After many hours, much coldness and a surplus of being over-tired, Chad and I made it to Cramlington in one piece each.
After packing and tidying up the apartment that had been our home for a month, we got a ride from our landlady, Antonia, down to the bus stop at 2pm (Heraklion time). She was super sweet, and we loved staying at her place because she occassionally brought us baked goods and the rent was very afforadable. The bus arrived about 5 minutes later and took approximately 45 minutes to get to the airport. At this point, we were way ahead of the game, because we built in extra time for this part of the travel (since we neither had a bus schedule, nor did we know how long it would take to get to the airport). Since we couldn’t check our bag in until 3:30pm, we found a place to sit and read, and I grabbed a sandwich, since I couldn’t eat too much of the cake our Antonia had brought for fear of Lactose Intolerance making my life hell, I also grabbed a sandwich. This immediately attracked new friends:
Each of the two cats scored a sliver of bread from the end of my sandwich, and one got a pat on the head from Chad.
After checking our one bag (we travel with a carry on each and one duffle bag), we went through security, which is always a pain in the ass because not only do I use my pockets to store things, but I often have a jacket (layering up for travelling keeps your bags underweight) and sunglasses. I also have to take out my laptop, and the empty fig aquavit bottle I have been carrying around since Portugal (because I really like the bottle), and remove my belt. The fun part of that is the jeans I currently own are way too big – in fact, I take them off without undoing them – so I get the fun task of holding them up while I walk through the metal detector. I then feel like a jerk as I have to put all my various things back on/in my pockets/around my body/on my head/packed nicely back into my bag. For some reason it always feels like it is taking forever, but it probably feels like less time for people who aren’t me.
Then we waited. And waited. Because we were early, like you are supposed to be, and got through security in about 10 minutes. Back to reading.
The first flight was from Heraklion to Athens, so it was only about 50 minutes long. We got beverages and biscuits, and I didn’t even bother trying to read.
What I hate the most about air travel is when you have to go through security more than once in a trip. Honestly, I have gotten off one plane, walked directly to where my next gate is, and I have to repeat the horror show of taking everything off/out of my pockets/out of my bags again? It was only a 50 minute wait between flights! But it wasn’t so busy, and we made it through in good time.
However, as I was called forward to start my undressing process, Chad was stuck at the front of the line, waiting for space at a scanner to free up. A small child, about waist height, was running around in this space and promptly punched Chad in the junk. When he told me the story afterward, I nearly died laughing. In fact, as I write this post, I started giggling to myself and Chad asked what I was laughing at. Now we are both giggling (quietly, because we don’t want to wake David and Emmie’s the babies), and Chad commented, “yeah… good times.”
The best part of that story is that the (assumed) Mother of the boy looked at the child directly after and asked, “did you just punch that man?” Chad only realized as he was telling me to story that she had spoken English and he could have spoken up and told her that he had just been punched in the junk (since we’ve been living in countries where we don’t speak the language for the last three month, we’ve gotten very used to just not trying to talk to random people unless we know beforehand that they will understand us).
Our next flight was really nice. I got my meal ahead of time, because I ordered a vegan meal when we booked the tickets. Really, I would have been fine with meat in my meal, but there is not lactose intolerance meal listed, and I have run completely out of my lactose pills, so it seemed like a good idea to not be trapped on a flight with stomach issues. I got a tasty pasta, dinner roll, tiny lettuce/cucumber salad and a fruit cup for dessert (which I ate first, because my meal didn’t have cutlery on the tray). Chad got a similar pasta (but with cheese), dinner roll, a side dish that confused the crap out of both of us (it looked like some form of vanilla mousse with a chocolate covered almond on time, but the almond turned out to be an olive, and the mouse was some weird cheesy/onion tasting thing; it wasn’t something we’d ever order on purpose), and a chocolate bar. We both had a wee bottle of red wine.
Unfortunately, neither of us slept on the plane. This was especially unfortunately because we wouldn’t be able to sleep until we got on the Megabus the next morning. We got our bag and caught the tube from Heathrow to Victoria station. We grabbed a little food from a wee stand (sandwich for Chad, soup for me) because realizing that the station actually closed from 1am-3am, which meant we had to go for a walk outside, mostly hoping to find an open pub in which to sit.
We didn’t find a pub, but at least the wind calmed down and it didn’t rain on us. It was actually kind of peaceful, with the exception of a few, presumably drunk, loud people causing havoc across the street at one point. We got sleep deprived enough that the phrase “Baby Road Cone Seeds” was hilarious. I snapped a couple photos, mostly to give myself something to do, as I was too tired/wired to read.
2:30am on some steps in London
Eventually, we got back into the station, but it didn’t seem much warmer than outside. Then, the countdown to Wetherspoons opening at 7am for breakfast began. By this point, we’d already had to harass a couple different coffee boxes for exact change to pay to use the bathrooms, which is one of the stupidest things of all time (especially since they aren’t particularly nice bathrooms, and both the machines at which you are meant to get exact change for the turnstyles are broken).
Although a cheeky morning pint with breakfast was tempting, we were entirely too tired to drink. Both of us were looking forward to getting onto the bus and sleeping as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the universe had other plans.
We arrived around 8:15am, to give ourselves plenty of time to check the board and figure out where to meet our bus. At 8:35am, someone came on the loud speaker and said our bus was delayed, and when they had more information, they would let us know. This message was repeated about 5 times before someone else called the company directly (around 10am) to find out that we wouldn’t be leaving until about 11am. This wouldn’t have been so bad if a) we hadn’t already been awake for 27 hours and b) they told us when our bus would be delayed to straight away so we could have gone back to the pub.
Also, the novelty of the Pigeon Girl was wearing off after the first 45 minutes. This girl two seats over from us and terrifed of pigeons. Since the weather was crap, there were a lot of pigeons who had snuck inside to sit atop the warm televisions that display travel information. Every time a pigeon came remotely near her, she flailed. It was really funny for the first little while, but near the end I was hoping the birds would just attack her or something.
Once we finally got on the bus, I was out like a light. It was a 6.5 hour journey, and I woke up half a dozen times, but I felt way better after the rest.
Once the bus let us out at Newcastle, I texted my mates to try to figure out where to meet them, as they had come him her Dad’s car and would be giving us a ride to their place (for which we were very grateful). Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glance of a couple walking the opposite direction, and just from their backs, I knew it was them. I spoke a quick, “follow me!” to Chad and started in their direction, weaving through people to catch up and anounce, “Hello, lovely people” right behind them. Much hugging, introductions between Chad, Emmie and David and then a short walk to the car, and a short ride to her Mom’s, to pick up their extremely adorable and lovely boys, Vincent (2.5 years old) and Aurelio (just celebrated his first birthday on January 9th). Emmie and David’s house is very close, so we had a cup of tea, waited for the boys to finish dinner and wandered back to theirs for a delicious dinner, sharing of fun things from the interwebs and an early turn in. Since the wee ones are up so early, Emmie and David decided to take the new, extremely comfy sofa that turns into a bed in about 2.5 seconds and gave us their room, which was extremely sweet of them. I slept so ridiculously well now that I wasn’t trying to sleep sitting up.
I’m really enjoying seeing my lovely friends again, and am excited to do even more exploring with them tomorrow. We had a rather chill day of grocery shopping, kid’s telly, ParaNorman (so cute) and cider and Arkham Horror (I’ve never played a boardgame more complicated than Monopoly, so I was a wee bit lost, but it was fun and they helped me out, and we all won in the end – YAY).
Right; sleep, more adventure tomorrow. I love my life.