(some statistics)

In 40 days it should be possible: 40 days less than Phileas Fogg. The results summarized in this review statistics show that I

• was absent during a total of 57 days and covered 37’542 km.

• For the journey around the world itself I travelled 35’793 km in 42 days.

In each case, two days waiting time before the ship’s passage are included – this one has to do realistically. However, when choosing the direct route from Chicago to Philadelphia it is possible to save at least one day. So if you have convenient shipping schedules, 40 days should be enough.

The longest sections were with 9797 km (5290 nautical miles) the Pacific crossing and with 6100 km (3294 nautical miles), the Atlantic crossing.

Travelling through Eurasia from Zurich to Vladivostok, twice interrupted in Moscow and Irkutsk, was a train journey of a total of 12199 km. The crossing of America from Los Angeles to Philadelphia by train with 5495 km was significantly shorter. To complete the round trip, I travelled again a short 771 km from Le Havre to Basel. But this stage was after that of Seoul to Busan one of the fastest – in both could be used TGV’s. Of the relatively fast trains in the U.S. we should not be fooled: the trains across the continent had some considerable delays; only those in the East were quick and on time.

How much did cost all the fun? Modesty forbids to say! But whoever wants to know anyway, can ask me.

9.10.2010

Good for nothing

Now, at the very end of this long and a few thousand francs expensive trip, I turned on thinking: Winning a day! So how is it now? I may have actually won a day, namely Saturday, 4 September, which for us took place on the ship twice. Yeah, but I have seen also total 24 days with only 23 hours. What a frustration, and no one has mentioned this to me! Why no one of your friends has it pointed out?

Just kidding! Who of you has seen this already from in front and correctly? I really wonder!

The problem now is that I have to look for a new title for my blog, that it needs a new justification for this trip. Do I, no, actually not really. No man needs must! Oops, that would be an example for, right? Would apply but actually almost only for sea voyages. But there is a saying that one can use again and again – it’s tapped accordingly: The journey is the reward, or in view of the fact that now the journey is over:

The journey was the reward!

And that’s really true. If you want to know what it was, then you can read about this in this blog again. You can also ask for directions, but not after what would be left and right of way and would have been. The aim of my trip was to travel. I know for myself already for some time: riding trains – and now riding ships – have a therapeutic effect on me. And I have proven once again for me now: I have been rarely or never angry or upset about something and felt so comfortable in the last days and weeks on the way, despite stressful situations because of the sometimes rolling organization which can not be avoided. Simply because of the blog and the accompanying laptop also home was always a bit present and also this present, I could look at in this time with much more real, but also emotional distance. And this therapy of serenity, how I would call it as a working title, was worth each cent, which it ultimately cost.

And of course, every minute I’ve invested in the blog for my friends. Now you will get by without it. Your employer and partners will be happy. I had fun with it. I hope you too. And if not, I suggest that to you: make a trip against the strain!

PS: I will write another post with statistical and technical details about the trip, but that will take a few days.

8.10.2010

American railways

Because I usually sat in it, I wasn’t able to photograph the diversity of American Railroads. So here are some comments and observations (PICTURE: see German version):

-  On the route of the Southwest Chief from L.A. to approx. Albuquerque one freight train after another came towards us, especially trains with containers, mostly two-storey loaded and what is striking, drawn usually by three Diesel locomotives and pushed by two other machines. This pattern I observed virtually on the entire route to Chicago, also on coal trains in Colorado. The former usual caboose I’ve seen anymore on trains.

-  Such a container train can thus carry on 143 cars (I counted) carrying 286 containers. To transport the cargo of a container ship as the HANJIN BOSTON, it takes about 24 such trains.

-  Travelling east after Albuquerque on the original Santa Fe route there are virtually no freight trains anymore: the route is partly difficult in its layout not only over the Raton Pass. During my 7-hour stay in Raton NM apart from the two South West Chiefs not a single train passed by Raton. Is this route maintained only for the AMTRAK trains? [Yes!]

-  The passenger trains I used were all more or less late except in the east corridor. AMTRAK informs on its home page about the delay reasons: The most common cause at the Southwest Chief (punctuality in the past 12 months, 76%) were “track and signals” for the Lakeshore Limited (punctuality 73%) it mostly features the “host” companies CSX and NS, but also to over 20% track and signals.
The Americans build their tracks with track nails, still the same as well over 100 years ago. If you look closely, many of these nails are pulled out a bit. The sleepers are narrower than in Europe and the distances between the sleepers smaller. BN&SF has built partly new tracks, for example in curves, which immediately results in a much smoother running of the cars. On the high-speed traffic routes in the east modern tracks are on concrete sleepers.

-  The running properties of the Superliner and Amfleet cars are good to moderate; on a bad track this as of course a much stronger effect. The space in the Superliner sleeping cars for long distance operation in the roomettes (aisle part) is very tight for two people and tight for one person. The distance between seats in the Amfleet cars for longer routes is less tight, e.g. in the Amcoach of the overnight train Lakeshore Limited are fewer seats than in the Amcoach business class of the day train Springfield–NewYork–Washington–Lynchfield.

-  In the TGV-derivative Acela (which I have not used), there is a coach-class, a business class and a first class.

Here are some pictures to Amtrak and other trains.

Here some info about the two rack (= cog) railways I attended:

-  The Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway is a “Swiss” company. Not only that the whole daily operation is performed with the SLM built railcars and two-railcars, no, the switch signals are the same as in Switzerland and the station clock certainly is so. However, the original rolling stock was up to the delivery of the SLM rail cars purely American. A steam locomotive is still operational and one is at the base station, one in Manitou Springs, and another one at the railroad museum of Colorado. A visit that is worth it because of the railway and the landscape.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway has a different dimension, especially because of the lay out of its route where the alignment was done largely without earth movements and the track was elevated, where necessary, on small and large timber bridges, so called trestles, the longest and in the steepest part lying “Jacob’s leader” as an example. The lower half from the water tower to just below Halfway is double tracked; the switches are massive structures on steel beams on which a section of track is shifted to the left and to the right (like that of the Rigi Railway in Kaltbad and Freibergen earlier). There is only one switch, in which the individual parts have to be moved by hand, that is this in the upper third, which leads to a side track and is not used during normal daily operation.
Normal service is conducted with diesel-hydraulic locomotives.

Steam runs only one train per day. In these days it was always the first train at 09:00. The steam locomotive No. 6 remained all day at the Marshfield station. An interesting detail of the operation: running downhill the car is braked by the brakeman with a gear on each axis acting brakes, apparently to increase the security. Whether that is done so in our rack railways I do not know, but I do not think so. This railway remains really a pioneering work in its construction and technology, well worth a visit. 

 

2.10.2010

Good for nothing

Now, at the very end of this long and a few thousand francs expensive trip, I turned on thinking: Winning a day! So how is it now? I may have actually won a day, namely Saturday, 4 September, which for us took place on the ship twice. Yeah, but I have seen also total 24 days with only 23 hours. What a frustration, and no one has mentioned this to me! Why no one of your friends has it pointed out?

Just kidding! Who of you has seen this already from in front and correctly? I really wonder!

The problem now is that I have to look for a new title for my blog, that it needs a new justification for this trip. Do I, no, actually not really. No man needs must! Oops, that would be an example for, right? Would apply but actually almost only for sea voyages. But there is a saying that one can use again and again – it’s tapped accordingly: The journey is the reward, or in view of the fact that now the journey is over:

The journey was the reward!

And that’s really true. If you want to know what it was, then you can read about this in this blog again.

You can also ask for directions, but not after what would be left and right of way and would have been. The aim of my trip was to travel. I know for myself already for some time: riding trains – and now riding ships – have a therapeutic effect on me. And I have proven once again for me now: I have been rarely or never angry or upset about something and felt so comfortable in the last days and weeks on the way, despite stressful situations because of the sometimes rolling organization which can not be avoided. Simply because of the blog and the accompanying laptop also home was always a bit present and also this present, I could look at in this time with much more real, but also emotional distance. And this therapy of serenity, how I would call it as a working title, was worth each cent, which it ultimately cost.

And of course, every minute I’ve invested in the blog for my friends. Now you will get by without it. Your employer and partners will be happy. I had fun with it. I hope you too. And if not, I suggest that to you: make a trip against the strain!

PS: I will write another post with statistical and technical details about the trip, but that will take a few days.

1.10.2010

The last stage

 

Le Havre, 30.9.2010, 06:40: Just disembarked from the CMA CGM Matisse

Le Havre, 30.09.2010, 07:40, Gare SNCF, TGV to Strasbourg

 

Strasbourg, 30.09.2010, 14:48, Gare SNCF, RE to Basel

 

Basel, 30.09.2010, 16:30, SBB Station: Here the circle is closed; from here the journey direction East startet

Zürich, 30.09.2010 16:30: Main Station: Here the train travel started ...

 

… and here it is coming to its end: Birmensdorf, 30.09.2010 16:50

 

 
And here I stay again since yesterday Thursday, 30.09.2010 17:05: Oberwil-Lieli AG, Schweiz

 

1.10.2010

Atlantic

Here again a short version for speed readers: My question is no, no and yes, yes (see http://www.a-bis-zet.ch/reiseblog2010/en/archives/734)

1. Day, Wednesday 22 September 2010

After many, more or less clear telephone calls I received yesterday, finally, the info I needed. I therefore went with a normal taxi to the terminal and stranded at the gate. After some back and forth then Nolan – or whatever his name is: it’s an epidemic among Americans that they seem not to care about – showed on; he has something to do with CMA CGM and he brought me into the port and to the ship. Somehow you get the feeling that nobody is really responsible, or at least informed. But perhaps that’s American!

Here again the same thing, “Jacob’s Ladder” and the reception by the crew and the first Officer, Chief Officer. He also knew nothing about me (perhaps that is French). Ultimately, I was then first brought by the steward in the officers’ mess and finally in my room, which is not as beautiful as the one I had on the HANJIN BOSTON, but there is everything you need. The only thing missing are additional windows on the side also. I probably will have a clear view on a container when the vessel is loaded. Well, we will survive it. According to the present information sailing is scheduled for 18:00.

The officers with the exception of one from the Philippines are from Romania, the team Filipinos and four Indians. The captain is called here captain and not chief. In addition, there is a passenger, Leon Horn from New Zealand, 81 years old. The problem with the information cleared up: the ship had since Panama not anymore e-mail contact, so they could not know that I come.

