Sunday, 17 July 2011

A quick one from Morocco 16.7.11

Hey, it’s me again already….
I arrived safely in Morocco and am in a lovely Hotel (with free internet).  After walking around the streets outside, I am thinking this Hotel is one of the loveliest, friendliest and safest places to be (when one is still on their own in Casablanca), so I thought I would send a very quick email to pass the time until I meet with my tour group at 6pm tonight. 
Plus I had a little story to share, and couldn’t wait two weeks to tell you.  I got up at 4am this morning as I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to catch the 5.30am Metro into the main Train Station (Termini) in Rome, to then catch the 6.23am train out to the Airport (takes 30 minutes).  My flight to Morocco left at 9am and I was told to be there 2 hours early.  If all went as planned I would have been there by 6.53am.  I had gone to the Termini Train Station yesterday to check which platform the Airport Train left from and where I could buy a ticket, and I really couldn’t have been more organized.
Well, all started off as planned.  I made it into the Termini Train Station and bought my ticket and was proudly smiling to myself thinking how proud Melinda would be of me if she could see me now.  When we travelled together 2 years ago, I just followed her around and now here I was the seasoned traveler!!!
I walked to platform 28 and the train was already waiting there.  That is often the case, so I confidently jumped on, secured myself a good seat so that I could have my suitcase beside me, and relaxed in preparation for my journey to the Airport.  I thought I would make good use of the half an hour trip and started writing in my travel diary, and we departed shortly after.
We travelled along and stopped a few times at various stations to collect passengers. I did have a fleeting thought that maybe I should confirm with someone that this was in fact the Airport train (as I had thought it was meant to be an express train), but I immediately dismissed the thought, and guessed they must have factored the stops into the half an hour train trip.  I was very impressed by the small amount of luggage that these people travelled with…for people that were supposed to be catching the Airport train???  Shortly after, I again wondered whether perhaps I should just confirm with someone that this train was going to the Airport.  But then this evil little voice in my head replied, “Don’t be silly.  How embarrassing to ask.  Of course this is the right train.  How could you possibly have got on the wrong train?”
So I continued on writing in my diary as more people got off and on the train. I then started to look at the watch and think, hhmm, still no airport, maybe the train is running a little late.  It is Italy after all.  I then put my travel diary away and looked out the window and started to see lovely bales of hay in the fields alongside the train tracks.  Hhhmm, wow, the Airport must be on the real outskirts of the city??  Okay, I now look at my watch again and finally decide I should have been at the airport 10 minutes ago. In all honesty, I was in total denial and just didn’t want to face what was becoming glaringly obvious to me – I was on the WRONG train!!!!
I finally summed up the courage to ask the guy who had just got on the train and sat in front of me. “Umm, excuse me, but is this train going to the Airport?” And then the words I just didn’t want to hear – “No, No, this train is going to Pisa!!”
A hot flush overcame me for a few seconds and I let out an “Oh F#@k.  I am supposed to be going to the Airport”.  A day at Pisa would have been lovely “ANY OTHER DAY”, but perhaps not today!!!  The lovely guy (and the other guy across the aisle who also heard) then explained that if I got off the train at the next stop I could catch a train back to a particular station and then catch another train to go to the Airport from there. 
So I grabbed my luggage, got off at the next train station ‘Saint Mariella’ (or something like that) and raced into the shop at the station and begged for a taxi to be called.  It sounded like a safer option than catching 2 more trains.  God only knows where I would have ended up then!  When I explained the urgency, he rang the local taxi guy who was still in bed.  At 7.25am the taxi driver turned up.  When I asked him how long it would take to get to the airport he said 40 or 50 minutes!!  This time the blood drained from my face!!  I then explained my predicament and desperate need to get to the Airport as quick as possible and I saw the excitement on his face!!  We flew along the highway, breaking every speed limit and made it in 30 minutes!!! It was worth every cent of the small fortune I had to pay! 
 I then raced into the terminal, got through check in, walked through the baggage scan thingy, got through passport control, walked for miles to find the right boarding area (Rome Airport is like a small City), and made it just as people were lining up to board the plane!!! OMG…what a relief!!!  I even had a second to spare to ring Mum as I was lining up.
A few lessons now learnt:
1.     Pay attention to the signs – like the really big display signs at the train station which tell you what train to board for your intended destination.
2.     If you get a niggling feeling you are on the wrong train, you probably are!!!  Don’t listen to that evil inner voice that makes you travel for another half an hour before checking!!!
3.     The Airport Train IS an express train and does not stop to pick up passengers along the way.  Especially ones with no luggage!
4.     Arriving late saves you money as you then don’t have any time to shop at the Duty Free shops??
5.     Yes, there are nice paddocks of sunflowers and bales of hay that you can view on the train ride between Rome and Pisa….but they are nowhere near the Airport!!!
6.     When it is finally time to fly home to Cairns, catch a taxi from the B&B straight to the Airport!!!
The flight was only three hours and seemed to go very quickly.  But I thought it was quite strange, when we landed in Morocco more than half the people on the plane all let out a big cheer and started clapping.  What the?  Did they not expect to land safely???
Back again...Okay, it is now 10pm.  I have met my new tour group and have not long returned to my room after having dinner with them.  At this stage there are only 7 of us on the tour.  Was supposed to be eight, but one lady was a no-show at the Airport today. Hhhmmm, wonder if she is in Pisa???  And can you believe we are all from Australia.  Jill & Brian from Torquay, Victoria; Jemma from Wollongong; Debbie from Sydney; Neville & Fiona from Hughenden and me!!  Everyone seems lovely, so I can’t wait to get started tomorrow morning.  And on that note, it is time to head to bed.
Cheers from Casablanca,
Love joy xxx


Merry said...

Just had to come in here and add a LOL too. Thanks for all the smiles. I am glad that you arrived on time at the airport though....I would have been in panic mode. Have a great trip.

Nin said...

What a nightmare. I would have done exactly the same. Too embarrassed to ask and then panic when it's almost too late to do anything about it. Lucky on this occassion Joy:) Casablanca - play it again Sam!!

Joy said...

Yes Ladies....a moment that is hopefully not repeated....but it's always okay when it ends well. Then you just shake your head and laugh!!!