Posts Tagged ‘airport’

The time I met Danda at the airport

A little while ago, Danda jetted off into the sun for some Portugal-based fun. I was supposed to be away at the same time but due to some nonsense rules in Texas prisons, I had to postpone it. So I was here and Danda went and had beach fun with family.

On the day Danda was due home, his flight was getting in at 23.15. I left the house at about 10pm and, anticipating boredom, took a Narnia book with me, Prince Caspian to be exact. Now Prince Caspian is a pretty good book, not very like the film apart from the basic story. There is no romance between Caspian and Susan and no rivalry between Caspian and Peter.

Anyway, there I was, on one train then the next, head in my book, wondering if Prince Caspian would beat Miraz and would Aslan come back and help by waking up the trees. There was a lot going on, you know?!

I got to Gatwick and took the shuttle from the South Terminal to the North, head in my book. I got to the North Terminal and looked on the arrivals screen. Danda’s plane had landed and the baggage was in the baggage hall. He’d be about fifteen minutes yet. I might as well chill for a few minutes.

There was a Costa coffee next to a doorway and a sign saying ‘UK arrivals’ above it. Well, I thought, he is arriving and we are in the UK. That must be where he’s coming out. I grabbed a bottle of water, sat within view of the doorway and got reading.

Then Danda called.

“Hi, have you landed?”

“Yeh, where are you?” Danda asked.

Now I’m a girl who loves doing surprises. I love them! I think that’s why I love Hide and Seek so much. And that’s why I said, “Just reading on the sofa.”

“Ok, I’ve just come out so I’ll be ages yet.”

O, he’s only just come off the plane so he’ll be a little while yet, I thought, whilst burying my head in my book again. Still, no-one had come out of the gate I was sitting by, which I thought was a bit wierd. I gave it another ten minutes, then thought something was up. I got up and walked to the arrivals screen and suddenly saw it… The international arrivals gate….

Ah, UK arrivals meant arrivals from other flights within the UK… Not just that we are in the UK. Of course we’re in the bloody UK. As if they would have specified where we are!? Hmm… Top dunce points to Laura.

So I needed to be at the international arrivals gate, not the UK arrivals gate… To be fair, they’re not that far apart so it’s not like I was miles away but I was all taken up with Prince Caspian so I was oblivious to it all.

I stood outside the international arrivals gate for a minute but felt something was wrong. There was no-one coming out. I had to give up my surprise fun and just call Danda…

“Danda, where are you?”

“I’m just on the bus to the car park to pick up the taxi. Why?”

“I’m standing at the international arrivals gate….”

“No! At Gatwick? You’re there?”

“Yes, I came to surprise you but I’ve missed you.”

“O no! Let me get the taxi and come back for you. Where exactly are you stand….. beeeeeeeep.

His phone died. I called back. Nothing. Just the answerphone. Again and again. Eventually I just had to go out to the road and hang about, hoping he would be able to find me.

So for ten minutes, I stood there, in front Gatwick airport, stranded and unsure whether I’d be picked up.

That’s right, I came to meet Danda at the airport and I ended up stranded, waiting for Danda to pick me up.

Well done, Laura. Well done.

*He found me quite easily and I invented a cover story about having just been at the toilet when he came out the gate. It made me sound less stupid.


I haven’t got one solid post idea in my mind. I’ve kind of got a few little ones all competing for attention in my head. So today, readers, in no particular order, I would like to welcome you to…. My Ramblings.

1. My friend, Naomi, and I have concluded that the only way to travel the world as much as we’d like to and eat lovely food all the time and not have to think about rent or bills, is to have a huge cash injection all at once. (We’re geniuses, right? No-one has ever thought of this before.) To this end, we have bought two lottery tickets for tomorrow. (I’ve never bought a lottery ticket before.) The prize is £80 million. We’re pretty sure we’ll win. We’re splitting the money between us and buying a load of houses to start with. Watch this space.

2. I was asked to guest post for a blog yesterday. I’m pretty excited and will be starting on it this morning.

3. We’re having a friend over for dinner tonight. I’m planning on making some kind of Italian duck and olive stew thing.

4. Yaya and his little sister are on holiday at the moment. They went to an aquapark place and did loads of fun things. When getting photos as memoirs, Yaya was totally loving it.


