Travel Disasters

I’m currently sitting in the Oslo Gardemoen Park Inn, watching the snow fall gently from the sky and being ever so grateful for my UniQlo Heattech (Japan Technology) clothing. The thermal clothes were bought last minute at Oxford Circus yesterday, after a message from my host sister to inform me that I should ‘bring something warm’ to Norway, because it was currently minus 17 degrees in Kirkenes, which is where I will be spending the next 9 days. I probably bought too many thermal clothes, but I figured, where thermal clothes were concerned, it was better to be safe than sorry (unless you are going to the Caribbean. In that case, it’s probably better to not be safe. And only possibly sorry. As well as very, very surprised that it’s minus 10 degrees in the Caribbean).

Anyway, I was going to write a post about how I’ve gotten so unbelievably good at this traveling thing, because, when I was in the queue for the security screening yesterday, I had myself all organised, boots off, liquids in their baggy, laptop out, before anyone needed to ask me to do anything. In my head, I was comparing myself to the opening sequence of ‘Up in the Air’ with George Clooney, I was that efficient. But, then I had an actual think about what happened yesterday and I realised it just wasn’t true.

I left my apartment and headed to the airport with that familiar feeling of ‘There is something I haven’t done and/or forgotten’. It’s a feeling I get whenever I go on a journey, usually unfounded, but occasionally worth listening to (for example, when heading to South America and realising I’d left my phone behind. Which doesn’t sound like a huge disaster, but my travel companion and I were going to be spending a week or so apart, meaning that our phones were kind of integral to us successfully meeting up again. We had to turn the car around and go back and get it. Luckily, we had left plenty of time and were only fifteen minutes up the road from said mobile). When I did my first big ‘alone’ trip (to Norway incidentally), I spent so  much time going, ‘Oh my god, did I remember to pack those warm blue socks?’ or ‘What about that book I wanted to read?’ ‘My travel clock?’  and then rifling through my bag on the floor of some aiport (Hong Kong? Heathrow?) to find said object, that eventually I had to restrict myself to panicking only about three select things: my ticket (back in the days before electronic boarding cards), my passport and my credit card. I figured everything else was replaceable (mostly via the credit card). Luckily all these things were kept on my person, so apart from developing a strange tick, where a look of panic would pass across my face every 15 minutes or so and then I would desperately pat my person down until I had located the three objects I was allowed to panic about, things went pretty well.

Anyway, the point is that yesterday, I should have listened to the little niggling feeling. Because, as I was heading towards Heathrow on the tube, I suddenly realised that I hadn’t actually checked the airport my flight was leaving from. And, as anyone who has traveled on any of the budget European airlines will know, there are three airports I could possibly have been flying out from: Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. In fact, there are actually five London airports I could potentially have been going from: Gatwick, Stansted, Heathrow, City or Luton. The latter two of which I didn’t even know how to get to, if in fact it did turn out that I needed to get there for my flight. Just when I’m starting to think that I’m fitting into London, I pull this kind of shit and forget that the place is very large and has many airports (as well as duplicates of many things that you don’t normally expect there to be two of: large theatres (Old Vic and New Vic), art galleries (Tate and Tate Modern) etc.) In a panic, I got off the tube at Victoria, which at least had trains to Gatwick as well as buses to Stansted that I could catch, so as long as I needed to get to one of those airports, I thought I would be fine.

Next problem, of course, was that I needed to check my boarding card, which was on my email, which I needed internet to check. And, of course, because in London everyone has a smartphone or a bloody ipad, internet cafes are actually very hard to come across. I needed a Cafe Nero and free wifi, but the only ones around Victoria were Cafe Nero Express, which means they just make bloody coffee and have nowhere to sit down and abuse their free internet from. Eventually, I sat down at a McDonald’s and tried to link to their free wi-fi without buying anything. Whilst waiting for the internet to connect, I did a quick search of my computer and realised I had also downloaded the bloody ticket, so there had been no need to find wi-fi in the first place. Turns out I was also meant to be taking the plane from Gatwick, so I quickly bought myself a ticket and jumped on the next Gatwick Express, turning up at the airport around the time I had planned to be at Heathrow. So, despite a lot of panic and stress and unnecessary running around busy train stations muttering abuse at anyone who accidentally got in my way, all worked out well in the end.

I was feeling pretty darn pleased with myself, and continued to feel pretty darn pleased with myself, as I landed in Oslo, had no problems speaking to the customs official in Norwegian (who was very curious as to why I spoke Norwegian), went and got myself a hotel room. I had originally thought that I would go into Oslo and stay with a friend, but because I was getting in so late, it seemed a lot of unnecessary and expensive extra travel when all I wanted to do was sleep. My next plan was to sleep at the airport (actually AT the airport, like outside the ticket booths), but because I’ve got a cold, I decided that was probably not great for my health. So, I got myself a hotel room as a bit of indulgence, and considering it wasn’t much more than the train ticket, it seemed like a fair way to go.

Things were quite delightful relaxing in the hotel last night, I got a good night’s rest and a delicious all-inclusive breakfast this morning (inclusive of BROWN CHEESE, I might add. Hooray!!) Again, managing to converse easily in Norwegian with people around me, which just makes me so happy. However, at some point in the morning, I realised I had done a stupid thing. I had thought it would be a nice gift to bring over a couple of bottles of wine for my host father in Norway. I bought them at Gatwick, got (what I think) were some decent French reds. No worries, I’ve cleared security, so I can take them into my carry-on luggage. And it’s not until this morning that I realise I have to take another two flights to get up North where I’m spending Christmas. And there is no way the security people are going to let me take two bottles of red onto my carry-on no matter how much I plead that I bought them both at Gatwick Airport, and I really, truly haven’t done anything bad to them, like add chemicals or explosives. So, my possible solutions are to find some kind of plastic/metal container at Oslo Airport and pack the wine into that, and put it all into my checked luggage and pray to God that they don’t get smushed and stain my new UniQlo Heattech (Japan Technology) clothing. Or… well, I don’t really know that there is another solution. Putting them into a locker for a week and then taking them to my host sister in Oslo on the way back to London and leaving them with her? Drinking them before I get on the plane and getting something else as a gift when I land in Kirkenes?

Bah. As I said, I thought I was getting good at this travel thing. Turns out I’m still quite the novice.

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