Puglia by train, on knitting and how it went with the NEXA strike
Trains not planes to Brindisi – This is part two of “what
I did in the holidays”
The original plan had been to do the whole journey i.e. Wickham Market to Brindisi; by train as we did last year. However, NEXA staff and management were having a bust up and a series of strikes had been declared. The strike was finally called off the evening before we were due to travel; this left it too late to order a taxi to take us to Wickham Market and we didn’t want to risk the branch line train not running. So we went from (and by default would have to return for the car to) Ipswich. I guess I should be able to claim something back from NEXA for the wasted ticket portion. The overall journey was:
Ipswich to Liverpool Street – underground to St Pancras – Euro Tunnel to Paris – Metro to Bercy – Bercy (train over an hour late arriving) to Bologna in an overnight couchette – Bologna to Brindisi (in first class) and the reverse by return. The single most useful website in all of this is The Man in Seat 61, this amazing site tells you everything you need to know and is our bible for planning the journey, all tickets have to be booked separately and at different times. The travel for four of us cost about the same as the accommodation, so this is in no way the cheap option. The big difference is that you know you are travelling, if it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive then this is why. You can talk to people, experience coffee and citron presse in Paris, eat in on the sleeper train (although frankly the meal is bellow par these days) and watch the mile after mile of beaches from Rimini down to Brindisi. We then taxi up to the airport and collect a car for use during our two weeks at Casa Mare
During the journey I was knitting a square for a project called “Knit a poem”, my responsibility one 12″ by 12″ blank square. Having declared myself a non expert I was not to be trusted with a letter, just as well, I created a flaw by knitting plain when it should have been purl. The lovely wool was supplied by Sarah, an ex workmate and Facebook friend who responded to my plea when I discovered you could not get wool, wool in Framlingham. Thank-you Sarah.
The journey back as far as London was trouble free. True we were slightly late arriving at Bologna but there was plenty of slippage in the timetable. I ended up in a different couchette than the rest of the family so plenty of opportunity to practice my Italian and French with my cohabitees. The problems only emerged when coming overground at Liverpool Street, we discovered we would have to go back underground to Shenfield. There depending on if you spoke to platform staff or listened to announcements we should go to Gidea Park or Newbury Park.
Having doubled back on ourselves twice hauling luggage from one platform to another we had to go back where we started, catch the train to Newbury Park and then the bus to Ipswich. What a pity that in all these hundreds of miles the bits that let us down were the local ones. In our own country and our own language we did not know which platform we should be on, when we would leave and when we would arrive.
Will we do it all by train again? Having changed jobs this year the income may not be there and sadly the cheaper option of the plane may be the only answer but give me a book, knitting and the train any day for preference.