01 September 2009

Riding the Rails

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Rex hired a cab to get us to the train station with all of our bags, and he was due to arrive a little after eight, so we were up early getting our suitcases packed in a way that we could get them all on the train.  Funny thing about international travel – if you’re just going to one place, you’re good; if you’re moving around the country, you may have to leave clothes behind, and you sure can’t be picking up souvenirs at every stop!  We found it really strange though, that the train allowed the LEAST amount of baggage.  At any rate, we used our carry-ons as real suitcases so that we could take everything with us!

It was only about a five minute ride to the station, so we checked our bags and walked a few blocks back to a coffee shop to get a bite of breakfast.  Lo and behold, ICED tea was on the menu!  Sadly, the tea was still boiling when it was poured over the ice.  Need I say more?  Anyway, the friends were delicious and they even gave me another cup of ice for my tea.  Back at the station, we had a little bit of a time figuring out what to do – no one had asked for any ID or a ticket (even when we checked our bags) and it turns out you just find the car that you’ve been assigned and hop on.  Guess terrorists do not travel by train!

Our plan was to ride coach class on this leg of our train trip, which was from Cairns to Proserpine, about xxxx km or a twelve hour train ride, and then to ride Queenslander class (with a berth) on Tuesday and Wednesday when we went from Proserpine to Brisbane – about 19 hours!  We were in coach I, two cars behind the club car, and it was like sitting on a bus – two seats on either side of a center aisle, not much legroom, a tray table, and overhead storage.  And there was another place we could have put our carryons…  As it was, I had my purse and my laptop and Rex had his backpack, and we both had our kindles.  All aboard!!

True to form, sitting in the seats behind us were three active young boys, probably ages 4 to 8 or 9, and their mom, who was glad to not be having to pay much attention to them.  Right away, someone whacks me over the head from behind…  I took the teachings of Barney Fife to mind and nipped that action in the bud!  I grabbed the bag I got hit with, rose up over my seat, and gave those little blokes the look.  Strike one!

The trip was largely uneventful.  It was evident right away that sleeping was not going to be much of an option, so I finished my book (Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See – very good!) and then Rex came back from exploring to tell me that he’d found an outlet in the club car.  I grabbed my laptop and took off!  I pretty much spent the rest of the ride sitting on a bar stool working on the blog and chatting with a couple of cute English teenagers who were doing the same thing.  Well, they weren’t blogging, but they were working on their photos!  Don’t need to tell you what we talked about!
At some point, Rex hunted and gathered and brought me a salad of some sort, and on I blogged.  Since I was a week behind, it was great to get almost caught up!  We passed field after field of sugar cane and lots of sugar cane processing plants.  We stopped a few times, but only long enough to get off at Townsville.  I got off to stretch my legs, but the stop was short and we were soon heading south again.  We had a few beers to pass the time, and at dinner time Rex again scored a meal from the dining car and brought it to the club car.  Evidently, that is frowned upon.  It was okay – mine was penne and tomahto sauce (really think and sort of sweet) and Rex had barramundi and chips.  The time passed pretty quickly since I was occupied, and around 9 PM we pulled into the town of Proserpine.  We were to catch a bus to take us to Airlie Beach, so we collected our bags from the sidewalk and hopped on the bus.

With us on the bus (really just a 15 passenger vehicle with a luggage trailer) were the family from England.  They were from Cambridge, and they had been to Sydney and Daintree and were going to be staying in Airlie Beach for a few days and then going back to Sydney.  They had not yet done the Bridge Climb, so we shared our experiences with them.  We enjoyed our conversation with them and wished we had chatted with them more on the train.  The bus ride was pretty humorous – the driver rarely took anyone all the way to where they were going.  She sort of got you almost there, unloaded your bags, and pointed you in the right direction.  But we found our way to our hotel, via the parking lot to the restaurant next door, where we got someone to scrounge up our room key.  By the time we got to the room, about all I did was figure out how to get online so I could upload all of the blog entries I’d done and we were down for the count!

Dreaming about Daydream Island,


1 comment:

SuziQCat said...

I noticed that about trains in Japan too...sometimes once we were going someone would come by and look at our ticket, but not always. I wonder what they would do if you didn't have one...throw you off?

Glad you are having a great time...I love reading about the trip and seeing your pics on FB.