I continue to be amazed at the ease and efficiency of today’s public transport services powered by the web to provide immediate information access. On Tuesday morning I arrived at work to discover that I was to immediately travel to London to visit a customer. Within just a few minutes I had purchased e-tickets for the flight which was leaving about 3 hours from that time. Given that I still had to go back home (a 45 min. train trip) to pack and eat and then still make it to the airport (another one hour trip) I didn’t have much time. I was immediately able to connect to TrenItalia (Italian train service) to discover there was a training leaving in 15 minutes, then a quick look at the GTT (Torino public transport service) would tell me that bus 61 would be passing in 5 minutes to bring me from work to the station.
When I arrived at Pinerolo I jumped on my bike to rush home for a quick bite and to throw the essentials in my luggage. I still needed to arrange for travel to the Torino airport so I called a local Taxi which unfortunately had his phone off. This was the only point where the system broke down, the connecting trains to get to the airport would have taken too long, there was no direct bus service from Pinerolo to the airport and no taxi company that makes it easy to arrange a pick-up (I would like to see this as a web service, a network of participating Taxis of which you can check status, position and book online).
Once finally in London I catch a classic black London cab, who only after briefly getting lost finally finds the hotel. Later in the evening I head down-town to get a bite to eat. No easier way of getting around London than the Tubes, as the English call it (metro for Europeans or subway for Americans) . Combine this with my travel to the customer in car and me walking around London to find the Hard Rock Cafe and at the end I have used just about every means of transportation available, just missing a ferry ride up the River Thames. The combination of all these public transportation services makes it so easy for the traveler to reach any destination even with last minute notice and regardless of their familiarity of the area.
A few thoughts on London: One of the parts of traveling is discovering peculiar differences from one country to the next. A few things that caught my attention this trip:
- Low Ceilings – In contrast to the often exaggeratedly high 3 meter ceilings in Italy I felt like a giant in most of the buildings in London.
- Fire Doors – The door manufacturing industry must be booming with the high request for fire doors everywhere.
Side-note: I write this as I am flying over the French/Italian Alps. If you haven’t lived that experience, mark it as one of the must see sites to see from an airplane. Breathtaking!