18 May 2007

Frequent Flying

I am in Cyprus. I remain tired and cannot wait till my circadian rhythm gets its shit together again. Already been to two mosques, two churches, and a Venetian watchtower. Many pictures to come.

And now, something I wrote in the Heathrow Airport:

Behold now unto you, a tale of airplane woe. Remember ye that my original itinerary was to fly from JFK in NYC to London Heathrow to Frankfurt to Larnaka.

The JFK-LHR flight was fantastic. Virgin Atlantic rocks my socks; it's like British Airways but with bells on. They have individualized movie capability in all the seatbacks, and a very nice database of movies and TV episodes, on call whenever you want them. I watched The Illusionist (not bad, great atmosphere) and the Dr. Who episode "The Girl in the Fireplace" (bloody fantastic, Tennant is still hot). Plane came in pretty much on time despite storms racing across all of North America, including NYC.

Which was not true of many, many other flights. LHR Transfer Connections was a freaking zoo, with only one very slow guy checking in transfers onto Lufthansa. Net result: by the time I reached the desk (now staffed by an additional person, Prussian Efficiency Lady) I had twenty minutes until my plane left. Prussian Efficiency Lady told me I was too close for her to give me a boarding pass (wtf) and sent me to Terminal 2.

Terminal 2 was empty. There were shops, gates, and people, but no desk at which one might obtain a boarding pass. I stuck my head into an open office-type room and made a general plea for help to a very nice lady who sent me through immigration to the Lufthansa ticket office. This meant going through a Restricted Section* because you're really not supposed to do this. It's kind of cracked-out to try, apparently. The man at the immigration desk thought my plight was hilarious but managed to keep a straight face...mainly.

Lufthansa ticket desk informed my watch-less self that my flight had left already and that rerouting me would be Virgin's problem. Virgin's ticket desk was in Terminal 1.

The wonderful, dignified Irishman at Virgin found me a flight directly from LHR to Larnaka, leaving at 3:40 pm, a full three hours later. I could have kissed him. I estimate by that time I'd speed-walked about a mile from terminal to terminal, and it's not like I got a full night's sleep on my plane across the Atlantic. I checked in, was assured that my bag would be transferred with me, and updated Dr. Moore (whom I am now training myself to call Scott) via pay phone.

And now I've gotten through security again, eaten an overpriced though tasty sandwich, and found The Tiniest Chocolate Bar in the World. And one of the stores nearby is playing "The Final Countdown." In conclusion: human institutions such as airlines and airports are far more convoluted than than is advisable, but the people who run them tend to agree with you and are largely fantastic individuals. Also, Vigin's ticket desk had a "Don't be a bitch to our peeps. We will smack you down" sign; whatever stupid institution (LHR, Virgin, the UK?) is responsible for that is doing at least one thing right.

Now, since I wrote that bit, I've landed in Larnaka at 10 pm, found that my bag was not transferred with me, met the other project people, and jaunted around our bit of the island a little. Apparently we're in time for Kataklysmos,** which is only a one-day holiday for most of Cyprus. Larnaka, however, is there with Gigantic Glittery Extravagant Bells On. It lasts for a week. There are carnival rides already appearing. Our hotel is just a block or two from the boardwalk. It's gonna be a paaaar-tay.

So now I'm here in the Internet cafe, discovering that uploading photos and video from camera may indeed be possible and that when I'm actually paying for every minute on the Webs there really isn't as much I need to do. Also waiting for my bag, which carries within its bowels not only my shower stuff, sarong (for religious sites), and camera cables and plug adapters, but most importantly my teddy bear. Never put your teddy bear in your checked luggage! It's cruel! My teddy bear has been nearly lost to me many times before; I hope he manages to return to me again.

To keep in touch with me, comment on this blog or my vlog (see next post) or send me an email at damnowls@gmail.com. I'll be checking the internets 2-3 times per week. I arrive back in Pittsburgh on the evening of 7 July.

*and only narrowly avoiding the screaming book.
**Hey, Anna, is this a Russian Orthodox holiday as well, or are the Greeks just weird? I'm curious.


dimestorefind said...

LOL at screaming book.

And I'm gonna go with "No," Kataklysmos is not a Russian Orthodox holiday, and I'm gonna say that it is because it is not a church holiday even though it coincides with Greek/Russian Pentecost - that's just because it is the spring and this festival is about the floods. IN SUM: NOT RUSSIAN.

Keleyat said...

ALWAYS insure the Teddy Bear (or in my case, the Woolly Mammoth doll) for $10,000 as an art object. They'll NEVER lose it then!

But hey--at least YOUR international flight didn't involve an untimely 3:30 a.m. meeting with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, right?

Hope you're having a better day! Love ya!