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Friday, February 8, 2019

Journey to see Home Part 3: Golly! What Could go Wrong?


Never thought I'd write a third post about one simple (kinda) trip, but hey, it's my first trilogy!

[Ed. Note (snort excluded for brevity) - Tolkien has nothing to fear.]

Look it's simple: I'm travel cursed.

After this drops, I'm off to buy a necklace of garlic paste; a plastic virginity Maria statue; a fat budda from anudda mudda thing, and anything else the Dollar Store has to stave away the evilness preventing me travelling from A to B in peace. Here's what happened...

It was a dark, stormy night... Well, it was 9 a.m., the hotel blackout curtains were pulled tight and the storm was the toilet flushing. But, still. It coulda been...

Anyway, I immediately jumped out of bed, about 10 minutes later, and checked if the boys wanted breakfast? All muttered or snored in the negative, so I let them sleep in. This was a free/extra day for us, so I didn't mind. Normally, I drop them at school by 8:30 a.m., but they were off that day, and my flight wasn't until 10:40 p.m.

Leaving the hotel, we grabbed food on the go (a fancy way of saying "McDonald's") and had a fun few hours at a local park. They skipped the super-safe playground and joined some other kids getting all dirty and messy in the adjacent wood. (I loved it!) [Ed. Note: Whoa. Weird font change. I don't know how to correct it. I'm not really an editor...]

Who needs a plastic slide when I can search for a wooden sword?

#1 Son found a (partial?) set of deer antlers, which made his day. An instant warrior/anthropologist, he scrounged around looking for more antlery stuff, while simultaneously holding the smooth antlers up and roaring to bring out his inner Viking.

Antlers, no socks and damp, cold sand. Happy boys!

I dropped them off in the late afternoon and headed to the airport. Using my loving, lovely lounge card, I sat with delight in the Turkish Airlines lounge, testing various ethnic foods and drinks (for quality control purposes only.)

Sadly, on that first leg to London, I was in a "regular" plane, and yup, I was still in the back.

Sadly, this is not a Jumbo Jet.

Eight (13 with the time change) hours later, I was back in Old Blighty for the first time in what felt like many, many days. I checked the board. Five hours before my connection. Wow...

A very small alarm bell rang in my head, but I snoozed it. Probably just jet lag and the consumption of several mini bottles of red wine surreptitiously handed over by a passing crew member from the back of the drinks cart in the middle of the night. As you do.

(The back row rocks.)

With so much time, why not get the hell out of Dodge.co.uk and explore? Windsor was "only down the road," said someone in a blue jacket with a name tag, so it had to be like, true. Google search time. With so much regal history, surely I'd find a Red Lion or a King's Head.

I spent the next 20-25 minutes trying to log on to the "free" wifi hotspot; first with my phone, then my laptop. Nada. Not even a sausage.

*"Golly," I said.

(*The boys may read this one day. Naturally, I can't say fuck.)

Thus, I decided to leave the airport, jump in a black cab, do sightly things, head back and Bob would be my uncle. However, about to go through passport control, the snooze button popped up a second time and I stopped for a long moment.

Nah, I'll hang out here. It'll be safer. What if I get into a traffic accident or something? I mean it's me we're talking about...

Feeling all-grown up and stuff, I trundled instead to the nearest free lounge, but my entrance was stalled for a few minutes by the Keeper of the Free Food, who grilled me and made it clear I must leave after my 3-hour time limit, ("but I could let you stay for an extra 25 minutes if it's not too busy...") It was so confusing. I wanted to leave... but free wine beats whining at all costs.

And there I was a few minutes later, eating an English sausage (the wifi owed me one) and having a drink, when I released my fork onto the plate, and said golly again.

...Why do I have a five-hour window between flights?

I'm not supposed to have a five-hour window, it's only supposed to be a 2.5 hour window, according to my calculations and the slip of paper in my shirt pocket. (It's amazing how fast my mind processes information...)

So, after being admonished about not staying later than 3 hours (with possibly a 25-minute grace period, if the Lord of the Drinks decreed so with a wave of his single-use napkin) I instead vanquished myself after 10 minutes and legged it to a British Airways counter.

