The Long Haul

It’s never wonderful to travel these days, and that’s the truth. I rarely if ever hear someone say, “Oh I adore flying” or “I just love to travel” anymore. My latest trip from Cleveland-Hopkins to Budapest-Ferihegy was more more than usual. Gyorgyi and I arrived in Cleveland around 1 p.m. Being New Year’s Eve, the airport wasn’t crowded, which was a bonus. Our bags were morbidly obease, as usual, and we had to shift coats, UGS and books between the four bags to make their individual weight requirements. At security, I had the pleasure of stepping into the body scan pod, which really wasn’t a big deal, though I’m glad I didn’t see the computer image. And we even got in and out of our connection in Newark on time (with a nice little dinner at a old-fashionie diner to pass the time).

The haul really began in London, where, for some reason unknown to the ticket agents at three different terminals, British Airways (or Continental) had pushed the flight time of the previous flight so that instead of a two-hour window to get to our connection to Budapest, we had less than thirty minutes. Any international traveler, especially those with experience at Heathrow, will tell you there is no way to make that connection time. After transferring to the correct terminal via 15-minute bus ride, you have to go through security again, a new ticket booth, and then customs, before getting the chance to make the gate before it closes.

We didn’t make the gate. Not even close. And because it was (now) New Year’s day in London, there wasn’t another flight until 7:20 p.m. A mere 11 hours after our original flight departed.

Gyorgyi and I shared a moment of misery. A tear of despair or two. A few minor rages. We even contemplated driving back to Hungary just so we would have something–ANYTHING–to do other than sit at the airport all day. Then we settled down and lugged ourselves over to Terminal 5 for the long wait. Heathrow is a nice airport, actually, with a lot of nice shops and cafes. Unfortunately we were so exhausted from the traveling and lack of sleep that we couldn’t really take advantage of any of it. Instead, we found a little nook with three available leather chairs and took turns sleeping for 90 minutes. After about six hours, we were revived enough to go to the Eat deli and order a ham and cheese toastie.

God bless the ham and cheese toastie. It shall be my meal  of the year.  With the exchange rate, I think it cost me about $90 but I would have paid double for it.

Thirty hours after leaving Copley, Ohio, we made it back to Hungary. It was an interesting way to start the new year, but I suppose one that starts with a little teamwork, a lot of patience, and a saving meal is as good a way as any to get the ball rolling on 2011.

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4 thoughts on “The Long Haul

  1. You didn’t even mention the drive back with such a fog we couldn’t even see 5 meters ahead… It was fun, though. At that point nothing could have stopped us! 🙂
    Thank you for the adventure! :))

  2. But look at it on the bright side. You and Gyorgyi were able to spend New Year’s Day in London!

    Seriously, airline travel is becoming more difficult and certainly less enjoyable these days because of security — and because the airlines have greatly reduced the number of employees who used to provide customer service and so on. Also, there are far fewer flights available, with most being totally booked. So any problem along the way has a rippled effect — and not a good one.

  3. Actually I remember in my yesteryears when the whole airport experience was kind of enjoyable. Even going to Italy– the GRANDNESS of it all was appealing, and it felt good to travel. But now it just all feels like an onslaught. Lines and then security and then when you do get to the gate or plane it’s like you better just be quiet and on your best behavior or else you will lose your slot. And it will be forever infuriating to have to buy a $7 beer on an international flight that cost $1200.

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