Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Barcelona to Paris, via London - The Adventure

Arriving at the airport British Airways has the self service kiosks where you just insert either a credit card or your BA Airmiles card and it pulls up your reservation and you check in. There were 3 kiosks (not enough in my opinion) and one staff member on hand to offer assistance. And this is where the whole self service thing goes terribly wrong. Everyone in line waited for the staff member to tell them what to do. Come on, it's no more difficult than using a bank machine. So the line slowly shuffled along as the 3 machines were never all being used all at once. In most cases 2 were standing there empty as the next person in line seemed to be waiting for permission to go ahead and use a machine. By the time I was next I just barrelled up and used the machine which seemed to then clue in the rest of the people in the queue and I think things went a bit quicker after that.

Next queue is the line to drop off your checked luggage. That went pretty speedy so now it's just the security check in but that goes pretty fast as shock, all security machines are working and are manned. Now that I'm through I just need to wander around until it's time to board. All airports I find are pretty generic once you get through security. I still find it strange that no matter what country I'm in there is a Tie Rack shop. Who goes to a foreign destination and then when looking to get the perfect souvenir to go home decides I know, nothing says 'Barcelona' like a silk tie.

The flight departs on time and is uneventful. It's a short flight so no onboard entertainment. There is the complimentary in-flight magazine that I flip through out of boredom. And this is where the adventure part begins. The magazine has the lay-out of Heathrow airport and how to go from one terminal to the other. I'm arriving in Terminal 1 and change planes at Terminal 4. According to the diagram I need to give myself a minimum of 75 minutes to do this. I look at my itinerary and my gate closes after 45 minutes. Panic sets in, I'm not going to make my connection.

We land and there are issues with attaching the ramp/walkway thing to the plane, tick tick tick tick. We finally get off and I'm stuck behind these 2 ladies with their carry on luggage taking up the entire hall way and I can't manoeuvre past them. I get to the escalator and again the people stand on one side and place their luggage on the other blocking my way so I have to wait as the escalator slowly ascends up. Finally the terminal, they have these great moving walkways that people DON'T WALK ON!! What is the point, in that case it's faster to just walk (or in my case run) down the hallway.

I follow the signs to transfers to terminal 4, I round the corner and stop dead in my tracks at the huge queue at the security check in. Off to my left I can see a lone security area with a sign saying it is for the Club Class only and you must be invited to enter. I see a staff member there and put on my most sincere frazzled look and I give him my passport and boarding card and whimper "I don't think I'm going to make my connection to Paris". He gives me a wink and a smile and allows me through the 'special' line. I run around the corner, fly down the ramp to see the terminal bus and as I whiz by the lady at the door ask if the shuttle is leaving soon and she says yes.

Phew! The shuttle drives off after about 3 minutes, I get to Terminal 4 and my gate is the second one to the right. I've got about 15 minutes to spare, and my heart is just pounding. So that was my cardio workout for the day.

The flight to Paris is only about 45 minutes out of London, I'm not sure why I thought it was 2 hours (I'm bad at geography). Arriving at Charles De Gaul there is only one guy at Passport Control so that line does take quite a while to get through but once on the other side I hit an ATM to get some Euros and then find the taxi stand.

Driving from the Airport into Paris initially isn't all that inspiring. It just looks like a big dirty city. But then finally as we get closer to city centre it starts to look European. The shops, the architecture, the cafe's etc. It's a long drive and an expensive trip, at the end the charge was 43 Euro - but I was expecting that as I had looked up the costs before I left. I see the door to the apartment and Dad is waiting outside for me.

I'm not sure why, but flying really exhausts me, which is weird considering you're sitting the entire time taking the odd nap. So up to the apartment to drop off my bags, reassure my Mother that I did not get lost (she was worried as I arrived 30 minutes after I approximated I would) then find someplace to eat. As both my flights were short I didn't eat anything. Somehow a chicken/bacon and mayo sandwich early in the AM isn't all that attractive to my stomach, the other option was egg/cheese and mayo (welcome to the UK).

We found a little Italian place just a block down the street and had a nice meal.

I'm tired.

3 comments:

Colleen J said...

Hi Chris, this is quite the saga. I can't wait for the next installment! I know what you mean about flying being tiring when all you do is sit, but really, how many lineups and security checks did you do, and how much running down halls in a highly stressed state to get to the plane? Not surprising you're tired! Ceej

basest said...

Chris,
I'm really enjoying your travelogue. I have yet to cross the pond for a european adventure...it's on my to do list...but you're whetting my appetite.

I wish the world was smaller...or that they'd build that transcontinental bridge that they promised. (I may have made that last bit up. I don't think anyone ever promised a transcontinental bridge. But if they did, maybe I could hitchhike from Chicago to Paris.)

Chris said...

Hiya Colleen & Mr Bassest, I got home last night but still have 2 days left in Paris and the trip home. Believe it or not that was even more adventurous that the trip from Barcelona. So you must stay tuned.....