My Cornwall and Norway holiday travels, 4/7/'19 to 6/8/'19

 
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The only thing I thought of that could possibly be a negative is the vegetables in today's fad cooking were too hard Exclamation
The Vinelander
Were they a tad too hard on the old falsies?

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  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I am amazed at the fares some of you pay for Business Class air travel. You need to find yourselves a good Travel Agent like I have been fortunate enough to do. The particular lady has been handling my overseas travel for nearly nine years, and nothing has ever gone wrong. She also does all overseas travel arrangements for my son and daughter in law.

The trip I have just finished included these flights - all Business Class.
13-07-29 Qantas QF35 Melbourne - Singapore.
14-07-19 Swiss LX177 Singapore - Zurich.
15-07-19 Swiss LX632 Zurich - Paris.
31-07-19 Lufthansa LH795 Frankfurt- Hong Kong.
05-08-19 Qantas QF 30 Hong Kong- Melbourne.

Total Cost of flights: A$ 6,042.90 plus GST.
Booked about 3 months in advance; paid for about 6 or 8 weeks in advance.

My Qantas Club numbers benefited by 20,800 Points and 240 Status Credits.

My tip? Never do your own bookings with airlines.
Valvegear
That is a good price Valvegear. It is around the same fare that we paid in 2017 about three months in advance of travel.

I don't know what others pay but in our last seven or eight trips to Europe business class we have paid between about $5,500 and $6,200 each. Traditionally we have gone via Bangkok with Thai (Hong Kong with Cathay in 2017) and then to Copenhagen with SAS, Zurich with Swiss or Vienna with Austrian. We have always been able to get business class add ons to other European cities if required without extra charge. In 10 trips over almost 20 years ago we have only found one Qantas fare that was less than about $1,000 plus dearer than anyone else.

Cheaper fares as low as $4,500 are around with the dodgy brothers if you are not that fussy about airline, route and stopovers etc.

We, too, have a lady Travel Agent who does everything and in ten trips to Europe between 1998 and 2017 there has never been a stuff up of any sort.
  Brianr Assistant Commissioner

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
I avoid Travel Agents like the plague. Always have to tell them how to do their job and never used one without a stuff-up.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I avoid Travel Agents like the plague. Always have to tell them how to do their job and never used one without a stuff-up.
"Brianr"
Perhaps you'd get better results if you didn't tell them how to do the job, and just let them do it.
  Brianr Assistant Commissioner

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
When I have a flight from Singapore to Paris, changing at Munich, then Lufthansa changes the flight into Frankfurt instead of Munich and the travel agent tells me he has booked me Singapore-Frankfurt-Munich-Paris, I need to tell him there are direct flights from Frankfurt to Paris and I do not want a Cooks tour of German airports. Oh he says and finds a flight from Frankfurt to Paris.
Then I book (because the small ship company will not take direct bookings) a cruise in Alaska. The Company sails Juneau to Sitka one week and Sitka to Juneau the next. I book a flight from Juneau to Sitka where my trip starts. (I booked local ferries up from Canada). A week before I leave home, the travel agent send me all the details about boarding in Juneau. I ring the company in Alaska and confirm I am boarding in Sitka. I emailed the company thanking them for the heart attack and at least they apologised and arranged for a bottle of wine to be in my cabin on arrival.
Then I ask a travel agent to arrange a round world trip with 5 stops. First to Sydney where I was happy to spend about 10 days staying with family so actual date of travel did not matter then onto Bangkok, Frankfurt and Canada then home. Am given an itinerary flying to Christchurch for an overnight. I rang back and said I was not setting off on a 10 week round the world trip and spending the first night in Christchurch. Oh says the agent, I guess that is ridiculous.
Actually I enjoy planning and booking often more than the trip. A month ago I booked economy with Qatar from Sydney - Doha 2 nights then onto Bucharest for next April. Au$1093.  I have a free flight with Emirates from Christchurch to Sydney. This week I have booked business (first time except once when Emirates upgraded me from Christchurch to Sydney) Athens to Sydney again with Qatar in June €2470 (Au$4206) probably just as well as both Aussie and Kiwi dollars dropped on Wednesday. There are some cheaper flights but take much longer (eg flying back to Zurich then Singapore) and I hate being in a plane. Am booking my own transport and accommodation through Rumania, Bulgaria and Greece but have booked with a UK travel company for Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia. Fingers crossed.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Further travels…the long journey home –



Departing on yet another sunny day from Oslo on the rail replacement bus for Rygge where a bridge was being replaced along the line, then to the connecting train to Gothenburg.


