Category Archives: train travel

Word of the Day: Ferrocarril

As Laura continued showing me around Colonia on my first night, I learned my first new word on this adventure; ferrocarril.

The second attraction we visited was the Museo del Ferrocarril, a railroad museum.

We wandered around and Laura translated the guide’s explanations for me.

I learned about the railway lines that transported people, animals and cargo around Uruguay many years ago.

Everything was the original and all of the items had been restored. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos in the actual train cars but we walked through them.

Laura and her mom needed to get ready for dinner* for a friend’s birthday so they dropped me off at my apartment at 10.30pm so we made plans to meet at ten the next morning.

Thanks to the kindness of Laura and her mom, I received an incredible welcome on my first day in Uruguay!

* Yes, really. I was quickly reminded that dinner is not served early.


Instead of Slow Ride, Call it Loud Ride

Getting on a crowded Sunday afternoon train is never fun. Even less so when people decide to put their feet and/or bags on the seats. Unless those bags (or feet)  ought a second seat – remove yourself and your belongings from the seat for a paying passenger.

Oh how I wish we had seats in the quiet car on the way home from our recent weekend in Washington DC.

Not only were we seated in a four seater with the most annoying man ever, but a lady behind us was trying to beat him out for the loud voices contest.

All decided to have conversations, in elevated voices, FOR HOURS. Literally, hours.

I had gotten so annoyed, that I did call one of my friends but her phone went to voicemail.

I really should have called my grandma – being that she’s losing her hearing – it would have made for an interesting ride.

I was seated next to a student who hooked up his laptop and was on the phone for the whole ride. He was switching between English, Spanish and I think Russian.

The lady behind me was updating people on someone’s cancer prognosis. Not something we should all be hearing — and I’m sure said patient doesn’t want her (yes, I can confirm it was a woman thanks to the nature of the conversation) medical information being shared for public broadcast on Amtrak.

These two had no understanding that they were on public transport. It was as if they were in the comfort of their own living rooms.

How urgent is a conversation on a Sunday afternoon that started at the BWI Airport stop and went on once I got out of my seat at Newark?

While no loud conversation is ideal, inside voices would definitely be more appreciated.

Why do people think the world wants to hear their business? WHY WHY WHY?!


Shhhhhh

The boyfriend and I went to DC for a weekend trip back in October to visit old friends.

We took Amtrak down and we were pleasantly surprised when we accidentally found ourselves seated in the only quiet car on the train down.

Hallelujah!

I had a book to read and plenty of magazines to catch up on and I was excited for the silence in which to read. there were several people who needed to be continuously reminded that this was the quiet car.

Because the train was full the boyfriend and I were not seated next to each other. I had been behind on checking my voicemail, and later received a few calls during the ride, so I simply wanted to listen to them.

As I dialed, I felt like his eyes were boring holes into my head as he must have been fearful that I was going to <gasp> make a call. If only the poor guy knew we were on the same quiet loving team. In fact, he was so keen on his quiet that when the conductor came around collecting tickets, I could see my seat partner exchange a look with the conductor and then nod his head to me.

Just to piss him off, I checked my voicemail twice, during the two hours I spent sitting next to him. I was never going to make a call, but with plenty of reading material in front of me, I wouldn’t have wanted to!


Transit #indie30

Transit is prompt 22 of the November BootsnAll indie writing project.

How’s this: NYC subway –> AirTrain –> plane –> bus –> train –> bus –> rental car –> Siena, Italy

I had found a great deal – JFK to Milan for the boyfriend and I. Our southernmost destination was going to be the Tuscan countryside. The nearest airport was Florence. Second closest was Rome. Oops. Or not.

We had left late afternoon from Midtown Manhattan. We took the subway to the Air Train to catch our Milan bound flight.

Once we arrived in Milan on our overnight flight (keep in mind the boyfriend doesn’t do well on overnight flights), we had to jump on a bus that would take us to the train station where we would catch a train to Florence.

The train ride from Milan to Florence was just shy of three hours, and when we arrived in Florence, we actually had to get on another bus to go to the airport to pick up our rental car.

Then we had to drive (keep in mind I don’t drive stick) to the Tuscan countryside.

We were checked in late afternoon. We walked around Sienna and had decided to head back to the hotel to eat at the restaurant in the basement. Sounds gross, but it was a Tuscan basement with cafe tables and cobblestone walls. The meal was delicious and the proximity of the bed we were to crash in was well well worth it.

In case you got lost on all the modes of transport, here it is:

NYC subway –> AirTrain –> plane to Milan –> bus to Milan train station –> train to Florence –> bus to Florence airport –> rental car –> Siena, Italy


WHY don’t they wait?

Who are these people who block the door and push to get on a train or bus before people exit? Same with elevators.

Do these people not realize that they are slowing down the process by blocking the exiting passengers? And for the pushers, why? WHY WHY WHY? Don’t these pushers realize that the people exiting will actually create additional room in an already crowded space?

So they should move out of the way AND wait the TEN SECONDS to let people exit before they decide to push and shove their way on board.

Sincerely,
From someone who doesn’t push – but always seems to get pushed.