At 17:15, the pilots on board: a pilot will turn the ship in the relatively narrow Delaware River and then leave the ship, a pilot will bring the ship through the Delaware estuary into the Atlantic and the third is an “apprentice” who needs another month to the “diploma”. At 17:30 we start down the river. Philadelphia says goodbye with a nice thunderstorm with lots of lightning above the skyline, which nicely visible for quit a while. Until dusk at 19:30 we are passing industrial plants, power plants, aircraft carriers in scrapping phase and the like. Approx. at 23:30 I notice that the engines are stopped. Probably the pilots are disembarking. Shortly after it goes on and a gentle rolling starts: we are at sea.

The Delaware, shortly after sailing

Looking Back: The skyline of Philadelphia is still visible for a while

2. Day, Thursday 23 September 2010

A monotonous day: the ship rolls all day easily, but not so that it interferes with, all day sun and some waves. We learn that the ship now first is to arrive at Le Havre and that will be on the 30.9. in the morning. This means that the master has to hurry up and that means driving at full speed with the 19 knots that can make the ship.

Leon is a pleasant fellow passenger, by the way with a lot of cruising experience. We leave us alone or we’ll talk. Good prospects. By the way, a beautiful sunset.

On this way, because I cannot send from here a message or an e-mail: Happy Birthday Bernard!

3. Day, Friday 24 September 2010

During the night, rolling has stopped completely and in the morning the sea is almost a mirror. It remains for the whole day, except that slowly raise clouds and the north Atlantic, which we ride now at the height of the coast of Nova Scotia, is steel grey. We have to put the clocks forward one hour at midnight: we are approaching inexorably Europe.

Life here on board differs not essentially from that of the Pacific journey. If you ask, you get kind information and otherwise you can move on the ship as you like.

Towards evening the rolling starts again, but still not that it bothers, despite there are clearly visible waves. Also the next night we put the clocks forward and again today no sunset.

4. Day, Saturday 25 September 2010

Today it is still dark at 7:00. From that you may see, that the time lag story is again noticeable. And I’m not the only on; also the Chief Engineer complains it and he cannot stay in bed as I can if I would like to do so.

The sea continues to show no signs of a little stronger movement, the usual Atlantic swell. In the morning it is overcast, but towards sunrise only a bright stripe can be seen. Also on this ship there are birds. Today I have seen of my room from a larger one, either a pigeon or small falcon-like, and a smaller, so the size and shape of a robin, but with a yellow breast. These things I see, but I never have seen a whale with the exception of the dorsal fin at Donghae.

The “MATISSE”, as it is called without the “CMA CGM”, drives under Cypriot flag for CMA CGM, apparently between Europe-USA, Caribbean, Panama Canal Polynesia-New Zealand-Australia, and putting into several European ports: Rotterdam, Hamburg, Tilbury (UK), but also Dunkirk and Le Havre. It belongs to the fleet from CMA CGM UK. It was built in 1999 by China Shipbuilding Corporation, Keelung and corresponds in its design approx. to the one of the “HANJIN BOSTON” except that it is100m shorter, correspondingly less wide narrow and it is equipped with three loading cranes. The latter means that it is not dependent on a container terminal, i.e. it probably can putt into smaller ports. It can load up to 2,200 containers. On the machine and the power equipment or their turbochargers I will report when I have visited the engine room.

Around noon it gets colder and windier, above all, it is still 10°C, also strengthens the role and continues until the evening. Also, it begins to rain. On this ship, the passengers do not need to participate in the safety drills. Today, the topic is “Abandon Ship” is. Hopefully they do not do it!

Leon and I were watching in the evening – in the middle of the Atlantic ocean – the film “The Train”, a war drama acting in France with fantastic railway scenes (yes, finally I do a “railway” travel) with Burt Lancaster. At about 22:30 we suddenly heard a horn signal. On the bridge, the captain tells us that in dense fog still the fog horn is used and because we are just in a fog bank, its functionality was tested. Interestingly it seems to me that despite the modern equipment and the accuracy of modern navigational aids such as with the radar, not all can be seen e.g. small objects such as fishing boats. Since an unmistakable sound could help. Furthermore captain pointed out, that we run just over 22 knots, 3 knots more than the maximum speed of the ship, thanks to winds from astern (Hornblower!) and the Atlantic current. We are not directly in the central line of the Gulf Stream, but here it acts fairly.

By the way, we left America finally in the evening, after we have left the eastern foothills of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland – a fairly large area southeast of the island, with water depths below 100 m.

5. Day, Sunday 26 September 2010

In the morning at seven, the world is not quite right, if you hardly slept because of the time difference again, and if, the only badly because of the rolling of the ship. It took all night. Whether this is already strong, I do not know, but it is definitely as strong as I’ve never experienced before. Things begin to move around. The sea has no white caps, but a strong swell and weather is bad: it rains.

I am on the bridge and talk to the young third officer who is on duty when the Chief Engineer, Edward Glavan, picks me up to show me the engine room. Also here everything spick and span clean. The machine, a 7-cylinder 2-stroke diesel engine from MAN B & W, and two Hyundai ABB turbochargers, which makes 28’380 hp or 21’163 kW and at a maximum speed of 90 per minute, a speed 19 knots is reached. The four auxiliary diesels are all equipped with ABB turbochargers. The reason that this engine room is different from the later and larger on the HANJIN BOSTON it is only by the dimension and the arrangement, all in all, this an impressive affair.

Today is Sunday and therefore we are invited by the captain Ilie Tecuta and the officers for a drink. After the captain, we are currently in the exit area of a hurricane, the air pressure is at 1000 hPa not so deep and the wind force is moderate. Nevertheless, the ship rolls because of the (after the captain) 2 m high waves permanently in a way that you are pushed around when lying. Today I have seen a sea bird, seagull or something like that, not very large, although we are quite far from each land.

No question, again no sunset, but the rocking continues. Today we have reached the most northerly point at about 50° north latitude on the great circle between the Delaware estuary and entrance in the channel, i.e. that our course is now more than 90° and is slightly turned towards the south.

6. Day, Monday 27 September 2010

Also today, the clocks were moved ahead at midnight one hour. But hurray: slept for almost five hours, but by four o’clock wide awake again. Well, this too will be settled down again. In addition, the sea was obviously a lot quieter than last night. Also this probably contributed to that success. Today the waves are much higher than last night, approx. 5-6m, but the rolling has decreased. During the night it was not disturbing. The 3rd Officer told me that the wind and the “short” waves caused by the wind have almost no influence on the motion of the ship, however, the “long” waves – he calls it “swell” do so. Today again for a while a seagull was flying parallel to the ship.

Most officers will leave the ship in Rotterdam. A new crew will take over. The new captain will come in board apparently already in Le Havre. Accordingly it has to be settled, reported, patched, and cleaned and so on. The team is definitely very busy. This does not apply to seafarers who are all Filipinos and the three Indians who paint.

The Filipinos have contracts up to nine months; the Indians appeared to leave the ship when the ship is back in Sydney. The MATISSE will continue from Le Havre to Rotterdam and from there back to Dunkirk and further on to America – Panama – Polynesia – Australia. Apparently, according to the third officer, who will travel on, “three young ladies,” all 70 years old, will come on board. In any case, the chambers are sold out.

Towards the evening the sea calmed down noticeably. After rainfalls the clouds loosen and there is almost a sunset. At 10 o’clock in the evening an “eroded” moon and some stars are visible.

One of the rare encounters in the open Atlantic

7. Day, Tuesday 28 September 2010

Again another hour forward! The sunrise on the MATISSE will take place at about 08:20. It has clouds on the horizon and the sun is seen only briefly visible as a bright spot. Later, it then rises above the clouds. At 10:00 we have 1007 hPa and 16°C.

Leon Horn as the other passengers on this ship is a stroke of luck – it might be otherwise. We understand each other very well. I rarely have known such a young 81-year-old man. It results in some conversations that go beyond small talk which hardly could be avoided at the table. Leon will travel to Rotterdam and back to Dunkirk and take over a lease car. He will explore the Normandy, make a visit to Brittany and then drive through southwest France to Nice, where he will deliver the car. In addition, the Cinque Terre and Venice are on his program, a tour in Turkey and a visit to his daughter in Dubai. From there he will fly back to New Zealand in early December. A successful program for an 81-year-old, isn’t it?

Leon Horn, the other passenger on this trip, travelling from New Zealand to Europe, a very pleasant company

As the day brightens the wind, at night it is quiet again. The next night we put the clocks for the last time by one hour. Even today because of clouds in the west no sunset.

8. Day, Wednesday 29 September 2010

I never slept as badly as that night on the whole trip, namely I slept rather not. However, I hope that at some point in time, preferably reasonably soon, this levels off. But despite trying I can not sleep during the day.

Around noon, we should enter the English Channel south of the Scilly Islands. On the sea chart accurate corridors are shown, one track to the east, two to the west. We met on the whole trip since Philadelphia maybe two ships. On the last night and this morning it was already much more, even fishing boats. They say that in the English Channel there is traffic like on a highway during rush hour. We will see.

On the ship there is busy hectic. Not that nothing has been done before, on the contrary, but now one has the impression that there it is going even faster. The crew will need to pass the ship in good condition.

The Scilly Islands may be seen. Leon had by this time cell phone contacts. Around 16:00 on the south coast of Cornwall around Lizard Point is visible. The number of vessels has increased significantly and there is driving on the right. When night falls, i.e. after the beautiful sunset and on a very quiet sea we approach the zone north of the Channel Islands, where the ships will be guided in two directions in relatively narrow corridors (which have to be narrowed again at Calais and Dover). And if you look on the radar screens, one has the impression that every ship in the world is heading the same time on this point. This is a delicate task for the navigation, i.e. the bridge must be well equipped: “Four eyes are better than two.” During the night, east of Cherbourg, we will branch off from this “channel” and head for Le Havre.

My clever sons have spied on me and knew that we are heading for Le Havre, before I could say it to them: Route of the CMA CGM Matisse on the 29.9, tracked by my sons!

10. Day, Thursday 30 September 2010

I want to witness the entrance of Le Havre. The pilot is to come on board at 04:00. I will get up as early and push me on the bridge in a corner.

Because I sleep suspiciously good – I hope that improves back on land again – I have no trouble getting up, I’m already awake. With a first view to the outside, I can just see as the pilot comes on board. The entire entry into a relatively new but narrow dock, where the ship is turned and manoeuvred between two ships across its longitudinal axis, is a precision job. Exactly at 5:28, 32 minutes before the scheduled time, the ship is alongside and my journey across the Atlantic comes to its end here in Le Havre (F)! Just a bit over an hour later I disembark.

