MEANS OF TRANSPORT
The first means of transport in human history were people's feet. After somebody had invented a wheel, a lot of various types of vehicles were developed. At present there are a lot of means of transport which help people to move from one to another place, to get to very distant places in a very short time, to overcome seas and oceans and even fly to the stars, to transport huge amounts of goods.
People travel in order to reach places that are close or far away, they travel for fun or from necessity. Travelling takes up more time in our lives than most of us imagine. An everyday form of travelling may be going shopping, commuting to school, to work or visiting friends. There are two ways of travelling: one is using our own means of transport and the other is to rely on the public transportation services. People and goods can be transported by land, by air or by water.
The main fact that speaks for water transport are the relatively small costs. That is why rivers, seas, and oceans are continuously being filled with new cargo and passenger vessels. Huge tankers full of goods cruise the seas. Fishing boats and ships help fishers at their work. Ferries, ocean liners and other steamboats take quite a long period of time to carry you to the place of destination, though. The advantage is that one can take almost as much luggage as one likes. In general not many people have the courage to board a ship because although the trip is inexpensive they can still become sea-sick. For water sports or holidaymaking we use boats, motorboats, surfings, canoes, water ski, sailboats, yachts, etc.
GOING BY AIR
Unlike sea travel, going by air consumes huge sums of money but is the fastest way of travelling. An air ticket ensures us a comfortable seat on the plane which can fly us to any place in the world within a few hours. At the airport we go through the passport control and security check, have our luggage (which has a limited weight, of course) checked and then wait until the plane is ready for take-off. When we are lucky and our flight is neither cancelled nor postponed we can look forward to a safe landing on the runway of another airport. For private use and for some other purposes (health care, army and police needs) helicopters are usually used. Sometimes in the past, balloons and airships cruised the sky. Now, balloon flying is a very romantic sport.
TRAVELLING BY LAND
MOTOR ROAD VEHICLES
Land offers the greatest variety of means of transport. There are motor road vehicles and bicycles on the one hand and rail on the other. Personal vehicles (a coupe, a saloon, a convertible car, …), motorcycles and lorries are the most common. There are also other means of transport on four wheels - buses and trolleybuses. Of rail vehicles, which are almost exclusively designed for public use, we could mention trains, trams, and the underground.
Cars and motorbikes are expensive to purchase and in addition one also has to pay for petrol, which if the vehicle has a big consumption, costs a lot of money as well. For short and middle distances a car is fast enough so as not to get too tired by travelling, unless we get into a traffic jam. Also the space for luggage in the trunk of the car is quite large. The best thing about cars is that they will take you almost anywhere at any time. Modern cars with soft seats and a lot of space for the legs are sometimes even more comfortable than the interior of a plane. To get a driver's licence one must know how to drive and know the traffic rules well. One of the rules says that cars are to be driven on the right side of the road. This isn't true in Great Britain, there people drive on the left.
Little children like to ride their bikes and scooters; the teenagers would like to drive their motorcycles or their fathers' cars.
On the roads we can meet many other types of vehicles. When we are ill or when an accident happens, an ambulance takes us to the hospital. Vans and lorries transport various kinds of goods, dust-cars take away litter from our homes, cisterns are used for transportation of liquid goods (petrol, some chemical products and so on), fire-cars drive very fast along the roads when there is a fire somewhere, the police have special cars too. Sometimes we can see long container lorries on the roads. They transport goods put into large containers. The farmers use jeeps, tractors and combine harvesters.
PUBLIC MEANS OF TRANSPORT – BUSES AND TRAINS
The most frequent public means of transport are buses and trains. The network of bus and train stops covers most inhabited places. Public transport is cheaper, but also less comfortable. The present-day coach is a very comfortable bus often air-conditioned and equipped with video and with a possibility of some refreshment. Travelling by coach is very fast. You can admire the nature along the road, read, watch the video and talk with other passengers or sleep, of course. But it is not very good for your body - you need to stretch your legs sometimes. Travelling by train is a little slower than by coach, but it is more comfortable. The train consists of a locomotive and some carriages. When we travel by a fast (express) train, we can visit a buffet car or travel in a sleeping car. But the trains in our country are sometimes dirty and a little bit dangerous. Huge amounts of goods are transported by goods trains - their carriages are called lorries or trucks.