I asked the conductor before Gothenburg what time are we due in as we have a connection to Copenhagen. She says 15:45, our connector is due out at 15:50, we were 4 late at the previous station. Also, they tend not to hold trains for connections between the different railways, so information like this with one matronly lady in tow doesn’t inspire confidence about the connection Exclamation


As it turned out, we arrived at 15:40, so no idea what the conductor was talking about, which allowed almost 15 mins to change platforms and even get a bit to eat…then we were off again towards Copenhagen.

These DMU’s that also, reconfigured operate as EMU’s are weird as they each have a mini driving cab at the ends of the cars which folds inwards. However as these trains are NOT cleaned regularly…both inside nor out the part that faces inwards was covered in caramelized dead insects and looked like a bio hazard. And adjacent to First class offered a burnt insect aroma every time the interconnecting door was opened.


Also, to make us realise V/Line are actually offering a pretty good service, the carpets in these trains are threadbare and look like they have been the recipients of several grease and oil changes the interiors are well overdue for a refit as well...and no refresh offered over several hours of travel.


Arrival at Copenhagen was seamless, however the description of the train varies between an international service between Oslo and Copenhagen, to an airport and an ordinary suburban train as people join and alight at a few suburban stops between Copenhagen Airport and Copenhagen as well.


Next day another rail replacement bus to the ferry at the border with Germany at Roedby, around 170Km. Then under normal circumstances and a few times a day, the train proceeds on to the ferry for the crossing of the Femer Baelt.

So the bus pulls in to Roedby station and the driver says, you must now take the ferry to Germany where you will get the train.

This was rather a busy freeway with trucks, buses cars etc so the Scandicline ferry service is in constant operation. It was interesting to see where the train normally rolls on to the ferry and we were sad to see the rail replacement bus ended that weekend we were travelling.


We walked on board and found a lounge area to sit and I bought a snack and watched our departure of the 45 minute voyage. Others came up from their cars and trucks parked below and soon the duty free shops were open and I bought a large white Toblerone.

Before long we were at Puttgarden and the three car DMU was waiting at this largely abandoned station.

The station once offered a huge freight yard and around 10 platforms, now overgrown with buddleias and blackberries with station clocks all set to 12. A forlorn sight that I didn’t appreciate the day I left by bag with passport, phone, wallet, umbrella and other personal effects at the bottom of the stairs after assisting Julie with her heavy luggage down two sets of stairs after the hussle of everyone walking across the air bridge between the ferry and the station and not discovering I’d left the bag behind until 10 minutes into the train journey to Hamburg and as the conductor advised…Puttgarden being an unattended station there was nothing he could do except offer sympathy. Sad


When we arrived at Hamburg 90 mins later I informed the German Railways (DB) lost and found, the German police at their office at Hamburg station and the Scandicline ferries…just in case it was handed in and requested a Police report to identify myself for a temporary passport I’d have to arrange at the Australian Consulate in Frankfurt our next night and also for what I hoped could be an insurance claim against my loss, having once left a camera in a taxi in Chicago and the claim being accepted.

However as this was late Friday…I was certain it would be a long weekend of waiting just to see if there was any hope of an office at either the train or ferry company that could process my request.

Mike.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Final installment…the long journey home –


Before checking in to our hotel, we went to the DB booking office at Hamburg to see if we could get our tickets re-issued…because I had the next two days train tickets in my, now lost bag.  
However as DB doesn’t record passengers names…they just allocate seats, there was NOTHING the otherwise helpful and friendly booking clerk at Hamburg station could do.


Also, with our travel agent closed on the weekend and we couldn’t contact them for advice and flying home in 2 days from London so we had to wing it and Julie dipped into her emergency credit card and bought three First class tickets for her and Ross to Brussels and for me to Frankfurt as I had to stay over at least to the following Wednesday…just in case and in all likelihood that my bag would never turn up.


