Europe Trip 2015:
In spring of 2014, my Cousin Emma’s boyfriend Alberto proposed to her. They set the wedding in 2015 in Spain (where Alberto is from). I contemplated going.
When I visited Ireland in 2014, I mentioned to Des about my cousin getting married in Spain; that if I went, I could head back up to Ireland and visit them and TTC fishbowl #2290 again. Des seemed to agree with my idea. However, as if I didn’t need another reason to go back, I got one in the form of the Transport Enthusiasts Club acquiring a second former TTC fishbowl; #2291 the October after my trip! Like with #2290, I had ridden #2291 in service, but #2291 had been withdrawn a considerable time before the end of fishbowl service in Toronto.
Here’s TTC #2291 in service back in 2009. It joined its sister #2290 in Ireland!
I began forming a plan that would have had me fly to Spain and then take the train to Granada where the wedding was being held.
Meanwhile in early September, Canada’s Wonderland closed their stand-up roller coaster “Skyrider” after Labour Day. At first, I was under the impression that parts from Skyrider would be going to a roller coaster museum in Dallas. However in December, I learned the ride was sold to an amusement park called “Cavallino Matto” in Italy! Cavallino Matto translates to “Crazy Horse” for those who are wondering.
Here’s Skyrider less than a month before it closed at Canada’s Wonderland.
While I wanted to go to Cavallino Matto, at first, I didn’t think it was possible, but then I did a bit more research and decided it was.
During the year, I followed Cavallino Matto’s Facebook page and watched the construction progress of Skyrider which was given a paint job and renamed “Freestyle”.
As it turns out, I was one of the first to book plane tickets for the wedding. My final plan was to take VIA train #64 to Dorval and fly to Pisa, Italy which is just over an hour away by train to Cavallino Matto. I would visit Cavallino Matto on a day and ride Skyrider again. I would spend a few more days in the Pisa area before I would fly to Barcelona, Spain for a weekend before I headed to Granada for the wedding.
After the wedding, I would head to Madrid, Spain and overnight there. The next day I would fly to Ireland and see the two TTC fishbowls before I flew back home. This trip would be 2 ½ weeks long.
If you read my previous trip report, you may have noticed that around the time of that trip, my friend Greg in Chicago had a serious heart attack. You’ll be pleased to know that he made a full recovery.
This trip to Europe unfolded as follows:
August 24, 2015:
I got to Union around 10:45 am; 45 minutes before VIA train #64 was scheduled to depart. A VIA employee asked me to consider checking my suitcase but I declined.
Boarding began around 11:10 am. I noticed the train had two HEP1 coaches in the consist and the Business Class coach was an LRC coach. I was seated in HEP 1 coach #8107; an ex CP coach. I was assigned seat 10D. However, that seat faced backwards, I didn't have anywhere to work, and my seatmate was kind of fat. The train departed on time. I moved to another seat where I could work.
I worked on this report, but messed Greenwood subway yard as we passed. I saw H-4 #5649 at the south side of the yard though. I was able to log into the Wi-Fi. VIA trains #41 and #61 passed by, but I was unable to film them.
The train stopped at Guildwood. An eastbound GO train stopped on the track next to us. A westbound GO train pulled in led by F59PH #557 with F59 #559 on the rear. I attempted to photograph #559.
We stopped in Oshawa a little while later. My ticket was taken and I bought lunch. We passed a couple westbound freight trains. The train stopped at Cobourg. When we passed the Memory Junction railway museum, I filmed it. A westbound CN Intermodel train passed. We stopped at Belleville a little while later.
VIA train #63 passed, but I was unable to film it. I saw that it also had an LRC Business Class car and at least one HEP1 coach in the consist like my train. We stopped at Kingston. We departed a few minutes later. At this point, we were still on time. VIA train #65 passed, but I was unable to film it.
Another westbound VIA train passed which I was unable to film. We stopped at Brockville a few minutes later.