The bus and train stops in major cities are called stations. An ordinary railway station looks like this: a big hall with a ticket office where one can buy a single or a return ticket and a seat reservation, the departures and arrivals board, a left luggage office or lockers, telephones, waiting halls, a restaurant, a drink (soda or coffee) machine, a book-stall, a barber's shop, a lavatory and a few flowers around a little fountain. From this hall one goes through the underpassage directly onto the right platform. From the platform we get on the train and look for a free seat in the non-smoking compartment. If all the seats are occupied we must move into another carriage and try again there. When we are seated and the train starts, we can spend the time talking with a fellow passenger, observe the landscape out of the window, eat some food, play cards with a friend or sleep. When the conductor comes we hand him the tickets and he checks them. There are no conductors on many trains in Britain, but you usually hand over your ticket to a ticket collector after the journey before leaving the platform. After the train's arrival we can get off.
PUBLIC MEANS OF TRANSPORT – UNDERGROUND AND TAXIS
In big cities underground (subways) with several different tracks have been built in order to relieve the trams and buses (the most interesting of them are the famous double-deckers in London). They are the fastest means of urban transportation and the underground trains usually go every five minutes on average. Many workers and pupils depend on the underground every morning. It can take them at a low rate from the suburbs to the city and back. The taxi (or cabs) in big cities can just be called by phone or hailed while they pass by in the street.
In the mountains people sometimes use a funicular in order to get to the top of some very high hills and mountains. In the science-fiction novels the space rockets are the common means of transport.
TRAVELLING ON VACATION
When travelling on vacation we should look for accommodation appropriate to our demands. In the first place there are hotels and motels which differ in price and comfort (both are on a slightly lower level in motels). Before our arrival we should make a reservation, book a room in such a hotel. We can get bed and breakfast or full board at a daily or weekly rate. All this can be taken care of at the reception desk where the desk clerk arranges everything necessary. Then we can enjoy our stay with the help of some of the hotel's services - a restaurant, a bar, a coffee shop, a travel desk, a theatre ticket office, a hairdresser's shop and beauty salon or sports facilities like a swimming pool or a fitness centre. The motels are situated mostly by the roads. The guest can park his car at the door of his own room. A special kind of accommodation for young people are youth hostels (mainly in Great Britain) where it is possible to stay overnight at a low rate but only for a limited number of times. Some tourists prefer to stay at a farm or they rent a room on their own.
WHO IS WHO IN EXPLORATION
Sir Francis Drake (1545 - 1596) English buccaneer and explorer. In 1577 -80 he circumnavigated the globe in the Golden Hind. During his last expedition to the West Indies he died of dysentery off the Panama coast.
Walter Raleigh (1552 - 1618) English adventurer. His attempts to establish a colony in Virginia, North America, were unsuccessful. Under James I he was imprisoned in the Tower of London on a charge of conspiracy. In 1616 he was released to lead a gold-seeking expedition to the Orinoco River, which failed, and he was beheaded on his return.
Henry Hudson (1565-1611) English explorer and navigator. He made two unsuccessful attempts to find the Northeast Passage to China. In 1609 he reached New York Bay and sailed up the river which now bears his name and explored it. He died at sea when he was sat adrift in a boat by a mutinous crew.
James Cook (1728-1779) English navigator and explorer. He lead three expeditions to the southern hemisphere and discovered Australia and New Zealand. He was killed by the natives in Hawaii.
David Livingstone (1813-1873) Scottish missionary explorer. He was the first European to explore many parts of Central and East Africa.
Henry Stanley (1841-1904) American explorer of Welsh origin. In 1871 he joined Livingstone and they explored Africa together. Stanley made four expeditions to Africa and working for the New York Herald he was asked by his editor to find the ailing Livingstone, which he did on his second expedition.
Francis Drake Walter Raleigh Henry Hudson James Cook
THE CHANNEL TUNNEL
There is one more way of getting to Britain today - through the Channel Tunnel. The first time Britain has been connected to Continental Europe since the Ice Age. But don't imagine an ordinary tunnel with road traffic under the sea. No! Only special trains can transport people, cars, lorries, coaches and caravans through it.
