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Friday, 11 April 2014

Saturday train trip ... on a bus.

Sometimes the universe conspires with me and, at other times, it conspires against me ... sometimes with vengeance. Last Saturday was one such vengeful act by the universe.




Being a newbie to this area I have spread my wings a little and ventured forth, but I have not been to Parramatta, the Inner West.

Some may think that's a good thing. 

However, I had heard that if one caught the train, one alighted right beside the Westfield shopping centre at Parramatta. So, I thought, why not give it a go.

A Saturday excursion. Spread my wings. Venture further afield. Get to know the Inner West of this new city which is my home for a wee while. Finish my current read on the train.

So, I did.

I drove to my local railway station. A leisurely 10 minute trip. Had my friendly chat with the congenial ticket selling man.

"Going shopping for the day?"
"Yes, well, a coffee at least and maybe some shopping."
"Have a nice day."
"Thanks."

You know the drill.

I haven't yet tried the machine that spits out train tickets. I will one day. I even hope to get on line and order an Opal card. I've tried to buy one at the "Opal card retailer" in my area, but no, they're not really a "retailer", you can only top up your card there!?! I'm confused. What is a "retailer' if they don't SELL the product? Anyway, I have to apply on-line, it seems.

So through the magic gates I go with my train ticket


to wait for my train.

"The next train will terminate at St Mary's."
Well, that's not for me. I want to go further than there.

"Terminate", isn't that a strange word to use for where a train will finish its journey? Sounds ominous I think.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spot a sign suggesting that maybe that is where I do want to go.


Stupid thoughts run through my head like ... Does that mean this weekend? ... Does that mean me? ... Does that mean I have to get a bus? 

Dumb questions, REALLY DUMB questions.

Of course it means this weekend and me and, yes, I DO have to get a bus ... after I get off the train at St Mary's.

Sigh.

Oh, well, I decide, treat it as an adventure. See places you've never seen.

The train trip, short as it is, is easy. Then, out of the train, up and down the stairs and into the waiting bus. 

"All stations to Granville," announces the jovial man in the orange safety vest who's obviously being paid very well for his weekend overtime.

I don't even know how many stations that means. I'm a newbie.

Soon, though, I begin to realise just how many stations it is. Many. MANY.

The bus becomes more and more crowded. I offer my seat to an elderly gentleman who struggles to stay on his feet but his pride tells him he must stand. I know he's finding this ride difficult but he is proud.

Soon, as others alight and seats become available, a young man directs him to a vacant seat and he gratefully accepts. I can rest easy.

At the next stop I ask the driver, "How many more stops till Parramatta?"
He looks at his schedule, "Six, love."
SIX! I've been on this bus for EVER, it seems.

Finally, two hours, YES, two hours after leaving my home station, I arrive at Parramatta.

Prior to leaving home I had promised myself a delicious breakfast on arrival. It's now lunch time and I'm devouring my kidneys and liver to stay alive.

So, lunch it is and a little shopping.

But soon I begin to worry about getting home ... before dark. Who knows how long my return journey will take? So, I venture back to my train ... err ... bus stop.

Another jovial-overtime-paid-orange-safety-vested-man announces, "This bus express to Blacktown then St Marys." 
Thank you Universe! An express trip home!

We zoom out to the M4. Well, as much as a bus can zoom. And it feels like heaven. The bus is relatively empty and we're not meandering through suburban streets stopping at innumerable traffic lights and EVERY train station.


Why do some women incessantly play with their hair on public transport? Have you noticed that or is it just me?

We cross over the train tracks and, yes, there are no trains. 

Just checking.


In no time we reach Blacktown. Yay!

"Everyone off the bus. It's broken down."
WHAT!!
Yes, no joke. My bus is broken down. My zoom-along-the-M4-bus is broken down.
NOOOooooo!

Soon, very soon, another bus arrives. 
"All stations to St Mary's."
NOOoooo!
An orange-safety-vested-female attendant assures me it is just as fast as the express. Yes, sure.

So, once again, we are non-zooming around suburban streets, stopping at innumerable traffic lights and EVERY station.

It is at this point that I start to giggle. Luckily there is no one close by. Who is this crazy woman giggling and smiling her way through suburbia?


Treat it as an adventure. Enjoy the ride. The view. See places you've never seen. Forget about finishing your current read.

Sigh.

Finally, St Marys. Never did I think I would be so happy to see St Marys station. And the familiarity of everything railway.


I'm happy to stand behind the yellow line.


And beware of the gap.


And then ... there's a train, a REAL train.


And I'm sitting on a train seat.


Zooming home. Yay!

Have you noticed how people look at you weirdly when you take photos at railway stations? No ... maybe it's just me.

Soon my giggles return when, two hours after leaving Parramatta, as I leave my home station to reunite with PT, I see this ...


Nooo, the train was my PLAN A. And I haven't had a drink, but I NEED a drink. NOW!

Nothing makes me appreciate Sydney's rail system more than a day when it's not there.

This trip would normally take 35 minutes on the train. 

And, yes,

there was a warning on the web site.

A warning which I found the next day.

Why didn't the obliging man tell me when I bought my ticket?

Maybe he thought I knew.


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