Earlier this week in Sydney, hundreds of people flooded the pavements and spilled onto the main roadsof Rhodes causing a stampede following rumours that a rare animal, a Porygon, was in the Sydney suburb.
Tram crossings in Munich, where a ’15yearold’ girl wearing headphones was recently killed by a tram, are said to are equipped with special beacons that send warning messages to smartphones via an application called Watch Out!
On p of eating or drinking, the sessions are organised by the Austrian Road Safety Board after it found an alarming number of Austrians were crossing roads distracted by their smartphones. While Cologne also added similar lights to three of its tram crossings, earlier this year in Germany. Just outside Munich.
Designed to blink when a tram approaches. Pokémon new craze Go, an augmented reality game where players roam the city chasing virtual creatures, is identified as a threat to pedestrians’ road safety.
We piled off at Hendaye in good spirits -and then piled back on again in a great hurry with dozens of other mistaken passengers, as it belatedly became clear that the train we had just arrived on would also convey us over the border into the twin Spanish station at Irun on theriver far side.
APR FINANCINGFOR UP TO 72 MONTHS
My family’s annual temporary migration to the Algarve is achieved via unlovely Luton Airport. Essentially, though, not on the most recent holiday 17 year old Emily, declared that she was terrified of flying and that no combination of threats, cajoling, bribery or narcotics would get her aboard our easyJetflight.
I managed to confirm -partly by semaphore -with the monolingual train captain that we would not miss our connection with the Spanish train, neither of us could make the Wi Fi work, and there was a delay outside Bordeaux because of a mysterious fire further down the line. We had, thankfully, been advised to secure a twinberth cabin in Gran Clase, the three most luxurious classes, which afforded us a three course meal and rudimentary breakfast and -crucially, I felt -our own ‘en suite’ loo and shower facilities. Remember, once the train got into its wallowing stride right after an early stop in San Sebastián, this turned out to be handy as, it emerged that Emily wasn’t much better equipped for longdistance train travel than she was for flying. As dusk fell, there we joined the Sud Express, the Night Train to Lisbon, immortalised in the novel and same film name and one of Europe’s last surviving train hotels.
We slept well eventually, ahead of another full day and night on trains.
Firstclass tickets were a treat and the train was modern, clean, smooth and uncrowded. Dona Filipa completed the outward journey in a little under 48 hours. We had stocked up on baguettes and chocolate in Montparnasse, and wide windows and the unfurling landscape provided restful entertainment. We killed a couple of hours munching pastries in the sunshine at Lisbon’s startlingly modern, Santiago Calatrava designed Oriente station before boarding the Algarve Express for the threehour run down to Faro. Anyway, these high speed behemoths were well designed -40 years ago -and ‘standardclass’ seats are wide enough and comfortable, the TGV from Paris to Hendaye was packed.
Travelling through St glorious space Pancras is always a pleasure, one that was amplified by the contrast with grottiness of the Gare the grottiness du Nord after the first leg of our journey. Could be worse. We spent the night above that crepuscular hub in a Novotel, leg two was on a Train à Grande Vitesse from Paris to the Spanish border which departed from the Gare Montparnasse, where we were upgraded without surcharge to a ’15th floor’ suite infested with ants, and downgraded without compensation to a roomwithout. At very short notice I was able to get all the seats -and sleeper berths -that Emily and I would need, the main compromise being a night in Paris on the way out. Then, far, so unchallenging. Of course we were stuck -until I Googled London Algarve by train and researched the options.
The rooms at the lovely Dona Filipa in Vale do Lobo couldn’t be cancelled, and leaving Emily behind or sending her elsewhere alone were question out.
With forward planning the journey can be achieved in 36 hours or so, on our return the connections were in our favour and we did not need to stay overnight in Paris.
Gran Clase indeed. Basically, the novelty factor and each other’s company helped, emily and I enjoyed ourselves. Now if we can just persuade quite a bit of the family to switch to Inverness from the Algarve for next year, I’ll get on with booking the Caledonian Sleeper. Trying to sleep on a train is never easy, especially when you are lying across progress direction, and a queasy Emily eventually worked out that she was most comfortable on floor of the shower the floor cubicle.