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September 25th, 2007

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03:33 pm - Yesterday was a Monday ...
Yesterday started quite nicely. rwrylsin and I were in Paris (always a good way to start the day), and headed to the Louvre around 10ish, meeting rwrylsin's friend M and her partner S there, then diving in[1]. We wandered around together as far as the Mona Lisa, then split up, rwrylsin and I seeing most of the gallery the Mona Lisa was in, dropping down briefly to the Asia, Oceania, Americas and Africa space (apparently just a teaser for the Musée du Quai Branly), then back up, briefly into the mediaeval Louvre area (it is built on the remains of an old keep from the early 13th century, and you can walk around one section with remains of walls and an old donjon (all about 4 metres high, and still quite impressive)), and then around some galleries of French art from the 19th to 17th centuries (I figured that we've seen Greek and Roman stuff in the British Museum, and Egyptian stuff in Cairo, so we should visit the "home" collection for the Louvre).

At that point, we were museumed out (either with tired legs or general art overload), so we went for lunch at a cafe called Angelina's (apparently highly recommended for its hot chocolate, and I believe rwrylsin will testify to that). That was quite pleasant, and fortified us for the return to the hotel to pick up our suitcase, and start making our way to Charles de Gaulle airport. Even that went smoothly, via Metro and RER, and we reached the airport in good time, browsed for last minute tourist purchases (rwrylsin ended up with some chocolate), and checked in and got our flight.

Here is where the problems started. During the previous night, my throat had been drying out (and waking me up with it), warning me of an impending cold. By the time of the flight, this had developed into a very sore throat, and blocked sinuses. My sinuses almost never get blocked when I have colds, but they chose this time to go, with two short flights consisting mostly of changes in altitude coming up. Oh joy ... and indeed, I struggled to get my ears to pop for all of the flight to Heathrow, and the left ear was blocked until well after we landed.

Ahhh, Heathrow. A blot on the world of airports. Two hours should be enough time to transfer between terminals, get something to eat, and get the next flight, right ? Getting from T4 to T1 took about 15 minutes (although it seemed interminable), but then we hit security going in to T1. About 350-400 people queued up, and only three X-ray machines operating. Simply ridiculous, and it took over 40 minutes to get through. At that point, we should have dashed downstairs to get something to eat in the "international" areas of T1, since there are a couple of places that have a tolerable range of meals (English pub food mainly, but that's sufficient when travelling). Instead, though, I forget that the domestic portion of T1 was devoid of anything except Costa outlets, and we joined the passport checking queue to head to T1. I got whisked through (UK passport, thankyou!), but rwrylsin had to wait, along with about 25 others, and wait, and wait. There were three people processing passports there, but anyone walking up with an EU passport got whisked through ahead of the "other" passports, and a few of the "other"s had complications (screaming kids and forgetting to fill in landing cards, mainly), holding things up even more.

That left us with about 30 minutes before our scheduled departure, so we moved on through to the domestic part of T1 - only to find that the flight was delayed by 40 minutes or so. Gah ! If I'd felt up to it, we could (probably) have gone back through the passport checkpoint and to the other eating venues, before going back through to the domestic area, but at that stage I couldn't face any more queueing. So, we devoured a couple of Costa paninis, and waited. Gate 5 was full, because it looked like most of the domestic BA flights yesterday were running behind, so we waited in Gate 6 for a while. Finally, it looked like some planes arrived at 5, so we went through and waited - then noticed people starting to head through the Gates 74-90 exit. Checked the screens and found that our flight was the one which had moved - at that stage, no announcement had been made over the PA system, and although someone at the boarding desk assured me that they'd made one, I remain unconvinced ... because they lost 4 passengers somewhere.

Yup, after getting all nicely boarded, they had to unload all the baggage (after waiting, and waiting), and hunt through for the bags belonging to the missing people, and then reload (waiting, waiting ...), and finally got us underway, about 2 hours late.
And of course, then we finally took off, and my poor abused sinuses decided they weren't going to play this game any more, and stayed resolutely unpopped (mainly on the left side) pretty much all of the flight. Finally staggered into Glasgow well after 10, waited quite a while for our bag, waited ages for the bus to the long-term car park, and finally went home (via a 24-hour ASDA to pick up essential bread, milk, etc).

Note to self (since I seem to keep forgetting): Avoid any flight plan which involves a transfer at any London airport, particularly Heathrow. If only the train option didn't cost so much ...

[1] Not literally, although leaping through the glass pyramid would certainly be a way of attracting attention.
Current Mood: sicksick

(4 touches | En garde !)


[User Picture]
Date:September 25th, 2007 03:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, you poor things! Being ill is hard, coping with travelling delays is hard. Having to go through the two things together must have been almost unbearable! A UK passport is a very handy thing indeed, which you don't really appreciate until you have to wait for someone who hasn't got one. It does seem very unfair that they were letting EU passport holders jump the queue though; I'd have thought it was OK to have say 2 or 3 out of the 4 booths open being reserved for EU, but surely once you're in a queue that should be it?

What you need is a nice holiday to recover from the.. er.. holiday :) Oh well, at least you got to see all the lovely sights before getting plaguey.
[User Picture]
Date:September 26th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC)
Hope you feel better soon!
[User Picture]
Date:September 26th, 2007 12:32 pm (UTC)

Happy Birthday!

Very Sensible day to have one :o)

- Sha

[User Picture]
Date:September 27th, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC)
Ahhh, Heathrow. A blot on the world of airports.

Yep. My least favourite place in the universe (at least, the bits I've been to).

Much sympathy about the problems. Anyone who's been through Heathrow since the July 05 London bombings will have experienced something similar.

I've clearly been here too long, though, because this is how I read your story:

Smooth transit from T4 to T1, only a 40 min. wait to get through security, a mere 35 mins to get through passport control (I have previously experienced 1.5 hours for this bit alone), a relaxing meal-break at a conveniently-located Costa, a flight gate change but hassle-free boarding, slight hiatus due to baggage, hassle-free return flight.

Like I said, I've clearly been here too long.

Hope your cold gets better soon.

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