All the great Internet cheeseballs and philosophers say the journey is as important as the destination. Sitting on English tarmac recently, still belted in an hour and a half after we were meant to land at our destination, I actually decided that actually they were right.
My journey began pretty routinely; I skipped onto the tube, my suitcase wheeling with delight, then settled into the short & cosy train ride out to the airport. Once through the fun of security (read: giggling at all the puzzled, annoyed people waiting until the head of the queue before emptying their pockets, removing their belts and looking confused at electronics being hauled our of their bags by bored looking officials. They clearly don’t read any of the billion signs despite a half a hour queue looking at a variety of them…)
Strolling though (my outfit chosen for the ease of getting through metal detectors and lack if pockets for stay coins to hide in) I
decided a glass of champers, an hour of reading my book and a healthy session of people-watching was in order. Students in neon trainers sprawled poutily on the floor, pearl framed blue-rinsed Ladies complaining about the waste of salad leaves as garnish and elderly gentlemen corralled kids astride suitcases with a vengeance against ankles.
Eventually we boarded, the scrum of people ecstatic to race onto the plane and then, er, wait as the rest of the scrum boarded (personally, I like to join the queue after the rush goes but before the stragglers run in). Once sat in our seats with a growing sense of anticipation we clicked our seat belts on, and waited.
The captain’s voice rang out after a pregnant delay, advising us that our flight was delayed due to civil action (the air
controllers union striking) and we were hoping to get away in the next 40 minutes – the delays causing a change in staff.
Half an hour or two later, and a chat with the lovely air stewardesses – both ladies who grew up in Northern England with
childhood dreams of the glory of air hostessing but lacking in the height requirements that used to be levied, we ended up discussing Britan’s best fish & chips restaurants. Our shortlist ended up falling to Brighton (best with bubbly on the pier we decided) and upppp North (where the fish is so fresh it almost flips onto your plate).
It turned our we were among the lucky travellers – several other airlines were forced to cancel flights due to time restrictions or kick passengers off to ensure that hostess to passenger safety ratios were kept. By this point the kids on the flight deck were getting a little rowdy, and a few passengers donated pens and notebooks for scribbling (and perhaps a touch of dribbling on) much to the relief the frazzled parents.
A hour after we were meant to leave (and a hilarious chat with my seat mates about Turkish wine, New Zealand lamb and their plans to get hands-on aka feet-in harvesting and processing french grapes) our knight-in-shining armour Domingo, a cabin manager fresh from Basel, arrived to a cheer from the relieved passengers (not to mention a few cat calls…) all keen to land (and eat feta baguettes. Why so specific I’m not sure, but even her mates teased the girl about it.)
It was at this point I realised my blog voice narrator had kicked in, so taking advantage of the forced downtime I rolled out the smartphone and begin dashing down the moments that kept me smiling. After a few more delays – we began to move then settled into a cruelly promising taxiing position, before eventually we began to move and then exalted at liftoff – definitely aided by my hilarious seat mates’ pretend flintstones foot pedal assistance. Finally we landed, all relieved to escape our lovely prison, and began queuing for the immigration.
Who had to be flown in from another airport.
After another good 15 minutes of anxiously waiting tourists (needing to collect rental cars before the hire places closed), to another great cheer – and some excited hugging, the feta baguette girl striking again – we funnelled through the final barriers to freedom and our beds. My Kiwi passport got a surprise wink from the immigration officers and a victorious stamp, and there I was, again on foreign soil. A new adventure on the oft.
Travel definitely has it’s downsides, it’s true…