A Brit in Bavaria – A Bavarian in UK
Good old times vs. modern times…
Part 2 – LONDON-STANSTED
by Ralph Kratzer
For introduction, I would like to thank all the readers of our website. The first part of my travel report from last week about my hometown Augsburg was very well received and I had some very positive feedback. To remember the post – click here!
After our short stay in Bavaria my daughter took us – that’s my girlfriend Sarah and me – in time to the Munich Airport.
After our experience with the flight to Istanbul some days before, we were prepared for anything this time. But the flight to London Stansted, this time with Easy Jet, went off on time from Munich! Simply German thoroughness…??? In England we first wanted to go by train from London to Lincolnshire, more specifically to Grantham, in the Eastern part of the British island. There a rental car would be waiting for us the following day. For checking out, getting our luggage and the time to walk to the railway station, which is located directly underneath the airport, we had planned more than an hour.
Since it was already late afternoon and none of us had to drive later, we ordered two small bottles of red wine each on the plane, for which Easy Jet requested a steep price, but so what? We were finally on holiday!
We landed at Stansted punctually and left the plane in a happy mood, this time without rushing.
A monorail train should take us quickly from the plane to the airport´s main building, and the rest should be a child´s play… we thought! No sooner had we completed the first metres walking out of the plane, all passengers were stopped by airport personnel. What was going on? A loudspeaker announcement came forward: “Full power failure in almost all parts of the airport! Key features would run on emergency generators but no monorail, no baggage, no passport control and all indicator boards, either not working or with false information…” Oh great! We were requested to be patient, replacement buses were organized to pick us up. In North Cyprus we are used to regular power cuts, but in London???
Our pleasant time buffer shrank with every minute. No buses in sight. My girlfriend finally had an urgent business to be done and disappeared in direction of the toilets. She had just disappeared when travelers were asked to enter the now arrived first bus – it was actually our turn, because we were pretty far forward in the queue, but no trace of Sarah! “Typical woman”, I was thinking! So we had to keep on waiting. When the next bus came, it was said: “Please, families with little children and old people first!…” “Damned, are we on the sinking Titanic?”, came into my mind. You can not imagine what some people´s interpretation for young children and old people can be!
Finally, we were able to make it clear to the airport staff that we had to catch a train in exactly 30 minutes! They grabbed us for the next bus. Once in the central area – total chaos! Queues everywhere! Thank God we both have new modern passports with microchip. So we did not have to line up at the passport control, but instead go through the passport control machines… modern times!
But then the baggage claim! There were numerous announcements on the indicator boards, so we stared, like everybody else, onto the neon writings, but our flight from Munich was not displayed. Now Sarah made up for it because she had a glorious flash of inspiration! “If the indicators provide false information, as we had previously been told, perhaps our suitcases are already on one of the treadmills!” So we looked around and, in fact, already on the second carrousel we found our luggage, what a luck! Time to train departure: 10 minutes!
We sprinted as fast as we could towards the railway station. Sarah’s case had lost one of its wheels on the flight, so I carried her luggage (heavy!) and she rolled my Samsonite (easy!). At the very last second we should catch the train, not before having to grapple with one of the ticket machines, because although we had booked online, we had to collect the tickets first… modern times!
Bathed in sweat we sank into our seats on the train. And off we went towards Lincolnshire.
The change of trains at Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, proved again to be more difficult than expected, as in the good old days, there were loudspeaker announcements at the railway stations, telling travellers at what platform the connecting trains would depart, but those days are obviously gone… at least at this station. So, we had to go upstairs with all the luggage, rush to every single platform and check the electronic information boards there, whith the result that we arrived at the train to Grantham again at the last moment!
In the end we arrived, despite all difficulties, at our final destination of the day, where we were picked up by Sarah’s daughter. On her question, how our journey had been, we were not able to respond initially…
The days in Lincolnshire, however, went smoothly and harmoniously. We celebrated Christmas with the family and Sarah showed me some of the beautiful historical sites of the university city of Lincoln, which I liked very much, and of course some pubs in the area, which even pleased me better… good old times!
But more about that in Part 3 of my travel report!