Outside of Cornwall, we began to overtake an eastbound CN freight. However, it began to pull ahead as we slowed for our station stop at Cornwall. The freight pulled ahead.
We departed Cornwall and picked up speed. We caught up to the freight train again and rapidly overtook it completely leaving it in our dust.
We switched tracks at one point. Awhile later, a westbound CN freight passed us.
A kid was playing an educational game and I could hear the sound. It's kinda of irritating. This is why when I use headphones when I watch video or listen to music on board.
A VIA train passed us on the other side of the train so I was unable to film it. We were soon running parallel to the CP main and we passed a westbound CP intermodel. This was an indication we were nearing Dorval. I readied my stuff in preparation to get off.
However, we had to wait for a westbound VIA train to clear Dorval. I attempted to film it as it went by. We were underway but we arrived into Dorval 14 minutes late. I got off and photographed the train.
I filmed the train pulling away and took one more photo.
I just missed a shuttle to the airport, but they run every few minutes. I saw VIA train #52 arrive. I filmed the train pulling in and photographed it.
Train #52 was an hour late! I filmed it pulling out. A few minutes later, I filmed a westbound AMT commuter train pulling in.
Meanwhile, the next shuttle to the airport arrived. I photographed it before I got on.
The ride to the airport was short. I photographed the shuttle again after I got off.
I then went inside to check in. I would be flying Lufthansa from Montreal to Pisa; changing planes in Munich. I checked my suitcase and went to clear security.
After I cleared security, I went to find my gate. I noticed my foot was a bit sore. I photographed a KLM Boeing 747-400 at the gate.
The aircraft hadn't arrived yet. I had a 20 minute massage before I phoned home and let my parents know I was in Montreal.
I had dinner and went to my gate. I stopped to buy some Aspirin. I then went to my gate and photographed the plane I would be flying across the Atlantic on: An Airbus A330-300; the biggest airplane I've flown on to date.
I logged into the airport's Wi-Fi and worked on this report some more. Soon it was time to board. I had an aisle seat; despite the fact I booked that flight in March, they did not honor my request for a window seat. I did find the seats less cramped than Air Transat which I flew last year.
The plane departed on time. I attempted to film the takeoff roll.
I watched the plane's in flight entertainment system. Lufthansa turned out to be a pretty nice airline to fly. I also chatted with my seatmate a bit. At one point I tried to sleep.
August 26, 2015:
I couldn't really sleep. I eventually watched more of the plane's entertainment system.
Breakfast was served. We were soon flying over Europe. A little while later we were approaching Munich. The pilot announced that passengers who came off a previous flight prior to getting on this flight may have had their baggage left behind, but the airline would be working to get it to them.
I filmed the landing. We were soon parked at the gate. We had arrived a few minutes early. I got off and photographed the plane.
To get to my connecting flight, I had to go up a few levels through a winding corridor and down some levels before I cleared Customs. I had to go through security a second time thought it is slightly more understandable than what happened when I flew Jetblue on my 2013 Washington trip. I still had plenty of time to get to my connecting flight unlike my Washington trip.
I cleared security and got my stuff together. I looked in a couple stores on my way to the gate. I bought a Coke from a snack bar near my gate.
Soon, it was time to board. I had to take a bus out to my flight. My connecting flight was an Embraer 195 operated by Air Dolomiti as part of a codeshare agreement. Air Dolomiti looks like a no frills type airline. I photographed the plane before I got on.
This time, I had a window seat. The plane departed on time and was able to front out of the lot. I photographed various planes as we taxied towards the runway including an Air Canada 767-300.
We were second in line to take off after a Lufthansa Airbus A-319. We had to wait for two flights to land and the Lufthansa A-319 to take off before we did. When we took off, I filmed the take off roll. We were flying over a mountain range and soon we were flying over water.
The flight attendants served lunch which was a sandwich, though I didn't really like it.