Not having slept very well, I was a bit of a wreck that weekend but fortunately the thought of a high speed, typical German efficiency ICE train to Frankfurt took my mind off things…for a moment and when we arrived in Frankfurt off that expensive to use, 30’ late running, dirty windowed, dirty exterior, filthy and stained interior carpets in First class and the seats also needing a thorough shampoo with little explanation as to why we were late and combined with our earlier example of the broken down train from Cologne to Copenhagen had us strongly questioning the once efficient German railways which V/Line would definitely give a run for its money against.


Luckily for me we were to meet up with Julies life-long pen pal and long-time flight attendant Betty and her family who we all met at Frankfurt station and we all walked across the road to the hotel where we all checked in …and I went up to the room to try and change my flight which I was due to be on within 48 hours.


A couple of observations:


  • International manual telephone operators no longer exist.
  • Press button hotel room phones are not necessarily compatible with press button prompts.
  • German telephone codes are difficult to learn (do I drop the ‘0’ etc)



We went out for a nice stodgy German meal and then to a cocktail bar where I was plied with schnapps and other concoctions to try to lighten me up a bit…it worked Exclamation


Next morning (Sunday) we went to the station and I waved off Ross* and Julie* on the ICE to Brussels and London, whilst I went back to the hotel room to work out how best to walk to the Consular–Generals office. It was about a mile away so I did a dry run to see where it was and so I’d go straight there the next morning (Monday).


Frankfurt has its share of down and outer's and they seem to congregate around a block from the station. There were users openly injecting poison into their veins in full view of the public which sent a signal to me that Germany’s welfare system is somewhat lacking in its support of these people.


Arriving at the multi-storey building I explained to the concierge my plight and I went up to Level 23 and was given a form…and instructions to go to a professional photographer to get appropriate sized portrait photos done and to be back at the Consular-Generals office by 2PM.
All along though, my Commonwealth Bank Travel card in my wallet in my missing bag, loaded with Euro’s remained untouched and this gave me the impression my bag was in a safe place as nobody had spent any of the easy to spend cash on this card.

I walked back to my room with form in hand and decided to look up photographers near Frankfurt station and I also checked emails at the same time.
Then…from Scandicline the ferry operator was an email saying my bag had been found and had spent all weekend in the captains office sailing backwards and forwards between Germany and Denmark…and could I come and collect it.
Sure enough, confirmation by phone…it’s not difficult to make a German domestic call once a few tries have been made, so I said…I’ll be on the next train and to expect me the next morning. So I head up to the station, purchased my ticket and off to Hamburg with enough time to walk back to the concierge to let the Conculars office know I wouldn’t be at the 2PM appointment

The next morning the train to Puttgarden and to Copenhagen leaves with me on it and after an uneventful journey, we arrived at Puttgarden and I was able to watch the train loaded into the ferry.

I walk upstairs to the office passing the spot I was certain I left my bag…and sure enough it’s there and no contents had been disturbed or were missing etc…so I was re-united with my bag and I was back in business…less all those train fares.


As I’d already said to the booking clerk that I was in no real hurry tomorrow to get back to Frankfurt, I was booked on to the slower train that took 8 hours from Hamburg to Frankfurt…and as it turned out this train went via the Rhine valley.

The Rhine valley wasn’t part of my itinerary as we didn’t have enough time to do it justice…however this last minute decision by the clerk to put me on to a slower train ended up being one of the highlights of the holiday.


Next day off towards Brussels in another dirty ICE train with all the same dirty exterior and interior furnishings of the earlier trains. Arrival in Brussels, via a secondary line due to the main line having a signal failure…there’s a recurring theme here…

and I’m overnight in Brussels…and happy just to stay in my room without wandering too far.


Next day…on to an equally dirty Eurostar train…one of the newer ones and we are in London in under 2 hours including a stop in Lille. 17 mins through the Chunnel @ 130Km/h.

A pleasant day for a walk, I head off from St Pancras towards Paddingon and the £6.20 tube for the 50 min journey to the airport.



