Boats and Trains and planes – such life- changing journeys and fun adventures I have had over the years.
“All the greatest adventures start with a boat trip”
My first major experience of adventurous transportation was on a troopship. The TSS Captain Cook II was an aging troopship which departed Wellington Harbour on Guy Fawkes Day, 5th November 1959 amidst a backdrop of fireworks displays and streamers.
I vividly remember the fireworks bursting over the harbour hills as we excitedly scrambled around the decks, holding the paper streamers that were the last tenuous link with the people left behind at the wharf. After the last streamer stretched and snapped, it was time to find our little berth which was to be our family home for the next three weeks as we slowly steamed our way across the Tasman Sea.
Rough seas and violent seasickness are the most vivid memories I recall from those first seven days as the boat rocked and rolled across the Tasman Sea and up the West Coast of Australia to Freemantle, the port of Perth. Oh – and the ‘crossing the line’ ceremony was indeed a momentous event of onboard ship life.
We learned that the equator was an imaginary line not the big bump in the water we had been told to expect as we crossed over in the middle of the night. We experienced the full ‘crossing the line’ ceremony which consisted of being hoisted onto a canvas chair perched above King Neptune’s pool filled with evil smelling foamy water, having green lather rubbed into our hair, made to drink foul tasting ‘poison’ and then being tipped backwards into the firewater pool was all part of the adventure.
Although I didn’t know to at the time, this was to be this troopship’s final voyage. And yet, my travel and transportation adventures had barely just begun.
“Even the seasoned traveller had a first flight”
My memorable first flights:
Aboard a DC6 plane flying back to New Zealand in three 7 hour flights meant airsickness, viewing beautiful coral islands and the night lights of Brisbane.
A spontaneous 4 seater plane trip to Christchurch with my friend, her pilot husband and our first babies. The pilot fence- hopped a couple of times and then landed in a field.
A Bristol freighter trip to Wellington with 3 young sons – 40,000 rivets flying in close formation.And that wind on arrival nearly blew us all away!
An impromptu single-engined plane trip from Nelson to Takaka when the mountain road was closed yet I still had workshops to do over the marble mountain.
The Metroliner (nicknamed the flying pencil) on a cold frosty morning where the pilot had to use paper towels on the windscreen to see where he was going.
A float plane from Wellington to land on the water in the Marlborough Sounds where I live on the beach front.
And then came the big jets – and many long haul flights. Endless departure lounges, empty flight gates and jet lag.
“The train is a small world moving through a larger world.”
My train travel adventures started with my first job. After a week of training in Invercargill, the southern most city in New Zealand, I boarded the steam-powered overnight train to return to Christchurch. Sitting in an unheated carriage all night with no pillow or blanket should have discouraged me from train travel forever, but it didn’t. Since that early experience, there have been many train trips throughout Europe.
Whether it be trying to sleep on an overnight train from Milan to Paris, where we shared a couchette with a Russian fashion buyer and a Japanese Cirque de Soleil dancer, to being mugged on the express train to Charles de Gaulle airport, train travel is an adventure unto itself.
From standing in the dining/bar car on the Eurostar for the trip from Paris Gare du Nord to London St Pancras under the English channel train, to our ‘walking’ from Milan to Venice! Well, it took us almost the whole trip to find an empty carriage so we effectively walked the length of the train as it chugged to Venice. We had indeed ‘walked’ for the duration of the train trip.
In Switzerland we were nearly kicked off the panoramic train through the snowy Swiss alps to Interlaken -wrong tickets!
In Sweden, father and son watched an All Blacks rugby match as the train trundled us to a beer festival.
In Italy, we were returned to the railway station to catch the last train back to Bergamo after yet another beer festival. (An occupational hazard when your son is a Swedish brewer) Thank goodness the train actually arrived as we had no clue as to where we were.
From Munich to Verona, we took the slow train due to the scenic route being closed – a tad disappointing for us.
The train from Frankfurt to Prague was almost uneventful in comparison although the train was stringently scrutinised by border control.
In Colorado, we loved the Durango to Silverton narrow gauge railroad so much we did the return trip too.
From the Kuranda Scenic train and Skyrail trip in Australia to the Hungerburg funicular cable car in Austria, and from gondola rides in Queenstown to the London Eye, these unique methods of transportation have helped me to ‘feel the fear’ of heights and do it anyway.
It’s hard to imagine I have had an irrational fear of falling down stairs for most of my life yet due to having to use various forms of travel transportation, I can now use escalators, gondolas and glass-floored elevators. How far I have come in my transportation adventures from that first overnight steam train trip?
“The mode of transportation you choose to travel on your life’s journey matters less than the wisdom of it’s driver.”
Written in response to WQW #18