Soon, we were approaching Pisa. I filmed the landing. Pisa's airport is a small airport. I also saw several military aircraft there as well. We were soon parked on the apron. A shuttle bus would take us to the terminal after we descended a flight of stairs. I got off and photographed the plane before I boarded the shuttle bus.
The ride to the terminal was quick and it took us to the baggage claim area. There were only four baggage carousels, but they hadn't displayed which carousel would be from my flight even though flights landing three hours from now had their carousels announced. My flight's carousel was eventually displayed and my suitcase was one of the first to come out. At least Lufthansa didn't loose my suitcase.
I was expecting to go through customs, but I didn't. I just emerged into the arrivals area. I bought a bus ticket into Pisa. There's a shuttle train which is down until December of this year.
I saw an express bus come, but the driver told me my ticket was only valid on local transit. I walked over to the local transit bus stop, but the bus came right away and took me to where I was going which was Pisa Central station. My hotel was a block away. I walked there and checked in. My room was on the third floor. I took an incredibly small elevator up to my room. I had some problems getting into my room, but soon got it resolved.
I went to my room and dropped my stuff off. I tried logging in, but I needed a user name and a password for the internet. I went down to the lobby and obtained it. I then returned to my room and went online for a little while. I phoned the front desk and asked if they could turn the air conditioning in my room. I then decided to lie down to rest up if jet lag occurred.
After awhile, I got up at 6:00 pm and went out. I walked across the street to Pisa Central station and got my tickets to Castagneto printed. I noticed there was a McDonald's in the station; good I won't starve!
I had dinner at the McDonald's and returned to my hotel. I set the alarm on my phone for 7:00 am and soon called it a night.
August 27, 2015:
I got up at 7:00 am and got dressed. I went to the lobby for breakfast. After breakfast, I headed to the Pisa Central station. Today I would be going to Cavallino Matto. I validated my ticket to Castagneto. I went to the platform where my train was boarding. The train as sitting on the track but the doors were closed. I photographed the train while I waited to board.
The trains I would be riding are operated by Trentalia. They run regionals and high speed trains. I would be on regionals. The Regionals run in push-pull mode and have both Bi-level and single level coaches. My train to Castagneto would have bi-level coaches.
Boarding soon began and I took a seat on the upper level. The train soon departed. There were a lot of talkative people seated near me. The ride was just over an hour. The train had six stops between Pisa and Castagneto. I was relieved when some of the people got off part way there.
Soon, we were approaching Castagneto. I could tell when I saw the tops of some of Cavallino Matto's rides including Freestyle jutting above the tree line! I got my backpack and headed to the door. I got off and photographed the train.
I then filmed the train pulling away. I went to wait for a bus to Cavallino Matto. The next bus wasn't for another 30 minutes. I resigned myself to the wait. I did go across the street and stood in the shade.
After awhile, I returned to the bus stop. I was wondering when the bus would arrive. Instead of a bus, I was surprised what looked like a fake steam locomotive and three open cars stopped. I photographed this unusual “bus”.
I learned that this “train” was going to Cavallino Matto. I paid 1.50 Euros for the fare and we headed off. We made two stops before we arrived at Cavallino Matto. I almost missed the stop. However, I didn't. I photographed the vehicle that brought me to the park.
I walked to the front door and had did an artistic photo by the front gate with my Wonderland Season's Pass.
I wonder if my pass would be valid here? Nope!
I also photographed a couple signs by the park entrance.
I paid my admission and went inside. I set the alarm on my phone for 5:30 in order to get back to the train station on time. The first place I headed for was Freestyle. However, it wasn't open yet. The ride would be opening at 2:00 pm. I would still be able to ride it before I had to leave; this isn't like what happened last year when I first went to Six Flags Great Adventure following Streamliners at Spencer. I photographed the closed ride.
The first ride I went on was another roller coaster which is called “Project 1”. I photographed the ride after I got off.
The next ride I went on was another roller coaster called “Wild-Mine” which is similar to “The Fly” at Wonderland. I would compare rides to their Wonderland counterpart; past and present. I photographed “Wild Mine” after I got off.