WHY Wednesday.


All Aboard. Like Now.

Catching a New Jersey Transit train from New York Penn Station is a breeze…IF you are already in Manhattan.

Catching that same train when it arrives in Newark Penn Station is another story. It really is quite easy. But because there are several transfers from where I live, it can induce stress, even in a frequent traveler (like me!), to ensure you catch that train!

Knowing what time the train leaves Newark Penn and working backwards takes some mathematical doing to avoid spending as much time in the station as possible.

Here’s the transportation process from my home:

I live about a fifteen minute walk (okay, it’s probably more like twenty and because I go with fifteen, is probably the reason I cut it too close) from the PATH train, that will ultimately get me to the train station. This train on the weekends is a little iffy. They run on a schedule, but you never know if there will be signal problems, delays or construction.

This train takes you right to Newark … almost. You need to switch at Journal Square, a transportation hub in Jersey City, which is no problem since you are literally just crossing the platform. It takes about five seconds. Seriously. But you have to allot time to wait for that train because of said issues: signal problems, delays or construction.

Accounting for these delays is important because it could mean the difference between getting your train in Newark, or waiting thirty minutes to an hour for the next one. Newark Penn Station is not a place you want to spend extra time if you don’t have to.

When getting on the PATH train in Journal Square, I make sure I am waiting on the platform for the car that will align me with the exit in Newark so I can just head directly to my train, and not waste any time getting myself off the platform.

Pulling into Newark…

Now I’m not usually cutting it THAT close because I don’t want to miss my train. I typically try to ensure I arrive into the station about ten to fifteen minutes before my train, which is more than enough time to get to the right track and buy a ticket. Again, because I rely on public transportation and I am forced to abide by their schedules, I’m just rushing for the train, plane, bus or ferry that I need…of course on the other end, when I disembark I’m perfectly on time, or pretty damn close to it!

As the train doors open, my heart beating ramps up. As anyone who takes public transportation can tell you, you never want to ‘just miss’ the train. Let me miss it by ten minutes, not ten seconds.

So the doors open and I jog, even though I know I don’t have to. My first glance, as I am speedily cruising through the train station to purchase my ticket, is to check the train status.

So long as it says ‘on time’ and not ‘all aboard’ I am all good. The ‘all aboard’ status usually goes up about five minutes before the train arrives. Those five minutes are important because they mean I am more than good and I don’t have to sprint up the stairs to my track.

Even with that said, I always get nervous I am going to miss my New Jersey Transit train.

I know you may be scratching your head saying, why don’t you just get the PATH train before the one you really need? I do. But without fail, it still causes me stress to make sure I am getting to the platform in time. I can’t breathe a sigh of relief until I am holding my ticket and waiting on the platform.

If I am traveling with someone who is worried (see: boyfriend), I have to act cool and collected because I know we’re good. If I let him know we weren’t good, well that would just add unnecessary stress, because he would have liked to give himself double the amount of time he would need.

If you have ever spent any time in that train station…you know why I don’t want to be there any longer than absolutely necessary. I think that is the cause of why getting to Newark Penn Station stresses me out.

Newark Penn Station contains a mix of some interesting characters. It’s a great place to people watch. I’ve seen degenerates peeing on the station floor and I have seen people getting taken out in handcuffs. If you’ve ever spent any time there, I am certain that you have a story.

Do tell!


Late for a Very Important Date

WHY can’t I consistently be early, or on-time?

Professionally, I am always on-time, if not early. I get frustrated when meetings start late and run over.

Personally speaking, I’m not early. I’m usually on-time. Or, more often than not, a few minutes late. This is when I am banking on walking, or taking a subway or a city bus to my destination.

Because I rely heavily on public transportation, I am bound by specific schedules. I have to do the backwards math to get me to the transportation. I figure out which time is the ‘ideal’ train, bus or boat time in my head and then the second best. It’s getting to that ‘ideal’ train, bus or boat that being late kicks in.

Once I am en route on one of the ‘ideal’ timed transport, I’m going to arrive when I say I will.

If I’m not running for transportation, I just feel like I am running late.

Many years ago, I had to sprint from the parking lot to catch a train that was already at the platform. Once on the train, the train conductor told me that “People wait for trains, trains don’t wait for people.” I try to avoid repeating that situation as best I can.

In college, I was in a sorority – Phi Sigma Sigma – and everyone was always at least five minutes late, so consistently that we coined it ‘Phi Sig time.’

The boyfriend is very much an ‘early to on-time’ kind of guy and he was abruptly introduced to ‘Phi Sig’ time when we arrived somewhere to meet friends about ten minutes early. Which meant we were waiting for my friends for nearly twenty minutes. So many years out of college, and some of us are still on Phi Sig time…but it makes it easier to plan accordingly knowing it’s kind of okay, and pretty much expected (those of you reading this, know who you are).

I am taking an official stand and making a mid-year New Year’s resolution to heed Vince Lombardi’s words in my life: “If you’re not 5 minutes early, you’re late.” I will be realistic about it though. Two to three minutes early, or even exactly on time would suffice for me.

Hate being late? Check out these proven tips. I know I will.