17 July, 2011

Travelog: London/Stansted to Gothenburg

This morning, we were ready to go! Off and running at 5:30am.

With Ryanair - things usually go pretty quickly. You arrive and check your bag, you zip through security, you get on the plane. All in all - I'd say it has averaged about 20 minutes total in the past. The thing you have to be careful of is all the fine print that Ryanair gouges you with, in order to bring you such low prices.

In the way of prices, it's usually pretty cheap to get from one country to another within the EU, but for the countries that are farther away, as you would expect, it gets more expensive. For instance, a quick trip to London from Dublin could be about €15. Our tickets to Sweden from Cork cost about €260 round trip.
There was a huge line when we got there, and we stood in it for about 40 minutes before getting to the desk. We were being checked in, and the lady informed us that we'd missed our flight. 

I argued saying that no, the flight didn't even leave the gate until 7:10, and the gate closed at 6:40 - it's too early. But apparently the baggage check closed 6 minutes previously and we were unable to get through.
I'll admit, I was in disbelief. We've cut it pretty close before and still been able to board the plane and apparently, we still *could* board the plane at this point - but we'd have had to leave our bag behind. Not wanting to do this - we were sent to another line to wait some more. 

This line was actually pretty quick. We got through it in a few minutes but the lady behind this desk said that we were too early to book another ticket to Gothenburg, and to come back between 7:10 and 8:10. 

I may or may not have shed some crocodile tears at this point. By now, I knew we'd miss the Christening.

We started to make the phone calls to family. I felt awful because V's sister had moved the Christening to the summer so that we could be a part of it specifically. I'm the Godmother! I'm supposed to be there! I wanted to be there. But there's nothing we could do. If we were more well off, financially, we might have been able to swing a new ticket with EasyJet (airline) and *just* make it to Sweden in time, but unfortunately their ticket prices were out of our budget range.

V joined the queue again, while I stood on the sidelines guarding our baggage and at about 8:30, it seemed that everyone in front of us was in crisis. A young Canadian woman, whom I suspect hasn't flown very often, came to the airport with just her passport and was denied passage because she hadn't printed her boarding pass or prepared to check her backpack. Her family member was on their deathbed in Antwerp and so there were many tears and frustration for her.

A Polish man who spoke very little English was denied access because his carry on bag was overweight. I felt horrible because he had difficulty communicating, but my tiny Polish skills directed him toward my husband who could help translate.

I said, "Czy Pan mow po Angielsku?." (Sir, do you speak English?)

He turned to me in surprise and began to speak. "Nie… dcsdkjfdsfdsfbdnsmfbadflhfuei…" He spoke quickly and he was frustrated (not with me) so I had trouble catching more than that he doesn't speak any English. I tried not to sound silly by saying it, but said, "Nie mow po Polsku. Moj maze jest Polakiem." and pointed V, who was standing fairly close to the front of the line by this point. (I said, "I don't speak Polish. My husband is Polish."). Again, he looked surprised.

"Twoj maz jest Polakiem???" (Your husband is Polish???) He looked around trying to identify my husband.

"Tak! Moj maze jest tam…" (Yes! My husband is there…) and I pointed V out, who waved.

The man went over to V and started to vent about his frustrations. V was able to translate to the man what was going on, and that he needed to join the queue.

I met him again later, after we had solved our flight issues, and found out that he was trying to go home to Gdansk and that he would be able to fly again "jutro", tomorrow.

V got to the desk again at last and we were able to secure our tickets to Gothenburg which would bring us there at around 8:45pm, £200 later.
We found a coffee shop, bought a sandwich and some coffees, and were able to relax on their comfy couch for our long wait. We considered going to London, but the busses from Stansted Airport are £40, which is a bit expensive for us to travel with all of our baggage just to see parliament and the Thames. We thought about going to a closer town, Braintree, but even to get there and back cost £24 plus the cost of say, going to a movie or shopping. We decided that for the trouble of having to haul all three of our suitcases with us (two carry-ons and a larger bag) it wouldn't be worth it. 

I took a lovely nap on the couch and V happily read his book to pass the time. Others were doing the same thing in the area. One couple in particular was there before us, and stayed until after we had left.

Finally, it was time to board the plane, and after a very short (90 minute) flight, we finally saw Sweden...

... and touched down at Gothenburg airport. It is very, very small - but at this point I couldn't be bothered  - it was good to be where we had originally intended to be.

V's parents met us off the plane, and we met his sister shortly thereafter. It was wonderful to be with family after such a long and stressful day... and even more wonderful to freshen up and fall asleep.


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