The next ride I was on was “Colorado Boats”; a log ride. The closest ride at Wonderland was called “Zumba Flume” which was removed after the 1995 season and replaced with the roller coaster “Top Gun” (later renamed “Flight Deck”.) Colorado Boats had an on ride photo, but I didn't buy one. It was the only ride in the park with an on ride photo. I photographed the ride after I got off.
The next two rides I went on where “Shock Tower and “Yukatan”. Shock Tower is slightly similar to “Drop Tower” at Wonderland, except that the ride bounces twice at the bottom. Yukatan is similar to Psyclone at Wonderland. I photographed both rides.
I then was able to get something for lunch. The next ride I went on was a swinging ship similar to “The Rage” at Wonderland. I photographed it when I got off.
The next ride I went on was a little roller coaster called “Speedy Gonzales”. I hope that Cavallino Matto got permission from Warner Brothers to use their character. I photographed the ride after I got off.
I next rode Cavallino Matto's road train that goes around the park and photographed it when I got off.
Next, I rode “Topo Zorro”, another roller coaster. I photographed when I got off.
Meanwhile, it was getting close to 2:00 pm and I made my way back to Freestyle. There was a crowd by the gate. Shortly after 2:00 pm, a park employee unlocked the gates and people made their way to Freestyle. I stopped to take another artistic photo with my Wonderland Seasons pass.
When Skyrider was at Wonderland, it had two trains; a yellow train and an orange train. At the time I took this trip, there was only one train on Freestyle in Italy; the former yellow train which had been painted green which is kinda ironic; the train was yellow and the track was green at Wonderland. At Cavallino Matto, the train is green and the track is yellow. I could tell it was the former yellow train by the restraints which still have yellow fabric on them from the train's Wonderland days. I photographed the train as it made an empty run on the line.
I have heard the second train will join Freestyle next year. I wonder what colour they will paint it?
I then joined the queue line. I saw a sign that suggested waiting 50 minutes before going on Freestyle again due to “The emotional characteristics of this attraction”. Wonderland never had such a warning on Skyrider, nor the roller coasters larger than it including Behemoth and Leviathan!
Wait 50 minutes before going on the ride again? AS IF!
When Skyrider was running at Wonderland, just before the train would leave, a horn would blare. At Cavallino Matto, there is a sci-fi sounding siren before the train leaves the station. I was in the second run of the day. I was in the back of the first car. The train departed and I went for a 92 second run just like the old days (as recently as a year ago!)
Following the run, I got off and left the ride. I filmed the train going on its next run. I noted that the walkways at Cavallino Matto offered vantage points that Wonderland did not have due to the location of the ride. There were also views I was able to get at Wonderland that I couldn't at Cavallino Matto.
After the video, I photographed the train going up the lift hill on its next run.
I decided to go on Freestyle a second time. The line was longer, but I didn't have to wait too long. The second ride was kinda rough; much like it was back at Wonderland. The first time at Cavallino Matto wasn't bad for some reason. After the second ride, I photographed the train at the top of the lift hill.
Having ridden Freestyle, I have now ridden all the major roller coasters in the park! There were a few more things I wanted to ride however. I lined up for a ride that could only be described as a sitting zip line. It was one of the longest lines I waited in all day, but it was less than 15 minutes. I photographed the ride after I got off.
I then lined up for “Sky Gliders” which is a ride where that gives the rider the impression that they have to pedal to get the ride to its highest point. I also saw the park's mascot with two characters from a show the park is holding called “Alien vs. Avatar”. I photographed “Sky Gliders” and the park's mascot.
I went on a carousel in the park near the entrance. I photographed it after I got off
I then had a massage at a coin operated massage chair in the park. I then went on the ride “Safari Adventures” which is a jeep on a track in a safari themed ride with fake and animatronic animals. I forgot to photograph the ride though.
I went back to Freestyle. I once again saw the park's mascot and photographed it with Freestyle's track in the background.
