Interrail 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Statistics from the InterRail

I used fully the 31 days of the InterRail ticket. But in the end I was for 6 days 2 hours and 16 minutes inside trains. Interesting to note that 1 day and 16h it the time it took in the two trips from Lisbon to Paris and vice-versa. So leaving Portugal is the hardest :). I will try to fill the distances in the next few days and get a total on that, too.

2HendayeParis Mont5h32m
3Strasbourg Wien 10h31
4 Wien Sud Warslawa Cen 8h27m
5 Warszawa Cent Koluszki 1h40m 111
6 Lodz Kaliska Poznan Gl 4h22m 251
7 Poznan Gl Koeln Hbf 11h10m
8 Koln Hbf Bruxelles-Midi 2h24m
9 Bruxelles-midi Ottignies 0h39m 33
10 Ottignies Bruxelles-midi 0h33m 33
11 Bruxelles-midi Koeln Hbf 2h23m
12 Koeln Hbf Stuttgart Hbf 2h14m
13 Stuttgart Hbf Berlin Hbf 5h30m
14 Berlin Hbf Hamburg Hbf 1h34m
15 Hamburg Hbf Koebenhavn H 4h38m
19 Koebenhavn H Malmo C 0h35m 47
17 Malmo C Stockholm C 6h47 597
18 Stockholm C Eskilstuna 1h06 115
19 Eskilstuna Stockholm C 1h06 115
20 Stockholm C Malmo C 8h27m 597
21 Malmo C Koebenhavn H 0h35m 47
22 Kobenhavn H Hamburg Hbf 4h45m
23 Hamburg Hbf Paris Nord 10h13m
24 Paris g. Lyon Grenoble 2h57m
25 Grenoble Lyon 1h03m
26 Lyon part dieu Grenoble 1h45m
27 Grenoble Valence TGV 1h00m
28 Valence TGV Marseille St Char 1h07m
29 Marseille St Cha Valence Ville 2h30m
30 Valence Ville Grenoble 1h12m
31 Grenoble Paris g. Lyon 3h03m
32 Paris Mont Irun 5h26m
33 Irun Vilar Formoso 10h05m
34 Vilar Formoso Lisboa 4h53m
Total Lisboa Lisboa 6d 2h 16m

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 30 and 31. Trip back from Grenoble to Lisbon.

Grenoble - Monday, 26 November

Left in the morning to take the TGV to Paris. Its odd to think that from Grenoble to Hendaye one has to take a TGV to Paris and then another to Hendaye when both cities are in the south of France. But the truth is that the train connections do exist but require many train changes and since the TGV costs me 3€ reservation only it's better to pass by Paris.

The strikes are over and when that's the case the train travels are reliable and comfortable. The travel till Hendaye was without problems. I still had time from 1PM to 3.50 PM to have lunch in Monparnasse TGV train station in Paris after having changed station using the underground.

On the trip from Paris to Hendaye I met a couple of retired Portuguese that had lived for 23 years in France and that came to Paris to meet their daughter. She came with them when she was 6 years old and now she is more French than Portuguese. They spoke about their sorrow of not having her closer to them in Portugal :). I also met another Portuguese that lives for 37 years in Paris. She was going to the Basque region of France to meet her son. A successful 33 years old architect. This person was a true Parisian :) Saying that Paris is the best place on eath to live. Complaining about Marseille when I told her that I had been there in the last week end. And finally getting mad at me when I opposed her fierce critic to the American people saying that her opinion about the Americans was true but only for half of them... there was another half that did not fit her idea about them. I must say her opinions about Americans were not very nice :)

Finally I took the train in Irun, Spain (5 km from Hendaye, France) to Lisbon. I had a full compartment just for me again but I imagined that this would not last forever... at least last time it did not :P and that was again true :). Thanks Max for the shoes. Since Belgium that I have been using them all the time. :)

First I met a couple (she was Mexican and he was from Filipinas) that lived in California and was traveling in Spain and Portugal. He had just been stolen the wallet in Barcelona and was struggling just to get a Visa to be able to be back in US where he lives for 10 years. Tuff !!. They were really friendly and we had nice conversation till late night. Then we slept a bit and they left in Salamanca. I have them advices of places to visit in Portugal since they were going there after.