20.09.2010

Ciao America

To stress my readers not too much, I recorded the last days in America together in a post.

Springfield, MA was the springboard for me to Mount Washington. Why Mount Washington? It is both geologically and climatically very interesting. But there is also the first mountain climbing railroad with a cog wheel drive in the world still running, the Mount Washington Cog Railway (MWCR), opened in 1869, three years before the Rigi-Railway, and ultimately a trigger to build the latter. Only that the MWCR does not start in Springfield, but a few miles east of Bretton Woods in the mountains of northern New Hampshire (motto of this state, “Live or free die” nice, isn’t it?), 335 km (and of course back) which were overcome with the help of Avis, a sin, but otherwise it couldn’t work. And it was worth it, not only because of the railway, which is already very special to know – who wants to know why, will get in the article on American railroads a few details (if I have time to write it) – but also because of the fantastic view from the mountain and the landscape with extremely much forests. Seen from the highway Vermont and New Hampshire have a forest cover of 90% forest. Now of course the question: Indian Summer? No, not really. At some places you can imagine how it looks when everything is coloured.

 

A cog wheel train at the top. There is only one steam train running per day

 

I left Springfield, MA, the next morning by train. Springfield, a city of at least about 150,000 inhabitants, has a railway station in the decay stage. I do not see why they do not tear off the decaying stuff. So it does in any case not very inspired confidence on the train passengers. The train 145 Springfield, MA Lynchburg, VA via New Haven, CT, New York, Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, Washington, DC leads Amfleet I-car business-and coach-class with a buffet car, to New Haven with a diesel locomotive, from there with a Bo’Bo’ AEM7 electric locomotive. This train has no name, but the different compounds run under the collective name North East Regional. Above all, an experience is the gateway to New York: The route goes from the northeast along the coast, then makes a turn first to the southeast on the Hell Gate Bridge over the East River and then swings back in a broad curve to the southwest to go underneath the East River to the northwest and at a right angle to the longitudinal axis of Manhattan into the Pennsylvania Station. One has the longest time – at least before the train enters the tunnel, of course – to enjoy fantastic views of the famous skyline. One sees them also from the New Jersey side again, first just the tip of the Empire State Building, then other, but from the south, it is not as spectacular as from the Northeast. After little more than an hour the train which runs on the southern section very quickly (in my estimation they reach 200 km/h) the trains reaches Philadelphia – wow, this station hall you should see once!

 

Now I’m sitting in a small cozy hotel in Philadelphia, write in my next post, and about every hour, sometimes more often, an earthquake shakes the old house. They are blowing up rock in the underground to build a subway line.

Morris House Hotel, 225 S 8th Street, Philadelphia PA: I cam warmly recommend it

When can I just go aboard the CMA CGM Matisse, I know not. But it is today, tomorrow or the day after. With this ship, I will arrive towards the end of month in Rotterdam. So I will not again be available for a while. And so you also know where I am:

http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/de/showallphotos.aspx?mmsi=212865000

See you soon!

19.09.2010

48 hours on trains

AMTRAK Southwest Chief II – Lake Shore Limited 

The second part of the journey with the Southwest Chief begins in Raton, the place of my 7-hour exile. The route leads with a very slow speed over the Raton Pass, partly double tracked, possibly because of the relatively tight curve radii – to me it seems to go excessively slow – and then go out into the night of the vast Great Plains. So I cannot experience this – unfortunately – because in the morning in the area of Kansas City, the world is already very green. Slowly accumulates the delay, but I do not care. I have enough time in Chicago. 

  
Shortly after Kansas City we crossed the Missouri, and then pass through a green, gently rolling landscape, where especially corn and soybeans are cultivated. Three and a half hour journey (according to schedule) through the states of Missouri and Iowa to Fort Madison on the Mississippi. In the lower sites, mainly near the larger rivers, everywhere traces of flooding can be observed. The Missouri, this would have also to admit convinced friends of the Rhine, is a few points bigger. And the Mississippi River just once more. We cross it at Fort Madison and run then through the flat western Illinois through here much larger corn and soybean fields always in direction northeast towards Chicago. The previously often poor looking villages are more and more well kept and the suburbs become noticeable. With just over an hour delay, the Southwest Chief arrives in Chicago Union Station in a rather gloomy concourse with very narrow platforms.

 The Mississippi at Fort Madison

 

Skyline of Chicago

 

The Union Station is compared with that of Los Angeles a hodgepodge of relatively low levels – not all that as I have in mind – filled with everything that has to offer the American fast-food gastronomy. Finally, I find the AMTRAK desk, but unfortunately not the desired product: sold out of the sleeper to Springfield MA! Do I have lunch in the dining expressed the opinion that I was too old for a night trip in coach, I will have now no choice if I do not want to have my program again changed – one is finally flexible. In MacDonald’s (!), which offers free wifi, I find a corner where I can free my planning of uncertainties: I reserve a hotel room in Springfield, rent a car and reserve with a ticket for the trip to Mt Washington.

From the outside it becomes clear: The old Union Station is next door. To what it still serves, I do not know. The new building of Union Station is a glass skyscraper, which fits well into the surroundings.

The night trip in the Lake Shore Limited, which cons ists of two sections, one

is to New York and the other one to Boston, in an Amcoach car is just the way it is. At some point, you don’t know anymore how to sit or to lie, as far as the latter is even possible. But precisely: one is convinced, that you had not a minute of sleep, but somehow it is suddenly 6 o’clock and 8 o’clock. You survived! But it is to say that these cars offer a very decent comfort: plenty of space between seats, rotating seating, all of which are on windows, a quality, from which all European railways could very well take a little something as a model. This is finally second Class, but has more space for the individual as such TVG in the first Class or in the SBB IC-double deck coaches.

Almost one anecdote, if not a joke, is the following episode: When the train stopped in Buffalo NY, near the border with Canada, a uniformed guy comes and asks me something in for me badly understandable, mashy English. After I asked him what it is about, it turns out, that he wants to know whether I am a “citizen” My first reaction is clearly yes indeed, until I noticed then that the guy means  “U.S. citizen” – apparently there are no other. Border control, right in their own country. Well, my Swiss passport with the U.S. visa which I had to acquire with so much effort has then convinced this gentleman.

From Lake Erie, the namesake of this train, you do not see much. First, the landscape is flat, later on hilly and is actually reminiscent of England. The line follows more or less the Erie Canal, which connects Lake Erie about 584 km with the Hudson River, which he reached in Albany. In Albany, the train is split in the two parts of New York and Boston. Here also arrives the line from north from Montreal.

In the Berkshire Hills between Albany NY and Springfield MA

 

After the departure of Albany the train runs uphill, first on very bad track. Virtually the entire line is in the forest through the Berkshire Mountains, and with a lot of cuts and a tunnel at the highest point and is up to 15 ‰ relatively steep. A fantastically beautiful journey, especially because of the onset of autumn colours in the evening light a (if only I had not been so tired!). But the train station in Springfield brings one back on the ground, but promises an early redemption of the uncertainties (let’s say it this way) of a 48-hour train journey. 

18.09.2010

Raton, NM

Can you remember the opening scene of “Once upon a time in the West” by Sergio Leone? At a station, three men, a fly and a squeaking sound and it looks pretty hot. Today in Raton, NM, it is hot, a man at the station, where nothing else is happening, several flies and the only sound you hear is the splash of the steel rope to the metal flagpole.

NM means New Mexico and Raton is apparently from Spanish and means little rat. And there the Southwest Chief stops. And I was so naive to believe that there would be any reasonable way to get here from Colorado Springs. There is exactly one bus to reach the train to the west. If you travel East you do it not via Raton, basta! And the people who live in Raton have a car, as all Americans. Therefore it needs no bus and no train.

Because I was so naïve, I have now to spend seven hours in Raton, NM, for reproof, because stupidity must be punished! While there is a railway station in Mexican style, but no one is there. There is a air-conditioned waiting room with a few chairs and a toilet (after all). I have to say: compared to that Finnentrop was a paradise.

 
Here in the window to the left they offer “Precision Ropes”!

 

 
The Station Street of Raton, NM.

In the background the station buliding in mexican style. 

Behind the station, there is a “city”, the usual in the West, with about 20 shops where you can equip western-like, but not visible right away, an establishment where you can eat and drink. I was asking a woman who had just come out from a hairdressing salon, and she answered that such a thing does not exist here. Finally, around two corners I found the “Enchanted Grounds” where there is even a free Internet connection. It doesn’t seem to me particularly strongly “Enchanted”, but there is something to eat! This is for me (so to speak, almost set on bread and water) in Raton, NM. And a friendly place to stay.

 
The “Enchanted Grounds”, my rescue port
18.09.2010

Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak is a mountain in the eastern chain of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, or more precisely in Manitou Springs. It is 4302m high and from Manitou Springs (altitude in village is 1938, the station should be on about 2000 m) le ads

a cog railway to the summit. This cog railway is the highest in the world – one must keep in mind that the station is pretty higher than the tree line in most areas of the Alps. Colorado Springs and the Great Plains which are expanding to the East lie at almost 2000 m. Viewed from an ecological point of view, the Jungfrau Railway is still up higher!

The trip by cogwheel railway is an absolute must, first, because you have a fantastic panoramic view from the summit – in very clear and fair view,  reversely Pikes Peak can be seen from the neighbouring state of Kansas – on the other hand, because the railcars look so beautiful Swiss – finally they are so!

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Geschrieben von: Andreas Zingg

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Train No. 4, named Southwest Chief, Los Angeles Union Station to Chicago Union Station, running daily, has sleeping cars, a dining car, a lounge car with a view compartment and coach cars.

His counterpart is the train. No. 3 in the reverse direction. East leads its route through San Bernardino, CA, AZ Flagstaff, Albuquerque, NM, and Kansas City MO mainly on tracks of the big freight railroad BNSF, i.e. Burlington Northern 4seohunt.com/www/www.a-bis-zet.ch Santa Fe. Santa Fe? Perhaps it will ring in ones ear: the trains of the earlier Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe AT&SF in the great period of American passenger trains that ran on just this route, all had names with Chief and were at a time the epitome of comfortable travel. AMTRAK, the National Society, a company maintained by the State and which operates long-distance trains in the U.S., is building on that tradition. We shall now see whether rightly or not. I have booked a sleeper. And since I got already sleeping experience on this trip – after nearly 10000 km Trans-Siberian -, I’ll also be able to say something.