I then went on Freestyle a third time and photographed it when I got off.
I looked around and bought a slush from a store. I had another massage at the coin operated massage chair.
Soon, it was 5:30. I saw the park's “road train” and photographed it before I left the park.
After leaving the park, I took one last photograph of the park entrance.
One more thing about Cavallino Matto is that earlier this year before construction on Freestyle began; a tornado was photographed with the Shock Tower in the background. It was like how a tornado could have hit Wonderland back in 2009.
I then walked to the bus stop and waited. The bus-train came on time and I rode it back to the station. I got off and photographed it.
I then filmed it pulling away. I still had about 90 minutes before my train left. I wandered around the area looking for somewhere to have dinner. I eventually bought some fries from a restaurant across the street from the train station.
A few trains passed by. I attempted to photograph a high speed train with limited results.
I ran to a nearby store for a can of Coke as I was thirsty. I made it back to the platform in time. I filmed a train heading away from Pisa pulling in a few minutes before my train to Pisa arrived and then I photographed it.
I looked down the line and saw what I thought was my train back to Pisa, but it passed non stop through the station. I filmed it passing. The train going the other way departed and I filmed it pulling out.
My train soon arrived and I filmed it pulling in.
This train was had single level coaches. I got a forwards facing window seat on the left hand side of the train and we soon departed. My ticket was taken shortly thereafter. I got one last view of Cavallino Matto from the train.
The sun went down and we stopped at Cecina, Vada, Castiglioncello, and Livirono Central; many of the stops the train to Castagneto stopped at this morning.
To me, this service kinda reminds me of Amtrak's Keystone corridor which runs in push-pull mode and does not provide food service.
Between Livirono and Pisa, I noticed the train took another route into Pisa; it seemed to loop around before pulling into Pisa in the direction the train to Castagneto departed in. I got off and photographed the train.
I then walked back to my hotel. I went online and posted on Facebook. I again had to call the front desk and ask them to turn the air conditioning on in my room. I eventually set my alarm for 8:30 am and called it a night.
August 28, 2015:
I got up at 8:30 am and got dressed. I went downstairs for breakfast. After breakfast, I went up to my room. I soon got my stuff together and headed out. I had originally kept today open in case I was unable to ride Freestyle at Cavallino Matto the day before. However, since I had, I decided to go see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I boarded a bus which took me to near the tower. I got off the bus and walked towards the tower. I photographed it.
The reason the tower leans is because of the soil underneath the tower. Many attempts to stabilize the tower have had little to no success and the tower may eventually topple over some point in the future.
I bought a slush from a store and two postcards. One of them depicted the tower collapsing.
I eventually left the tower and went for a walk. At one point, I saw a bus-train like what I rode the day before to get to Cavallino Matto. I photographed it.
I decided to go for a ride on an articulated bus. I photographed it before I got on.
The bus took me to where intercity and charter coaches gather. I photographed some buses and filmed the articulated bus I had ridden to the terminal pulling away.
I caught a bus back to the area near the Leaning Tower and had lunch at a nearby Burger King. After lunch, I caught a bus back to my hotel. I saw the staff was in the process of cleaning my room so I decided to go to the lobby and ask where to go to the beach. I ended up deciding to take the train to Livirono. I bought a ticket and went to the platform. I photographed a freight train in the station before I filmed the train pulling in.
My train was a bi-level train. I took a seat on the upper level. The train soon departed.
The train took the route that curves around behind Pisa Central station. We passed by the airport. I saw an Air Dolomiti Embraer 195 heading to the runway. Presumably, it was heading to Munich.
The ride to Livirono took less than 20 minutes. When I got to Livirono, I got off and photographed the train.
I went to the station and asked how to get to the beach. I was told to take the route #1 bus. The next route #1 showed up in less than 10 minutes. I got on and headed in the direction of the beach.
