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So, the last stop on my trip, and probably the least eventful journey.

I had an easy trip to the airport (Tegel; just a few stops on the U6 from Lina and Jonnel's, and then change to a bus, all included in the weekly ticket I had bought for use in Berlin). Tegel seems a bit odd, in that there are check-in counters by each gate, and also the security/passport control is for just one or two gates. I think it is nice, as the queues become much more manageable.

The flight was uneventful and on time, and I arrived at the C-gates of Heathrow Terminal 5. This entails catching a train to the main part of terminal 5 where the immigration/baggage all is. Immigration was much less rude than on the Eurostar, and I didn't have to wait too long for the bag. However, there was a ~20 minute wait for the train to Gwynne's. Still, with a quick change at Barons Court, I made it, now one full (and fairly warm) day in London to go before beginning the trip back home.

Posted Wed Jul 31 22:41:16 2013

So I have arrived in Berlin.

Yesterday Peggy and John dropped me off at Morlaix train station, and I caught a TGV to Paris Gare Montparnasse.

In Paris I changed via Metro to Gare de l'Est, and waited for my train for a bit. For some reason (price, I guess), I was on a ICE to Mannheim (near Frankfurt), and then had a 90 minute wait for the CityNightLine train to Berlin. I was in a two-berth cabin, which was comfortable enough, though I found it hard to sleep, possible all the moving around.

This morning it arrived in Berlin, and I got on a bus to Lina and Jonnel's place. I have 5 days here before flying out to London.

Posted Fri Jul 26 07:55:42 2013

So today I travelled from Cambridge to somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Bretagne, France.

This started with returning the bike (in the rain) that I hired yesterday in Cambridge, then returning to Shriv's to grab my suitcase before heading off to the train station. However, many trains were late/cancelled due to the storms of last night, including the one I meant to catch. However, about half an hour later, another train to Liverpool St left, which I got on, only for it to change its destination to Bishop's Stortford just before departure. At that stop, we all got off, the train returned to Cambridge, and a few minutes later another train to Liverpool Street arrived, which I (and some other people got on). However, owing to a lightning strike on some signals, this was a slow trip.

Luckily I had allowed plenty of time, as even arriving about 90 minutes late, I still had about 20 minutes to spare after getting on the tube to Bank, and changing to the DLR to London City Airport.

This airport is cool (and small), with a 15 minute checkin, and very fast security (no queues). Also, I got to walk from the terminal out on the tarmac to get on the plane, a Fokker 50 (small-ish propellor plane).

The flight to Brest (France) was fast, about 1 hour 20, and on arrival everything was very fast, the main point of note was that the immigration officer had to search in the cupboard for the passport stamp for me, obviously not many non-europeans come this way. It even didn't take long for the luggage to turn up, and Peggy and John were waiting for me at the airport.

I'm here until Thursday afternoon, when I head off to Berlin.

Posted Wed Jul 24 07:41:10 2013

So, I am on a train just leaving King's Cross for Cambridge. This morning I had a fairly leisurely start (I think the first time for travelling so far), though the slightly late shuttle to Palermo Airport was a bit concerning, the total disregard for speed limits saw all eight of us there with plenty of time.

The plane was on time (!) to Rome, and I was meant to have about 90 minutes there. That turned into over two hours, as the plane was of course delayed. However, no problem, as I had planned for the Italians to not be punctual, and so I had plenty of time to get to Gare du Nord for the Eurostar. Of course, that was on time, as is (so far) the (much noiser, so it actually seems faster) train to Cambridge.

I am looking forward to seeing Shrividya and Dmitri there, as well as Hannah Stern, and Natalie, Justin, Alex (yes, we all live in Wellington, let's meet in Cambridge!).

So, no more travel until Tuesday, when I fly from London to Brest. (London City Airport, which I think is even smaller than Wellington's).

Posted Fri Jul 19 21:55:26 2013

So, I have arrived in Sicily.

Got up at 5.30am, to catch a train (which was LATE!, though only about 10 minutes) to Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport. After checking in, and a really long queue to drop my baggage off, it was very easy getting through security, with no queue at all.

The flight to Rome was late (initially they claimed 10 minutes, but it ended up about 30 minutes), so I missed the connection to Palermo. However, in contrast to the canadian experience, where I had to go to a desk and have them find a new route for me, and issue new bordning passes, here there were people immediately inside the arrivals area, already with new bording passes. Perhaps it is a common occurence.

