Epic Journey

21 December 2010

Not sure if you kept up with my twitter entries but my journey back to Berlin will go down as the longest NYC to Europe expidition EVER. I left for the airport at 5.30pm on Friday 17th. I had gotten an email from BA already to tell me my flight had been cancelled. I tried calling but to no avail, just kept getting the fob off message that thier call centre was experiencing higher than average activity and would I call back later. The cab journey was LONG. Rush hour on a Friday night, crawling out of the city, trying every 10 minutes to contact BA. I arrived at the terminal and was told to join the queue that didn’t move. “Please no” I remonstrated but the woman gave me the “I don’t give a shit about you” look “Just join the end of the queue to nowhere and get out of my face”. The queue to nowhere was full of people of differing stages of frustration. Some had been there since 2pm and were in an awful state. Some, like me, had just joined the queue and were in a positive hopeful place. I thought I would be clever and try the BA phoneline while I waited, incase I got lucky. Well, I did. I managed to get to the hold music and held the phone to my ear for the next hour and a half until I reached the front of the queue at which point I hung up. I was assisted by this really cool woman called Angela. She said all the next flights were full. I didn’t flinch. I find passivity to be the best measure in these situations. If you throw a wobbly, you ain’t gonna get nuttin. Angela made a call. She Uh-huhed and mm-mmed and sighed and asked the woman on the other end to get me on a flight. “Is he cute?” “Yeahhh…” “Does he look crazy…” “Nu-uhh… he looks very laid back. You ain’t gonna get no trouble from this one…” The flight in question was 114. It was due to leave around 9pm but was delayed and scheduled to depart at around 3.20 am. She told me to stand over there and that she would call me when she heard. I was called back and she said “Well, baby, you got the last seat. Here’s your ticket. Go check in over there…” I wished her happy christmas eve. She’s told me she would be working on Christmas day and that eve was gonna be her day off.

Flight 114 left JFK around 3.40am. I sat in my seat and some very slobby couple got in the seat behind me and immediately took their shoes off. Their feet smelled like death. I ripped open the wee plastic case which contains flying accouterments and put the blind fold over my nose. The cold chemical stench neutralisedย most of their awful guff. I fell asleep soon afterwards only to be woken by the guy behind me snoring like a pig.These people were like the Harry Enfield characters. I think the captains announcement woke him up and in that window I passed out once again.

When I awoke, we had landed. But it wasn’t heathrow. It was Shannon in south western Ireland. The captain told us we had been diverted becasue Heathrow was closed due to severe weather and we’d be staying on the plane for the next few of hours as Shannon was also being used by multiple diverted jumbo jets and was packed. I fell asleep once again. When I awoke, everyone seemed to be collecting their rubbish. The captain soon came on and said hotels had been made available and after we collected our luggage a bus would take everyone for a night in Shannon. At that point I got on my iphone, flipped data roaming ON (the next couple of hours of research will have cost me $$$$) and checked my options. I figured there would be a high chance of Heathrow being screwed for days. Forecasts looked grim. So what to do. I decided to try and get to Berlin from Dublin the following morning. The last train to Dublin left from Limerick at 8.55pm and arrived at 23.23. I had to catch a bus from Shannon to Limerick first though…oh and collect my bags which as it happened took ages to come out on the carousel.

I made the bus with a minute to spare but realised I didn’t have any money.By luck I found a โ‚ฌ5 note in my computer bag and borrowed โ‚ฌ2 from a girl who was waiting. The bus took an hour. It was a drunken night in Limerick. Lots of christmas parties going off. I met a student from Princeton who was a Hampstead local and we John Candyed and Steve Martined for the next 3 hours. He was headed to Mumbai for a family holiday. Nice kid. 18, very bright and good company. The ATM was bust at Limerick station so I wandered out into the drunken night and found a Spar supermarket with a money machine. I bought food for me and thought I should get my new friend a grilled cheese sandwich as well. He was thankful as his trip had not been fruitful.

WHen the train arrived I couldn’t find my ticket so with 2 minutes to spare I ran back to the station and bought another one. Naturally the missing ticket appeared as soon as I had bought the other but by this point I didn’t care. I just wanted to be on the train. We hung out for the next 3 hours changing trains at Limerick Junction. I had my travel agent get Zachery, my princeton Classics student a great deal at The Morrison hotel in Dublin and we bode each other goodnight and good luck at reception. I had the best bath ever and surfed and wrote emails till it was 6.30am at which point I wandered downstairs and paid my bill and got a taxi to the airport. Ryan Air took off from Dublin at 9.50am. I woke up after touchdown in Berlin and was home within 40 minutes.

It is so nice to be here. I found out, had I stayed in Shannon, I would surely still be there as I write. Nothing against Shannon but there’s no place like home.

