At the moment I’m reading a travel guide written by William Makepeace Thackery. He, along with other early British tourists, are aboard a paddle steamer, visiting various places. A lot of the book is not just about the places visited but also about the journey. It’s been showing me how the modern world has dispensed with the trip in favour of expediency. How people have been fooled into thinking they have to get to their destination as quickly as possible.
When I combine the Thackery with Room with a View, the real world of travel, enjoying the journey as much as the destination, shines bright.
Then, of course, there’s the damage we are doing to the planet with short haul flights, something which bothers me every time I take a flight to Europe.
What that all adds up to is today’s flight home. We have discussed it to exhaustion and have decided this would be our final short haul flight.
Of course, to celebrate this decision, there were the usual annoyances at the airport.
The main one was with Vueling Airlines. They, helpfully, include a timetable on their boarding passes. It clearly stated that the check-in desk opened at 11:40. And so, like good little air travellers, we were there in plenty of time and queued up ready for the off.
By the time we reached the check-in desk it was midday. The woman at the desk informed us that they were dealing with passengers to Barcelona at present and our flight wasn’t checking in until two hours before take off, which was 12:10. We went and sat down.
At 12:10 the check-in for Gatwick opened and we once more stood in the queue and successfully checked in and headed for security.
Being second in the queue meant we were at security long before everyone else. In fact, there was no-one there. For once we could go through without crowds of other anxious travellers trying to get through before us with their pointy elbows and negligent feet. I was especially pleased because I could see a large group of large Americans now at the check in desk, keen to trounce through.
A smile crept across my face. It immediately ran off when Mirinda declared she was going to the loo first. I stood, trying to remain patient as the Americans, one by one, were dealt with. It was like watching a slow motion but inevitable car crash.
Like George Costanza, I was ahead of the game. For once in my air travelling life I’d have a clear run. But time was ticking inexorably along and the Americans were getting closer.
Suddenly, like a beacon, my wife appeared and we headed through security without much fuss. As we walked away, my jeans now once more secured with my belt that always sets the alarms off, the large group of large Americans had been joined by an even larger group of other passengers as the hustle and bustle of security began.
Given it was to be my final time, I was best pleased.
As we waited at the gate, Mirinda devised our holiday travel plans for next year. They consist mostly of trains and delightful trips through a countryside that we generally miss because it’s beneath clouds. Then the call for boarding came.
I had a priority boarding pass so I could claim a bit of wheelie bag space above me rather than halfway down the cabin and Mirinda boarded last. There was a bit of a kerfuffle when a family of three (mum, papa and Thomas) were separated but Thomas, sitting next to me, was happy to just play electronic games. Mind you, he did get very excited when we landed.
The trip was just fine. A vast improvement over our journey out to Florence.
Carol was there to meet us and we headed for home.
While we are definitely going to miss Florence, we will not miss the airport hassle.