Anyway, didn't have very long to wait for the short flight to Palermo, where of course the shuttle I was meant to catch had left already. Luckily, there was another one, so I got that. Had to wait around for a bit (~1 hour), as it was taking people from another flight also.

After maybe a 1 hour drive, arrived in Erice, which is a nice town, lovely stone streets, a bit maze like though. Hopefully will get to explore it some more.

Lectures start tomorrow at 9am.

Posted Thu Jul 4 21:27:19 2013

So, I have just returned from a bit over a weekend in Switzerland.

Saturday morning, I got a TGV to Mulhouse, then a local (international) train to Bâle (Basel), and then a Swiss intercity train to Zurich, where I met up with Michael, who is in Geneva for 7 weeks. We saw a bit of Zurich, went for a cruise on the lake, went to the Swiss National Museum, walked around a bit, and went to the top of Üetliberg.

Then, on Sunday morning, we got a train to Geneva, which was a tilting train, which is kind of odd. Then, I checked in to the YHA, and got a "Geneva Transport Card", which all people who stay in Geneva get given. This allows free public transport usage during the stay (up to 15 days), which is a pretty cool idea. Then, we went to the Botanic gardens (kind of disappointing), looked at the UN building, some Broken Chair, and went to the Red Cross (and Red Crescent) Museum, which was really interesing (though 15CHF; actually, everything is expensive in Switzerland).

Then we walked around the old town a bit went down to the Lake (but the Jette wasn't going :( ), and caught several boats across the lake and back, until we ended up back at Cornavin (Station), where we caught a bus to Michael's residence, so he could charge his cellphone (iPhones...). Then, we went back in to town, met up with one of his fellow interns, and went in search of dinner. We wanted to go to Plainpalais, but following Michael (and iPhone), we went a very circuitous route, and finally arrived very hungry.

After that I went to the youth hostel (only feature of note was the "keys", which are cards with a 2D barcode on them, which opens the rooms, and each person's locker, just outside the room. (Actually, given they are not disposable, but get reused, maybe there's more than just a barcode, but still a cool idea).

Monday morning, I caught a train to Lausanne. While waiting for my train, I saw something which might help explain how they keep to time. The doors were closing, and someone put their arm in the door to stop it, so that they could get on. So, that door opened again, but that didn't stop the train leaving. After a while, the door did close. I imagine in NZ that if the doors aren't closed, the train won't go. Not the case here.

In Lausanne I went to visit a group at EPFL, which was really good, friendly people and interesting facilities. Then a bit of a walk around Lausanne (which is on a hill, and has lots of bridges, which is interesting), before the TGV back to Dijon.

That's all the travel until I head off to Sicily, I think.

Posted Tue Jun 25 06:37:49 2013

So, last weekend I ahd a short trip to Brussels. After all the flying I had done to get here, it was much nicer travelling by train, even one with connections to make.

I had an early 7.25am train from Dijon, which mean catching the 6.45am tram (to be sure of making the train). The train of course arrived and left on time, and got to Paris just afer 9am. Then a trip on the RER from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord, and a short (~25 minute) wait for the Thalys to Brussels-Midi.

This again was a pleasant trip, and took abour 1 hour 20, arriving at 11.23am. I then chose to walk to the (cheap) hotel where I was staying, and managed, through not wanting to consult the map on my phone much, to end up walking much too far (I took the wrong street, then cut back, but it was nice to see some of the city). I was too early for checkin, so left my (light) bag there, and went exploring.

I went to the clearly-for-kids Mini-Europe, which was sort of fun, but really I was there to see the Atomium, built for the 1958 World's Fair. It is kind of (very) weird, but it was fun to go up it, in what was once the world's fastest elevator.

After that, I went for a walk to the Grand-Place, the Cathedral and around there, which was really cool. Brussels (that part, and all the parts that I saw at least) really does not feel like a big city.

The next morning (Sunday) I went to the Museum of Brussels, Belvue, and learnt about Belgian history (of which I was unaware), and also to Coudenberg, and archaeological site next to the museum, under a road (and some buildings).

Next, I went to the Tram Museum, with examples from Brussels' long association with trams, and then met up with Nick and Thibault,back in the Grand-Place. We walked around for a bit, had a waffle, and then went back to the Delerium Club (I think), the bar with the most varieties of beer on offer (at least 2004!). I'm not so taken with the beer, but that is pretty amazing. Also Tui, but at ~€5/330ml (I think), probably not worth having...

