Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Bits and Pieces

So my year here is nearly up, my job finishes on the 27th of June, well actually my contract expires on Monday the 30th of June but I was planning to take that day off. I mean what are they going to do, fire me :). So I'm slowly gathering up my various goods and chattels and deciding what stuff I want to keep and what I'll chuck out. I've got two boxes from La Poste which cost 40 euros each. I'm assuming that 40 euros includes the postage as whilst they are nice boxes and a very fetching orange, I don't think cardboard could ever be worth that much. This means I have 14 kg available to send stuff home, which is actually quite a lot of weight, the problem is the boxes aren't that big and my stuff is kind of bulky. I need one of those vacuum bags you see on late night TV where you vacuum seal your clothes and chuck them in the attic, and are much smaller than if you hadn't spent the $29.95 on what is essentially a plastic bag.

That's my work building to the left, taken when we got that snow in springtime. Just thought I would give you a photo to break up the writing.

The other thing I'm trying to do at the moment is buy some Italian train tickets. I've already bought my tickets from Rome to Florence, but I also wanted tickets from Florence to Milan. For some reason every time I try to buy that ticket my payment is always denied. I've tried with both my French and Australian credit cards and it's the same deal every time. In fact after I used my Australian credit card my bank wanted me to get in contact with them. So I ring them up on what is meant to be their international reverse charges number, only to be told by the operator that the number is blocked to reverse charges, scummy banks. Luckily I was at work and they use that VOIP-thing so apparently it is free to call international numbers, or so everyone at work tells me. But I really wanted to charge my bank with a massive reverse charge call cost, damn them! So anyway the security issue they wanted to talk to me about was the transaction I had tried to make with trenitalia (the Italian train company). Apparently they had had security issues in the past with this company about false credit card transactions. Made me feel real secure, but I told them that the transaction was real and they wrote a note saying I wanted to buy Trenitalia tickets. Which of course makes absolutely no difference as the transaction was still denied the next time I tried. Oh by the way if anyone out there is with Commonwealth bank and needs to contact them from overseas, the number to call, which apparently doesn't have a reverse charge block on is: 612 8835 2397. At least that's what the lady on the phone told me.

I have to say I haven't had this treatment from my French bank. They just deny my payment and don't really care if the transaction was legitimate or not. But please Trenitalia get your act together! Another thing they should fix on their online ticketing service is that there is no real way to choose your seats. You can ask to be placed near a certain seat, but if there are 2 people travelling together you would think the reservation would put you together, but it seems to be kind of arbitrary. Unless on Italian trains, seats 54 and 57 are next to each other, they must have a unique numbering system in Italy. I've booked a lot of train tickets using the French online service, which I have to say is fantastic, seriously cannot fault it. And there it is very easy to pick your seats, and if you don't like the ones you've been given you don't have to start the whole process again, but simply choose from a drop down menu. But then the good thing about Italian train travel is that the price is always the same, even if you buy it 2 months or 20 minutes in advance, I'm just hoping there are still seats available on the train I want, when I get to Rome and have access to a Trenitalia ticket machine.

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