Sleeping car passengers will be taken to train with electric vehicles. At first I thought it was only for older people, but no, the AMTRAK employee insists that I am going with too – or do I look already so old? The train consists besides des already mentioned dining and lounge cars, which are classified between the three coach and three sleeping cars, of a baggage car. Apart from the baggage car, all cars are two-storied, The train will be pulled by two Bo’Bo’ diesel-type P42DC, built in 1996 by General Electric. For each sleeper there is a conductor who is in charge.

The sleeping cars have different categories: Bedrooms and Roomettes. Actually, I wanted to afford the luxury of a Bedroom, but apparently I made not that impression. So I have Roomette No. 10. A Roomette consists of two opposing seats at the window left and right of the centre aisle with an area of 2×1,5m. It contains two beds: the lower is pushed together from the two seats, and then has a length of 2m and a width of one meter; the upper berth is folded down and is a little narrower. The three square meters need to last for two people. It’s the same system as that in which we travelled from Vancouver to Montreal; just this new system seems to me narrower. Perhaps this is but only because I was slim back then!

Roomette, the 2nd seat ist to the left, the upper berth is folded down from above

Compared with the compartments that we had in the Trans-Siberian railway for two people, these Roomettes on one hand less spartan on the equipment, but for two people they would be for a two-times-four-day-stay very cramped. What I’ve seen of Bedrooms these exceed the comfort of the traditional European sleeper. So something between and Roomettes and more comfortable furnished Russian compartments for long distance travel would be probably the correct one.

And now for the trip: We have left Los Angeles after sunset in the evening twilight. The train was oriented to the northeast at Union Station. Shortly after departure the line turns south and west, so you can admire the skyline against the evening sky once more. Slowly but steadily, the direction turns in a big loop through an endless built-up area but then finally towards the east and the night falls.

Meals in the dining car – you can order the food also into your compartment – are included in price. The somewhat resolute dining boss has the process under control. The food is American, much too large portions, and what bothers me even a little bit of everything in plastic dishes. Since then, however, it is printed out that this is produced from plant material and can be recycled. But all three meals are o.k., it has even a selection. Only the constant socializing goes at least to me sometimes on my nerves.

Sleep? Yes, but I have my time lag problems still not under control. And then it depends partly from the track state, that is in sections perfectly and then back to very poor and the old American system with staggered rail joints: one hears not only the “tädäg-tädäg” of the bogie of the adjacent and its own car, but you hear a “tädäg-tädäg-tädäg-tädäg“ almost constantly, precisely because the rail joints are in each case offset by a rail length.

Painted desert, landscape East of Flagstaff AZ

Morning is – again shifted by one hour – in Flagstaff, Arizona, and from here to Raton, New Mexico, the landscape changes constantly. It is impossible to describe all the impressions, or even to photograph. Maybe this blog will inspire to imitation of (what would be a purpose) We crossed the “Painted Desert”, all of New Mexico, with its mountains and the Continental Divide. In Albuquerque, we cross the Rio Grande, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico, forming to a big part the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The train follows more or less to the Santa Fe Trail, but eastward. In Raton, NM, we reach the southern foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains, which belong to the easternmost chain of the Rocky Mountains. Raton is located at 2036 m, under European conditions that would be above the tree line. This is not the case. The climate is relatively mild continental and dry. Here I get to the bus which takes me to Colorado Springs.

15.09.2010

Los Angeles

I had mixed feelings as prejudice to the big city, Los Angeles, and I left the juggernaut Los Angeles pleasantly surprised this evening.

OK: it was Sunday and I moved around only in a small part of downtown, so within a radius of one kilometre around the Union Station, located on the fringes of what is known as Downtown.

Downtown L.A. and El Pueblo de Los Angeles

First there is the Union Station – the main train station – itself: a remarkable building built in 1939 and beautifully maintained and renovated. The station is breathing with his furnishing still the great times of rail travel. Thick leather armchairs – not 10, no, the whole hall 50x30m is crammed with it – in the large waiting area at the reception, outside an architecture inspired by the Spanish-Mexican culture. Here I have purchased my tickets to Chicago, including for the trip to Colorado Springs and locked my luggage, all well organized and clear.

In this station something is going on. From here, obviously lots of trains are running, especially to close and medium distances quite regularly. Even the local trains of the Metrolines which are similar to trams (I have not researched it yet nor I asked, I write what I saw and now interpret). Due to this fact there are permanently many people in the station. From free available publications I take it that in California high-speed lines, e.g. San Francisco – Los Angeles, are planned or at all the public transport by rail is a (political) issue.

Main entrance and waiting roof of the Union Station

In a Starbuck’s Café in the vicinity of the Japanese neighbourhood I could finally read the wireless e-mail and upload another blog post, over the Pacific crossing. In the same district, there are obviously several important museums, of which already the architecture of the building is remarkable. Just opposite the train station is what could be called the “old town”: El Pueblo of Los Angeles. And today there was something going on! We’ve heard almost only Spanish! This is obvious at all: it has here obviously a high proportion of Spanish-speaking population, a re-conquest?

So much for Los Angeles, I’m leaving on the evening in an Amtrak sleeping car of the train No. 4 Southwest Chief, that is maybe an hour after departure. Los Angeles is huge!

Holidays are here to relax, right? This is in any case, what want the employer and as far as I know the labour law. But you must admit that most of the holidays that you do, organized by yourself or ready-made booked, are almost always more stressful than the work, either during the holiday itself and on the other hand, after the holidays when you get pierced by all, what did you make here and there, what have you visited, seen, eaten, etc. and then they tell you what you have missed and what you should have done absolutely and what you should have visited, seen, eaten. If you do a trip on a cargo ship, nothing of all of that coinstar e certificate Coinstar Money Transfer, MOLDOVA, REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA can happen to you because you can do anything and nobody can tell you later on whatever you have missed because you cannot have missed anything. OK, the ship, the bridge, the cargo, the engine room, the team: For this you have time enough and once seen, there is a lot of spare time to do anything. You can watch all day the sea. Apart from the changing weather it looks always quite the same.

And the team is happy if you leave them in peace, namely because they have to do a job! And you can do nothing or do something, but you do not have and no one, no one, can annoy you later. And you did recover well, for the employer and the law!

12.09.2010

Pacific

Summary for fast readers: No, I did not become sick (there was no reason to do so) and yes, I can highly recommend a boat trip (see the conclusion at the end and the next review).

 

1st Day: Wednesday 1st September 2010

After a wild, breakneck ride in the ship’s agents car to the new port of Busan far outside the city, I went on board at 11:30 and was friendly received from the first Officer Mr Gillrath and admitted into the chamber – Chamber is good: lots of wood (imitation) – spacious with double bed, sofa, TV, radio, kettle, fridge, etc., of course, with private shower and toilet. Just now trained in the habits of the ship, the steward called me for lunch in the officers’ mess. I sit at a separate table – the officers come and go – and what could be served by Filipino steward? Schnitzel, French fries with Peas.

By evening it is gray – the announced typhoon, which will not affect our course directly. The cranes work constantly since I’m arrived. There are four giant monsters placing the containers one after another on the ship, depending on container size six to seven floors high. The entrance to the ship via the “Jacob’s Ladder” (I hope they say the so) to the so-called Upper Deck, a height difference to the wharf safely from 20m, then up some stairs to’s A-deck and from there with a lift that is to be used only if the vessel does not burn and when it heels less than 10°, i.e. in rough seas, to the G-Deck. That’s where the captain and officers live. The passenger cabins are on the F-deck.

My room has views towards the rear and port side (ha, you had also read the Hornblower!), against the back but only if the pack does not have a cargo container on top. I have here in the port no room to move and is probably limited in general. I was instructed in the safety rules by the the first officer, “Chief Mate”; he showed me all of the relevant places, but also the bridge which is one floor above the officers G-deck. Installed, enough space, enough to read, something to drink: I am ready to go, the typhoon is indeed called for.

2nd Day: Thursday 2 September 2010

We set off shortly before midnight. I was already in bed and I felt now and again for lack of deep sleep, the movements of the ship. Even at 4 o’clock is bright – we go forward to the time and so the next time change is announced until the night of Thursday to Friday, which is on the ship so determined – and about by 6 o’clock, the sun

rises. We are in the Korean West Sea or in the Japan Sea on course for the strait between Honshu and Hokkaido, which we are going to happen tomorrow morning. That told me the captain, Mr. Kruse, whom I met at breakfast. As far as I can jugde the sea is not too rough, small-caps – and I can not access Wikipedia, therefore I cannot assign this observation to wind speed – the horizon is clear and it has a light cloud cover.

And how is a day at sea? All day sun, water all around and a bit of clouds and at night the first sunset. You have to deal with yourself. However, you do not have to. And that’s the good thing about it.

3rd Day: Friday 3 September 2010

Time zone change: An hour on! Yesterday, it was already dark by 7. This morning we cross the Strait between Hokkaido and Honshu, which I crossed underneath the sea two years ago, almost on the same day by the Seikan Tunnel and a few days later by ferry from Aomori to Hakodate. I am on the bridge before breakfast, a true high-tech Eldorado. The 1. officer is on duty and takes the time – he has – for me to answer my questions and much more. He printed out for me nicely the route which we follow will. We see in the mist portside Hokkaido and starboard the cape of Honshu, under which the the railway tunnel proceeds. The ship runs here to 27 knots – or about 50 km/h because there is a flow in our direction of travel that speeds here as by a nozzle effect between the two islands. At about noon, we will pass the second south-facing tip of Hokkaido, and then the course on the “great circle”, as the shortest connection go on the globe between Hokkaido and Long Beach, will bring us approx. 60 nautical miles (about 100 km) to the southernmost Aleüten Islands.

Route of the HANJIN BOSTON from Busan to Long Beach

The weather is more and more cloudy and foggy, and the ship is moving in three directions, although no high waves can be observed. I have been sitting at the computer all the time and suddenly I have a funny feeling in the diaphragm, but I get rid of after lunch and without a computer again. Well, this was probably the meat with onions for breakfast. Today there is no sunset due to rain and high winds.

4th Day: Saturday 4 September 2010

Throughout the night, the sea calmed down and in the morning is besides the light swell no movement. Because of fog there is also no sunrise and it is much cooler, an opportunity for a morning walk to the bow. There, the impressively large anchor chains are seen. But much more striking: when you’re not leaning over the bulwark, there is absolutely quiet. The ship glides as packed in thick wool over the sea. 300 meters down, on the other side 300 m back and again the same thing, together making 1200m walk. It can be repeated several times, but you do not have to!

