A Brit in Bavaria – A Bavarian in UK

Good old times vs. modern times…

Part 4 – LONDON CITY and BACK to CYPRUS

by Ralph Kratzer

Today you´ll read the last part of my travel experiences over Christmas and New Year in Germany and the UK. After Part 1 – AUGSBURG (click here) and Part 2 – LONDON-STANSTED (click here), in which was described what can go wrong if one makes a trip, the Christmas holidays in LINCOLNSHIRE, where exceptionally nothing went wrong, were described in the third part of my report (click here).

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New Year´s Dinner

We, my girlfriend Sarah and I, packed our suitcases in the home of her daughter Liv and her son-in-law Ben in Sleaford on 31st December to make our way to her best friends in order to spend New Year’s Eve and New Year with them.

Margaret and Graham live in a suburb of Lincoln, the beautiful ancient capital of the county, about which I reported in my last article. We spent two wonderful days, surrounded by their family and many other friends. Good old times!

Then we went in our rental car to the last leg of our holiday, namely Ruislip, a part of Greater London. Although a sad death in the family shortly before Christmas should have overshadowed all, we were again welcomed there with all heartiness. It seems that I enjoy, as Sarah’s new Bavarian life partner, some kind of an exotic bonus!

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A rainy winter day in London

The day when my girlfriend showed me the City of London and some of its attractions, was a typical English rainy winter day, all grey in grey. Still, I was looking forward to the showplaces England’s capital has to offer, because I knew most of them just from books and TV. To see as much as possible in the short time I proposed to enter one of the many tour buses, showing London to the countless tourists every day. Not usually my thing, but in this case I appreciated it because we were protected from the constant rain and the explanations, given through headphones in different languages during the ride, were really revealing. Therefore, it didn´t even bother us that it was already getting dark. On our next trip to London we will definitely plan two days time for sightseeing! And we will take one of these buses again, not a cheap pleasure but you can hop on and hop off wherever they stop and tickets are valid for 48 hours including a boat trip on the Thames.

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Heathrow Airport

The holiday came to an end and as Sarah still had to add some days because of the upcoming funeral, she took me to London-Heathrow Airport, where at 16:10 my flight with Turkish Airlines should start to Northern Cyprus with the obligatory stopover in Istanbul. The emphasis was once again on “should”!

This time 2 ½ hours stay on the huge Istanbul Atatürk Airport were planned for getting the connecting flight to Ercan. That should really be enough, maybe even for a short stay in my beloved HSBC Lounge…? Food and drinks for free!

But once again it turned out quite differently. I summarize the events in shortened form:

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The new electronic helpers?

Standing in line at the check-in desk … Question of the nice lady: “Have you already been at the check-in machines?” … “No, what is it?” … “You first need to use the machines, then come back to us! “… So off to the electronic helpers … passport is scanned, input of all flight data etc. carried out by the passenger himself … back to the check-in desk … again queuing … “Something seems to be wrong with your flight, please go to the ticket counter of the airline!” … Damn, what is going on now? … More queuing at the ticket counter … Information of the cooperative young man: “Your flight to Istanbul is expected to have 45 minutes delay. It could be that you miss the connecting flight. Do you want to keep the flight or shall we get you to a hotel and postpone your flight to early next morning?”…”No, I’m keeping the flight, 45 minutes delay should be okay to cope with, having over 2 hours time to change planes in Istanbul!?”… “Well, then please return to the check-in desk!” … Grrrrrrr! … Standing in line again … Finally  check in of my baggage and hand over of the boarding pass … Modern times!

What shall I say? Instead of 45 minutes, the start was 2 hours late! Connecting flight goodbye!?

Travel report_6Landing in Istanbul … Departure time of the connecting flight 20 minutes later! … Thank God, only a few gates away … Sprint to the gate … CLOSED! … But the airline staff are still there and just grab their things together … “STOP !!! I just arrived from Heathrow, delayed flight, I have to catch the last aircraft to Ercan, taxi is already ordered!” … They have mercy, call the cabin crew on the plane, and they actually wait for me! … In the meantime, of course, at least 10 other passengers with the same fate have arrived … All want also to be checked in … Fearful question: “Will our luggage make it as well???” Obligatory answer: “Of course, no problem!” …

In the end I arrived in Northern Cyprus with more than 1 hour delay. It is already well after two o´clock in the morning. After passport control I went on to the baggage carousel. A fairly long period of waiting later, long faces at all passengers who had arrived from London Heathrow via Istanbul, none of our luggage was on board!

Travel report_7So again standing in line at the baggage claim office. Well, the taxi is already gone, I thought to myself. But the driver still waited bravely at the arrival area! After I had let him know that it would take “a little” longer I went back to the reclamation office. Of course, all other fellow sufferers now queued in front of me. Setting up the protocol was then a lengthy procedure with some paperwork. Good old times? At 03:30 I finally boarded the taxi and opened the door to Sarah’s house at 04:30. Ufffff! Done!

What awaited me was no electricity and a terrible stench! The heavy rains after our departure nearly 3 weeks ago must have had caused a short circuit, which had kicked out the main fuse. All frozen food in the freezer had thawed and rotted … The happy end of a turbulent day and a seemingly endless night!

By the way, Sarah´s way back to North Cyprus a few days later was even worse! She had booked the same flight at 16:10 from Heathrow and this one then had so much delay that she actually had to stay in a hotel in Istanbul for the night and was punished for unintentional “entry” into Turkey with a fee of 20GBP! What’s wrong with Turkish Airlines? One of the best airlines in the world? LOL! Modern Times!

In mid-March, we will go on vacation to Southern India and Sri Lanka. Let’s see what then will await us there!

View more pictures of our day trip to London – click here!