Sunday 2 June 2013: It was an early start to the day (for me) as I got to cramming all my luggage into my one piece of checked luggage and two bits of hand luggage ahead of my departure to Canada. Again, there were more difficult farewells – this time my close friends in Annecy. I’m pleased I had decided to stop in France and Switzerland – these times catching up with friends are what make travelling so worthwhile but bittersweet!
Then, mid morning, the Meyer family picked me up and drove me to the airport in Geneva. It can’t be easy working at a check-in counter at an international airport, but seriously, I think a good sense of humour should be essential for the job! (I previously blogged about a check-in woman in South Africa who did indeed have a great sense of humour.)
The Meyers and I all traipsed over to the British Airways counter, where I cheerily greeted the dull chap waiting to assist passengers. I leveraged my luggage onto the scale – 24.2kg flashed back at me. Now, I know I was only allowed 23kg in theory but airlines have been known to give one at least 1kg grace.
“You’re overweight,” the friendly check-in guy droned.
I was offended. Only my family gets to call me overweight, not some random Swiss check-in guy! But, of course, he was referring to my roller-suitcase lying like a beached Orca on his stationary conveyor belt.
And so I asked (again, with the friendliest, sweetest attitude) if he could give me grace because I was moving – for eight months – to another country.
“23kg” he grunted, challenging me with his withering look to dare to ask him again.
I’m done paying for overweight luggage, so I dragged my bag off the conveyor belt, cracked it open right in front of him, removed some gifts and a pair of jeans, packed them all into my hand luggage (yes, my hand luggage that would be going on the plane anyway) and placed my now kilo-lighter check-in bag back on the scale.
“That’s fine now,” he responded dryly…
Can anyone else see the irony?
After that incident, the rest of my time at Geneva airport passed without excitement. Our flight out was delayed, of course, and we were put into a holding pattern over London for 30 minutes, but the journey was all most comfortable. Then came the usual queues, queues and more queues at Heathrow to get through to my connecting flight – but I had three hours, so I was relatively relaxed (unlike some stressed-out, sweating travellers). A friend in South Africa had blessed me with just under £3 before I left, which I used to buy a most disappointing Starbucks coffee.
All was going like clockwork until the strap of my over-laden camera bag snapped … I’m convinced it was because of the extra weight of the jeans and chocolates (and not only the 13kg of camera equipment)!
Our flight out of Heathrow was delayed because the airport was apparently experiencing higher-than-normal air traffic. I was starting to expect it of the airline and airport now, and it really made no difference to me when we left … Unlike when I flew from Johannesburg to Geneva in May, the entertainment system on my flight from London to Vancouver was actually working, and I made full use of it.
By now many of my friends and some of my readers have heard the account of me bawling my eyes out on a flight to Mongolia years ago, as I said goodbye to loved ones.
Well, it happened again. Somewhere over the Atlantic, while watching a movie called Song for Marion, the floodgates opened and I sobbed. The tears were literally spurting out of my eyes. These baby blues were fountains. And I don’t normally cry.
After some nine hours in the air I got my first glimpse of Canuckistan, the Rockies to be exact. In no time Vancouver appeared below. Beyond beautiful! I spent the night with the Steenkamps, a family who used to live in Pretoria; tried to sleep but that bully jetlag kept pummelling me awake …
And now I’m plain exhausted from this tome. More to follow tomorrow …