August 31, 2006

Final Report

Follow-up to Progress Report [3] – or The Great Escape from [TBA]

We got back last night from an awesome 3 weeks in the Ukraine, and though so much has happened since the last report, the travelling day sums it all up nicely. We had a great day in Kiev the day before (Monday), finishing on the Independence Square, where some people are still camping in their tents in protest, mimicing the Orange Revolution of 2004. It left us all well tired in a slightly shabby communist appartment with odd mismatching 1970s furniture and decorations. Oddly enough, I don’t think any of us were enthralled to capture the place on photo. But well. I’ll resort to Holly’s clever scheduling format for the Tuesday.

too early phone rings in the living girls room. Never found out what happened, but since none of us can actually finish a sentence in Ukrainian, it couldn’t have been too important.
still early, but it’s got a time: 8.00 alarm rings. Ian goes for a shower.
8.30 Druski’s time for a shower. I decide to get up.
8.39 I actually get up and start packing.
9.00 Scheduled breakfast/bible reading/prayer time. As in the past 21 days, no one actually seems organized enough for this, so I start eating a non-refrigerated yoghurt.
9.15 I’m presented a nice jam sandwich and discard the cheese-like peach yoghurt. Organized breakfast and bible reading times are cancelled; prayer time is moved to 9.50 (10 minutes before taxi and key lady are supposed to arrive).
9.50 Key lady arrives and rushes us out of the appartment. Ian hides in the toilet. We form the most densely populated space on earth as it rains outside and smells inside.
10.15 Taxi finally arrives. Steph ends up in the front seat and gets to show off her Ukrainian skills. Bread. Thank you. Cheese. Give me your hand. Watch out. Still water. Come here. Tomato. Please.
10.53 We get to Kiev Borispol – the airport – and find that we’re well on time as here too, check in only opens about 2hrs in advance of the flight (flight departure time 13.50). So we sing and eat chocolate and squat strategically near the coffee machine.
11.54 Check in desks for our flight are announced. First passport/ticket check survived by mumbling something about e-tickets.
12.28 First group are checked in. Ian and Beth are abducted by airport staff for special instructions concerning wheel chair.
12.45 All are checked in and survived the actual customs desk. I manage to find a toilet without cigarette buds and resilient wee.
13.10 I discover souvenirs that aren’t incredibly overpriced and spend my last 80 grivna (8 quid).
12.28 TODAY I realize this isn’t as interesting as the account of a pop concert, but decide to be bold and strong and hold on till the end. Just so you can feel some of the frustration of this day.
13.22 Isn’t it time to board by now? We get through the hand baggage check and wait for a minute as the queue for the gate forms.
13.38 The queue is almost gone so we join. And then the staff decide we have to wait for 10 minutes before the next few can board.
13.50 Board the bus, that is. Our flight is officially delayed.
14.13 And we’ve taken off. Baka Kiev!
15.00 ish On board meal is good. I love Lufthansa. I reset my watch to German time.

14.39 (15.39) As I’m about to doze off, my neighbouring passenger decides to talk to me. He turns out to be Dutch. We discuss my course.
14.45 (15.45) Dutch politics. Dutch universities. English universities.
15.02 (16.02) His job. Holland is not as great as it used to be.
15.14 (16.14) Our time in the Ukraine. Rev. Orphans.
15.27 (16.27) He decides to buy cigarettes. I really need to doze off.
15.48 (16.38) Thunderstorm over Frankfurt. More delays. Our connecting flight will leave in 27 minutes. Or will it?
16.20 (17.20) On German soil. Drew and I run to airport staff member to get ticket changed.
16.21 (17.21) Drew and I run to information desk to ask about transfer desk. Lady tells us we need a different desk which is fortunately right behind us.
16.28 (17.28) We get all of us booked onto the next flight but check in has closed. Lufthansa lady tells us to run.
16.32 (17.32) I have to use my high school German Entschuldigung to find out what on earth is going on as we find that downstairs other Lufthansa staff are playing with our tickets too. All is well, though, and Ian and Beth are taken care off whilst Steph, Roses, Dru, and I have to rush to the gate as our new flight supposedly leaves at 17.15.
16.42 (17.42) Security dude asks if there’s anything left in my pockets as I unfold my sweet wrappings in the basket with my wallet.
16.54 (17.54) We arrive at the gate and have ourselves checked in. Yes, there are 6 of us but 2 are elsewhere. Yes, one in a wheelchair. Good to find out you know who we are. Yes, 7 pieces of luggage for 6 people. Great, thank you!
17.20 (18.20) Penultimate ticket checking dude shares with us his history as he’s American and failed German in high school yet he’s been stuck on Frankfurt Airport for 20 years now. Poor sod. Our new flight should have left 5 minutes ago.
17.24 (18.24) Another airport bus!
17.30 (18.30) We get on board of the plane as the rain starts pouring down. Druski assures me planes our designed to protect us from lightning. Except for the one that crashed the week before as a result of a thunderstorm.
17.38 (18.38) Ian and Beth are left in the pouring rain. Lufthansa staff are happy Ian’s a christian as he merely yells at them.
17.45 (18.45) Chair dance as Ian and Beth take das Mittelmeer with them into the plane. Taxiing begins.
18.15 (19.15) Traffic resolves as we see the last plane before us take off leaving a nice turbulent wake of rain and vapour behind it. We take off 1,5hrs behind schedule (we, as in us 6, the plane is only an hour late). I reset my watch to UK time.