Yaya’s little sister, on the other hand, will not be told what to do! She is not a performing monkey and will not smile on request. And don’t we know it.


Check out the handbag though. She is the picture of moody-cool.

5. I’ve eaten out a lot lately. I’m not sure why. It just keeps happening. Yesterday, I had a kind of mezze board thing with a friend and the babaganoush thing and the houmous were both fabulous.

6. At Ham House yesterday, I made some flavoured marzipan things, with ground ginger, rosewater and sherry in them. As it was a weekday and a bit quieter than usual, I kept eating the tasters and ended up having a massive sugar rush, from which I then crashed hardcore and was yawning away by 3pm!

7. I went to meet a friend at the airport last night. I hasn’t told him and was intending for it to be a surprise. By the time I had been waiting for about 45 minutes, I knew something was up so I called him and, sure enough, he’d come out, got the bus to the car park, picked up his car and was ready to start driving home. I don’t know how he got past me but I ended up stranded at the arrivals section as I’d only bought a one way train ticket to the airport and he had to drive back to the airport to get me! So that went well.

And that, readers, is today’s non-post. I am blaming the fact that I am lazy for this shoddiness.

X is for…

X MARKS THE SPOT. (From Indiana Jones, although I think the quote is “X never marks the spot”. It’s a very vague connection but I’m a bit like Indiana Jones in this post, hence the quote.)

And so to my last day in Italy… sniffle sniffle.

Two days previously, we had tried to visit the amphitheatre in Pozzuoli and it had been closed but we really wanted to see it. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we set out again, hoping it would be second time lucky.

And it was! Woop woop! It was so quiet. Apart from a group of school children when we first entered, we saw no other people while we there. And it was amazing. We were allowed under the stage and into all the corridors once used by the gladiators to enter the stage from underneath through trap doors.





The cut out sections in the second floor up were used to keep cages with animals in to be released onto the stage too.

After a little while, we found a section where the corridors and stairways were accessible, although they were blocked off elsewhere. It was dark and cold and silent and I felt like I was an archaeologist, discovering it all for the first time. The Indiana Jones of the Roman world, if you will. Minus the baddies.




By the time, we came up by the stage and seating area, it became clear that the section downstairs had never meant to be left open. It was too quiet, too secretive. But we were in by then and it was like a heady mix of discovery and disobedience. Being so quiet, there was no-one to tell us off so we kept exploring.


We found rooms under the seating area where statues and other bits and pieces had been stored during excavations.




Eventually, creeping about amongst all these amazing discoveries, we suddenly emerged into sunlight and were in the seating area.



(I’m cheering an imaginary gladiator, in case you were wondering.)

After all this merriment, we were on a high and, even though we only had a few hours til we needed to be back in Naples to check out of our hotel, we went on a search for the seafront and some coffee. It took us far longer than we realised it would and by the time we got there, we barely had time to sit down before we had to start trekking back up the hill to find the station.

We asked directions at a roundabout and sped off in the direction we were told.

Now, one of two things must have happened here.

1. We were told the wrong direction.
2. We didn’t understand the directions properly.

As we walked down the road, it suddenly became really countrified. We were surrounded by greenery, there was no sound of traffic, only birds singing and we seemed to be walking out of town, not towards it. After fifteen minutes, we admitted defeat and turned back but the diversion had added half an hour on. We now had forty minutes to find the station, get a train back to Naples, get back from the station to our hotel, grab our bags and check out! We were up against it.

We ended up doing it in 43 minutes and burst through the door to reception, panting and apologising and explaining that we had been lost in Pozzuoli and we’re really sorry! Thankfully, they were horrified enough by our sweaty faces and profuse apologies that they gave us an extra hour on the room without charging.

We spent our last few hours after checking out, wandering around a nearby castle and taking photos looking over to Vesuvius…


…before getting a taxi to the airport where, annoyingly enough, there was a problem with our plane and they had to fly a new one out from London, which meant we took off at 22.20 instead of 19.35. Airports are boring when you’ve just had three hours added onto your departure time!

Anyway, we got home without any more hiccups and have spent the last two days lying around letting our stomachs recover from the carb-and-icecream-onslaught that is Italian food! Mmmm….

Distraction techniques!

