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Cabin-boy

Most convoluted round-trip

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In the absence of any real ferry traffic to observe or unexpected cancellations to discuss, I was trying to come up with ideas for alternative threads.

I was looking through my record of trips taken over the years and found one I did as a student that strikes me now as being excessively complicated and thought, why not share it?

Someone might also be able to name the vessel I sailed on as I didn't note the details or keep the ticket at the time.

So here goes:

Back in 1998, while studying at Swansea University, I did my Erasmus year in Arras, northern France. My god-mother, who I only saw sporadiacally due to the distances involved, invited me to visit for a couple of days during the February holidays. Had I been in Hampshire I'd have flown there and back from Southampton but as I was in France it seemed like an opportunity to see a bit of the North Sea coast and try some alternative options.

The total round trip to get back to Arras took me from the 19th Februry until the 2nd March.

I set out by train (19/02/98) from Arras to Lille Flandres station and from there to Bruges in Belgium. After a short wander round town I took another train up to Zeebruge and had mussels and chips for 'tea' before boarding my ferry overnight (this is where Cabin-Boy started I suspect) to Hull. (Can anyone name the vessel - Pride of ?)

On arrival in Hull (20/02/98) I took a National Express coach up through York to Glasgow bus station and spent the night in friend's flat in the west-end.

The next morning (21/02/98) I took the 'clockwork orange' (Glasgow Underground) to Queen Street station and caught a (long) train up to Elgin where my god-mother picked me up. I then spent two nights with her and family in the hotel they ran in Lossiemouth. 

At the end of the stay (23/02/98) I caught an Easyjet flight down from Inverness to Luton and then travelled  to Petersfield in Hampshire via Kings Cross and Waterloo.

I then stayed at home doing some holiday work for a local cleaning company until 02/03/98. On that date I caught a train up to London and then a Eurolines coach from Victoria to Lille and finally a late train back from Lille to Arras.

So, I've no idea of the distance travelled or the price (and with student discounts it probably wasn't that expensive) but I did manage to cover almost every common mode of powered transport known to man.

Over to you. 

Ed

 

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56 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

 

I set out by train (19/02/98) from Arras to Lille Flandres station and from there to Bruges in Belgium. After a short wander round town I took another train up to Zeebruge and had mussels and chips for 'tea' before boarding my ferry overnight (this is where Cabin-Boy started I suspect) to Hull. (Can anyone name the vessel - Pride of ?)

 

Norland or Norstar it sounds like... At least the Norland was the pride of Hull before there was a Pride of Hull.

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Norland sounds probable. Thanks. I just checked her history and she was one of the ferries requisitioned for service in the Falklands. Ed. 

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2 hours ago, Cabin-boy said:

I was looking through my record of trips taken over the years and found one I did as a student that strikes me now as being excessively complicated and thought, why not share it?

Living in Hungary back in 2008...

Woke up > Cab to airport > Lufthansa flight to Munich > Lufthansa flight to London City > DLR and tube to St Pancras. Met friends. > Eurostar to Brussels > Train to Bruges > Night out in Bruges > Train to Brussels > Eurostar to London > Train to Hitchin to kill a few hours at a friend's place > Train to Kings Cross > Tube and DLR to City Airport > Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt > Incident with a security guard who looked like Timmy Mallet > Flight to Budapest > Cab home > Slept

I also once drove from Somerset to Folkestone for a pint, which in hindsight these days might be considered non-essential...

 

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If it had been a half, Jim, I would agree non -essential, but a pint . . .

I Was in St Louis. Went to the airport early for a flight to a meeting in Kansas City, the plan being an evening flight from KC to Memphis (about 250 miles).

By lunch time blizzards and snow drifts were piling up, so, aborting the post meeting lunch and  later meeting, went to the airport. Both TWA and NorthWest said all flights today to Memphis now cancelled. Try Delta.

At the Delta desk they said that, if I flew to Cincinnati I should get a late connection to Memphis. Got to Cincinnati - lots of head shaking, but, if I get to their hub at Atlanta, there may be a late flight to Memphis. Flew to Atlanta, and hallelujah, the midnight flight to Memphis was expected to go.

Left for Memphis - then diverted to Nashville to pick up some aircrew, and arrived at Memphis at 2am.

But the highlight was getting to the Peabody Hotel and finding at reception a note from my boss (who was upstairs) asking me to phone his room when I got in. So I did - at 3am.

Delta declined to honour my request for 2,200 airmiles, but per mile my $56 airfare was a stonking deal.

 

 

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1 hour ago, rogerpatenall said:

If it had been a half, Jim, I would agree non -essential, but a pint . . .