Happy Holidays everyone.

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42 Responses to “Epic Journey”

  1. Debbie (deebee) says:

    Wow that was a bit of a marathon! We had a similar experience last April with the ash cloud problem – it’s a great feeling when you do finally get home. I noticed you turned on the Healy charm at the airport hehe. Happy Christmas with your family ๐Ÿ˜€ and hopefully I’ll see you somewhere in 2011.

  2. Mili says:

    Good moves, Fran! I’m glad you made it home for Christmas.

    Happy Holidays to you and your family, see you next year!


  3. closergms1968 says:

    The thing is i actually visualised the story as i was reading it.
    In a kind of planes trains and automobiles kind of way.
    You tell a great story. Maybe theres a song in there somewhere.
    Think it goes something like this:-
    Flying home for christmas……..
    ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Christmas to to you and your family (-:

  4. Laimary says:

    Oh Fran you have lived a real odyssey!! I’m agree wiht you, there’s nothing like home!! Have you already bought a Christmas present to Clay? I’m not used to recieve presents for Christmas because I came from a large family and there was no money enough but I grew up the same and I consider myself as a very happy woman!! I’m a believer and I prefer live Christmas for its spiritual significance,I don’t like excessive consumerism. In any case I love spending these days to find something nice for my two nephews because it’s always nice to make a present to a child!! Adults can live without :)! Enjoy your Christmas holidays!! Lot of kisses.

  5. Sarah- says:

    hey fran, thanks for taking the time to share this story, wow, epic journey indeed! it kinda reminds me of the time in april, when many people (me included) were stuck because of the evil volcanic ash cloud ๐Ÿ˜‰ oh well. you made it home ok and in no time you will laugh about all this, hehe. enjoy your time in berlin, stay warm and frohe weihnachten!! ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  6. Pat says:

    Glad to hear you got home alright man, but I hope there will be another Irish appearance in 2011????? ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Swan says:

    Wow Fran-the first leg of the trip seemed like hell! I think most of us have had long travel experiences but during the holidays it always seems like the sand is dripping out of the hour glass.

    Cheers to you and your family and happy christmas

    Swan and the ESPN boys.

  8. janine says:

    sounds like quite a trip… ๐Ÿ™‚ happy holidays to you and your family, too ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. ARTURO says:

    wow sounds nearly like a “back pack journey”!! except for the thrill of a real journey
    glad youยดre home now and youยดre right, thereยดs no place like home!
    have a wonderful christmas eve with your family and love ones
    take care and a have an excellent 2011 full of success and happiness
    God bless you

  10. mensamodelmuse says:

    Hey Fran,
    Welcommen home! After a glamorous jetset adventure…
    Doesn’t matter that it always rains on you ‘cos you have an umbrella of unsoakable optimism and a sunny disposition to keep you warm and dry. Santa always looks after good boys like you.
    Have a cuddly Clay Christmas and an empowering 2011.

  11. Kathy says:

    Omg, what a journey! But what lovely people you met on the way, though. Very happy that you’re now home safe and sound. Wishing you a very Happy Christmas. See you in the New Year. ๐Ÿ™‚ hugs Kathyx

  12. Sue says:

    hehe you didn’t say what you had to do for ยฃ2 … ๐Ÿ™‚ I enjoyed reading how it goes, thanks and Happy Christmas to all x

  13. Lauren says:

    What a mess! Glad you’re home. Happy Holidays Fran!

  14. Mike says:

    Woah…how did you write this on the 21st?

  15. Cat says:

    That is an amazingly awful, ridiculous, hilarious adventure. All the makings of a great song I think. Merry Christmas!

  16. toadthewetsprocket says:

    dich und deine familie!!

  17. Jennifer says:

    Glad you made it home! I just got home yesterday from a long trip of airport delays, lost luggage, and train delays as well. Have a great holiday, Fran!

  18. Alper says:

    The guy who was on the bus was SO lucky! Omg I wish I were him ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. elham says:

    British people are lucky to have that much of snow…:(
    I wonder if it was Coldplay song’s result…Still waiting for the snow to fall,It doesn’t really feel like christmas at all!!!!!!!!:D

  20. Maria says:

    happy holidays to you and yours ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. John Smith says:

    I agree with closergms1968, there’s got to be a song about this story in there somewhere. I’m glad you’re home. Merry Christmas Fran!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  22. Minnmess says:

    Merry Christmas to you, your family, Angela, Zachery and the girl that loaned you โ‚ฌ2.

