Somehow all my travel stories include airports. I have no idea why. But at some airports I met some very bizarre guys, had to do outstanding athletic performances and cried a thousand rivers. I felt completely lost in deserted departure halls and tried to convince airport employees of the existence of me and my suitcase.
1. An ash cloud thwarted my University plans
5 years ago the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull paralysed air traffic in whole Europe due to a huge ash cloud. Unfortunately, at that time I was in England with a friend and had to go back to Germany urgently. I was still a student and needed to be at University for an important seminar.
Shortly before our departure the Icelandic volcano erupted and the airplanes had to stay on ground. Nevertheless, we took the Tube to Heathrow (one of London´s airports) hoping to get some information there because the service-hotline of the airline was permanently busy. When arriving the employees were about to close the building. The departure hall was completely deserted and we were asked to leave as well. Back in the hotel we tried to call the hotline again and again. After hours of waiting someone picked up the phone. But the hotline staff also just told us they had no idea when they will be allowed to operate again. Hence, we stayed two more days in London but the situations remained unchanged.
The third day we decided to book a ticket for the Eurostar. This is why we waited in the queue in front of the ticket shop at the international train station St. Pancras early in the morning. After approx. two hours we were proud owners of two tickets to Brussels. Wohoo! From Brussels we had to take a very slow train to Aachen and then another one to Cologne because all express trains were fully booked. The journey took about one day but at least I made it on time to my seminar. By the way, after 5 days the first airplanes started to operate again.
2. Does anyone know of the existence of me and my suitcase?
During my studies, I wanted to visit my former flat mate, who spent one semester abroad in Buenos Aires. It was my first solo long distance journey. To save money I took a train from Cologne to Frankfurt. From Frankfurt airport I wanted to go to Rome by plane. Then a 2 hours layover in Rome was planned before flying to Argentina. Unfortunately the first flight was 4 hours late and I missed my connecting flight. Hence, I had to stay in Rome overnight. The next day my flight to Buenos Aires was scheduled at night. But when arriving at the check-in counter, nobody knew of my existence nor of the existence of my suitcase. After a long discussion mainly with gestures and hands because nobody was fluent in English that day, I was allowed to go to my gate. I was so happy but then they told me I could only go to Argentina if another passenger won´t show up. That was too much. I started crying immediately and didn´t stop until they were so sorry that I could enter the plane. And somehow also my suitcase made it.
3. Bizzare acquaintance
When visiting my former flat mate in Buenos Aires she asked me to take one item of luggage back to Germany for her. When arriving in Frankfurt I was struggling with her huge bag and my huge suitcase. Immediately a young man asked (in broken German) to help me. I was super happy that he carried the bag for me. We started talking and I found out that he wanted to go to the ticket shop to buy a ticket for a train to Hamburg and I wanted to go to this shop to rebook my ticket to Cologne because the train I booked was only in 4 hours. After a few minutes we came out of the shop at the same time and the guy told me he bought a ticket to Cologne too and would like to stay with me at my flat. I was shocked and tried to explain that this is not possible. Furthermore, rebooking was too expensive and I had to stay in Frankfurt for the next 4 hours. He didn´t accept that and said he will wait for me at the central station in Cologne. Without any further discussion he entered the train. When I arrived in Cologne I was lucky that the station was super crowded due to a storm. Thus, I was able to escape from the guy unnoticedly.
4. A personal announcement from the flight captain
I was 15 years old when me and some other students from my school were chosen to go on a 4 weeks student exchange to Florida. We, the American students and our host families had a great time together. Thus, the departure was heart-wrenching and tearful. Me and my friends entered the airplane while crying almost hysterically. In one hand a small friendship book, in which the American students wrote a few nice words. Inside the plane we put down the folding tables immediately and started to write into our books mutually. We didn´t care about the demonstration of the safety instructions or anything else until the flight captain made an announcement "This goes to the ladies in row 30 seats A, B, C and D. Please stop crying and put up your folding tables. Otherwise we can´t start."
5. A cinematic sprint through London Stansted
During the last trip to London me and my husband took the airport bus from the city center to London Stansted as usual. Unfortunately the bus got stuck in a small street which was closed by the police. Until today we have no idea what was wrong but the bus couldn’t move forward or backwards. Thus, we arrived at the airport very late. Of course that day also the security check took an unusually long time. Normally I can pass the body scanner without any problems, but this time it beeped several times. The moment me and my husband finally passed it we started running as fast as we could. Unfortunately, London Stansted is pretty large and the way from the security check to our gate was very long. Feeling like in a bad movie we bumped into other passengers, jumped over suitcases and run like mad with all our stuff through the airport. With our last ounce of strength we finally managed to catch our flight.
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