It always great to arrive to Portugal and Lisbon. The weather was great with temperatures above 16ºC. A wonderful blue sky !

When I started this InterRail trip I though that when back to Portugal it would be almost Christmas. This was really true. While arriving home we had to wait for a bit. The city mayor has already ordered to put all the decorations in place. Lisbon is not like Grenoble where the decorations stay all year long :) Check the video bellow.

From InterRail2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day 27 to 29. Marseille

First of all I must say it was a great weekend in Marseille a nd that it removed all the bad feelings from strikes and other less perfect happenings from the week before :P

A had opportunity to add a new town to my personal travel list, was able to meet a few couch surfers and finally was able to be at the sea side and travel by boat. The color of the water and the view of a sunny day near the sea is something that who ever have lived near it feels the need very strongly. It was refreshing.

Also all my meals were fish while in Marseille. And good fish. :)

I also did a wonderful trip by boat.

Check my photo album:
From InterRail2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Day 26. A try to go to Montpelier with a strike

Thursday morning I read the French news and it seemed the national strike against increasing the retirement age for the public sector from 50 years old to about 60 was about to an end. The negotiations had started on Wednesday. Also those we were on strike had already lost a week of the November salary and I though that would be quite harmful for a family budget. With all this I though it was time to move again and leave Grenoble. The idea was to spend two days in Montpellier and then two days in Marseilles. Possibly my friend Sofia could come and meet me in the week-end in Marseille since she had never been there, too.

This day was another bad luck day. I should not have left the sleeping bag :). I checked in the French national railroad site since I could not trust my Train Bible - the Thomas Cook European Time Tables. Everything was fine and I just had to travel to Lyon and take another train from there to Montpellier.

The train to Lyon was on time and the trip was quite fast, about one hour. However, in Lyon, the train station was a complete caos. I was not able to climb the stairs to reach my train to Montpelier since the previous trains had been canceled and many people were taking that train. I went to the information and there was a TGV train leaving in half an hour but there were only places on first class. That was a bit over my budget since my interrail ticket is second class and had to pay an extra supplement just to get in. I checked my book and there were still a few trains the same day from Lyon to Montpellier.

Bad luck, when asking in the informations those trains were all canceled and there was not another train this day. I checked then the trains to Marseille thinking that maybe I could go there first... but the only train had just left 10 minutes before. So after a few hours in the train station, yes in Lyon was raining heavy and I was not able to visit Lyon either, decided to try to take a train back to Grenoble. On No... there were no trains to Grenoble, too. The strike was still very strong this day. With a bit of effort I was able to find a bus alternative that I could enter with my InterRail ticket since the SNCF was paying for it.

In the end it was more then 6/7 hours in trains, busses and stations and was back to the first place again :)

Time to have dinner, sleep and try again in the next day :P

Monday, November 19, 2007

Day 23 to 25. Grenoble

Grenoble is a town that I do know very well. Since 1998 that I'm coming here almost every year for a few days. Sometimes years (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005) stayed longer and profited of the mountains for a few months. I already said goodbye to Grenoble a few times thinking that it would take some years to be back again but was always wrong and visited again Grenoble sooner then expected. Well, here I am again !

I visited a few friends, got a permission to visit my ex-work place and meet my ex-supervisor :). It was a strange feeling to be on this places and meet this persons not having the felling of belonging here anymore.

Monday was disappointing. One of the reasons I made an effort to arrive to Grenoble in the beginning of the week was to have dinner with two special friends, Sofia and Paco. They are student and supervisor, respectively. Paco was coming to Grenoble to have the annual meeting with his student and her other supervisors.

