Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Getting to Zurich

Long Rambling Story Alert! (I've had a long rambling day.)

I am writing from Terminal One at London Heathrow Airport. Earlier this morning we passed a pleasant hour at a very nice restaurant in Terminal Five, waiting for our flight. We needed the breakfast in order to restore our strength after the stressful start to our trip.

We thought we started out in really great shape. I never really unpacked the bag I brought from Minsk via Budapest to Boston. I just washed all the dirty clothes and put them back. And I added a pair of boots to wear hiking the Swiss Alps. In Boston we finished our various obligations early, from the alarm company to the City Assessor’s office. Finally, we showered and I shaved prior to our night flight across the ocean. Feeling calm and smugly prepared, we sauntered down to the Blue Line, which goes straight to the airport.

For reasons which weren’t immediately clear, our train kept not leaving the station. They’d close all the doors and then open them back up. Close/open, close/open. Wait/wait. Finally the train did go, and the driver warned us that the train would not take us all the way to the airport because the big overhead electric wire fell down there. Not to worry: They’d put us onto a bus.

When our train reached the last working station, about a zillion people poured out and flowed to three waiting buses. Alla and I edged over to the first one, which filled up just as we reached the door. We really wanted to get on, and Alla begged people to squeeze in. She even got on. I was wearing my suitcase on my back and couldn’t get a foot onto the bus, let alone my wide load. Alla begged some more. Passengers objected that they had nowhere to go. Alla continued begging. I got onto the bottom step, but my backpack still hung outside the bus. The lady beside me asked me not to crush her. I turned slowly sideways. The bag fit. The lady fit, and she even assured me that she was OK.

The bus lurched out into rush-hour traffic and staggered block by block toward the airport. Finally traffic thinned out, and the bus sped up. I watched wistfully as we whizzed past the airport. I thought to check my watch, but I couldn’t move and it wouldn’t matter anyway. I thought about the taxi I would take if the bus driver opened the door, or the taxi I could have taken directly from home. Finally we returned to the airport, a half hour later than we intended but in time for our flight.

I imagined we had solved all of our problems, but British Airways canceled our flight to Zurich. We didn’t know this because I didn’t bother to turn on my phone. By the time I learned, everybody else knew as well and a huge crowd beat me to the customer service desk. The text message waiting on my phone advised me that we’d have an option to catch an earlier flight to Zurich, but by the time we reached the front of the line they were offering us a much later flight. Fortunately I knew that Swiss Air had a not-so-much-later flight. I learned this because the guy behind me in line called his secretary and she bought him a ticket on the Swiss Air flight so he wouldn’t have to wait any longer in line. I got the same Swiss Air tickets for free just by asking. We just had to get to the plane, but that’s a story for another day. We’re here now, and the plane is not terribly late. I think we’ll see Zurich today.

No comments:

Post a Comment