Showing posts from January, 2014

24-25 January 2014 – Return to God’s Own Country

Friends, I got up much ahead of the wake up call I had arranged with the reception and got ready for the drive to the airport on 24th. The drive to the airport was smooth early in the morning and we reached well ahead of the check in time. The flight was in time. It taxied for long in the airport to reach the appointed gate for disembarkation. At the time of take off from Rome the flight deck announced the temperature of 0 degree centigrade in Madrid. It was 1 degree centigrade at the time of landing there. I had packed my warm clothes into the checked in bag. The international flight terminal is very far from the domestic terminals. Bus transfers at frequent intervals transfer passengers between the two terminals. It was extremely cold waiting for the bus transfer to T4 terminal for the Emirates flight to Dubai. The T4 terminal is huge; one has to even transfer within the terminal by train. By the time we reached near the scheduled gate we were hungry as hell – the result was a huge B…

23 January 2014 – Gaeta, a Mediterranean beauty, and back in Rome

Friends, Vinod and I reached the Roma Termini station well in time and bought tickets by a local train to Formia-Gaeta, the station that served the port town. We were headed there for the last task before heading home, that of inspecting a ship. After the tickets were bought through a vending machine we were told by the information centre that the ticket had to be validated before travel, for the tickets were valid for two months. The 7.49 am local to Naples was crowded, but we managed to get seats, which were not comfortable. It felt as if the tyres of the coach wheels were due attention. The train attained speeds of about 200 kmph and we got to Gaeta ahead of schedule at 9.10 am – a distance of 130 kilometers covered in 80 minutes with many stoppages; it was a slow train! The Agent of the ship to be inspected had arranged a pick up – the entire facilitation was charged an atrocious fee of Euro 200. It was raining slightly and temperature hovered around 7 degrees with icy winds. The c…

22 January 2014 – A whirlwind tour of Rome & Vatican

Friends, Various sources gave us varying estimates of time to reach airport from the hotel ranging from 30 minutes to an hour. Vinod and I had to reach the airport 90 minutes prior to the flight and so we decided to check out by 5 am. There were many taxis waiting for a fare just outside the hotel. The traffic on the road being sparse we reached the terminal in less than 20 minutes and checked in. no customs or immigration despite the fact that we were flying to another country – the impact of EU. The single currency is also such a blessing for those who travel in the EU. Early onset of hunger made us move into a snack bar for a tuna sandwich and a cup of coffee. While awaiting the gate opening I updated the blogs and had another round of coffee. The Alitalia flight was on schedule – I was apprehensive of the airline which is notorious for strikes and poor punctuality. When the flight landed in Rome it was raining; meant that the day would be tough outdoors. The checked in bags were re…

20-21 January 2014 - Tarragona to Barcelona, the heartland of Catalonia

Friends, I got in another early start which helped updation of the expense account. This is a habit over long years of travel – every little expense goes into the book. I have found this useful at times, particularly when you get back to a country after a lapse of time, to gauge how prices have moved. I was at the breakfast table as soon as it opened at 7am. As usual the fare consisted of only uncooked food – cereals, fruits, cold cuts, pastries and Danishes, yogurt, breads and spreads, juices and beverages. The breakfast fare across the country was predictable. These things, however, do not affect my treatment towards them! After the heavy breakfast it was time to pack and get ready to leave for the Renfe station to catch the train to Barcelona. While checking out the reception clerk helped me with reasonably priced accommodation in Barcelona. I was grateful for that especially since he mentioned that it is close to the railway station in Barcelona. Vinod and I headed for Barcelona an…