Fortunately arrival in Melbourne was 45 late…at 4:15 which gave me an hour or so to catch the Skybus without waiting too long at Southern Cross for the 7:16 DOWN ballarat in the freezing Saturday morning just gone.



A couple of standouts:



GWR is liberal with free on-board refreshments in First class.



DB, is very tight with refresh and offer a tiny cookie and a cup of tea or coffee.

Dogs...dog urine everywhere around stations, particularly in Copenhagen as dogs on the continent travel on trains.



Fares are just outrageously expensive…AU$1400.00 or around $1.00 a Km, that’s the equivalent of paying $160.00 return from Ballan to Melbourne.

Trains on the continent in every case need a good detailing and in many cases a thorough run through the car washing plant and nightly cleaning of windows at the least would be a good start.

The presentation of the trains in good weather where they would stay reasonably clean is very bad and a poor advertisement for the various European railways during the peak Summer season.

*Names have been changed

Mike.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

Mike, your $1400 at about $1/km - what journey was that for?
Edit: and great news about your bag.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Thanks Mike for the time and effort that you have put into these Trip Reports and great news about finding your bag but a worry in the meantime. Your reports are a 'cut above' much of the drivel that is posted on here these days.
I have never been able to master the secret of posting photos on RP and I gave up long ago. I am sure that many on here hope that you might be able to do so one day! Smile
I know that you finished up with Qantas 'on the down' but did you still come back with Royal Brunei and, if so, how was it, please?
Thanks again.
YM
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Mike, your $1400 at about $1/km - what journey was that for?
Edit: and great news about your bag.
duttonbay

I was staying in Frankfurt on the Sunday & Monday and nights, when I received the email on Monday morning. So, I threw in the Monday nights non-changeable or refundable hotel room and bought a ticket from Frankfurt to Puttgarden via Hamburg. Then a ticket from Puttgarden to London via Hamburg, Frankfurt and Brussels.

Mike.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
I know that you finished up with Qantas 'on the down' but did you still come back with Royal Brunei and, if so, how was it, please?
Thanks again.
YM
YM-Mundrabilla

yes...Royal Brunei...not as professional as QANTAS, but polite and friendly staff...however the food was endless IF I hadn't already stuffed my face in Air Asia Lounge before I left London. The food on the flight including half cooked broccoli was also very good.

Nevertheless, a great trip home, next to the three windows, and I still don't know if I'd pay the extra to go QANTAS...it's a difficult decision to enjoy a few drinks and a nightcap.

Mike.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
The Nightjet:

https://www.nightjet.com/en/

18 carriages as it stopped at Hamburg, in addition to three MotoRail wagons containing 22 cars and at least 8 motorbikes.

M.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I know that you finished up with Qantas 'on the down' but did you still come back with Royal Brunei and, if so, how was it, please?
Thanks again.
YM

yes...Royal Brunei...not as professional as QANTAS, but polite and friendly staff...however the food was endless IF I hadn't already stuffed my face in Air Asia Lounge before I left London. The food on the flight including half cooked broccoli was also very good.

Nevertheless, a great trip home, next to the three windows, and I still don't know if I'd pay the extra to go QANTAS...it's a difficult decision to enjoy a few drinks and a nightcap.

Mike.
The Vinelander
Thanks Mike.
We will add Brunei to our 'perhaps' list of airlines. They could not have been worse than our last trip on a midnight Thai Bangkok - Melbourne flight where we got almost nothing in the way of proper food on departure and then got last night's dinner for breakfast approaching Melbourne at around 0900 - well more or less anyway, so we will stuff our faces in the Business lounge before departure next time. The Thai Business Lounge in Bangkok is by far the best we have encountered - even Qantas!
Regards
YM
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The food on the flight including half cooked broccoli was also very good.
The Vinelander
Again, not everyone loves grandma's boiled-into-sludge vegetable mush.

