On our way, but with a hitch
29.04.2014 - 02.06.2014 23 °C
Monday 28th May 2014: Bag End.
The anthem that gets us in the mood for these trips is here.
Start it playing and read on! We are almost on our way!
But, a quick note before we start, to say "thank you" to Team Fuente Meca, without which this trip would not be possible. In particular, to Carol, who is in charge of Sofi and the house, and her back up crew, including Jean H, Terry & Vivienne, Ian, John & Antonia H, Mervyn and all in Fuente Meca, we are so grateful. Not forgetting the moral support team in UK, Dancing Jean, Dave and, of course, young Brenda. Thank you so much.
This is beginning to sound like a Oscars acceptance speech, getting us into the right mood for Hollywood! Can't get the tears working, though!
Also, when reflecting on the front porch before we left, we realised how very lucky we are to be able to make this trip. Others, through ill health or whatever, are not able to do so. So we really are grateful we can, and this Blog is dedicated to those who are unable, for whatever reason, to make their "trip of a lifetime".
Some of you may not know our fellow travellers, Stan & Arthur, who have been our companions for many years. Arthur is the "bon viveur" amongst us enjoying fine dining (Denny's Lumberjack Slam is a particular favourite) and is known for his political correctness. Not! Stan worries a lot and tries to keep Arthur and his various appetites under control (not possible). He enjoys taking in the scenery, especially the mountains, all of which Arthur finds boring.
So, come with us - John, Bob Stan & Arthur - on this adventure, which started in 1981 when, without realising it, we did travel a chunk of US Highway 395. And we are revisiting a couple of the places where we stayed on that memorable trip. (Can just about remember it!). There have been 12 more trips since then so we are, indeed, very lucky. Not that everyone would want to come here 13 times! We find somewhere different each time and revisit some favourites.
Tuesday 29 April 2014: Somewhere between Cieza and Albacete on RENFE Madrid train
Disaster! The Spanish government have been holding up the British model for running the railways as an example to be followed. (Are they mad? Yes!) And it’s started. No breakfast served at your seat anymore. Disaster!
It was one of the highlights at the beginning of our last trip. Really civilised and a very satisfying breakfast. A nice and extremely polite young man did come round with a trolley but we had to pay for this:-
Oh, calamity, Bishop! We are next to the buffet car and breakfast is available there but a civilised rail journey has become a not-so civilised one. And we paid 13.75€ each for this journey (single, First Class to Madrid!!) But that’s another story. Most people here would have paid considerably more. And we have all been deprived of our nice breakfast. Progress! (We did get free newspapers and a pair of headphones to watch the onscreen TV programmes.)
AND they closed the cafeteria at Totana station. Not that we had to travel that way today thanks to the kindness of Jean and Vivienne who provided transportation direct to Murcia Carmen station. All for the price of a coffee.
John drove in the end but Vivienne did ride shotgun while Jean held the TomTom. Not that it did us much good as, once again, John missed the turning for the station. It’s an odd junction with a policeman standing in the way. TomTom did get us out of it and, without a single swear word being uttered, we arrived safely at Murcia station.
Pleased to see the obligatory nun was travelling but this time did not seem to have a team of cute baggage handlers in attendance. Cut backs there, too, no doubt. Maybe they are in Rome being made saints?
Anyway, we are now speeding through the empty countryside of Murcia and Castilla-La Mancha and should arrive in Madrid at 2.16, a 4 hour 40 minute journey. Without breakfast! Herumph.
We bought a breakfast/lunch from the buffet car and it was good. We shared a jamon y Camembert bocadillo and vegetal y queso toasted sandwich, two cokes, a bag of crisps and a KitKat. Not bad at all.
We have just stopped at La Roda and the nice young attendant rushed across the platform to hug his chum on the train going the other way, giving him a nice peck on the cheek at the same time. Can't seem to remember anything like that happening at Finsbury Park!