I got here in the end… but it would’ve been easier to take the riverboat to hell. I left on Friday afternoon 12th January – arrived Monday morning the 15th. This journey did not include sleeping. My brain was fried, and the rest of the body felt it was only hanging together by chewing gum.
It all started to go wrong from the very beginning. The dirty game airlines play – called overbooking – manifested itself in sitting in the plane for almost five hours in Helsinki airport before even leaving the ground. British Airways, people. I suggest you avoid them like the plague.
Spending five cramped hours in a germ-infested tube of composites that doesn’t even move is much like being a POW in Vietnam – the only thing missing was the bamboo sticks underneath the fingernails.
This is the first domino brick: After a lot of rioting, calculating overweight, choosing 15 volunteers to leave the aircraft for another, returning them because of some dick in Heathrow decided it was a security risk, etc, etc, British Airways finally decided to remove ALL baggage from the plane to get going…
[Yes Virginia, the bags are still missing.]
As the rest of the domino bricks fell, arriving five hours late in London meant missing the connecting flight to Sydney, and so on, and so on. It was hard to invent nice words. The allmighty Heathrow rumba – which was of worse caliber than when I was a rookie in the army – resulted in an overnight stay at a crappy suburban hotel on BA’s expense.
[Actually, just finding the right bus for the hotel was like being a strong contender on The Amazing Race].
Anyway, returned to Heathrow very early in the morning to sort out the details of a quite imaginative re-routing. Instead of London – Sydney – Christchurch with British Airways, it was now London – Los Angeles – Auckland – Christchurch, a la American Airlines, Quantas, Air New Zealand (domestic flight).
When I return to Finland in some weeks, it will mean that I have gone exactly ONE LAP AROUND THE WORLD!
These days, you don’t want to go via USA unless you really have to. They are freedom nazis, meaning all the forms in the world to fill, fingerprints and eyescans to boot. I was only in transit, dammit! But no-oh, the don’t have transit in the USA, and I queued ’til my ankles bled.
The maggots in uniform could not get it in their heads that I didn’t have any baggage, that it was going another way, straight (supposedly) to New Zealand.
I think the terrorists are winning. At least I’m losing.
By the by, you have to pay for the wine on American Airlines. Five bucks for a tiny bottle. I am not impressed. After five unsweet hours in lousy LAX, Cyndi Lauper on the iPod was the only thing keeping the mood up. California was freezing, too. It felt like it was less than ten outside. It’s never like that in the movies.
If the eleven hour flight from London to LA was shit and babies crying, the twelve hour night flight from LA to Auckland was more of the same. And I had prepared so well, what with the neck pillow, the blinds, and 30g of Opamox. To no avail; I got hardly no sleep. The drugs don’t work. I just don’t have the gift of sleeping.
Apart from NZ customs, Auckland to Christchurch was a piece of pie; one hour of lovely mountain views – a preview of things to come, I guess. Touched down in Christchurch with a bang and bada and a boom, and has not looked back since.
[Except for the baggage, of course.]
Now, the journey can begin. The whining stops, the winning commences. It is true; this place was made in heaven. I’ve seen the tags.
Now wait for the pictures.