Staying at the bow I have seen birds flying low over the water, so the size of a gull, but not with their movements, and even though we are quite far away from the coast. The next would be one of the Kuril Islands and the southern tip of Kamchatka.

In the afternoon, the day developed into a dream day like one at home in the autumn: foggy in the morning and afternoon sunshine and a clear horizon, like over a sea of fog. That leads to more walks. It now has many birds, a kind of gull, but with very narrow and black on the top wings. Another bird I spot on the ship: About the size of a blackbird, also concerning of the form, fawn, certainly not a water bird. He probably woke up too late and now is emigrating to America.

In the evening I visit the bridge to experience the sunset. The first officer is very friendly and explain things, even on the daily life of the naval officer, training and much more. The sunset is really beautiful.

5th Day: Saturday 4 September 2010 (again)

That is the day that I win. We are not yet on the date limit, but on the ship the change of the time zone and date is regulated. It has taken place at midnight. In the morning the sea is considerably rougher than the night before. Although it still has a bit of sun, but the ship moves  clearly in three dimensions, especially about the longitudinal axis, but also about the transverse axis. Let’s see what happens. The first Officer has more than once made the comment that flying across the Atlantic to be regarded as an alternative. Nevertheless, I have now (changed from the original plan) the ship passage Philadelphia – Rotterdam.

The weather does not improve during the day. In the afternoon, I notice that we do not ride more. In addition, violent shocks to notice. The 1. officer tells me later that a repair had to be performed on the machine, which affects that way. Even today, no sun!

6th Day: Sunday 5 September 2010

I still have nothing said about the crew aboard the MV Hanjin Boston: There are 24 people on board, including one passenger, that’s me. The captains name is Kruse and origins like all ranks on board with the exception of the ship’s engineer, the Poles, from Germany. The already mentioned several times 1. officer’s name is Gillrath, the second’s Schulz, the ship’s engineer Zolyniak. The deck crew, cook, stewart Mac and the rest of the crew in the engine are Filipinos. Most do four months on the ship and are then two months at home. Your next job is then on another ship, so that the teams change constantly.

Life on board for passengers – so for me – is running in the way that I eat during meals in the officers mess at an own table and can do for the rest of the time whatever I want. Nobody keeps you busy! But you can ask and get friendly expert answers. However, one is included in the security system, I was briefed on the first day, what to do, when, and had to sign that one has done that. You can go to the bridge, walk on the deck – if the weather is not to bad – otherwise you have to take care of yourself. There is a lounge for officers with DVD’s, etc., which you can use them. But theer is also such an equipment in the chamber (which is the cabin for those who have already forgotten).

Today the ship’s engineer showed me the engine room, a medium-sized power station, very impressive, with all what is needed. The 12-cylinder two-stroke diesel engine of Hyundai-MAN B&W is about 5 stories high, as about 12 m, and has four turbochargers practice of “BBC” (as it has said the engineer!). The technical information must I ask again. The ship has a fully equipped workshop (spare parts, pistons and connecting rods are impressively big), that repairs on the engine can be run at any time, which is obvious: in the middle of the sea it will take quite a long time to get any help.

Diesel power 68 430 kW or 93 065 hp

Cylinder diameter 9800 mm

Stroke 2.4 m

Tours at 21 knots * / maximum 88/104

Consumption in normal driving 24 per 165 t

Consumption at full power per 24 h 290t

Oil price 450 U.S. $ / t

Savings through reduced travel per day U.S. $ 56 250

* 1 knot = 1 nautical mile = 1.853 km

Spare parts for the engine, below pistons. To the right Chief Engineer Mr. Zolyniak

This is not the whole engine, these are just the parts on the top, the fuel injection equipment

The propeller shaft which is connected directly to the shrank shaft of the engine

Incidentally, the crankshaft of the diesel engine is in the extension, without translation, the shaft on which sits at the end of the propeller! Moreover: all the water we drink and also what else is needed, taken from sea water and in a vacuum (lower boiling point) evaporated and then distilled.

It remains to be gray all day and in the afternoon it is shaky. According to the first Officer, there were wave heights of about three to four meters. The ship rolls mainly about the longitudinal axis, what sleep does not necessarily easier.

In the evening we crossed exactly at 19:05, the date line, ie the 180th Longitude. I have photographed him: you can see it clearly!

7th Day, Monday 6 September 2010

Since the ship rolls in the morning pretty much along the longitudinal axis, I wake up after poor sleep anyway – no idea why, jet lag, or better shiplag? – and try on the axis perpendicular to the ship standing bed to sleep a little, with moderate success. Now that it’s gray outside, we are dealing just with a little inside. At about 10:30 we cross the 172nd Longitude West: so I circled halfway around the world and am now in the second half, as it were on the way home! A lot of waves, so high in the afternoon at about four to five meters.

8th Day, Tuesday 7th September 2010

It rolls all night – roll is the term for swinging about the longitudinal axis, pitch would be in pitch and yaw would be the combination – again, sleep difficulties. The first Officer said that this was the time difference and he has the same problem. The rolling does it probably not make easier to sleep. I lie in bed across as possible and therefore almost miss the breakfast.

Outside the day has a thick fog. So today no sunset!

9th Day, Wednesday 8th September 2010

This was the third night with little sleep I was wide awake until 4:00. The time difference to Seoul is now seven hours, and although this was “worked out” piece by piece, it seems to work, as when one must take it upon himself at a time. Let’s see how the day is today.

It cannot be the sea. That was the whole night like a duck pond – that is th expression the first Officer uses – and it should remain so for the rest of the trip. This morning we see again as: partly cloudy and the sun.

A few weeks before I left, the “Echo der Zeit” at Radio DRS, broadcasted a review of long deceased Klaus Schaedelin has brought about the inactivity. If I’m back on the grid, I find this story absolutely and hang with a link to the blog. Because that is precisely what there is to do here so to a great extent: Nothing!

During the day, a fire alarm is given, i.e. I have to join at the beginning, that means  that I must get the life jacket and wear the helmet out of my room and I go to the correct assembly station. Thus this was it for me. On the way back to the cabin the stewart shows me a praying mantis on the deck. Where that came from? Today we were the furthest from land. Also has scheduled due to fog no sunset.

10th Day, Thursday 8 September 2010

Obviously I was the only one who has this problem with the sleeping. The second officer, Mr. Schulz and the Chief Engineer confirm it. Although the shortening of the day happens from day to day and only for one hour, it becomes  a problem for the body after a few days.

Today, it has sun again. It comes to my mind that I have not yet said much about the ship. So: The HANJIN BOSTON is a container ship of the super class – apparently there are now larger ones under construction – 300m long and 42m wide, because the latter it does not fit the Panama Canal. It can carry 7000 containers In principle, the whole front cargo hold, i.e. about ¾ of the length of the ship is filled with containers. In the part to the rear is the space for the machinery. In addition the is cargo in the deck up to seven containers high before and behind the superstructure. Only the two bottom layers are secured. All above this is put there at no extra fuse!

Between the two container piles on deck is an eight storey building, which houses everything that the 24 people need on board (me included): The work rooms, a laundry room, etc. on the upper deck = ground floor, in the A-deck, the ship’s office, etc., on the B deck, the kitchen (I know that it is called differently on ships) and the mess rooms (the dining rooms for officers and crew), on the C-, D-and E-deck accommodations, on the F-deck, the owners and passenger cabins, on the G-deck is the accommodations of the captain and chief officers and in the “attica apartment” is the bridge. The whole is fortunately accessible by elevator and are generally designed very comfortable. The crew accommodations I have not seen – I did not ask – but I assume that today there is also a certain standard of comfort. (PS: it was later revealed in an interview like this: each team member has a separate chamber).

The ship is therefore quite large. The shipping company with which I am traveling, NSB, operates currently five such vessels on the same route in the Pacific, Long Beach – Busan – a few ports in China – Busan – Long Beach. The HANJIN BOSTON will be unloaded an reloaded completely in Long Beach – it remains to three days in port – and then drive heads to Busan, the same route but with only 13 knots to conserve fuel. 21 instead of 12 days in a saving of half a million dollars! The most amazing, however, which told the Chief Engineer Zolyniak, who was as a quality controller at the Hyundai shipyards that there a ship is built in 3 ½ months from the ground up and practically every day a ship leaves the yard. That ought to be able to see!

There could be a sunset, I must go on the bridge!

11th Day, Friday 10th September 2010

That was yesterday nothing with the sunset: too many clouds. That night I changed from the time-lag to bed senile flight. Although I could not sleep well yesterday, but was wide awake at four clock in the morning. Sunrise? Too many clouds. But the day promises to be beautiful.

After breakfast, the machine is stopped and some manoeuvers “by hand” are carried out, something that must be revealed and confirmed, if one enters a U.S. port.

I yesterday asked the Chief Mate, as the ship can be stopped: So running backwards the machine is possible only in extreme emergencies. A gear or a variable pitch are not available. Reverse is therefore hardly possible. Braking is by a couple of quick steering maneuvers to port and starboard. The main purpose of the ship is to drive, not to brake! And it does so most of the time.

What I have not said the bridge is a paradise for high-tech geeks. The fact that the whole is running on GPS navigation and any information, including the sea chart and the info on other ships are on the road, can be retrieved, makes the work of the master obviously at lot easier enormous. Really impressive!

Sunset: Super! With the green flash that can be seen with binoculars from the moment when the last remnant of the solar disk disappears below the horizon, a phenomenon to which I was made aware of the Chief Mate.

12th Day, Saturday 11th September 2010

Finally, once again acceptable slept well and long enough. The weather is slightly foggy, calm seas. That was the last night at sea.

At about 13:30 the phone is possible; land is not yet in sight. The changes so around 14:00, although it is still foggy. The ship makes slow progress. At 15:00 the pilot comes on board. Entry is planned at 16:00.

Entry into the port of Long Beach

16:20: The big thing is at the quay without any hit. Really impressive, how such a ship is moving. Well, that would have been then, my Pacific crossing. I liked it, i.e. it is not impossible that I – except for the Atlantic crossing – will on time again make such a trip. I hope you can understand after reading these lines.

