Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mind the gap

With the decision made that we were going to make our way around Europe on the train, my dearest husband thought we should start a familiarisation process with the short one.  Considering we were still on home ground, we had local currency, we knew where we were going, we could speak the local language and we weren’t lugging 60kg of luggage behind us it SHOULD be a piece of cake – he figured if we have issues here, we are certainly going to have issues OS!

With careful online planning, we decided on a 9am train into the city.  Leaving home with plenty of time, we leisurely make our way to the station with great anticipation.  We are greeted by the Station Master who officiously tells us, “The next train isn’t for another half an hour, you know.”  That’s OK – we have plenty of time to sort ourselves out, get our tickets and desensitise the short one to all of the new sights and sounds that make up the suburban train station.

Another family are on the platform trying to navigate their way around the timetable and ticket dispenser, all the while being told by the officious Station Master, “The next train isn’t until 9am, you know!”

Finally, the other novice train-travelling family retrieve their tickets from the high tech dispenser, leaving us to do the same. Fumbling for change, following the myriad of buttons and finally one ticket is printed. With just one more to go, I hear the station master quietly mumble, “Ohhh, there seems to be a train coming.”  I look up to see a train pulling into the station while we are still fighting with the ticket dispenser. Said Station Master makes a hurried exit, leaving us to make a last minute dash to board the train.  Leaves me wondering whether European Station Masters are as time challenged as their Australian counterparts!

Word of warning!
I have fond memories of travelling the tube in London and the recorded announcement constantly telling me, ever so politely to “Mind the gap”.  What a helpful and well-considered community announcement!  The expression is so well known that it has spawned a whole collection of "Mind the gap" souvenirs in the High Street. And really, the gap is nothing to speak of…

Train travellers in Australia however, are not afforded the same consideration.  As a result I would like to make my own community safety announcement, particularly if travelling with a stroller…

“Please mind the chasm large enough for a small bovine to fall down, whilst trying to pull yourself up the foot and half step into the carriage. Have a nice day!”

Not sure whether all that will fit on a T shirt or coffee mug though!


  1. Ahh...fond memories of a superior public transport system (mind you most cities are superior to here)...

    Still hear the recorded announcement that you speak "High Street Kensington" and "this is the Circle Line"....

    Which then brings my memories to the train in Munich Germany - New Years Eve....
    The good old days...

  2. Yeah I remember the international languages spoken in Munich!!! And also the mind the gap!!!!

  3. Meredith & Paul
    only just learned how to use Blog Enjoy rest of your trip. Look forward to more pictures from you