Monday, June 24, 2013

News from home

Friday night we dined with a couple of friends at the Malvern Vale Hotel. The hotel has two meals for the price of one if you choose something for $25 or less, so $12.50 for delicious lamb shanks was a bargain. The hotel was mainly staffed by very attractive young men. Bit unusual but very easy for the eyes. But when is a house red not a house red? The house red is listed on the wine list at $4 a glass but I and a friend were separately charged $6. Please explain, cute young man. That $4 glass is cask wine. Ok and $6 is a more usual price in a pub for a glass of house wine and I have no problem with that. Had he have added, you don't look like the type to drink cask wine (not true, I am of a certain age), I would have been completely mollified. Whatever, it was a nice meal and a good atmosphere. We ran into neighbours from our building there too.

Saturday morning saw us having breakfast with the same friends at Whyte Cafe in Glen Huntly Glenhuntly, the former is now correct but just looks so wrong to me. I am of a certain age.  The cafe was a bit short staffed and we waited for quite a bit at outdoor seating for service, inside being full, but once the coffee and then the breakfast came, it was excellent. It wasn't our usual cheap Saturday morning breakfast but still, good value and beautifully presented food. I know I am in a classy place when I get a tiny glass of freezing soda water with my coffee.

We heard a steam train whistle in the distance as we were eating. I queried one of our friends about it and he replied, probably the snow train. A little later Daniel tweeted about the steam train snow special.  In a further moment of synchronicity, as we were leaving Daniel tweeted again about the Safeway supermarket in Glenhuntly, as we were right outside what is a construction site with the operating Glenhuntly supermarket within.

The point of us being in the area was to jointly see the travel agent in Koornang Road, Carnegie. We did and sorted out some details for next year's Euro river cruise. What a marvellous short shopping street is Koornang Road. After the travel agent, we did our supermarket shopping in the Safeway store and then found a gift for oldest niece whose birthday we will be celebrating tomorrow at a hotel for lunch. R found very cheap steak and lamb chops and chicken in the supermarket, but once home and he took the sealed wrapper off the chicken, it stunk like rotten egg gas and while I think left over food kept in the fridge is fine to eat a week later, I insisted he threw the chicken out. Too far to go back there for a refund. The travel agent informed us that us coming home with Emirates would cost an extra $1000. It has not cost her customers anything like that in the past. From what she said, we can blame Qantas, who is now sharing with Emirates. Out of the question. I have to leave a couple of dollars to the kiddies.

Then once home I sat at the computer and started looking at holiday details for next year. What a mistake. Hours later, I am still here. Our river cruise ends in Amsterdam. Our travelling companions are staying a night in Amsterdam and then going on to Brussels by train to meet up with friend who they will stay with for a couple of nights and he will drive them to Paris. We intended flying from Amsterdam on the day the cruise finished to Newcastle in England, where R's family live. Sounds easy? Non!  Not unless you want to go via Heathrow or Gatwick or even London City airport. I did find an Easyjet flight, but the time was not good. The flight time is only 20 minutes, but not many airlines seem to service the route. Maybe we should catch the overnight ferry. Cheap enough and we have done it before. No! I can't forget the ball of hair sloshing back and forth in the shower, and it wasn't my hair, and the karaoke the host grumpily cancelled because no one would participate in it because everyone was stone cold sober because the drinks were so expensive. We had had our own stash in our cabins and retired to the company of our duty free bottles and snacks.

Is there a train from Amsterdam to the airport, Schiphol? I looked. Yes, but up came some interesting information. 1 hour 37 by train to Brussels. I thought, what about getting the train from Amsterdam to Newcastle? Two hours to Brussells, two hours Eurostar to London, three hours to Newcastle, plus waiting time. Not implausible. Timings are looking pretty good. What do you reckon R? "I cannot go through London without stopping." I agreed.