One is not known for doing things by halves ;)

That's quite a journey you had @rogerpatenall!

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Not really convoluted but .... 1966, VERY early motor caravan. With my parents and 3 brothers. Depart Troon, Scotland and drive through northern England to Hull with one overnight stop somewhere. Hull - Rotterdam on Norwave? Norwind? Drive across Holland, roughly east via Arnhem into Germany, down the Rhine for some way, then a bit left to Nuremberg and into Austria at Passau. Linz and along the Danube to Vienna. Continue south east to the point where the Czech border meets the Hungarian border. On into Hungary to Budapest. Next leg (smuggling a packet of human hair - another story...) to Lake Balaton and then west back into Austria and Graz. A meander through southern Austria, as far up as Zell am See and back down via the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, before a detour into Italy to Dobbiaco and thence to the Brenner Pass and Innsbruck.  West again through Liechtenstein and into Switzerland, St Gallen, Schaffhausen, and Germany again. Black Forest, slide west into France, Netherlands again, Luxembourg, Belgium and finally Netherlands with a visit to Madurodam (spelling?) before the ferry back and reverse drive through England before reaching Scotland and Troon after 6 weeks. Languages, castles, cathedrals, milk, milch, lait, brötchen, semeln, baguette et croisants.... We were so lucky.

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My employer was the electrical contractor for the construction of Legoland, near Windsor, I certificated the electrical installations.  All involved were given 'pre opening' tickets for a staff training day, one weekend before public opening.  I was used then to long drives, but this almost broke me!

6pm leave work

Around 1am depart Nottingham

6am Newquay (collect my 3 kids from the ex)

7.30am Torpoint (collect nephew)

11am arrive Legoland

6pm leave Legoland

9.30pm Torpoint

11pm Newquay

5am Nottingham and bed!

Dozed in the last 100 miles or so and frightened myself to death, before taking a break.  Never again, but it was worth it for the kids experience - all the Coca Cola fountains etc were on free dispense! (and they saw it before any of their friends had visited!)

 

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, colin said:

smuggling a packet of human hair - another story...

You tell me your smuggling story and I'll tell you mine. Ed

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9 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

You tell me your smuggling story and I'll tell you mine. Ed

Went on a school trip to the USSR back in 1989  I was about 16 we stayed at hotel number 34 (other numbered hotels are available) being a communist state very little souvenirs were available to purchase so me and a friend decided to take one of the state branded hotel towels on our departure day , we left the hotel room just as the lift doors were closing two very large and very angry old lady’s appeared and started shouting at us in Russian as well as waving towels about needless to say the towel came out the bag quicker than Usain Bolt comes out the blocks and the matter was thankfully resolved, I never did get a souvenir from that trip apart from weight loss due to the food being awful , prune juice for breakfast 🤢

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12 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

Went on a school trip to the USSR back in 1989  I was about 16 we stayed at hotel number 34 (other numbered hotels are available) being a communist state very little souvenirs were available to purchase so me and a friend decided to take one of the state branded hotel towels on our departure day , we left the hotel room just as the lift doors were closing two very large and very angry old lady’s appeared and started shouting at us in Russian as well as waving towels about needless to say the towel came out the bag quicker than Usain Bolt comes out the blocks and the matter was thankfully resolved, I never did get a souvenir from that trip apart from weight loss due to the food being awful , prune juice for breakfast 🤢

Good try!

Mine involves a VHS cassette from the Netherlands! I'll let you imagine the circumstances for the moment as I have to take Cabin-kid No 2 out right now for a routine medical check-up and will write the story up later.

Ed. 

Edited by Cabin-boy
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I have only been to Oz once. I went for a 2-hour meeting in Perth and then came straight back. My trip was extended by a day as the aircraft had hydraulic problems and I had a free night in Singapore.

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You youngsters! Used to do a few Moscow trips in the seventies when flying (I'm that old) The "Intourist Hotel" was the pits. My new wife used to pack a survival pack, toilet roll,sink plug etc. Dragon ladies on each alternate floor would sell you a glass( on deposit,to be returned) and cook an egg with black bread. That's all the snack bar had! I found a box of UHT milk would get me through the queue for the small restaurant next door and was offered the plat dejour- Borsch soup again. Off to watch the queue outside the GUM store waiting for the days supply of luncheon meat to arrive. Heavy snow so off to sit in my hotel room with constant phone calls asking me if I want to sell Jeans or cigarettes. Searched on departure and my Sunday times taken from me. It had an article saying that Stalins son had killed himself.
I miss the old USSR.