We were soon running parallel to the coast. I saw a water slide and got off. However, it was closed. I walked along and found a small swimming area. I paid 10 Euros for admission and a locker and went for a swim which helped cool me off. At one point, I saw a ferry depart heading across the sea.
I soon left the beach and caught a bus back to the train station. I then bought a ticket back to Pisa. I went to the platform. There was a freight train stopped there. It consisted of a locomotive and 14 flat cars. I photographed the train.
The freight train soon left. I photographed another train before I filmed the train that would take me back to Pisa arrive.
I boarded the train and we soon departed. The train followed the route that curves around Pisa Central before arriving. I got off and photographed the train.
I then walked back to my hotel. I had to get a new Wi-Fi password and ask the staff to turn the air conditioning on in my room again! I went back to my room and went online. I worked on this report some more.
I eventually went out for dinner. I also bought some milk. I found the milk in Italy to taste kinda bad though. I returned to my room and worked on this report some more. I eventually set the alarm on my phone for 8:30 am and called it a night.
August 29, 2015:
I got up before 8:30 and watched a bit of TV, even though it was in Italian and I wasn't sure what people were saying. I also went online. One thing about my hotel's Wi-Fi was that it wasn't the best as pages that normally load at home provided a struggle before the page was loaded which was very frustrating.
I went downstairs for breakfast. After breakfast, I went up to my room and finished packing. My flight to Barcelona was scheduled to leave at 10:55 pm. I couldn't book an earlier flight with the airline. Other airlines offered either super early flights or more expensive midday flights.
I checked out just before 11:00 am. I had 10 hours to kill before I had to go to the airport. I wandered around the area near my hotel. I eventually caught a bus to the Leaning Tower. The bus was crowded. There were more people at the Leaning Tower than the day before. However, today is Saturday. I photographed the Leaning tower again.
I went to the store where I bought the slush the day before. The employees recognized me; though I'm sure the I was the only person in Pisa with a TTC fishbowl hat! I bought another slush.
A few minutes later, I went to a McDonald's and bought a small Coke. I then caught a bus back to Pisa Central. I photographed some buses at Pisa Central.
I briefly thought about going for a train ride, but I saw many people were in the station so I decided against it. I walked a few blocks away from the station and photographed and filmed various trains.
I made my way back towards the station. At one point, I was thirsty so I went to get a drink. When I went to pay, to my alarm, I noticed I only has one 20 Euro bill. I know I had earlier and I certainly didn't spend that much. I don't know if I was pickpocketed or it fell out somewhere.
I looked around for an ATM. I was able to withdraw money. I still had my credit card and debit card so it could have been worse.
I went to an internet cafe and logged in. I emailed my mom.
A little while later, I went back to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and went to the two stores I was at earlier in the off chance they had found my money. However, it wasn't the case.
I had dinner at the McDonald's near the tower and then I caught a bus to the airport. I still had over four hours before my plane left.
Pisa's airport is different from other airports I've flown out of in the sense that there are no designated airline check in desks. There are multiple check in desks that are randomly assigned to an airline. I would be flying Vueling Airlines. I went upstairs and withdrew more money from an ATM and bought a chocolate bar and a lemonade from a restaurant.
I went downstairs and wandered around the terminal. My flight's check in desk wasn't announced yet. At one point, I had a massage at a coin operated massage chair in the terminal. I also withdrew 70 Euros from an ATM on a whim.
My flight check in desk was announced less than two hours before my plane's scheduled departure. I checked in and checked my suitcase. I then cleared security and found my gate. I bought a Coke from a vending machine and worked on this report some more.
Soon it was time to board. I walked out onto the tarmac and photographed my plane which was an Airbus A321; a stretched version of the A320.
I was initially assigned an aisle seat. However, the group of seats across the aisle was completely empty. I asked a flight attendant if I could move so I could have a window seat. I was told I could. I moved to a window seat.
The plane left on time. However, we sat on the tarmac for several minutes before we taxied out to the runway. When we took off, I filmed the takeoff.
Click to read about my first few days in Spain: Spain part 1