transport Tag

stena adventurer, captain, stena holyhead dublin
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On the bridge with the captain

 On board the Stena Adventurer “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is captain Richard Davies speaking. On behalf of myself, officers and crew I’d like to welcome you aboard the Stena Adventurer this morning for this schedule 8:20 sailing to Holyhead. Loading operations are now complete and…”The welcome message continues. Normally I would ignore this kind of thing – stare out a window daydreaming or continue reading whichever book I’ve stolen from a hotel shelf. But today is different. Today the message isn’t being blared out of a speaker above my seat because this time I’m standing right next to the man making the announcement. I’m with the captain on the bridge of the Stena Adventurer as we pull out of Dublin’s harbour.It’s an early morning departure and the sun is still low enough in the sky that its rays create a long white line in the reflection on the water....

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26 November
utrecht railway museum, train museum, utrecht, the netherlands
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The end of the track

Railway Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands I spend a fair bit of time on trains. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of them. And I’ve heard a lot of them. The soothing buh-dum buh-dum of the European trains that wind their way past forests and through tunnels; the futuristic hum of the Japanese trains that shoot past small towns on their mission to the big cities; the sound of crazy as men talk to themselves and rustle brown paper bags on the American trains; and the crashing ja-jang of the trains in Myanmar that throw passengers and bags about so hard you have to hang on.But I had never heard much about the Dutch trains.The Netherlands is better known for their boats – those that traditionally glide along the canals of the major cities, and those that once sailed across oceans to expand the empire. But these days it’s the trains...

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16 October
the ss rotterdam, the netherlnds, holland, things in rotterdam
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Frank’s return to the water

On board the SS Rotterdam, The Netherlands Dutchman Frank van Eijnatten has returned to the water. More than forty years after he first served on the SS Rotterdam, he’s back on board, looking after a whole new group of international travellers.Frank looks like the kind of man you expect to find a cruise ship. At 68 years of age, his hair has all but disappeared and his stomach has done the opposite. He has the complexion of a Northern European and is dressed in thin spectacles and the casual uniform of a seaman.He’s a friendly fellow who introduces himself with a warning that he will talk a lot. It turns out to be no lie. He laughs as he tells stories, chuckling as he explains that each week more of the original crew are dying from old age. I’m not quite sure why that’s humorous but Frank makes everyone believe they’re...

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29 May
battambang bamboo train, bamboo railway, cambodia, norry
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Ker-bump

Battambang Bamboo Train, Cambodia Ker-bump. The carriage goes over another joint in the track. Although to call this a 'carriage' is misleading. Ker-bump. I'm hurtling and hurting down a railway on nothing more than bamboo. It's almost like a raft on wheels, this little contraption. Ker-bump. And at about 50 kilometres an hour, I finally realise how imperfectly flawed a train track can be. Again, ker-bump.This is the Bamboo Railway of Battambang - a surviving section of the rustic Cambodian public transport system that once stretched across much of the country.It's a cheap and simple mode of travel. Passengers are transported on the flat beds by a driver who stands or sits at the back and uses a small motor to propel the carriages along. There are no brakes and it reminds me of the small fishing boats I've used to get to islands off the coast. As with the boats,...

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26 March
circle line train, yangon, myanmar, burma, things to do in yangon, local train station
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Life on the track

Circle Line Train, Yangon, Myanmar “You should try the circle line train in Yangon,” I remembered someone telling me.“It’s a great way to see a slice of local Myanmar life,” I believe was their explanation.Well, as it turns out, they were right. Oh, so right.I jump on board the train with three other travellers from my guesthouse. It’s an old rattling chain of carriages that shakes my bones as much from the motion as the idea of spending an extended period of time on it. There are long benches along each side and we squeeze into spaces scattered down one end of the carriage. There’s a roped off area with two policemen sitting in it and they beckon a couple of us in to sit where there’s some spare room. They smile. I’m unsure why but I smile back.The train trip is supposed to take about three hours. It’s a huge...

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04 February
andres crossing, bus, border, chile, argentina
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Crossing the Andes

Crossing the Andes by bus When the combined Argentinian and Chilean armies crossed the Andes mountain range into Chile into 1817, it would lead to the downfall of Spanish control and independence for the country. When I did it, it would just lead to another stamp in my passport. Oh, and a bunch of nice photos of the scenery. I bet the guys in the army didn’t get any nice photos! (Partly because they were probably too busy worrying about that whole war thing… and partly because portable cameras had yet to be invented… but still.)I’ve been on a lot of long bus rides during my time in South America but none has been as scenic and stunning as the one from Mendoza in Argentina to Chile’s capital, Santiago. You see the mountains in the distance before you reach them. They’re imposing enough on the horizon. When the ascent begins, though,...

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23 February
travelling paraguay, tourism, paraguay buses, sites, sights, ascuncion, ciudad del este
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Travels through Paraguay

Tips for travel in Paraguay As the bus drives along the bumpy dirt road, I look desperately out the window. Through the haze of the red dust being thrown into the air, I look for a sign. Not a mystical symbol of guidance or anything that ethereal – I’m talking about an actual sign. You see, I’m travelling in the middle of Paraguay and have no idea where I am. I know I’m supposed to be getting off at a small village somewhere but, as far as I know, it could be any of the stops the bus is making.This seems to be a recurring theme of my travels in Paraguay. In some senses one of the hardest countries in South America to get around but, in some other senses, one of the easiest. Let me explain.The reason I was staring out the bus window for any hint of my location...

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10 February