Thursday, April 07, 2011

Currently out of Cyprus - a LONG day

Today started for me at 2.30am when Richard's alarm went off. Actually he set it for 2.25, as mine was set for 2.30. I'd had about four hours sleep, so started putting on clothes, feeling not as tired as I had expected.

My flight to the UK was scheduled for 5.00am and since I hadn't been able to check in online, I had to be at the airport by around 3.00. I'd pretty much finished packing the night before, though I thought of a couple of extra things as I was going to sleep, and then even remembered them before leaving.

When we arrived at the airport, Richard lifted my case out of the car, and tried to wheel it. Only to discover that it didn't have wheels. It should have done. At some point they must have broken off... and we have no idea why it wasn't thrown away. He told me I'd have to buy a 'wheely thing with bungee cords'. I had no idea what he meant but he said I would see some at the luggage shop once I had checked in.

So that was tbe first problem. Since I could lift my case easily (it only weighed 9.5kg) it didn't seem like too big a deal to me.

Then we went into the airport, and found where I was supposed to check in... only to find that there were no Cyprus Air staff in evidence. A few other passengers were hanging around, but it was another twenty minutes or so before the staff wandered along and got the desks ready. We might as well have had another half hour's sleep.

Anyway, all was well and I checked in, and went through passport control... entirely on my own in an airport for the first time EVER.

I looked for a luggage shop as instructed, but could not find one. I wandered around for a while, then decided to be more organised, and walked more logically around every available shop. I could have bought perfumes or CDs or books or sweets or toys or handbags... but no suitcases, or backpacks, or anything else that could be considered luggage. So, no chance of wheely things with bungee cords.

So I went to find a sitting area near my gate, and read on my Kindle for an hour or so. I remembered to buy a bottle of water for the flight, and boarded when told to do so. I'm basically quite familiar with airports - I must have made over 50 flights over the years, it's just that usually one of my menfolk looks after everything and I simply trail after them. I find airports overwhelming at the best of times, and I don't do well after only four hours sleep.

I had a window seat, and a Cypriot man sat in the aisle seat of my row, with nobody in the middle. When we were about to take off, he spotted a completely empty row just ahead, so moved to that, giving me all three seats for myself. Which enabled me to lie down in reasonable comfort, once the seat-belt signs were off... but I couldn't sleep. I never can on aeroplanes.

Breakfast arrived about an hour into the flight - it was after 6.00am Cyprus time, so not unreasonable. It wasn't a bad breakfast; I always request the vegetarian options for aeroplane meals as they're generally a lot nicer than the default meat ones. I was pleased with a little fruit salad, and ate a veggie-cutlet thing with some green beans. I noticed that the meal was officially vegan... which is a little odd as they provided cream cheese to go with some crackers, and milk for my coffee!

Perhaps it wasn't a good idea to drink coffee as it ensured I wouldn't sleep... but I enjoyed my Kindle for the next few hours, though feeling increasingly tired. Happily they provided another (bigger) coffee about 45 minutes before landing, so I was fairly awake and had no problem going through passport control, picking up my wheelless case, etc.

I did look for luggage shops at Heathrow, but there were no obvious ones. I'd used an airport trolley anyway, which I was able to take quite a long way into the underground place. I bought my ticket to Euston (five pounds) and although the ticket selling guy told me two possible ways to get there, I followed the instructions Tim had given me, which involved changing at Kings Cross. I do not like or understand the London Underground and this part of the journey had worried me the most. The tube was pretty crowded - standing room only, even at Heathrow, which got worse the further we progressed into London, but I suppose it was still rush hour.

Thankfully it wasn't far to the Northern Line for Euston at Kings Cross and I found myself at Euston with an hour and a half to hang around before my booked train to Birmingham. I was able to collect my pre-booked ticket (booking in advance means I paid six pounds, rather than the 47 it would have cost to buy today!) from a machine, and bought a Boots 'meal deal' for lunch then sat down to read some more.

I got on the train at 11.54, although I nearly went to the wrong platform... and read for most of the two-and-a-quarter hours journey to Birmingham.

Then out of New Street and a 35 bus. I have no worries about Birmingham buses, although I didn't expect to have to wait quite as long as I did - about 25 minutes for a bus that's supposed to come every 7-10 minutes. It wasn't even as if I'd just missed one, since someone else had been waiting 15 minutes before I arrived!

However, it eventually came, followed immediately by another, and I made my way to Moseley. I had to carry my wheel-less case up the street... but I made it. And was pleased to see my mother and (when he got in) Tim.

It's now 8.20pm. I'm determined to stay awake until at least 9.00 so I don't wake at some horrendously early hour in the morning. It's been a long day, but since so many things could potentially have gone wrong, I think I'm quite pleased that the only minor problems were a case without wheels, a lack of ground staff at Larnaka Airport, and a long wait for the bus.


paula said...

welcome home :-)
Apparently there was an unstable crane in the city centre today - hence the bus delay! Most were rerouted via digbeth.
Enjoy your stay and have lots of fun!

DaisyCrazy said...

a long trip on so few hours of sleep. glad you made it :)
wish you enjoy your holiday!

Lynda said...

Well done, Sue, on your first 'solo' flight. Although I've travelled quite a few times on my own now, I still get anxious before and sometimes, during, about those connection details. Recently, travelling with a female colleague, having arrived on a domestic flight at Jo'burg airport we unwittingly rechecked into the domestic again, even though we had an ongoing international flight to Heathrow. As we had 8 hours to 'kill' we checked into a lounge, and it was then that the receptionist noticed our ongoing flight was international - despite coming through security!!
When we arrived in UK, we shared the story with our husbands, glad for an alert clerk, who had possibly saved us have a last minute panic, trying to get to international in time for our flight - whew!