Never mind, you'll get exactly what you want when you get into God's Waiting Room.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I was staying in Frankfurt on the Sunday & Monday and nights,
The Vinelander
Well I was there from July 28 to 31, but I didn't see you!Very Happy

One highlight I could mention from my trip took place in a small village named Valloire in the French Alps. I had met up with my elder son and daughter in law in Paris, and had driven via Beaune, the white wine growing region, and home of famous names such as Montrachet.
My son is a cycling freak, and his other half and I take an interest also. Valloire happened to be the finish of Stage 18 of the Tour de France. We had an apartment on the first floor of a building located on a corner of the downhill end of the main street, and we knew the finish line was going to be in that street.
We found later that we had prime position on the home turn - the riders came past on one side of our place, and turned to finish uphill on the other side.
Being on the first floor meant an unobstructed view. This was a mountain stage with three stiff climbs before the descent to the stage finish, and speed that these blokes went past us after three mountain peaks was astounding. Quintana, who won the Stage, went past us going like a mustang.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
The food on the flight including half cooked broccoli was also very good.
Again, not everyone loves grandma's boiled-into-sludge vegetable mush.

Never mind, you'll get exactly what you want when you get into God's Waiting Room.
don_dunstan

I find your ongoing sarcasm and bile to be very trying and getting close to being reported to the Mods..

Comprende Question

M.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The food on the flight including half cooked broccoli was also very good.
Again, not everyone loves grandma's boiled-into-sludge vegetable mush.

Never mind, you'll get exactly what you want when you get into God's Waiting Room.

I find your ongoing sarcasm and bile to be very trying and getting close to being reported to the Mods..

Comprende Question

M.
The Vinelander

Go right ahead, you'll give Brian a laugh: "Someone is teasing me about the fact that I like my vegetables boiled into mush". Call the police!

I sometimes picture you as the male version of a lemony school-mistress, totally humourless and constantly scowling at the fun of others.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

Mike, your $1400 at about $1/km - what journey was that for?
Edit: and great news about your bag.

I was staying in Frankfurt on the Sunday & Monday and nights, when I received the email on Monday morning. So, I threw in the Monday nights non-changeable or refundable hotel room and bought a ticket from Frankfurt to Puttgarden via Hamburg. Then a ticket from Puttgarden to London via Hamburg, Frankfurt and Brussels.

Mike.
The Vinelander
"Walk-up" fares in Europe (and the UK) are very expensive, and I do wonder when travelling on the packed ICE trains how many people are paying that fare. Frankfurt-Puttgarden is showing EUR 191 for 1st class travel today, 69.90 in one month's time, down to 49.90 in two month's time.  Earlier in the year I bought a 1st class ticket from Edinburgh to Birmingham for GBP 57.00 for travel about 2 months after the booking; the walk-up fare is GBP 332. I guess if you need to fly to Sydney today, as opposed to booking for travel in a month or two, the fare will be more expensive.

Do we do "cheap" advance fares for railway travel in Victoria? Australia?
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Mike, your $1400 at about $1/km - what journey was that for?
Edit: and great news about your bag.

I was staying in Frankfurt on the Sunday & Monday and nights, when I received the email on Monday morning. So, I threw in the Monday nights non-changeable or refundable hotel room and bought a ticket from Frankfurt to Puttgarden via Hamburg. Then a ticket from Puttgarden to London via Hamburg, Frankfurt and Brussels.

Mike.
"Walk-up" fares in Europe (and the UK) are very expensive, and I do wonder when travelling on the packed ICE trains how many people are paying that fare. Frankfurt-Puttgarden is showing EUR 191 for 1st class travel today, 69.90 in one month's time, down to 49.90 in two month's time.  Earlier in the year I bought a 1st class ticket from Edinburgh to Birmingham for GBP 57.00 for travel about 2 months after the booking; the walk-up fare is GBP 332. I guess if you need to fly to Sydney today, as opposed to booking for travel in a month or two, the fare will be more expensive.

Do we do "cheap" advance fares for railway travel in Victoria? Australia?
duttonbay

In my discussion with the booking clerk at Hamburg, he were interested that in Australia, perhaps apart from the odd promotional fares that we have no such thing as advance purchase rail fares.

Mike.
  Brianr Assistant Commissioner

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
Last year I travelled both ways on the Eurostar from Paris to London then a trip to Scotland and back and several day trips out of London (Bath, Winchester and Salisbury).  I was able to set up messages for the days that ticket sales opened. I forget the details but big savings. I have already bought my tickets from Sydney to Bucharest (April) and Athens to Sydney (June) with Qatar next year.

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