Le Shuttle is the latest, easiest and most exciting way to pop across the Channel. Le Shuttle is a special train that takes passengers and their cars through the Channel Tunnel. They simply drive into a bright air-conditioned carriage. The passengers can stay in their cars or get out to stretch their legs and see their friends travelling in another carriage. Toilets are available on board but restaurants and other facilities are available only at the terminals on the French and British mainland because the journey itself takes only 35 minutes. The trains operate all year, up to four times hourly, 24 hours a day.
The Channel Tunnel was first suggested by a French engineer, Albert Mathieu, in 1802. There have been two attempts to build a tunnel under the Channel, one in 1882 and the other in 1974. Both attempts failed because of lack of money. In 1986 the British and French governments agreed to pay for a tunnel and digging began in 1988.
The Channel Tunnel was opened in 1994. It is 69 km long and goes from Folkestone in England to Calais in France. The tunnel is from 25 to 45 metres below the seabed. Prices are per car, whatever the number of passengers.
After we get off the train we have to go through the immigration Office and Customs. All visitors must fill in a landing card, hand it at passport control and then be ready to answer some questions like ”What is the purpose of your visit?”, ”How long do you plan to stay in Britain?”, "Do you intend to work here?". If the officer doesn't like your answers, you can be sent back home!
CABLE CARS OF SAN FRANCISCO
Some cities have special symbols. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, The Tower and Big Ben in London or the Statue of Liberty in New York. San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, is well known for the Golden Gate Bridge and the island of Alcatraz. But San Francisco is known for the cable cars which are the greatest tourist attraction throughout the year because the weather is usually mild.
This device is a result of the great California gold rush (1848-50). The vehicle able to remove ore from mines was needed. This need was filled by Andrew S. Hallidie, a mechanic and manufacturer of cables, who designed and built a cableway, along which a car loaded by ore was towed out of the mine. Later, Hallidie adapted his invention for other uses and its descendants have provided transportation over steep hills for millions of people all over the world.
The first cable railroad was opened for business in San Francisco on August 1st, 1873. This line was 853 metres long, up and down some of the hilliest streets in the country. Since their introduction, the cable cars have become one of the world's greatest tourist attractions and are regarded as a symbol of San Francisco. The cars are pulled along by a moving cable powered by a central motor. Each car has a grip that fits into a slot on the cable which moves continuously and lies below and between the rails on which the cars ride. The car moves when the operator clamps the grip onto the cable; it stops when he releases the grip and puts on the brakes. A feature of the system is a turntable at each end of the line that enables the cars to reverse direction.
Within a few years, the Hallidie’s invention had spread to 20 American cities and several foreign countries.
London's bright red double-decker buses are almost as famous as some of the city's historical monuments. Although there have been new versions of the buses over the years, they still keep their very special character.
Public transport began in London in about 1620 with vehicles called hackneys - four wheeled coaches. The name came from French - this word was used for a strong horse which people could hire for a journey. There were 300 hackneys in 1654 and 1100 in 1805. Until 1831 the hackneys had a monopoly on public transport in London. But soon another type of coach - omnibus - appeared. The advantage of this service was that the coach could pick people up or set them down at any point along a short route. There was a uniformed conductor on the coach and he collected money and gave the tickets. Omnibus departed at guaranteed time. Omnibus was cheaper than its rivals but was too expensive for ordinary working people. In 1834 there were 376 licensed omnibuses in London. By 1856 the London General Omnibus Company owned 600 of the capital's 810 omnibuses.
London's first trams (pulled by horses) were introduced in 1861 by an American called George Train! The first successful lines were opened around 1870 and by law these had to provide special workmen's tickets, usually at half price.
By the end of the century people were beginning to look for alternatives to the horse as a source of power. Power from electric batteries and from steam was tried unsuccessfully and at first petrol-engined vehicles did not seem to be very successful either. But the early 1900s were difficult years for the horse bus companies and so they did eventually begin to try mechanisation. By about 1908 there were more than a thousand motor buses of various types in London, though they were not as reliable as the trams which were now operating on electric. In 1908 a number of bus companies joined together into one big company and began a universal kind of bus. This was ready in 1910 and was called the B type.
This ancestor of today's double-decker was a great success. But it did not look much like the bus tourists see these days: the top deck was open and so was the curving staircase leading to it. Only later did the bus acquire pneumatic tyres and comfortable seats - and, even more importantly, the red paint which is such a necessary part of its character.