  23. RowGirl says:

    Oh Fran! Thanks for taking the time to share that story. How awful. I am sure it is wonderful to be home with family. You were quite ingenious with your travel plans…kudos! A couple of years ago it took me 4 days to get from Sydney to Philadelphia – two of those days were stuck in Chicago (O’Hare…oof!). I think the worst part was being in the same clothes for all of those days without a shower. Modern travel sure isn’t the glamorous event is was in days of past, is it?

  24. Yuna says:

    Happy Holiday Fran!

  25. munge says:

    “I’m at the carpark, the airport, the baggage carousel /

    The people keep on crowding, I’m wishing I was well /

    I said it’s no occasion, it’s no story I can tell”

    Glenn will be ’round to pick up the nickel for the nick…

  26. yamilka says:

    That was crazy Fran! I am glad you are home with your family! I would have had a panic attach with the airplane and the train… Post some christmas pictures of you and Clay! <3 Yamilka

  27. Amy says:

    I’m glad you got home. Merry Christmas!

  28. Ranajeet says:

    I wish you were headed for Mumbai instead of that kid. I live 3 hours from there. Would have driven to see you perform. Ah but i’m just talking nonsense. You are never coming to India are you? Going to make me come to Europe? I want to see Travis perform Colder before I get 25. Thats still 5 years. Come to Inida man. And great show of patience and “laid-backness”. Why didnt you just sing her ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me’? She’s have bumped off someone from First class and put you in there straight away. See…your talent can come in handy in more ways than one. Your voice and singing would have brought the whole airport to a standstill though. Its THAT great. You are the best ever. Happy christmas and new year.

  29. Wow, what a trip. Glad you made it back. I hope you have enjoyed your holiday…”All I Wanna Do Is Rock…around the Christmas Tree!”

  30. Hi I just dropped by and wanted to say you to make a Merry Christmastime. Let all your wishes work come true for you and your family and lets wish the next period be prosperous for all us. Merry Xmas

  31. There is no place like home, Fran. I can imagine how happy Clay got as soon as you arrived. ENJOY it and Happy New Year!

  32. ana says:

    It was rather amusing to read this post, but i’m sure it wasn’t so much when it was all happening. This story reminded me of when I was trying to come home from NYC, flying on standby in the summer. Not very hectic but 24 very miserable hours at the terminal. Anyways, happy holidays!

  33. Ursina says:

    och don’t I know the feeling! it took us 3 days to get to Glasgow from Zurich airport (via London city, which was slightly better than Heathrow at least) 10 days ago.. only to find the water frozen at our cottage in Argyll! All the same it was great to be back with family, despite airport chaos and no water.

    so a bit late ….. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours !

    see you in Zurich in February ! ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. franhealy says:

    hey Ranajeet, thankyou for reaching out so sweetly. Yours is high praise indeed. I would love to come to India and who knows, maybe your request will help me in trying to somehow get out there… until then, i hope you enjoy the songs as much as me when they were born… f

  35. Lila says:

    Hi Fran,

    I was trying to go in the opposite direction as you last week, from London to San Francisco. My journey took about 22 hours from door to door with a 4 hour delay at Heathrow, which reminded me of a war zone in a third world country, and an unplanned diversion to Seattle due to “lavatory issues”. (I’ll leave it at that.) But, I count myself lucky as I got home in plenty of time for Christmas. I hope yours was joyful as well! Here’s wishing you a glorious New Year of peace, health, and happiness!
    Lots of love,
    Lila xx

  36. Ranajeet says:

    You actually replied!!! I’m dizzy with happiness man! Thanks a lot for acknowledging my request. I will be there whenever you decide to come (may it be very soon). Thanks man. Extremely ingratitated. How about a Travis album till you come to India??

  37. Ranajeet says:

    i meant ingratiated. ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. Sara says:

    Fran…What a horrible trip!!! You can be happy you got some sleep in your plane. For me this never works.. I was awake the whole night on my 14 hours bus trip to austria..while everyone slept.. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Great you arrived before christmas in Berlin! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Even when you must been very exhausted..

  39. Mila says:

    With all the time I’ve spent between Dublin and Limerick (my boyfriend is a Dubliner living in Limerick and I’m in Birmingham), this is when you choose to get stranded in Ireland…Kidding, so glad you made it home in time to be with your family. I was very nervous about not making it home for Christmas too (to Venezuela) but luckily I did.
    Happy New Year.

  40. Blurred says:

    Glad you got home before Dublin airport came to a standstill as well (21st onwards) Next time you get stranded in Limerick get in touch with Harry Potter n myself and we could sink a pint seen as Limerick is our hometown;0)Then again, you wont get stranded there again and neither Mr Potter nor myself live there anymore. Was an extra pleasure reading this blog, happy new year:0)

  41. Tor (Norway) says:

    Great story!

  42. j.e. says:

    what’s wrong with saying Merry Christmas?

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