Conclusion of my first voyage

Yes, I can highly recommend a cruise. A limitation is that I have encountered no difficult circumstances. It is possible that this estimate with additional experience that I may make in the Atlantic, still could change. What you need to be aware of: One is on the ship a footnote, although it is perceived very friendly, but you have to take care of yourself. Those who are not bale to do so, should not travel with a cargo ship. Those who can will find ideal conditions for themselves.

So, now I go on the water. So far I remained, with the exception of the politically necessary ferry journey Vladivostok – Donghae, still on eurasian soil. Now this changes.

This means also that I will no longer be available, perhaps once again briefly when we come close to Japan, but then again only when we approach the North American coast.

N order that you do not have to call the blog to see if there is something new: You can subscribe to the Blog: in the column at right you’ll find a clickable word: Entries RSS. If you go there, you can subscribe to the blog, i.e. when I write something new it will be announced automatically on your computer (as I have understood in any case).

And that you know where I am in the next days: here a picture of my “hotel”.

http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/de/showallphotos.aspx?mmsi=218071000#top_photo

31.08.2010

Busan

Busan: viev from the cable-way in Geumgang Park towards the city centre

Busan is the second largest city and main port of South Korea. Similar to Seoul Busan is huge.

The superstructures creep into all the valleys. And if I calculate correctly, the people have here twice as many square metres available, as in Seoul, but less than me in my apartment (?). Are the details on the net correct? I do not know. Busan is hot and humid. I will let the matter rest for a few impressions. 

Geumgang Park: the whole mountain, about 300 m high, on the summit and on the slope to the city is covered with such rounded granite boulders. Can a geologist help me to understand, how these were formed?

Lower gate of the Geumgang Park, City district Dongnae

 

Koreans seem to like underground shopping and restaurants

I should buy the whole load for my son!

View from Dongnae to the mountain top of Geumgang Park with the cableway Dongnae, city district of Busan

31.08.2010

Korean Railways

Pictures: see German Version

Up to this point my trip was planned and well organized: now begins the part with many unknowns. Packed and checked out and with a taxi through a rain, as I have never seen it to the station, through the small city of Seoul this takes in moderate traffic for half an hour. How far the distance I do not know, but to walk with luggage it would take probably one day.

Seoul Main Station: this is not fog, this is liquid water!

The taxi driver asks me at the station with sympathy, whether I have an umbrella, which is not the case and the distance to the nearest roof leads to a shower, which I really would not have needed. Because of the heavy continuous rain I then also waived forward to photograph the dome of the old part of the station: it should be identical to the dome of the old train station in Lucerne which burned down in 1973. I have seen it, but a picture of it: unfortunately, no.

Seoul Main Station: KTX I leaving southward

The route Seoul – Busan is the main line north-south through Korea and the parade route. On it run the KTX trains, a derivative of the French TGV, almost every half-hour. Not all the trains are equally fast, some make a few more stops than others. The northern half of the route from the outskirts of Seoul, which are reached after a speedy journey about 20 minutes after departure (!), is a new line on which my KTX-TGV reaches 300 km/h. After the first stop in Daejeon there is again a section of the new line. The rest up to Busan is under construction.

zithromax for dogs

The trains of the first generation derived from the TGV-A, built and operational since 1999 differ in some respects from their French models: You have six traction motors as the first TGV’s of France and they are 18 cars long with one power car at each end. Directly important for the traveller are rotatable first class seats – all can move forward – and the bigger seat pitches, which the SNCF for the first class may well take as an example especially when considering that the average body length of the Koreans is smaller than this of the Central Europeans (oops: you think that: if you search the internet, you can see that that is not so. So, if one admits the Koreans more space, why not for us in Europe?). The new KTX II I have seen, but not used.

Approx. for two-thirds of the route the TGV is more like a submarine: it speeds through a wall of water. Then it gets better and you can see again something of the more mountainous landscape unlike the northern section, some of them reminding a bit of the southern Ticino. Here I have seen for the first time bamboo.

Green Korea: Rice fields between Dongdaegu and Busan

Korea is green: all trips that I have done here – from the east coast to Seoul, during the excursion to the mountains in the northeast (with gondola of Swiss origin) and now this trip to the South: green everywhere. On the slopes is forest – seems Korea was at the end of the Korean War and decades of Japanese occupation, largely treeless, since reforested with great success – and if it is somewhat flatter, with cultures covered rice fields, plant tunnels, gardens, simply every square meter is planted. And then in between, sometimes for no apparent direct relationship to a settlement, shooting high-rises from the ground, no one, no, in entire herds and not ten-stories high, no 30-40 floors at least.

Tree do not grow into heaven, skyscrapers do: between Dongdaegu and Busan

The journey with the Seoul-Busan KTX takes quick two hours and 24 minutes. Just time for a coffee, what a horror, with vanilla flavour (which I am brutally thrown back into everyday life!). On the other hand the basic tariff of taxis in Busan is 200 Won cheaper than in Seoul and the beer is only 5,000 won, not 11,000 or even 13,000.

29.08.2010

Seoul 2

Here are

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some impressions of this huge city: 28 million inhabitants, pulsating, huge, great. The real city centre comprises 605 km2, more than twice as the Canton of Geneva easi-computer.fr and to 17’100 inhabitants per km2 – Basel city has 5000. To get from the hotel in business district south of the Han River into the real city centre you need with the Metro about an hour, 50 minutes by taxi. Contrasts in a small space are typical. Here are a few pictures, even from the IUFRO World Congress.

Street in Seoul; the woman uses the umbrella as a sunshade

COEX Center, where the IUFRO World Congress was held, and Korea World Trade Center

An former colleague* from WSL (2nd from left, who knows him?) on the podium with the Nobel Prize winner in 2009 Elinor Ostrom

Contrasts: View from the COEX on the Bongeun-sa Temple

Here still some details to the Congress:  have participated 2675 representatives from 92 countries, of which, however, 878 from Korea, 272 from Japan, 214 from China, 164 from the USA and 99 from Indonesia. There were 170 sessions, 916 lectures, it took 96 buses for the in-Congress-Tour and it has been raining in Seoul Monday to Friday, 183.5 mm (Source: The Congress Daily, Saturday August 28, 2010).

* Urs Fischbacher

My sons think probably since a long time that I should separate myself from him. He accompanied me to St. Petersburg, several times to Greece, Australia, Japan and many other places.

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In time he became frail. I have it repaired twice. But now it is time to separate from my practical EFI backpack, a bit wistfully already, but there is no other way. For the trip across the Pacific and across America, starting in the next few days, he will not join me anymore. I will mourn him probably still a while and then keep in good memory.

Seoul, Samneung Park, location of several king's tombs

So, the next week is dedicated of the conference of which I will NOT report here. So you will have to manage for a while without my stories. I am going to install a few more images of Seoul. That’s it then.

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When it goes on –  that will be the case next Sunday – I’ll get in touch with you again. 

Per i miei amici corsisti di lingua italiana: Chi trova la Moka Bialetti?

Eccola!

Russian broad gauge (1524 mm) has accompanied us in the last days. This changing of the gauge will not replace the bogies, no, you can almost say it replaces the world: from a very Eastern European milieu in Vladivostok – although of course I know that Vladivostok is located in East Asia – it is changing already the world when going onto the ferry Eastern Dream (under the flag of Panama). We are a small number of Europeans among Koreans and Japanese. It prepares us a little bit for the world in which we will be changed: we can now read almost anything and the beautiful rubles are to use any more. Here we spend a night and in the morning we are slipped back again two time zones.

At about noon, the first sign of the mainland appear from the very peaceful Pacific and at one o’clock the ferry makes dock at the port of Donghae on the eastern coast of South Korea. Here the world is divided into non-Korean and Korean, but it is progressing in comparison to other customs checks rapidly. Outside, you will be greeted by an almost pathetic willingness to help, even if here it shows that the communication will be difficult. But it’s our own fault: it’s us that cannot speak Korean (and I am here not ironically!)

Here we separate: George wants to take the bus to Seoul to be there earlier. For me, of course, is only the train in question, therefore, a taxi to the train station. And here I meet again the gauge of 1435 mm which just to most of us familiar. The first class is only slightly more expensive, but promises a little more space for the legs. The train is pulled by locomotive with the wheel arrangement Bo’Bo’ of the class 8200, built by Hyundai Rotem with a license from Siemens. Accordingly, it has a very European face. The cars are comfortable, even if in the first Class are four seats in the row. Most seats are set in the direction of travel, but can be rotated. What is very important, however: almost no one is sitting at a jamb. So you can look forward reassured to what is to come. And there is really something.

The fast-train Donghae-Seoul, headed by a Bo'Bo' class 8200 of Korail, entering the station

The journey through the Taebaek Mountains: deep valleys and steep mountain slopes, the narrow valley bottoms of rivers and where at all possible, taken from agriculture. In between, above or below serpentine railroad tracks and roads. The line is single track, and almost at every station are freight trains of usually two Bo’Bo’Bo’ locomotives of class 8000, recognize their appearance immediately be expected to come from France (a little bit of European nostalgia may be, isn’t it?). The route rises to over 800 m a.s.l., partly with grades of more than 30 ‰, a switchback – the train stops briefly, then goes back uphill, and changes the direction of travel again – and loops. The beauty of the landscape, the small, mostly well-kept houses with glazed tiles, the gardens and crops – all the rest of the landscape is covered with dense mixed forest – makes the journey an experience.

 Even after overcoming the mountains, the landscape is still hilly, but the speed increases significantly, as if the train’s arrival in the megalopolis of Seoul already in the dark could not be expected. And here one is then thrown back into life in the metro and in a city which is steaming at about 30 ° C.

Seoul, at least a part of it

Downtown Vladivostok, view direction North

“Rule the East”, i.e. is according to the data I could find, called in Russian “Vladivostòk” (the sound is on the last syllable). We visited on our trip three Russian cities: Moscow, Irkutsk and Vladivostok. Moscow we let away in this examination because the smoke.

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Compared to Irkutsk is Vladivostok, at least this part we have seen and visited, in very good condition: almost no holes in the streets, sidewalks are straight and even with rolling suitcase very well accessible, etc. The station buildings are generally in a good to very good conditions – like all of the Russian Railways RZD, which makes a very good working impression – the one in Vladivostok is a jewel. Of course there are buildings made from prefabricated slabs, so far as appears in good fair conditions, but many new buildings next to it. Old buildings are renovated. The Hotel Vladivostok, where we stayed, at various details can be read off its long past – for example, only half a roll of toilet paper is available – but it works, also the staff. Vladivostok may be a boom town, close to China to Japan and Korea.

