Monday 3 December 2012

Getting home

The few days in Germany went in the blink of an eye.  Saturday night I had to pack and somehow I had twice as much as what I'd arrived with.  I borrowed an extra bag from Claudia and managed to get it all sorted.  The plan for an early night didn't eventuate - we sat up watching the rest of one of the Twilight movies we'd started 2 night previously.

With my flight scheduled for 7.20am we had an extremely early morning.  I was up at 4.15am and we were out the door not much after 5am.  Snow!  There was an hours drive ahead on icy, snow covered autobahns!!  It took a little longer than usual but it was better to keep at a safe speed.  It continued to snow most of the way and only the first section had been de-iced. 

By the time we reached the terminal I was hoping there wouldn't be a queue at the bag drop.  I was in luck as there was nobody there at all.  No sooner had I walked away from the counter and I heard them calling my flight saying to go to the gate.  A bit of a rush but everything was fine.  We boarded the plane on time but then nothing.  There was a bank up of planes needing de-icing and the snow continued to fall.  It was the first time I'd ever flown when it had been snowing.  A truck with a cherry picker bucket came along and sprayed the plane with some sort of foam. 

Eventually we headed off but we were an hour late then.  By the time we approached the English Channel it was a lovely clear and sunny day.  I had no idea there were wind turbines in the Channel but they were everywhere.  We had the best view of London that I've ever had on a flight.  It was almost like being on a sightseeing flight.  We flew low and did a big sweeping curve over the city.  The Thames is amazing from the air and we could easily make out the London Eye and Tower Bridge.  It was amazing but my camera was up in the locker and the seatbelt sign was on!

There was another delay on the ground.  First while we waited for someone to activate the guidance system for the plane to get into the gate, then we waited ages for someone to bring across the walkway.  The poor old captain kept apologizing.  It was the first time I've spoken to nobody going out of the airport.  I used the e-gate at the border control and was rather alarmed when it came up with instructions that at first I thought must be a mistake as I couldn't read them!  Lucky I didn't ask for help before taking a better look.  The machine assumed that as my passport is Finnish that I must know the language.  Hmmmm... not much.... but enough to determine that I should remove my passport!  Nobody to talk to at customs either - the blue gate if you arrive from an EU country and you're straight out the door.

Next was the train to London and getting to Euston station.  I couldn't believe it when I arrived there to find I'd have to wait another 2 1/4 hours for the train to Stafford.  It got worse.  As I looked at the departure board they started cancelling trains.  There was a signal problem around Watford Junction and it was causing chaos.  I kept hoping my train would go as planned.  It did (half an hour late) but with about 3 times as many people as it probably normally has.  It was absolutely packed to capacity without an inch to move.  I won't go into the absurd muddle then went on the entire trip that took nearly double the time it should.  Nobody on the train was sure if it was going to stop where they wanted to go as the announcements kept contradicting each other.  I was utterly over travelling by then, having been on the go for 12 hours by then.  I ended up getting a taxi from Stafford back to the marina and arrived with great relief.  I'd have been half way to Australia in the time it took me to get home!!!

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