going to finish the trip i started three years ago

Posted on May 31, 2006. Filed under: Family, Travelling |

I booked my ticket for my trip to the UK in August! I’m really quite excited, kind of sad because of the circumstances that brought me home three years ago. I started talking about my trip here and so far have continued
here, but am not quite done telling the tale in between.

The conclusion, however is part of why I’m going to finish the trip. I was on a 6 week vacation (you know, the post-university, pre-grad school thing to do) and my grandfather fell ill. Now, I was very close with my dad’s parents because I grew up in the same house as them (we rented the apartment in their house), and they were very smart, articulate, loving people. Well, I had to make a mad dash back from the UK to see him. So, I woke up one morning in Galway, Ireland, hopped on a train and made it to Dublin. Now, in Dublin the tensions were high because I was stressed and upset. Here’s a tip: NOTHING MAKES SENSE IN DUBLIN, DO NOT USE PUBLIC TRANSIT!!

I asked a few bus drivers how to get to the ferry (I had booked a ticket online) and they directed me to a stop. There was a bus there, but no driver. Afer waiting forever, a driver finally appeared but he wasn’t going to the ferry. He pointed to another bus, who said that he wasn’t going until 12:45 — the ferry was leaving at 12:15 and it was already getting close. I spotted some people who had also been waiting pile their luggage into a cab, so I approached, asked if they were heading to the ferry and if I could share the cab.

Yes and sure! Yay! One victory.

I caught the ferry to Wales and watched very old episodes of Friends to distract myself. I remember buying my grandma a Irish pin and my grandfather some of this favourite candy. I made it to Wales in a few hours, and as I was getting off the ferry I met a couple from California.

I mentioned that I had to get home, but didn’t mention why and took the train with them as far as it could go towards London. They were absolutely the sweetest people I have ever met. I mentioned that I hadn’t had a chance to do laundry and apologized for being disgusting. I also spoke about the fact that I didn’t have any pounds left, so I’d have to find a place to get some Canadian money changed over. They insisted for a long time to give me a twenty pound note, which I refused for a long time, but they pushed it and I really had no other options, so I accepted and said I’d pay them back. We got of to change trains and they gave me hugs and pressed the note into my hand.

I remember watching them as I crossed the platform and then I lined up to get a sandwhich for dinner; I was starving. I went to pay and they had folded two twenty pound notes together. I started to cry.

I ran out to try to find them, but they were nowhere to be seen.

Deep breath.

The next leg of the journey I shared seats with a young father and his daughter. He was dropping the child, stroller and all off with her mother. Literally. We got to Watford and he dropped her and the stroller off at the platform. Then opened a bottle of wine, which we shared to London.

Finally arriving in London and then switching over to the tube to get to Heathrow. After all of this, I get there and there are no more flights for the day. I totally broke down at the counter, not that the guy working showed any compassion (this is where my hatred for British Air came into play).

He booked me on a flight for the next day and as standby for the first 2 flights.

It gets better.

I found my family in London and stayed there for a few hours of sleep before trying to beg my way onto a flight in the morning.

Back at Heathrow and it’s insanity. There are so many people, there aren’t even lines any more. I finally get to the front to be told that the flight was overbooked, and there aren’t any more seats. I’m directed to a room, where I’m told I’ll be on the next flight. Since it was also a standby flight, I’m not sure if this will happen, but I go to the room. The sheer idiotic behaviour of the people working there was ridiculous. I mean, they overbook flights EVERY day, so you would think they’d be able to have a system set up. Nope. They accidentally threw out a stack of boarding passes they were working from, and I didn’t get on the the next flight either, because the plane that showed up was smaller than expected. They also wouldn’t let me switch with a woman who offered.

And let me tell you, I wanted to kill the girl who got a ticket and wined, it a bitchy voice to say:

“Oh, but I wanted a window seat”.

Slap.

I go back to the standby lady, and explain AGAIN my situation and she tries to put me on standby for the flight I actually have a ticket for. No. No way. I finally got an actual ticket. I went and bought Fast Food Nation and McDonald’s because I figured it would be the last time I would want to eat it as I wouldn’t want to after reading the book, and waited. And waited.

The plane I had a real ticket for arrived, and I ventured to the gate without much optimism. The screens indicated that the previous two flights were both delayed by at least 4 or 6 hours; they hadn’t left yet anyway.

I started explaining my day at the airport to a woman from Ireland and said:

“There is no way this plane is taking off.”

Therein lies the rub.

They started pre-boarding, which looked optimistic. The people with babies and small children ventured out onto the tarmac.

Then, something strange happened.

They turned around and came back.

Damn. No! Something was wrong with the plane. The flight was cancelled.

Tears.

I’m telling you, there were so many tears because I just wanted to get home to see my grandpa.

I called home to tell them about the ordeal, went and used the four pound meal voucher that I received from evil British Air (bought McDonald’s again, because what else can you afford for 4 pounds at an airport!?!).

I did get home on the next flight, but after I had called my family to say I wasn’t on a plane yet, the hospital had called and my grandfather had passed away.

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