We then drove round for a bit (in Thibault's car), had some frites, walked a bit, saw the amazing Palace of Justice, which sadly we couldn't enter. But just the outside verandahs are amazing. We then saw Thibault's university (UCL, Université catholique de Louvain), and went back to Thibault's place for a bit. Then, he dropped me back at my hotel, for an early start the next morning.

My train was at 6.13am. So, I got the tram about 5.30, in order to have plenty of time. This meant getting up just after 5, which I feel is a bit too early. Anyway, the train was easy, then a reverse of the connection in Paris, again easy, and some time to spare waiting for the next one to leave. I was on the top floor of a double-decker TGV to Zurich(?), as far as Dijon. Again, a very easy trip.

So, that's not the last of my travels. I have booked to go to Switzerland this weekend. I left it late, so there was no (affordable) accommodation in Geneva that I could find, so Michael (whom I am going to see) and I are going to Zurich on Saturday, staying the night there, and then heading back to Geneva, where I have a backpackers for Sunday night. Then, I head to Lausanne to see a group at the university (EPFL) there, and then back to Dijon Monday evening.

I also have booked a flight to London, 31 July in the evening, and am staying with Gwynne until I leave on August 2. So, that should be all my travel booked now!

Posted Tue Jun 18 19:48:45 2013

Ok, this is a travel blog, and while the conference is interesting, I'm not going to blog about it.

So, I got a bus to Ottawa airport with one of the other people from the conference, and we had to wait a long time, while all of the other possible bus numbers turned up, and even variants of the 97 that we wanted that didn't go to the airport. Eventually, about 5 mins away from getting in a taxi, it turned up, in the 30 degree C heat, and we got there.

The line through security was really slow (it is a ridiculous process, much moreso than in NZ), and fortunately I got picked to be screened for explosives, as that meant I got to skip a large part of the queue.

The flight to Toronto was short (<1 hour), and oddly once there I didn't have to go through more security, in contrast to say Sydney. In fact, very odd to a kiwi, I didn't have to show my passport to anyone, except when checking in in Ottawa and boarding each flight. No customs or immigration (leaving) there. I do remember a lot of walking, though, to get to the international departures area. 10-15 minutes.

Once again, was very near the back of the (long) plane to Paris, row 57 of 63 (I think). But, not so bumpy as the one to Vancouver. And much shorter flight, about 6-7 hours.

Arriving in Paris, the landing was the worst I have had for a long time, as the plane jerked sideways upon the rear wheels touching down.

Paris airport was easy, except the luggage seemed to take a while (a big, full plane), and the queue for the immigration was slow (only for the man to simply stamp my passport, not even say anything to me).

Then a long (10 minute) walk within the terminal to get to the train station, buy a ticket, and head to Denfert-Rochereau, on the RER B. Arrived at Antoine's (I even remebered the way) at just after 12, and my plane landed at ~10, so two hours. That was from out of Schengen though.

It was nice seeing Antoine, and we went for a crêpe for lunch, then bought a SIM card (lebara.fr), and caught the RER to Saint-Michel Notre Dame, and went for a walk along the Seine. Then, another (sweet) crêpe, and back to his place, before catching a couple of Metros to Gare de Lyon, where I caught the TGV to Dijon. Currently we're rocketing through the french countryside, and I get off at the first stop. Camille's parents should be meeting me, so that will be nice. I'm looking forward to staying in Dijon for an extended period.

[[!meta title="Dijon-bound]]

Posted Sun Jun 2 09:56:01 2013

So, I am finally in Ottawa.

I got a bus from the airport, which for a large part of the journey was on a "Transitway", ie a dedicated busway, which was fast.

I'm in my hotel room, and after ~34 hours awake, feel like getting some sleep.

Conference tomorrow.

Posted Mon May 27 01:55:19 2013

Have arrived in Toronto.

FLight was quite long from Vancouver (~4hrs), especially as there was no food. However, I did sleep quite a lot, which is probably a good thing. I've totally lost track of how long it's been since I got up in Wellington (computer says 26 hours!).

My next flight is the one to Ottawa. Looking forward to the travelling being over.

Posted Sun May 26 22:23:56 2013

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