Stu

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Human hair tale.... we were approached at the famous outdoor swimming pond at Budapest by a guy who had obviously been on the lookout for a potential courier. Speaking English gave us away obviously. He explained that his daughter was studying in Vienna but that the government would not let him send money. Through friends, he had put together a package of long human hair, which his daughter could apparently sell to wig makers. It was a brown paper wrapped package - he opened it and showed us the contents. We stashed it in the bottom of the wardrobe under assorted footwear. At the border on the way out, we were searched of course, but they were fixated on an empty container under the floor. Something we never used. There was a round access hatch, which took some effort to open, before they satisfied themselves that we were not smuggling any shit.... My parents never much liked the notion of fitting a crapper smack bang in the middle of the floor.... even though it was removable.

Some years later, 1978 to be precise, by post grad diploma class did a mass Europe tour on behalf of the local companies we were doing export projects for. The last leg took us to Prague. Hotel as described above, with a sneaky advantage for us when we discovered the night porter's mother was from Arbroath, and he had a store of beer.... Changed money on the street for way better than the official rate. Last day, want to spend my remaining cash, so do every floor of the one department store, finding nothing, and now on the top floor, sports department. Still have the ice hockey stick....

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1 hour ago, veryoldbear said:

I have only been to Oz once. I went for a 2-hour meeting in Perth and then came straight back. My trip was extended by a day as the aircraft had hydraulic problems and I had a free night in Singapore.

That sounds more of an ordeal than anything else!

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A bunch us, mostly schools athletes, went to Russia in 1961. (stayed in Moscow at the Ostankino hotel - not recommended). We arrived at Leningrad by ship having called at Denmark, Sweden and Finland on the way, so we had a fair assortment of currencies - and lots of pounds and dollars. We faithfully filled in our currency declarations, and then of course, exchanged significant sums on the black market whilst there. Arriving back at Leningrad for the ship home we realised we had to get our currency declarations stamped by showing the currency. Anyway, by finding an out of the way table, we pooled all the currency that we had, then took it in turrns to take enough currency to the desk to get our forms stamped before taking the cash back to the pool. We all got out!

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So, my smuggling experience.

Back in 1999 in my final year at Swansea I shared a flat with two other students (Phil and Matt) on the French course. We'd previously flat-shared in Arras and got on well. I was doing Geography combined with French and they were doing combinations with Economics and Applied Mathematics respectively. Apart from French grammar and conversation classes, we mostly followed different modules connected to our other subjects, mine being French scientific language, translation and politics. One module that we did however all do was French Cinema because it seemed an easy choice. We all had an interest in films from different genres and eras. Phil was a massive fan of Stanley Kubrick, had just seen Eyes Wide Shut, and wanted to rewatch the entire back catalogue. Of course there was one problem. "A Clockwork Orange" was banned (by Kubrick himself) and therefore, in the days before VOD and Youtube, totally impossible to obtain. In the UK at least!

I was off during the February holidays (again) to Rotterdam to stay with a good Swedish friend on his Erasmus year. I took the Stena HSS (fantastic ship) from Harwich to the Hook and a train into the city to meet up. We had three full days to discover Rotterdam, Amsterdam and the Hague. On the final day we were in the Virgin Megastore in Rotterdam shopping for CDs when I saw a VHS cassette of the afore-mentioned film in original version with Flemish subtitles. I decided to buy it for Phil without thinking. When my Swedish friend (studying Law at UCL) realised what I intended to do he wasn't totally convinced it was a good idea but we concocted a means of secreting the (rather bulky) package within my luggage. I had a double sided bag so we put a cartridge of Dutch cigarettes (for Matt) on the other side to hide the lump.

So, the next morning I went back to the ferry port and got on board without any problems. On arrival in Harwich the customs were there in force with dogs looking for anything suspicious and a student travelling alone from the Netherlands certainly fit the bill. I was pulled to one side and sniffed intensively. Nothing! "Can we see inside your bag?" So they opened the 'problem side' first and had a brief rummage and then asked if I had anything to declare. I said no but there were some locally bought cigarettes in the other pocket which successfully distracted them and they flipped the bag over before ever finding the VHS. Once satisfied that everything was ok, I was left to continue on my way to the trains and London etc. It was very difficult to resist looking over my shoulder as I left the arrivals hall.

Once back in Swansea I gave Phil the VHS and he was delighted. He became the toast of Swansea student life for a while, being the only holder of such a rare film and the cassette got passed around most of the campus. Stanley Kubrick died about 6 weeks after my return and another week or so later his children overturned the ban on his most notorious film. 

I decided to give up my smuggling career at that point. 

Ed

 

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