and the austerity measures the air traffic controllers were on a go slow so we had an extra hour on the ground in Frankfurt so I was real glad of the knitting.

Arriving in Athens for our nights stop we dragged our bags the half kilometre to the metro office to find one lonely man telling everyone the trains were on strike and we would have to bus.  That wasn't on our plan at all.  We had no idea where we were in the city but at one stage the bus was stopped at lights and so I suggested Pete ask the driver where the closest stop to our metro station would be.  "Last stop, get out now" so out we got into the traffic, looked over a harp of roads and saw our hotel neon lights.  Someone was looking after us.

The flight from Sitea to Rhodes was two hours but in that time we touched down at two small islands.  One leg was 5 minutes and in that time the hostess gave the safety discourse in two languages, Greek and English, and had time to give out birthday celebration chocolates to the passengers we had just picked up.

As I mentioned in the last post we struck a storm while on Symi island and the catamaran ferries can only run on flat seas.  One ferry stayed docked all day Saturday but left Sunday morning, the day we were to leave in the afternoon.  By mid day the weather had packed up again and we approached the ferry office to confirm if they would be running as we had two planes and a train to catch the next day.  They wouldn't tell us (but we found out later the boat had already been cancelled) and they closed the office for siesta.  Later in the afternoon we decided we better try to get on the cruise ship, the Aegean Glory, which was returning to Rhodes at 4pm.  Had to beg the captain who had to get permission from the harbour master but we made it in the nic of time.  Cruise ships are not supposed to take casual passengers so we were very grateful.

The day after Symi Rhodes we travelled by car to the airport, plane to Athens (more go slow hold ups), plane to Rome, train to Rome city, train to Naples, train to Castelamere di Stabia, most of these prepaid and booked so you see why we had to be off the island.

Before leaving Greece we caught a brief news clip mentioning NZ and I saw a picture of a boat aground and what looked like our beach, Waihi Beach.  It wasn't until 4 days later in Italy we were standing in a queue to get a bus down the Amalfi coast (more rain I might add) and I saw a man with New Zealand across his black shirt so approached him for news.  Sure enough the container ship had gone aground at Tauranga harbour and this man said Waihi was the first beach hit by oil and if I wanted to swim this summer I better hit the beach with a shovel.  We spent the next week believing this but turns out he was wrong and our beach is quite clear.  I feel desperately sorry for those hit by oil slick but quietly pleased we are clear so far.  The Rena still has 300 tonnes of oil remaining on board before the containers can be removed.

The start of our homeward trip had a rocky start when our train from Naples to Rome was delayed by 180 minutes.  We rebooked on the express (that travels at 320 k/h - what fun) and got to Rome no problem and walked underground to catch the train to Fumicino (near Rome airport).  It wasn't until we were on our plane the next day I read a news broadcast and it seems there were riots in Rome city and a bloodbath outside the Colluseum!

Next time some fibrey talk.  My loom is threaded and, after two months, I can't wait to throw the shuttle.

No comments:

Post a Comment