When travelling, I often used (what to thought to be) a clever technique for distracting potential burglars. I would be using a big backpack and worried that someone might easily zip it open so I put, all the way around in a line, some *ahem* lady things. You know. So that it would be the first thing someone saw when they opened the bag. Hopefully they would be male and horrified by this sight and rapidly rethink his plan to steal from me.

That was the plan. I’ve never been stolen from while travelling but I’m not sure whether it was my clever distraction technique or luck.

Anyway, this one time, my friend and I were off backpacking around South East Asia for five weeks but we had different flights. He had had a stopover in Sri Lanka, been wined and dined and a beautiful hotel, swum in their beautiful pool and had a little nap. I, however, was changing in Kuwait and had a long eight hours in Kuwait Airport, with lots of massive duty free shops selling Toblerones and alcohol, neither of which I wanted.

For some reason, although I definitely wasn’t keen on staying in Kuwait longer than necessary, the announcement for my connecting flight wasn’t being made in the area I was sitting in. So I realised a bit late and had to make a dash for it. As I was running, I heard the announcements that they were waiting for one more passenger to board. That was me!

Desperately embarrassed, I arrived at the gate, panting and sweating and a stern faced lady said they were just about to close the gate and I had held everything up. I apologised profusely and handed over my backpack for her to search.

She zipped it open at double speed, her face a picture of grumpiness….

And all my *ahem* lady things spilled out all over her little desk.

She looked at me like she hated me.

I did a nervous little laugh and vaguely tried to explain how I did it to deter thieves.

“Well maybe you should have repacked it when you knew you were getting it searched,” she said, very very unamused….


The annoying airport saga

Once upon a time, a good friend said to me, “Can you meet me from the airport when I get back from my holiday?” He had lots of bags and was unfamiliar with London so I said, sure I’d meet him, and I booked the morning off work.

I had met him from flights a few times before and he had always come into Terminal 2 at Heathrow. “So,” said I, “will you be at the same terminal as last time?”

“Yes,” said my friend.

And so the day arrives. I head to Heathrow airport. I’m early, so as I’m lingering around waiting, there’s a Marks and Spencer’s right next to me, with a massive flower display. I think it will be nice if I buy a bunch. People are always meeting other people off flights with bunches of flowers, aren’t they? So I buy them, squeeze back to my place at the railing and wait. And wait. And wait.

It’s been an hour since his landing time. Maybe he’s still getting baggage and going through passport control etc. I check the Arrivals board but can’t see anything which has arrived from Mexico, where he’s been.

An hour and a half. I try calling. His phone’s off.

Two hours. I’ve got to be at work at 4pm and by this time, it’s about 2pm. It takes an hour to get to work. Time is getting pretty tight. Still nothing from Mexico on the Arrivals board.

Two and a half hours. I call. And call again. And again. And finally it starts to ring. A voice on the end of the line.

“Hi, what’s happened? Are you ok?”

“Yeh, the flight was delayed a bit.”

“Which terminal are you in?”

“I guess two. I usually come into that one.”

“But there’s nothing on the arrivals board. Did you stop anywhere to change flights?”

“No, I came direct.”

“You must be in a different terminal then. Is there anyone else around you? Ask them what terminal you’ve come into.”

I’m already heading to the underground station downstairs, which shuttles you around to the different terminals.

I hear him asking another person what terminal they’re in. Then he reports the answer back to me.

“I’m in the North terminal.”

Has anyone spotted a problem? I’m in terminal TWO. He’s in the NORTH terminal. Something doesn’t quite fit here.

“Check your flight ticket.” I tell him. “What does it say for your destination?”

“Why, what’s up? It says London GTW.”

…….Yes, yes it does. And there is no way in hell that GTW means Heathrow, you nonce. It means Gatwick!

For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of London, Heathrow is out to the West somewhere. And Gatwick is south. Very far south. And London is big. And the journey between those two airports is quite significant. And I had to be in work in an hour and a half.

Eventually, after working out a complicated looking train map, I worked out that we could both get fast trains to Clapham and meet there.

I and my flowers hurried along to the underground, which I had to get to another terminal before I could get onto the fast train. The next fast train was going in about fifteen minutes. Already I’d consumed half an hour just getting on the train to Clapham. I got there quite quickly and his train took another twenty minutes. So now I’m about fifteen minutes away from needing to start work. My flowers look kinda sad now as I’ve been crashing about airports and trains and they have taken the brunt of it.

