Non-air travel

OK, I’ve just booked my travel for ApacheCon. And with some effort, I managed to book without flying.

Now, my ‘local knowledge’ tells me there’s the Eurostar via Brussels, and there’s a ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. So that’s two viable options, right?

Well, sort-of. Eurostar have been spamming me since I used them to get to OSCon in Brussels last year, so I really don’t want to give them my business if I can possibly help it (quite apart from the brokenness and pain of their website). That leaves the ferry as preferred option – reconfirmed when an online query shows the minimum cost of the Eurostar (London-Amsterdam) as nearly £200.

But how to book the ferry? Google gets me stena line’s own site and a bunch of other ferry sites. But they won’t let me book myself on without a car (except on the hydrofoil thingies, which are probably less eco-friendly than flying, and which I strongly suspect of having no outdoor/deck space). Bah, Humbug.

OK, the man in seat 61 to the rescue. I can book a through ticket rail+ferry from London to Amsterdam using the dutchflyer site. And the price is pretty reasonable too, though (as ever) it’s more than the headline rate. But now I’m stuckwith travelling at a silly time of day: outgoing, the only available sailing is in the morning. That’s an obscenely early departure from London. Fortunately I can get it, by taking the sleeper train in to London the night before. So I go ahead and book it. The website is annoying, but (eventually) works, so that’s one up on Eurostar, but still worse than (say) ebookers or easyjet sites for air travel.

Now the cost of that ticket is comparable to flying, so that’s OK. And I have to get from here to London either way[1]. But now I’m stuck with taking that sleeper instead of a normal train. OK, let’s book it. Aaargh … now the sleeper really does bump up the price: it’s far and away the single most expensive leg of the journey.

Buggrit, the eponymous “they” really do try to make us travel by air. Bah, Humbug!

Anyway, all done now. If you’re an Apache-person, see you in Amsterdam:-)

[1] OK, I could also fly from Bristol and avoid the ultra-misery of Heathrow. But travelling from here, Bristol is nearly London, anyway.

Posted on March 31, 2007, in apache, apachecon, rants, travel, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Pleased to see your plug for Mark Smith aka The Man in Seat 61. It’s a brilliant site for anyone wanting to travel by train just about anywhere in the world. Mark’s knowledge is excellent, and it’s a great “travellers” site, not just something for train enthusiasts. We need more people like Mark in the UK rail industry right now! Of course his site’s an entirely personal and voluntary effort, which makes it all the more impressive.

    Incidentally, I’ve just travelled back by train from London to Exeter – £17.50 one way, free first class upgrade (the upgrade is a special weekend offer available to First Great Western’s frequent travellers) and bang on time, so rail travel can be good when the companies get it right.

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