Tuesday, 22 September 2009

planes, trains and miniature disasters

I left work early on Monday afternoon at 3 o'clock, giddy as a schoolboy, picked up my first travelling companion, Stu, from the Pen Y Gwyrd (a famous local hotel where he works) and departed for the week.

Destination: Albarracin, one of the top ten bouldering spots in the world, according to the 8a Yearbook. My last trip was an adventurous drive down to Font, returning in almost one hit, so I was super-psyched to be heading abroad again. We started with a drive down to see an old friend in Birmingham, with a quick nights sleep, before the wonders of public transport down to London to meet our other boulderer and our plane...

Things had gone a little wrong already, as my new credit card and replacement debit card hadn't arrived in time and the guy we were supposed to be meeting in Valencia was now in Switzerland but we perservered and dropped the car at my parents house before heading for our bus...

It didn't turn up. As cheap as the Megabus may be, ladies and gents, make sure it's collecting you from the right place! Then again, we did have to run through the middle of Birmingham City Centre carrying two large bouldering mats stuffed with all our kit! However our location turned out to be handy as i now realised that i had left my third and final bank card in my car in Brum and Stu's credit card now wouldn't work. We did manage to withdraw 150 euros from my bank but as we quickly jumped tried to jump on the train, it proved quite difficult to convince the sullen-faced Brummie behind the counter to accept these. Somehow, we managed to muster enough Sterling and were on our way again.

Now Stu is one of those rare people these days who does not own a mobile phone and half way to London my own phone managed to die. Things were not looking up, especially as we were now going be cutting it a little fine. Off the train at Euston, onto a tube, off at Victoria, run through the middle of the station knocking into as few distubed Londoners as possible (about 17) and onto another train to Gatwick. All three of us together now, we started to worry about the timing but soon decided we could do nothing but hope for the best.

We ran from the platform, through more Londoners with one particular coming out with a little "Ouch" as I stormed past as quickly as i could, before realising we still had to get to the other side of the airport. With seconds ticking away in our heads, we quickly dived (almost literally) onto a shuttle bus. Willing it to go faster, we got off at the correct terminal, ran through Gatwick to the Easyjet check in desk...

You may now be wondering where i write this; maybe a little internet cafe in Valencia, perhaps a friendly campsite in the heart of the Iberian Mountains. It pains me so dearly to say that Easyjet aren't all that easy if you are as little as five minutes late and i write this from a small flat in Dalston, London. A further two trains and two buses, not to mention a further £40 each, we were forced to admit defeat and return to Steffi's house for the night, albeit with hot food, hot showers and a roof. Our new flight leaves at 10am on Wednesday and we will not be late.

I will try and keep you posted throughout the week, from Spain hopefully. Photos (mainly of public transport) will follow.

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