Thursday, January 28, 2010

A FLIGHT TO REMEMBER

This is either going to be a lesson for me in how to Go With The Flow - ie adapt to circumstances which differ from expectations and thereby leave one's comfort zone far behind. Or.....well, whatever the opposite of that is.

Got off to a bad start with a full range of all the typical air travel miseries plus some bonus ones.

1. Crack of dawn (3 am) wait in freezing rain for bus to airport.

2. At security check my meticulously packed hand luggage was unpacked and meticulously examined. Was I a fool to believe that a bag full of innocent tubes of acrylic paint would pass unnoticed? Yes, that was what I believed. I did not read  the small print. My tubes were over 100 ml. But how could I pack them into the hold baggage without raising its weight to more than 20 kgs, the maximum weight Easyjet permits?

Punishment was severe: the security people confiscated most of my precious, hugely expensive acrylics and allowed me only the few tubes which fitted into one tiny plastic bag. A request to let me keep the guilty tubes somewhere at the airport to collect on my way back was refused.

At least you could donate them to aschool?
No.
So what are you going to do with them?
Burn them. Everything we remove from hand luggage is considered dangerous.
But but but....!!!
Sorry, those are the rules.

3. Boarding the plane was on time but we did not leave the ground. Something was wrong with the water pressure ("for making cups of tea") and the engineer had to "drain thesystem". This took about two hours. We were then told that for technical reasons we would be moved to another aircraft. More delay while a bus was found to move us. All the British passengers were laughing and joking and not minding at all: what's wrong with the Brits? Don't they know that complaining is
essential to survival?

4. Finally airborne in another Easyjet plane, at some point about two hours into a not particularly turbulent flight we were told that we are being diverted to Madrid. Madrid? In Spain? But I am going to Faro, Portugal, where I am taking a bus to Tavira where I am awaited as Artist in Residence!  No explanation for the diversion was given, The Brits were still laughing and joking and applauding.

5. In Madrid airport, a fire engine met our plane but no signs of fire were visible.  We were bussed to the terminal and left there for another couple of hours with no explanation, no food and no EasyJet personnel. A sympatica Spanish security officer tells me to be sure to get the EU leaflet on claiming compensation for all this hassle. I march to a desk demanding said leaflet. At first they say they've only got it in Spanish but when I insist, they find a stack of photocopies in English. Going into efficient organiser/complainant mode, I approach other passengers standing around passively and suggest they too get copies of the leaflet. Some of them do so, some just look at me strangely and others are laughing and joking.

6. Eventually we were led a long way through the terminal and then into another long security check-in queue where again my hand baggage was unpacked and scrutinised but, thankfully, allowed through.

7. Boarded another flight headed for Faro and given "a complimentary drink". When I ungratefully and starving by that time said, what about some complementary food? I was told it wasn't provided but I could buy some snacks and be given a receipt and then try to get a refund from EasyJet when I got back home.

8. Arrived in Faro.  Caught taxi to bus station, waited an hour for bus to Tavira. Phoned Casa 5 to ask Matthijs to book a taxi to wait for me at Tavira bus station. At last, arrived in Tavira, cold and raining.
 
Stairs leading up to my room at Casa 5





5 comments:

marja-leena said...

Good grief, air travel gets worse and worse! Makes me want to stay home. Anyway, I'm glad you are safe and settling in. Hope it all improves from now on and you will be having a wonderful and creative time, Natalie! I see sunshine in that photo....

DefSufi said...

Sorry to hear your flight was an ordeal. It's becoming more commonplace these days, and one of the reasons that my husband is increasingly resistant to flying.
Glad that you made it safe and sound to Tavira, if a bit worn.
Now that you're there in one piece, relax, enjoy! Looking forward to seeing more of your brilliant art and photos on your site!

alembic said...

What a journey.... Now that you have finally arrived at your destination I hope you get some much deserved rest and then proceed to have a wonderfully creative time!

20th Century Woman said...

Oh, Natalie, and with all that you had to put up with the laughing and joking Brits. How awful about the paints. I'm taking a lesson from that. Paints do not travel well in the air. Easy jet needs a new name.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that you are now in Tavira. How bad can that be?

Natalie said...

Marja-Leena, yes the sun has come out the last couple of days and it makes a huge difference, even though it's still quite cold and windy. I'm gradually getting my bearings and trying to find a focus.

Def,I agree that flying is best avoided whenever possible. Trains and boats and buses are fine though they too have their problems. Possibly staying home is the answer!

Maria, this is such a picturesquely lovely town that the main problem for me, artistically speaking, is how to avoid making picturesque pictures!

Anne, the paints would have been ok if I'd packed them in the suitcase that I checked into the hold but then I'd have had excess weight. So I was stuck and foolishly took them in the hand baggage, not knowing that paints are considered 'dangerous' because of being gels. I'm still mourning for those jars of lovely primer and Titanium white.