Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Headbangers look at their timetables.

Before Mac headed off once again for a holiday in Cornwall (Mac and Julie are taking retirement quite seriously.) he gave us the headbanger challenge theme for this week. Timetable. Now Mac should have had some great chances on the trains to find a Timetable image to top all of us.

My timetable pictures are pretty dull. I may have to count on timetable stories.

My best timetable story comes from our trip to Siberia in 1998. After spending time with our son and his friends in central Siberia where he had been studying and where he would later that year be married, we traveled on the Trans Siberian Railway back to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

When we were in Moscow before going to Siberia, and again in Moscow and St. Petersburg afterwards, the most common question we were asked was "You are going/went WHERE? WHY?" Maybe the third questions should have been "How?"

Our travel arrangements on most of the trip were done through an agency which had someone to meet us in each city to get us to our lodgings and to get us to the train with our tickets when we traveled on. This was the case except for a couple of places where we made unusual excursions or where the agency did not have agents. Our future daughter-in-law purchased our tickets in Krasnoyarsk, for example, and when we went to visit an online friend in a village, well, we had to muddle that out on our own.

And then there was Novosibirsk, which is a large city . In Novosibirsk when we returned from our village trip we took a taxi to our hotel. Our documents were delivered to us there. We never did see anyone from the agency in that city. When it came time for us to leave, our train tickets were delivered to the hotel, and a taxi was booked for us to the station.

We were a bit taken aback, but we figured it was fine. We had by this time managed to sound out Russian city names in the Cyrillic alphabet and figured we could find our way through a train station and find out which track to go to. The departure time was clear on our instruction sheet. Despite our limited knowledge of Russian--about 65 words among the three of us by this time--we were good to go.

Till we got to the train station  and found that the electronic timetable was under repair. There were no words or numbers there in any language--just wires hanging out of the spaces. There was absolutely no one there who spoke English. There was no Travelers' Aid. We were lost in Siberia.

We found a kiosk where some kind of service was provided to Russian travelers. They couldn't help us officially, but we showed them our tickets, and somehow--I don't know how--learned that this train was late and would not be at that track at that time. After wandering the station looking for any other source of information, we finally realized we would only be able to get information from the announcements that were made over the loud speakers. And they were made in Russian.

We set ourselves up near the kiosk, and every time an announcement was made, one of us would take our ticket over to the kiosk with a questioning look on our face. They would shake their heads no. After a while we did not even have to go to the kiosk--if anything was said over the PA system, we looked toward the kiosk and they shook their heads.

Eventually, after a couple of hours, an announcement was made and the folks at the kiosk got very excited. They were nodding yes and practically jumping up and down they were so excited for us. Or they were so delighted that they would finally be rid of us. We went to the kiosk to shake hands and thank them and gave them some of the American flag pins we had taken for gifts and trades. They pointed out which track to go to and we finally were good to go.

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When we traveled from Wales to London in 2010 there was some trouble on the rail lines there. A lot of trains were cancelled, and the timetables we passed in the stations look like this. Fortunately our train was running. (And these electronic timetables actually had words on them.)
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A friend of mine has enjoyed telling us of her recent trip with her four daughters to Branson MO to celebrate one of the girls' birthday. They had the unfortunate experience of traveling American Airlines on the day that the computers went down and all flights were cancelled. They had quite an adventure, spending two nights of their five night trip in cities other than where they had planned to go. Just throw away the timetable on this one.

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Trains between concourses at Seattle Tacoma International Airport leave every two minutes.

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I think for my header photo, though, I will use this image which came from not paying enough attention to the timetable.
People in the Puget Sound region are used to being beholden to the ferry timetables. Routes to Bremerton and Bainbridge Island leave regularly from Seattle, to Kingston from Edmonds, and others, and the next ferry is not that long away. The ferry system provides a relaxing and quiet commute for many Seattle workers, who have their personal portions of the timetable memorized.

If you don't have it memorized, you really should consult it before you go.

When you have a friend on one of the smaller islands, the ferries are less frequent. My friend Kathy and I visited Sue on Vashon Island last fall while we were staying in the Seattle area. When Kathy and I set out to return to the mainland, we looked at the timetable. Ooooooooooops! Maybe if we hurried we would make it. But unfamiliar rural roads at dusk do not give you much chance to hurry. As we got nearer the ferry terminal, there was just a bit more oncoming traffic that we expected. It was the commuters coming off the ferry.

Would we make it? Well, almost. Yes. That ferry boat is just leaving the dock. We would be the first to load an hour later when it returned.

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I wonder what the others will find to illustrate Timetable. You will find their choices at their links in my sidebar on Wednesday afternoon.

5 comments:

Lew said...

Anyone who has never missed a connection has not traveled far! You have the knack of making the delays part of the adventure. Delightful header!

imac said...

Magic Kathy, you too are also enjoying traveling too,lol.
Great ideas.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Great story Kathy, I really enjoyed your train story. The photo of the ferry brought back some memories of Seattle. I also had a ferry story from Block Island, RI and if we missed it there were no more.

Craver Vii said...

As soon as you mentioned "Trans-Siberian," I had to put some of the TS Orchestra's music on.

This was a neat adventure. I would love to see other places like that.

Liz said...

You were so brave to travel in Russia. I hate not being able to communicate easily.