17.32 (19.32) Druski wins his DS Mario Kart tournament. Pretty clouds outside.
17.50 (19.50) Nice cheese sandwich.
18.40 (20.40) We’re back! The plane arrives at the wrong gate, however, and we have to trek through Heathrow to find the right baggage terminal.
19.00 (21.00) We find the right belt as I run forward to fetch my backpack. How come I’m always lucky with this?
19.15 (21.15) We start to worry that Ian and Beths soaking wet clothes aren’t the only thing that went wrong as we changed in Frankfurt.
19.25 (21.25) Ian, Drew, and Steph go to the luggage lady to find out where their stuff is. Roses is all set and says goodbye. Baka!
19.55 (21.55) All is sorted. Somehow their luggage got stuck in Frankfurt and will get on the next plane to be delivered tomorrow (i.e. today).
20.00 (22.00) Finally we arrive. Hello to Ian’s dad and sister and to Druski’s dad. Steph and I rush off as I’m never sure there’s a train to Birmingham after 10pm, and I don’t trust the London Underground.
20.15 (22.15) My lack of faith is being rewarded as the only station not serviced that day is indeed Heathrow Airport. We get a ticket but find out that in my exhaustion and hurry I got one only to zone 2 (Euston is in zone 1). Nice man says it’ll all be fine, hurrah!
15.18 TODAY I resume this entry after lunch with Ali and Rich. And a shower (just me).
20.20 (22.20) Bus man jokes about the next bus being a double decker. We don’t like him. Manage to get spot near the doors, but nearly knock out two Indian ladies with my backpack. Steph gets public transportly assaulted by man hanging over her.
20.31 (22.31) Hatton Cross. Succeed in getting best spot for carrying backpack (front of carriage – you can just lean) next to friendly young Asian couple.
20.30-something (22.30-something) Northfields. Loads of people board the train (why here?). We don’t like the society rules of public transport. Nice lady boards train reading a book but stuck near door as 3 lads just won’t move into the carriage.
20.40 (22.40) Friendly young Asian girl finds two seats but one of 3 lads sneaks in before her boyfriend can sit down. We just laugh out of desperation.
21.05 (23.05) Man attending some adult London uni enters carriage and even though he holds on nearly falls on top of me whilst I save him by holding his back. You’re welcome.
21.31 (23.31) Leicester Square. Apart from me explaining Steph the difference between mice and rats running around in the Underground nothing exciting happens.
21.39 (23.39) Euston! Steph’s charm works on the Underground staff and we can move up no problem. Hurrah! We’re only 1,5hrs away from home! Or not. Next train at 22.40. Arrives in Cov 0.35. Be joyful always.
21.50 (23.50) Thanks for the nice sausage roll Steph!
22.10 (00.10) We can board the train, so we do. I experience Virgin train toilet for the first time. Quite exciting, I dare say, pushing buttons and all.
22.53 (00.53) We start watching photos on my laptop, reminiscing.
22.55 (00.55) Really scary ringtone behind us as it sounds like the world’s largest mosquito. Not fun as we’ve both had some limb-large bites in the Ukraine. We still laugh.
00.15 (02.15) Coventry! Baka Steph! Quick taxi ride and I’m home.

Now I see it was only 18 hours in total, yet it felt like 3 completely different days. Moving on now, hopefully I’ll get the best pics online in a bit!

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Nik

    Thor, that was sheer genius!! I now understand completely your use of “safely (?)” in your Return Home Text Reply :) xxx

    06 Sep 2006, 13:31

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