"My-original-flight-was-at-13:15-but-the-machine-spat-out-a-boarding-card-with-a-15:40-flight-which-gets-me-into-Stockholm-15-minutes-before-my-next-flight-and-if-you-only-knew-the-drama-between-me-and-Stockholm-last-week-I-can't-go-there-again," I mentioned -- offhandedly.

The chap looked at me, then his screen, and then back at me.

"This is quite strange. You said you had no issues checking in? And, your flight landed on time?"

"Actually, I can go there again, I mean I have to go there, right, so I can go home, but not like this. Huh...?"

I caught up with his questions, leaving my whirling mind to play with itself for a moment. (It tickled.)

"Yes, it's very strange, but, haven't you read the third sentence? I'm travel cursed! That's why I'm here. And, no, no issues. Yes, the flight landed on time."


Various keyboard-clacking moments later, he nodded as a colleague glanced over his shoulder. Another noise was made, but my new ticket to the old, original flight was handed over.

And I wanted to go sight-seeing in Windsor...

(All together now.... "Bloody hell, Koopmans!")

Back in the lounge, I waved my new boarding card at Dr. No and told him (in my head 'cos I didn't want to get kicked out) that I didn't want to stay in his stinking lounge for 3 hours anyway.

[My mate, Eddie's, Note: Please, allow me to apologize for this writer being such a shit, short-post poster.]

(We return you now to this regularly scheduled post, which will hopefully finish sometime in the next 17 years...)

Landing and spending a couple of hours in Stockholm was (this time) a wonderful experience. It was -11c and I loved every second of the half-minute I spent outside.

My View in Stockholm. It's snowing. Again.

The only issue was an hour delay, which made me think for a millisecond, "pfffft, I could so have gone to Windsor," but I shushed that away and was very happy to land in Malaga, even at 1 a.m. local.

This is not Malaga.

As I had a 7 a.m. appointment in the area, I'd booked an airport hotel for the night and confirmed a late check-in. A taxi would cost 20 euros, (+/- 5 billion dollars in my jet lagged currency-exchanged-mind.) I called the front desk and asked about a shuttle. No surprise there wasn't, but what he said next made me laugh. (If it doesn't kill you, it makes you drinker, er, I mean stronger, right?)

"Ah yes, Mr. Koospman, we have a small problem with your room," he said, sounding suspiciously like Basil Fawlty.

"Dude, what problem? I know I'm late, but I called and emailed you."

"Yes, well there's been water damage in your room, and we had to cancel your reservation."

"And no one thought to let me know? I'm about to spend 5 billion dollars on a taxi."

"No, no. We have made a new reservation on your behalf at a neighboring airport hotel."

He gave me the name, and I waited two minutes so he could call the hotel, explain they'd golly-ed up and needed a room. Stat.

"Hi, I'm the guy with the water leaked room."

"Yes, Mr. Cooperman. Everything is ready and we'll see you soon."

And, the new room/hotel was fine!

Which gives me a chance to finish this travel trilogy by saying to my boys that everything I went through these last couple of weeks was so completely worth it.

Sons, when you do read this, know I'd do it (or have done it!) again in a heartbeat. Anything so we can spend lots more time together and go on some more silly, fun, driving-Papa-mad fieldtrips.

(Just hope I don't have to go to Stockholm or London first :)

#3 Son impersonating how I felt when I got home.


Elephant's Child said...

Of course it was worth it.
Mind you the purportedly Chines curse 'may you live in interesting times' comes to mind.
Dull is good.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Always listen to those warning bells in your head. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
And when your boys do read this, I'm sure they will have seen that word by then anyway.

Lisa said...

You really should write comedy! You make even the most difficult things sound so hilarious. So glad you got some good time with your boys. I know they must miss you as much as you miss them...

Elizabeth Seckman said...

The longer I stay married to my husband, the more that word bounces around my head.

I would be a nervous wreck traveling overseas. I'd be afraid of doing the time changes wrong and the +- 5 billion dollar thing would be my biggest concern.

Gina Gao said...

Traveling in and of itself is already exhausting, pair that with these inconveniences? Might as well stay home. Thank you for sharing!


Jo said...

You think you have problems, I have a friend who's family are all travel cursed. So much so, a volcano erupted in Iceland so she couldn't fly from London because of the ash. With their family, if it can go wrong, it will.

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