Our travelling companions have refused to fly home via Heathrow, as has R. While it is problematic, we will fly home from Manchester with SIA via Munich and Singapore. The problem is getting to Manchester from Newcastle. Our TC's will already be there, staying with a friend. We will probably get the train, but I think we will have to stay at a hotel in Manchester overnight as our flight is at 9.10am. Sort that out in the future.

But yes, we will stay in London for a couple of days as our Dubai stopover has been excluded, so we will have an extra couple of days in England. We will add two days in Newcastle at the end and subtract them at the beginning by a couple of nights in London.

Yesterday, Sunday, was a great day with family and R and myself surprised ourselves with finding a gem of a place. It will come with photos in a separate post as this one is quite long enough.

I will leave you with a short video of the snow train special steaming through one of Melbourne's middle suburbs, and unusually, almost on time.



20 comments:

  1. I reckon those Euro river cruises are the best way to see that part of the world - extremely comfortable, great views and an efficient use of time in the main ports. Spouse and I did a European cruise last year and I loved every single day in port.

    Re the messing around in airports, trains and ferries.. what a pain in the bum. I suppose that is the price we pay for living at the end of the globe. It takes nearly as long to get to and from the cruise as it takes on the cruise itself :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hels, I can't find a single person who did not think the cruises are great and many have done them.

      I will happily avoid flying if I can Hels. I hate airports, but I love trains and railway stations.

      Delete
  2. There is a steam train that occasionally comes down the coast here in north Wales...... Hypnotic sounds

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, I am sure I would have seen a clip of it in action. I've seen nearly every other YT steam train vid.

      Delete
  3. I could never do a cruise, ships/boats frighten me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On a river Fen? Big slow moving boat?

      Delete
    2. A long boat yes. That's probably it.

      Delete
  4. "tiny glass of freezing soda water with coffee" equals classy.
    Right. I'll be sure to remember those the next time I invite homeless people for beans on toast.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Point made River, but even the poor drink coffee.

      Delete
  5. J'adore the snow train Andrew, not so much your travel itinerary, sounds way too complicated pour moi :)but I'm sure all will go smoothly..in Europe yeh right haha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well Grace, we have nearly a year to plan and make it work like a French carriage clock. Ah, actually, they don't work so well, do they.

      Delete
  6. You made me dizzy with your travel plans. There is no other way to go to England then by flight, that takes less time then the train. My son who lives in Amsterdam always takes the plane to London and from there you can go wherever you want in the UK, at least by train ! I am lucky as I live near Brussels and for me the Eurostar is the best, it lasts less to go to London then from one end of Brussels to the other !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gattina, we won't be in a hurry and I consider a trip on a train as part of the enjoyable holiday experience. I hate airports. We certainly want to avoid flying to London. I have received a helpful email telling me that there are several flights from Schiphol to Newcastle.

      Delete
  7. I'm quite exhausted reading about your plans, never mind taking the journey!
    The train sounds like a good option. I'd rather take the train and take three times longer than fly. Not that I;m afraid of flying, I just love trains! Did you look at AMS -EDI by air? You can take the main line east coast train from Edinburgh to Newcastle in about 2 hours. Another option for you to consider.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS - I loved the steam train, thanks!

      Delete
    2. Craig, I did not consider that but as I think about it, and we had planned to visit Edinburgh for a few days while there, we could fly there and have the few days and then down to N'castle, but I think R will be anxious to see his family when they are so close to Edinburgh. Good thought though.

      Delete
  8. We enjoyed the European river cruise we took several years ago immensely. (For Fen's benefit, you scarcely realise you are on water, let alone moving.) The one suggestion I would make is not to go from Amsterdam to Paris by road. We did that and it was a waste of a day. Afterwards we wished we'd thought to take the fast train option.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just last year wasn't it Victor? No? I will advise our friends about the road trip, thanks.

      Delete
    2. Two years ago (2011), Andrew.

      Delete
    3. Thank goodness. I was getting scared about the several years.

      Delete