In the restaurant “Nostalgia” in the vicinity of the station we ate excellent. In the dining room are decorated on one side with paintings of generals, as far as I can judge also such of the Red Army; on the opposite wall hang the pictures of the last Tsar and the last Tsarina. It’s not because of that one should go there: go there because of the quality of the meals.

Port gate building; the railway statin is just behind. Mirrored you can see the Eastern Dream, the ferry we took to Korea

If you leave Vladivostok by boat – the boat and the port’s buildings are located just across the rails next to the railway station – one realizes that Vladivostok is a large natural harbour. The city itself is situated on a peninsula on hills between a large bay in the west and a narrow bay like a fiord or an inlet to the east. One realises that when you look back. Later on you see that there are still several islands. Currently, a huge bridge over the harbour is under construction. But if one finds that one of these islands will be developed with an even larger bridge, San Francisco comes to one’s mind. Whether Vladivostok will compete with the city on the other side of the Pacific?

View back on the port and the city of Vladivostok

20.08.2010

Russian Locomotives

See pictures in the German version.

17.08.2010

Transsib: A Review

  1. Our trip Zurich-Berlin-Moscow-Irkutsk-Vladivostok was good to very well.
  2. Sleeper: One may not expect what one sees in western Europe as a sleeping car (as far as I know it from earlier), not even on the part of Berlin-Moscow. Formulated by a friend of mine on the Couchettes: “Couchette is a quaint word to describe a non-sleeping sleeping compartment on the train” (Al Mitchell, Victoria BC, 2001). The first-class compartments are spartan, Berlin-Moscow-storey beds lying in a very narrow compartment, Moscow-Irkutsk two-bed compartments with 62cm wide berths – no beds – Irkutsk to Vladivostok a four-compartment used by two; the berths are the same as in the first class compartment.

    On the whole route from Berlin to Vladivostok in the compartment there is no comfortable seating during the day.

  3. Toilets and washing facilities: Berlin-Moscow, what shall I say?, Moscow-Irkutsk very clean, closed toilets, washing facilities with cold water. About Irkutsk to Vladivostok in one of the last posts I have already made a comment: you must be looking for the one toilet on the train looking the best yet. We survived!
  4. Samovar: Present and use for all sorts of things can be done with hot water. My travel partner George has always bought ready-made meals which you can dress with hot water. This facility is great.
  5. If you interrupt the trip, for example like us in Irkutsk, you should make sure that you do it  for two, four or six days, etc. makes. Then you come back to the more modern cars of the train Rossiya No. 2 and No. 1 in the opposite direction. So you escape from the the old car.
  6. General: Recommended, an experience!

Irtuksk on the Angara River, view from the train departing to Vladivostok

The rain has diminished a little – and yet we are falling a bit from the rain into the gutter. We knew that we would have no first-class car but a compartment with four berths, but only for the two of us. Well it turned out that we have by far the oldest car caught in the entire train. The equipment is spartan and some even borderline. Well, we will survive it.

We sit in the express train No. 8 Novosibirsk to Vladivostok, which runs roughly in the timetable of the No. 2 “Rossiya”. The whole train of 19 (!) cars, of which one baggage car and one dining car consists only of second class cars. As far as I can judge, the train is pretty busy. The larger stations, were it stops, are Ulan-Ude (5647 km), Chita (6204 km), Khabarovsk (8531 km) and Vladivostok (9388 km). Mainly at these stations people get off and on the train. We have found some foreigners, a group of girl scouts from England, an Austrian geography teacher with his family from Ulan-Ude (in the same car as us) and a few other foreigners. Most of the passengers are Russian, many families with children, probably because the trip with the train from Irkutsk to Khabarovsk, for example, at least three full days, is much cheaper than flying.

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Therefore here the long-haul rail journey is an alternative.

Baikal, view from the south shore near Sljudianka to north-est

We are fully compensated by the landscape that we pass on this stage: First, the route leads over a high plateau to the southwest to the south shore of Lake Baikal in Sljudianka (5317 km), which the line reaches in loops and curves with a slope of approximately 13 ‰ – apparently the highest gradient of the Trans-Siberian railway – and where I met the first tunnel since Moscow. And this all with good weather, fantastic views of Lake Baikal and the mountains on its shores, is the final touch. The journey to the next stop Ulan-Ude leads along the south bank to the estuary of the Selenga, one of the largest tributaries to the Baikal, which rises in Mongolia, and then following up the Selenga to Ulan-Ude, where the direct route through Mongolia to Beijing branches off to the south, but the Transsib continues its route to the east.

In the further course the line passes through mountainous and hilly landscapes, partly covered by coniferous forest of Scots pine, some Siberian pine (which resembles our Cembran or Stone pine) and, increasingly, Siberian, some with mixed forest, i.e. additional poplars, birches and willows, then sections with almost no forest, pure grasslands alternating with small birch ramandeepsinghlongia.blogspot.in groves (“Eine weisse Birke” … Ivan Rebroff, who does not remember?). One can enjoy the vastness of the landscape until night falls. The villages in this region, in general here in eastern Siberia, consist off the same small houses, as in the areas travelled through since, but seem to me well-kept, maintained better. We see rarely little crooked, ruinous houses. In the larger towns where the train stops, there are just buildings made from prefabricated slabs in various states. Now and again we encounter even beautiful examples of propaganda. Through Chita we pass at night.

On the morning of the third day, the world has changed: fewer coniferous trees, some almost pure deciduous forests. I recognize oak trees, several elms, poplars and birches, of course, but also deciduous trees, which I can not identify from the train. We are obviously here in the East Asian deciduous forest area which occurs in Manchuria (China), Korea and even in eastern Siberia, which belongs to Russia, in the broadest sense in the drainage basin of the Amur. For the time being, the landscape is hilly. The railway line runs partly in large loops to gain height or descend into valleys, e.g. at Oblutschje (8198 km), where a connecting line to the BAM which runs in the north joins the Trans-Siberian railway. Then the area is becoming flatter. Facing south, the Manchurian mountains south of the Amur are visible; The Amur here makes the border between China and Russia. We cross the Amur River on the longest bridge on the Trans-Siberian railway, in Khabarovsk (8531 km) in the late afternoon, where the largest passenger-exchange takes place.

The journey to Vladivostok leads to the south, along the Ussuri River, the border river of China. We do not see the river as long there is daylight. The area is undulating and characterized by water and deciduous forest. In the east, the mountains are sometimes visible, which separate the Ussuri region from the Pacific, in the west the Manchurian mountains. Early in the morning, at 6:33, on time, our train journey from Zurich to Vladivostok ends.

And when you have visited the last Km-post, one is welcomed in front of the nicely restored Youth-style station building.

km-post 9288, Vladivostok

Lenin. Main Station Square, Vladivostok

View from the Hotel Angara this morning

It is 4seohunt.com/www/www.a-bis-zet.ch raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining! Take these few pictures as a report on our stay in Irkutsk. Not the last one: these are our good ghosts, Tatjana and Lew, which we like to thank for their help.

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Lew and Tatjana

13.08.2010

Storm on the Baikal

We do not know Tatjana and Lew from Irkutsk. Exceptionally is the hospitality, which these two people carried immediately from their friends in Switzerland to us. First they picked us to very early time (around 6:14) at the train station in Irkutsk, transferred to our hotel and made sure we were well accommodated. That would have really been quite a lot. But by no means all: by one o’clock Lew gets us at the hotel and proposes us make a journey to Lake Baikal and then to go by boat to a little place to stay. But first we need to meet Tatiana, restaurantslb.com who had cooked for us: a small, but luxury lunch to enjoy in a hurry in the tiny apartment of Tatjana in a suburb of Irkutsk.

The trip to Listwianka on Lake Baikal we do in Lew’s car, right-driven Japanese with a crack in the windshield. Lew is a classy driver and speeds up that we arrive to my relief quickly, almost with the speed of light, on the Baikal shore. Lew, who has received some phone calls while driving, has unfortunately to return to Irkutsk, so we continue this journey with Tatjana. The village Bolshie Koti, about 15 km from Listwianka, we reach after a half-hour ride on a hydrofoil.

Bolshie Koti is a small village of wooden houses, some new ones that look all the way like holiday houses or here perhaps better “dachas”. We stay in a newer building, which belongs to a group of houses, apparently – as far as I understand this – is used by the university as an option for students who work here. Striking is the silence, although there are some motor vehicles. More attractive is the rooster crowing. Tatjana has brought in several bags also a feast for dinner.

Leaving the village

The next day, the sky is grey, but in the morning it is still dry. Shortly after noon we leave quickly, because a ship can take us back to Listwianka. The wind had freshened and the boat is not big, so it is pretty shaken. I have earned my place on the rear deck and although it is pretty fresh and at times even a little wet, I enjoy the ride, which lasts about two hours.

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If anyone here is with the question of sea-sickness: I’ve found no signs of it on me, but I do not know whether the Baikal generated waves enough so that this can happen at all. I need to wait and see the Pacific Ocean.

Approx. 30 seconds after this picture was teken, my hat was away and swimms now unique in the unique world of Baikal

George, marked of wind and water

On the way from Listwianka to Irkutsk with a minibus taxi it starts raining that never stops until the next morning.

From a totally smoke-filled Moscow, in the evening at 21:00 still 37°C at the Yaroslavl train station, we take refuge in train which was standing the whole day in the sun and the air conditioning will be turned on only on departure. Our train, the “Rossia” No. 2 Moscow-Vladivostok is pulled by a diesel locomotive at a very slow speed into the station. I counted later: there are 18 cars that are pulled from Moscow by a double-locomotive.

On the platform a hustle and bustle: there will be a travel and it is a long travel. In our first-class car there are a small German group, two German women, two Italians and the rest are Russians. The 4-bed-compartements in the second-class car are as far as I can judge, quite full. In each car is a conductor (what I have seen, there are only women) responsible. They check tickets and passports, including visa – yes, the visa is valid for exactly this journey – and run the samovar and ensure cleanliness, which is done in our car really well. The train manager is a man in a well-fitting uniform.

Our compartment has two very narrow beds, or maybe better couches, equipped with two pillows, a sheet, a thin blanket and a solid quilt as a day-cover. A warm blanket is also available in the compartment. But their use seems to us not needed at all. This is our place to stay for four nights.

Quite in time the train is moving very slowly and soon it speeds up through the eastern suburbs of Moscow. First, the folding window brings through the wind a little cool, but then we are prompted to close it, and actually works the air conditioning and even the existing smoke smell disappears with time in the compartment. After a snooze beer in the dining car – equipped beautifully! – we go to sleep.

