Warsaw gets dropped for Dresden
I had originally ruled that Germany had not qualified for the tournament on the grounds that they didn’t have an appropriately timed night train out of Berlin and we weren’t prepared to waste a day on them. They then sneaked in on a play-off qualifier when I spotted a night train leaving at 4:30 in the morning which would allow us to add in Warsaw, Prague and Bratislava as well as Berlin, for the cost of one day.
But I’ve discovered that you cant just dive into a sleeper at that time in the morning, it’s reclining seats only. We only had an hour or so in Warsaw with this plan anyway, and would hit Prague at 8pm. Not having a proper kip would mean we would have to be substituted by the time we got to the Czech Republic and the delights of Prague. So we’ve had to send off Warsaw and thus disqualify Poland from the tournament. In return we not only get a proper sleep, we now also score a second goal for Germany in Dresden. We’ll be on the razz in Berlin but you’ve got from whenever you hit the sack till about 8 in the morning before I start screaming “raus!! raus!!” at you. The trian is 8:45 so if you get up just a bit earlier you can have the buffet breakfast most probably at A&O Hostel. When we get to Dresden we’ll have at least half a football match’s worth of time to do a very quick tram to the Old City and score 4 or 5 photo opportunities at the Zwinger Palace and the Frauenkirche. After that we get a local train and get to to ride the Lößnitzgrundbahn preserved steam railway that’s just outside the city.
The plan now gets us to Prague for 5:30pm, with enough time and energy to really do this great city some justice till our departure at midnight. We’ll be grabbing something substantial to eat then downing a litre or so of this great brewing country’s finest at the famous U Černého vola (Black Ox pub). We’ll be catching the lanovka funicular tram, walking across Karluv Most (Charles Bridge), then hitting the hour at the Astronomical Clock. We’ll probably have to rent a room to drop the bags, unless the reports that the statioin has been fixed up and the left luggage facilities aren’t tantamount to handing your bags over to the nearest Gypsy, but we’ve located some hotel virtually on the platform if need be.
We’ve fine tuned this one, but it’s going to at least feel like continuous motion. That’s the whole idea about when you get off the train. Sitting around and recovering from the train trip just isnt on the menu. The excursions we’ve got are all flexible, you can just wimp out completely and do your own thing if you feel like it, but you’ll be missing out and I’ll treat you with utter contempt for the rest of the trip. The idea is to get back on the train semi-buggered so you can enjoy your sleeper compartment to the full, you’re going to spending enough time in there as it is.
More Sofia, possibly almost no Belgrade, and if so then lots of Ljubljana
We have extended the trip back up through Bulgaria and Serbia as the connection was too dodgey at Belgrade with a mere 2 hours spare. We now get off the train at Sofia and spend an afternoon there before getting an overnight to Belgrade. we are due, on the basis everything is really late, on the 10:00 train to Ljubljana which gets in at 20:39. But this train into Belgrade is due in 4 in the morning, ouch!. My accomplice has noticed that there is a train just an hour after we get into Belgrade, so if we were on time we can get that and be in Ljubljana for 2:30. Otherwise if we are late at least we don’t have to wait a full 6 hours at crack of dawn for the next train at 10:00.
If we do make it to Ljubljana early then we will do this David Blaine inspired funicular and the customary medieval castle they build at the top of all these things to justify such a silly railway ride.
Mount Tibidabo is host to; two funicular railways, an amusement park with several hair raising roller coasters, a dirty great big tower (the Torre de Collserola, designed by Norman Foster no less) that you can get a lift up the outside of the building of, and a cathedral that’s actually finished!, windows, all the catholic stuff, the lot.
The options are stuff we’ve probably all done before, i.e. that bloody building site of a cathedral, or the park, yet again. I cant handle either of those. So we wont be having a vote. It’s 25 euros for unlimited rides in the amusement park. And I think another 6 to go up or down the blue tram and funicular. The rest will be on the metro pass, at 9,25 euro sheckles.
As a result of working out where we can or cant be on certain days of the week, we’ve ended up with a Sunday departure, arrive back on Monday. That means we cant do the D’Orsay museum as it’s closed that day. We are probably going to do a circle of lines 2 and 6, which takes us straight past the large vertical iron structure on the banks of the river, and then onto the Montmartre funicular and we’ll hang out with the bohemians for a few hours before the last lap home. On the way we’ll pop off for a swifty here at the glamorous Le Train Blue cafe in Gare du Lyon
We were due to get off the train at the head of the fjord to Bodø at a place called Fauske in order to get on a 5 hour arse breaking coach trip to Narvik, and as a side effect would have missed the best part of the route.
Or, for an extra 20 quid, we can complete the railroad all the way to Bodø. We then have 2 hours in Bodø to get supplies, and then a plane taking 45 minutes, and be in Narvik in time to enjoy our evening in the arctic circle in mid summer.
The Laird has located Ffestiniog Travels, who actually might be able to do the whole blinkin’ shooting match, including the Balkans, and get me off the issue of having to bank everyone. We should all be able to just fire off round about a grand in the direction of Ruth and we’ll all get tickets in the post. There might be an issue with getting the 10% off for eurostar for a group, but it’s only going to work out at a tenner, I would have had to charge everyone that for banking and booking everything just for the flipping hassle. That just leaves the 4 hostel stops, Narvik, Berlin, Istanbul and Ljubljana, to stump deposit for (the campsite in Narvik for instance wants full payment a month at least in advance), that lot would come to barely a hundred each anyway.
Dresden subsequently got axed as we decided doing the steam trains wasn’t really part of the core ideals, which is really capital cities now. Ljubljana just gets an hour stop off instead of an overnight (see No Bull, Istanbul is Cancelled). And we’re probably not going to do all that racing about Barcelona. But Train Bleu is still an important part of a Parisian cycle