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Friday, July 1, 2011

Tram, Train and Airplane!

Day 169


November 15, 2010

I woke up at 5:00AM so that I’d be able to ride the 5:52AM tram; I had a 6:51AM train to take me to Switzerland.  From there, I’d take a bus to the airport and then fly out to Istanbul.  I had a big day ahead of me and my biggest fear was that I wasn’t going to wake up and I’d miss my tram, that would make me miss my train, an then I’d miss my flight…we all remember Nuweiba, Egypt! From anxiety and getting the wrong information on train times, I made sure I caught the earlier tram just in case…I still had the next tram as back up.

Judy’s house was very close to the tram station. On a good day, it was only a 5 minute walk.  But I had all my things…so I estimated that it would probably take me at least 10 minutes…The other element was that it was forecasted to rain….I did not want to have to walk to the station in the rain!  Makes your things heavier with all the water weight!


Now you’re wondering why I just didn’t call a taxi? Well, according to Judy, there’s an additional charge of €6 or so to order a taxi.  That comes out to about $8.25 and that doesn’t even include the taxi fare!  When Judy and I returned from Paris, it cost us 15 ($20) to get back to her place though the driver forced us to give him a 2 tip. So, basically we were looking at $30 for a 4 mile distance!  Also, outside of the city where Judy lived, I never saw a taxi…so it wasn’t like I could hail one down.

So my plan was to leave the house at 5:30AM.  That should give me enough time to walk there and catch the tram. Of course, the plan never happened and I didn’t end up leaving until about 5:40AM; by the time I got downstairs, it was 5:46AM! I thought surely I wouldn’t catch the tram but I was still going to make an attempt!  I tried to walk as fast as I could and was making good time but I also had to do a short stop…I needed to drop of my glass containers….the night before, I had asked Judy’s roommate, where I could put it for recycling and he told me it was on the way to the tram….so I guess he wanted me to bring it myself.  It was easy enough and it probably only took me an extra :30 but it was the weight of carrying it with all my other things that made it a bit of a hassle.

As I was approaching the tram station, I saw a tram making a turn…I was a good 200m or so away but I ran like I was being chased by a dog! Then, I got to to the tram station only to realize it was the other line!  So I waited and hoped that I made the right decision to wait…I didn’t know if it would be better for me to take that tram and switch. The time board was saying that the tram I needed was coming though I didn’t see it.  Within a minute though the correct one arrived!

I arrived at the station at about 6:15AM; I feel like it got there faster because less people were riding.  Here in France, I noticed that the doors for their public transport don’t open unless you push a button to open the door.  I think this helps to move things along quickly but I always imagine having a hard time to jump out especially if you’ve realized late that you were at your stop. I made it to the train station early and tried to see if I could catch the earlier train especially since I didn’t know how to get to the airport once I arrived at the train station. 

When I purchased my ticket a couple of days earlier, I noticed that there were trains every 30 minutes.  But I only knew which station I was going to and not the final destination of the train, so I went to ask information. I had an idea that the earlier train would be at  6:31AM but I just wanted to be sure.  They also only put the information up 20 minutes beforehand so my train information wasn’t up to compare to the earlier trains.  The train staff did a search through the computer and told me that it wasn’t possible to take the earlier train because it wasn’t going to the same place; I swear that it was though! But what could I do? I didn’t want to get on the wrong train or get on the train and then be required to pay another fee.  So I waited at the train station for 30 minutes until the train that I had booked arrived.

Getting off the train and finding my way to the airport was easy enough. There was another girl doing the same thing so I wasn’t the only tourist looking lost and confused.  Exiting the airport, there was a bus that went directly to the airport. I suppose they also time it up to the trains so we were at the airport in good time. It was a neat airport because three countries’ borders crossed here. It was quite interesting because the French side was fenced off from the Swiss side, etc.

 Basel Airport, Switzerland     Do you see the fence separating France from Switzerland?

I was going to Istanbul, Turkey!  Again inspired by a professor; this time at the University of Hawaii, when I was on medical leave from my university in Indiana.  He was one of my political science professors and was really nice I just remember being mesmerized by his accent and intrigued that he had come so far to teach.  I don’t remember his name, but yes, he was the first person to get me interested in Turkey…this was back in 1998. This was also shortly after the 1996 Olympics in Athens so I thought one day, I’d like to go to both Turkey and Greece on the same trip.

My friend Simone, you all remember her from my travels to Russia! Originally, before Russia was decided, we played with the idea of possibly doing a meet-up in Greece because she has so many friends there….so on this occasion, I asked her if she could put me in contact with her friends in Athens.  She did so right away and then she asked if I knew anyone in Turkey. When I said I didn’t, she said ‘oh, let me try an connect you with my friend Okan’ and so she did.

Okan and I started emailing and he is one of the nicest people I have met! It’s one thing to be nice and hospitable to someone but it’s another to do it to a stranger, not to mention that he has offered to let me stay in his house while he’s back home for a sacred ritual feast! So my first week’s accommodation is taken care of.  Again, it’ll just be nice to have my own space and leave my things if I need to.

So this it the plan…I have 3 weeks before I need to make it out to Italy. I’ll be visiting my college friend Jackie in Macerata (pronounced: Ma-she-ra-ta). She is now happily married to an Italian and has called Italy her home for the last 10 years.  I haven’t seen Jackie since we graduated, and to be honest, she’s one of the last people I’d ever expect to marry a foreigner!  But I also thought I’d be married with kids by now so I guess my predictions are far off!  But I digress…rather than fly to Italy, I plan to take a ferry from Greece to Italy…I think I read that it will take me at least 2 days…we’ll see! So, that means, in 3 weeks time, I have to make my way to Greece and then sort myself out to get on a ferry to go to Italy!  I’ll have about a week or so in Italy and will be flying back to Madrid on December 16!  Then, I’ll spend about 10 days in Spain, including Christmas!

Then…the best part ever! I’ll be going to Lithuania for New Year’s Eve! That should be fun to hang out with the girls…more importantly, it wasn’t on my agenda so I really don’t know what to expect though I think I will freeze my arse off!  Especially since I won’t be able to take a lot of luggage with me!  And so the journey continues….

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