He arrives finally, as I’m hanging about aimlessly in the long corridor which joins all the platforms, swinging the flowers around and debating whether to chuck them as they’re looking a bit old.

“Boo!” he says, when he finds me, broad grin on his face.

“Hey,” I say, offering the sad looking bunch of flowers.

He loves them anyway and now, he’s staying in South West London with another friend and could I help him get there and I’m welcome to come to dinner.

I smile, offer him brief instructions then hurry off to work, for which I am late. He wanders off, like it’s no big deal, with all his stuff, gets lost and ends up in the wrong area of London, where he has another friend, who he stays with instead. Who knows what happened to the dinner that was being made for him.

Now I’m sometimes unorganised but at least I know the basics. Where and when I’m landing is not that difficult. Just remember it. I’m not asking a lot! If I’m going to meet you at the airport, just bloody tell me the right airport!

That was annoying.

Theatres, baths and lunch on the Tiber

The last day of the trip was my favourite. That is possibly something to do with the fact that I started it by eating tiramisu. Maybe. We packed our bags ready to leave and left them in the apartment til later.

We started out with coffee, obviously. I was doing a great job at attempting to develop a coffee habit. Their cappuccinos don’t come hot, which confused me. I think it could be to do with the fact that coffee is very functional there. People don’t walk around with huge coffees in takeaway cups. You have a small cup standing at a bar or sitting in a cafe and you drink it quickly before going to work in the morning, hence it comes lukewarm, instead of hot. Anyone know anything about how Italians drink coffee who can prove or disprove my theory?

Anyway, after coffee and tiramisu, we headed around the Colossuem to the Palatine Hill, where all the rich people and emperors lived.


The weather was beautiful and I think the area surrounding it is still quite upmarket. Something about it felt different, nicer. There was a sports ground near the ruins on Palatine Hill where tanned older gentlemen ran around the track in pairs, looking like retired film stars.

We went to the Baths of Caracalla, the ruins of the world’s largest leisure centre. It is so immense, you can’t quite take in what you are seeing.


The entire thing was for bathing. It had all those cold rooms and hot rooms and parts where you swim and parts where you plunge before going into a different room, etc. The complex was on two floors and also had shops and other things in the building.

Entire sections of the mosaic floor are still in place and there are huge chunks of mosaics from the second floor dotted around from when the upstairs sections collapsed.



After this, we kept following the Palatine Hill down to the Circus Maximus, where the chariot races used to take place. It was the world’s largest arena. (There are lots of ‘world’s largest’ things in Rome.)

Both ends have building work going on, which looks a bit like reconstruction work on the ruins of the seating area but we couldn’t see for definite. This is what the chariot race scene in Ben Hur is based on, if any of you have seen it.


After this, we headed through Roman Holiday territory, past the Mouth of Truth that Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn go to, and to the Teatro Di Marcellus. This might have been the thing that I liked the most, in terms of old and new Rome meeting. The two thousand year old building has a new section built on top if it, two floors of apartments.


I really REALLY want to live there. How amazing would that be?

Once we had spent a while wandering around the old porticos, we were in what had once been decreed a Jewish Ghetto and the Jewish people who lived there had all their rights as citizens taken away from them. There didn’t seem to be a reason apart from that the emperor at that time had decided it.

We were right next to the Tiber by this point so we stopped for a quick espresso and ice cream break. I had tiramisu flavoured ice cream. Danda had an ice cream who’s flavour we couldn’t read on the label and that he loved. He said it was the best ice cream he had ever tasted.


We headed to Tiber Island next, which has always had a connection with medicine. Even now, it still has a hospital run by nuns. On the other side of the river is Trastevere, where we had lunch. Friends had recommended the restaurants in this part of town so we stopped in the first place we saw, Ristorante “la Cornucopia”.

We shared a tomato and mozzarella salad then had a sea bass dish, which looked a bit normal but tasted phenomenal.


There we were, the sun was shining, we were surrounded by greenery, street musicians were serenading the diners and my lunch was amazing. That was probably my favourite moment of the trip. I was just revelling in the luxury of being able to do nothing for a while.

Soon after this, we had to think about making our way to the airport so we walked back to the apartment to get our bags and headed to the tube station next to the Colossuem.