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Of the forest fire areas, we actually go through with the train, we see nothing.

During the night train No. 2 stops in Waldimir (km 191) and Nižnij Novgorod (for the train company: Gorky km 441). The first stop, we are experiencing is in Kirov (km 957). Kirov actually is called today (again) Vyatka. The railway company RZD holds but in different places firmly in the revolutionary name, e.g. in Ekaterinburg, which for the train company is still Sverdlovsk. In Kirov for the first time we experience the ritual that is repeated at almost all stations served. Women, mostly elderly, but also some younger, offer all sorts of newspapers, homemade backed, homemade cooked or cached and smoked, fruits, berries and even cones of the Siberian pine, sometimes even pushy, especially for at the moment less popular products such as fur hats and thick blankets and the like.

George feds largely of products that he buys at the stations, also canned food which can be prepared just with samovar water. I prefer the food in the dining car, where you can choose between eight different salads, six soups and three main courses. According to the menu the selection should be greater. Since this is only in Russian and our knowledge of Russian is extraordinarily weak but is the almost exclusivity for the dining car staff, I do not know if what I eat, that’s what they can explain us or what they actually have stocks to. During the whole trip to Irkutsk it is the same staff in the dining car, and the stocks, which are placed on some of the seats, are dwindling, i.e. the seat number is increasing. The Russian beer is excellent and quenches the thirst perfectly.

Restoran in Rossia Nr. 2 Moskau-Wladiwostok

By evening we are still in Europe. The trip goes according to the track condition rapidly with about 120, sometimes even 140 km / h, but sometimes leaning even with 70-80 on the slightly undulating terrain of the European part of Russia, past villages with often little, small wooden houses, in wet weather conditions probably muddy village streets and through beautiful forests. After Perm (km 1434) it becomes dark and the passing of the border between Europe and Asia at km 1777, we were sleeping.

In the night we have left behind us Ekaterinburg (km 1815) and in the early morning Tyumen (km 2144). We are in the West Siberian Plain, which extends to Omsk (km 2716) and Novosibirsk (3343 km). Totally flat, often swampy terrain, interspersed with a few birch groves. In Omsk we cross the Irtysh, the main tributary of the Ob, the longest river in Russia. The Ob itself we cross in the late evening of the second day in Novosibirsk.

Krasnoyarsk (km 4104), we reach in the course of the morning of the third day. After crossing another large Siberian river, the Yenisey, the line ascends for a while, and then runs on a wide plateau, again interspersed with beautiful mixed forests and in large intervals with small villages. Towards evening we reach Tayshet (km 4522), the origin of the Baikal-Amur Mainline BAM, which perhaps is also once again as a travel project in question.

After a further night journey we arrive in the early morning of our second stage Irkutsk (km 5191), where I Tatiana and Lew, friends of my now former colleague (he has just retired) Werner Schoch, a picture of me (from where do you have this, Werner ?) is held under my nose. Fortunately, we can get the rooms in the hotel (extra charge), immediately wash the dust from our last four days from the body. But Tatiana and Lew expect us already for the next step.

At this first stage of Transsib we have covered 5191 km in 75.8 hours. This results in a travel speed (travel time including stops) of 68.5 km/h. The different distance between two stops is in the average 179 km, while the 300 km-long stretches without stopping are mainly in the west. This represents an average journey time of 2.4 h without stopping, but there were also temporal stages of more than 5 hours without stopping. The average speed is 72 km/h.

7.08.2010

Dissolved in smoke

Literally dissolved in smoke has our visit to Moscow, after the morning served the physical (after two days of rail travel) and the mental (of course, for this blog) rehabilitation, the afternoon was reserved for the essentials of Moscow: the Red Square, the Kremlin, the metro, and what else Moscow has to offer and it has much to offer. But with an estimated 38°C, perhaps 40, and a smoke in the whole city, even in the subway,

***

which is located very deep below the surface, this is a very limited pleasure. I got even difficulties with the breathing. And all the grand buildings such as St. Basil’s Cathedral, from the other end of the red square was barely visible, could not develop their splendour. Nevertheless, Moscow has me quite impressed.

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Of course it is an imperial city, but much comes from the time of the tsars and their red and today’s successors, just quite a contrast to the Zwinglian base democrat, who I really am. On one side fascinated by all these buildings, also by the glorification of the working class in the metro stations of the ring line, the other one must know – at least George told so – that the whole underground was dug by hand, 1939-1954! This gives the magnificent a bit another touch.  

Well, it is still smoky outside. This evening we will start to Irkutsk and Vladivostok. We will probably go right through the fire areas and not leave the train for another four days. To Vladivostok there are almost 10,000 kilometres, the longest rail journey in the world. Longer would only Lisbon to Hong Kong. But that I may consider later.

Pictures: see German version

7.08.2010

Changing the gauge

Text and pictures willfollow later

Zürich, 5. August 2010, 05:35: Peter, unser "Taxifahrer" bis zum Hauptbahnhof in Zürich und George Gertner, der mit mir über die Transsib nach Seoul reisen wird.

Ungefähr das ist es, was dieser erste Tage gebracht hat. Früh, d.h. 04:00, aufstehen, war das eine, die Reise im ICE Zürich-Hamburg bis Hannover, permanent leicht verspätet und ab Freiburg immer bis auf den letzten Platz besetzt, das andere.

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Die Verspätung, die ich mir bei der Deutschen Bahn ja eigentlich schon gewohnt bin, ist insofern von Bedeutung, als wir in Hannover nur 14 Minuten Umsteigezeit haben und den Perron wechseln müssen. Aber diesmal scheint es zu klappen: die Verspätung reduziert sich von den acht Minuten in Freiburg auf zwei in Frankfurt. Aber dann hält der ICE „ausserplanmässig“ in Fulda, weil irgend ein Analphabeth in Frankfurt in den falschen Zug eingestiegen ist und unbedingt einen Flug erreichen muss! Das heisst wieder plus 3 Minuten. Bis Hannover sind es dann aber wieder die zwei von Frankfurt, also kein Grund zur Aufregung.

Hier kommt dann also die zweite Überraschung der „Wundertüte“ Deutsche Bahn: Eigentlich sollte der ICE nach Berlin Hbf aus zwei Kompositionen der Baureihe 402 bestehen: heute kommt nur eine und zwar jene, in der unsere reservierten und bezahlten Plätze eben nicht sind. Man verspricht uns aber einen Ersatzzug – einen IC, also mit Lok und Wagen – der bei gleicher Fahrzeit zehn Minuten später in Berlin eintrifft, was dann auch tatsächlich so funktioniert. Die Wagen sind zwar relativ alt aus den ehemaligen Interregio-Zügen der DB, aber die Sache läuft. Man hat sogar mehr vom Geschwindigkeitsgefühl in diesen Wagen.

Berlin Hbf, 34°C, ein Vorgeschmack, auf das, was da noch kommen mag. Wir haben etwas Zeit und George kauft ein. Ich habe seltsamerweise keinen Hunger, was mich überrascht. Pünktlich fährt der Schlafwagenzug Berlin-Minsk-Moskau ein und wir beziehen unser Abteil, das für mehr als 24 Stunden unser Aufenthaltsort sein wird, sozusagen als Training für die viel längeren Schlafwagen-Stunden, die noch kommen werden. Leider funktioniert in unserem Wagen die Klimaanlage nur sehr bescheiden, was trotz Versuchen der Bähnler auch nicht geändert werden kann.

Berlin Hbf, Zug Berlin-Moskau

Die Oder bei Frankfurt

Nach 5 Uhr abends überqueren wir bei Frankfurt (Oder) die Oder und verlassen den deutschen Sprachraum. Irgendwo zwischen Poznan und Warszawa legen wir uns hin und schmoren im Wagen in unseren eigenen Säften. Unsanft werden wir mitten in der Nacht für eine Passkontrolle geweckt: 02:15, Terespol. Sind wir schon in Weissrussland? Nein, Terespol ist die letzte Station in Polen und die Polen legen offensichtlich Wert darauf, über unsere Ausreise genau im Bild zu sein – die Einreise verlief ohne jede Begegnung mit Zollbeamten. Wir bleiben da eine Weile stehen, was mich veranlasst auszusteigen und ein paar Bilder zu machen, was aber sofort von einer aus dem Nichts auftauchenden polnischen Beamtin unterbunden wird. Immerhin kann sie in unserer kurzen freundlichen Unterhaltung zeigen, dass sie weiss, dass in der Schweiz mehrere Sprachen gesprochen werden.

Terespol, 02:30

4.08.2010

What did I say?

The office is vacated – as with a retirement.

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As far as I am, however, not yet. So here I leave with no major marks. Tomorrow morning we go to 6:02 from Zurich. I do not know when I can report on the journy, i.e. when I’ll be somehow connected with my images on the Internet. We will be until Friday night on the train: to Basel-Hannover-Berlin-Warsaw-Brest-Minsk. Maybe I can write something in Moscow about this first stage. Be surprised. For the time being you must acept just this emptied desk.

As some of you know: I never learned English in school and Ancient Greek and Latin do not help much in these days. So I apologize for all the horrible mistakes in the English text.

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The only one who is helping me for this blog is the Google translation.

… and there are already changes: The boat trip from the American East Coast to Europe I have booked was changed to 10 days earlier.

zithromax for dogs

This means that my plans for the crossing of the continent and the visit to the rack railways are no longer safe. This means, however, that the variant with Spain may be worthy of consideration again. I have not decided yet, but by mid-September there is still a bit of time. I expect that one or the other can be changed.

Only eight days and then we go. Although everything is ready, there is still much to do, clearly to the motto: the smaller the matter, the greater the time is uses. Since, however, there are a few large chunks: I want to make office my office available “broom clean”, i.e. desk and tables at least largely free.

zithromax for dogs

This is an opportunity to clear up. So you can get an idea what that means, here’s a picture of the state of my office  in July 27 , 2010.

zithromax for dogs

oads/2010/07/2007-07-28-Büro-50dpi2.jpg”>The countdown is on!

Only eight days and then we go. Obwihl everything is ready, there is still much to do, clearly to the motto: the smaller the matter, the greater the time emigrating. Since, however, are a few large chunks of: I want to make office my office available “broom clean”, i.e. desk and tables at least largely free. This is an opportunity to clear up. So you can get an idea what that means, here’s a picture of the state of 27 , 2010.

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