George gets to sit on Mummy’s lap most of the time when we’re travelling but sometimes, I have more to give – there’s more of me to hug when Mummy starts to doze off on the train. And this morning we were on a very long train ride – 7 hours! The longest train journey yet. Well, maybe 6 hours 52 minutes in total. Seems like we were on the local train – we stopped a lot along the way!
After our last morning walk with Maddie, when the sun was just rising, we were off to the train station again. What? We have to wait for half and hour in the cold?When the train pulled into the station – this time we knew to look for the pet coach but there was no sign that told us where it was. We had to ask the train conductor and then made our way to the last coach. There were two rows of seats assigned to pets but there sat a hooman without a pet – occupying the space. Why? They segregate us and then hoomans take our allocated spaces. Well, apparently, the whole coach was for pets.
May’s comment: This was our last train ride before we board the ferry tomorrow for our cruise along the Norwegian fjords! Finally!
Took us a long time to get to this stage of our journey. It has been a week of travelling – it was by no means easy-peasy – the biggest challenge was the massive wheelie bag that seemed to have a life of its own! Darcy and George have always been good travellers – and they have made me proud this trip. They knew how to get on trains though sometimes the gaps and the height were a bit scary for little George but he would try to attempt the leap, following Darcy. But whenever he hesitated, I would always pick him up. In these situation, the dual lead was not a good idea. Darcy in most cases could leap up any of the steps and if George didn’t, she would be pulled back in her leap and that could be disastrous. The dual lead, I learnt was best for walking them through busy thoroughfares and when pushing that dreaded bag. That way I have only one lead to control.
They could handle every long journey – except for letting themselves go when running off the ferry ramp after an overnight crossing – oops! As for the train journeys, Darcy and George would settle down almost at once when we get to our seats. They didn’t always do that when we took trains in the UK. But, like everything, when you keep repeating a pattern, they get the message. By the sixth train – they knew the drill. Darcy would immediately find her spot to lay down and chilled. Depending on her mood, she either chose to sit on the floor or she would give me those sad eyes and asked to sit on me – but there’s always George who demanded to sit on my lap!So this was how we have been sitting the last few times. The good thing about these pet assigned coaches, dogs were allowed on the seats! Yay! I am starting to appreciate the concept.
They also know to wait (though anxiously) when I needed to use the WC or took a walk to the Cafe Coach. But the minute I start to put on my coat, they immediately come to life! They are anxious to get off – to be sure they were not left, and this was one of the most difficult part of each journey. Amidst the crowds of passengers rushing to get off, I had to make sure they were safely on the platform and then retrieved the wheelie – still at the top of the steps. Quite a few times some well-mannered gentleman would offer to haul it down for me. Chivalry is not dead but a rarity. A few times I had to do it myself. I supposed the further I got into the Scandinavian countries where gender equality is the norm, the fewer times I get help. But when I asked, they would always oblige.
I knew it was going to be a long journey and was mentally prepared for it. Besides making sure I didn’t miss a single train – that was the stressful part, I made it as easy as possible to get to the stations by staying at hotels close by – at the most a short taxi ride away. There was just one early morning train we had to catch. Early morning trains were a bit more tricky – especially when travelling on my own, to be sure I didn’t oversleep. I always tried to arrive at the train station at least half an hour before departure time. That way I had the time to figure the layout of the station, after having confirmed the platforms (most European trains have pre-assigned platforms), I had time to find the elevators. The one thing both dogs did not like were escalators and they were not safe for them – and with two and a wheelie bag – no way! On a few incidences I asked a stranger to escort my bag up or down the escalators while I ran my dogs on the stairs – and then met my wheelie when it arrived with the stranger.
I had told myself, this was a journey. Enjoy each part of it. If it was a long train ride, use the time to rest up, snooze – and then deal with the getting on and off as they came – not all trains were difficult to board. The hotels may not have been my preferred choices but they made me less dependent on taxis – where one was not sure whether they took dogs or not. So far, I’ve found taxis that took us, albeit reluctantly. I learnt local rules and there were laws about animals in the countries we visited. And then to be nicely surprised. The law in the Scandi countries are no animals in restaurants – sometimes not even in the outside spaces. But you can always find one, if not a few within the city – there were always a few who loved dogs and found the loophole to allow them in.
The next part of our journey will not be about getting on and off trains or buses and into hotels. We will be boarding the Hurtigruten cruise tomorrow – for 11 days, we will visit towns and see different scenery, and we hope the Northern Lights. No lugging wheelie bag for 11 days. Hooray! I will only be getting on and off the ferry with Darcy and George so they can relief themselves, walk around a town. Otherwise, we will be in close quarters in a cabin for 11 days.
Till then – hopefully the internet will work!