Unfortunately, the ESRF travel office canceled the electronic ticket. This was some kind of mistake and Paco stayed for 2h in Lisbon's airport just to understand he could not fly. So my dinner was postponed to another time but my disappointment was nothing compared to the disappointment of them. For them it was work, hours lost, many effort done so that this meeting could take place. Was a big flop :-( . Well one must understand this things happen sometimes and be able to overcome the frustration. The ESRF travel office offer excuses....

The ESRF - European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

For those who do not know, the ESRF is an international research site. 18 countries support its budget but some of them are only observers and cannot vote and decide about its future (portugal is an observer).

The ESRF is a special kind of particle accelerator but with a different purpose of the well known CERN in Switzerland. The ESRF purpose is to produce high energy light in the X-ray bandwidth region. For this the ESRF is called a Synchrotron. My research work needed this high brilliant and strong light beams.

The research site where the ESRF is located is shared with the most powerful nuclear reactor for research, the ILL. (see picture on the left). Other research labs share also the same site like the EMBL, Grenoble outstation and the PSB, partnership for structural biology. Making this place an unique place to work. Many different cultures, languages and people working on the same place. This is not only exciting but rewarding in all levels not just professionally.

Oh almost forgot... I went to a old friend barber shop .. check bellow the result :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Day 21 to 22. From Hamburg to Grenoble.

There was some luck in the end of the day.

First, some danish girl found my phone and was able to contact one of the persons that called me this afternoon. It was arranged to send me the phone by mail. Nice. For long time I say I have to make a backup of all phone contacts but I have never made it. Lets just hope I really get my phone back !!!

Second, the train from Hamburg to Paris were I booked a seated place had beds in my compartment. So I was happy I was going to have a good night sleep.

Third, I met a Venezuelan called Henrique, 20yo, and a Spanish called Isabel that were really really funny. Both were coming to Paris and since there was a French railway strike their help and company was hyper-mega-giga-jumbo valuable.

The night was very good and we immediately got a good mood between us. Latins, you know? :P

Isabel did not speak French or English. Only Spanish and German. Henrique and me did not speak German. We only spoke only English, French and Spanish/Portuguese. There was another person in the same compartment. She was from Armenia but only spoke German and Flemish/Dutch. I think we made a lot of noise, laughed very loud and I do not think we were a very good company for her :). Well we had fun and that nobody can take us. Check the videos.

Then we found out that we could use the beds. Henrique was not very convinced and was asking if we would not pay a fine for using them. I answered, don't worry the train expert is me. Nothing bad will happen lol. This made Isabel laugh for long minutes lol. Well take a look:

When the ticket controler came we found out that the train was not longer to Paris but only to Brussels because of the strike in France the train was not allowed to enter France. We did not know what was going to happen in Brussels. I was preparing myself to take another train in Brussels to Switzerland or some other that did not cross France. Isabel was trying to convince me and Henrique to help her. She did not speak French and was worried how to solve the problem alone and by herself.

I was taking the middle height bed. Henrque, the light weight, was taking the top one and Isabel was taking the lower one. At this point Isabel said she was worried about me falling on her in the middle of the night. I was not able to capture that conversation but what I did was 5 minutes later return to the same conversation, take a look hehe:

In the morning we had to wait for almost 2h but were able to take a train to Paris.

Day 21 - Crazy day in Copenhagen

The day did not start in a bad way.

It started with a breakfast at the train station and a lot of sightseeing between 6 AM and 11 AM.

The problem was that to take some pictures I had to run to be on them. This was not that good because eventually my pants had a whole between my legs and this whole was getting bigger and bigger. I could not change pants because I had left my bag pack in the lockers in the train station. Was one of this things I usually call "Big bad luck / Granda azar". I remember I friend of mine once called me David Azarão because of one of this things.

Then I met two Portuguese that will be working for 9 months in a danish biotech startup company. Thanks Ines for the company and help to find a cheap place for lunch The food was very good.

But not all was alright at this point. Later I noticed I had left my cellular phone on the restaurant. I did not have time to come back for it because I was late and had to take a train to Hamburg. In Hamburg I was going to take a train to Paris.