Not all airports are created equal.
Small town airports have their charm. In Branson Missouri, the airport is country themed. They have animal heads, a wild west cowboy restaurant, and maybe three gates. It's cute, it's on time, it is flyer focused. Because an airport would typically cater to their flyers, right?
Oh Europe, how you differ from the West.
I can now say, that I have missed a flight. First time for everything and now I understand why they say, "Never say never." I can also say, I never thought that buying train tickets does not guarantee all the transfer trans will be operating at the time.
I never thought that public transportation like buses would reject an international debit/credit card. I also never thought an airport would change gates without proper notice, but let me start from the beginning.
The beautiful Muxxy family spent a beautiful day together and stayed with at the train station until my train arrived and departed. We didn't realize that due to the late train ride all restaurants, coffee shops, and an informational booth would be closed.
Not a big deal, just traveling for 6 hours with four train changes along the way.
On my way to Muxxy, it was a straight ride.
However, leaving it was so late that some trains stop running. The first two stops went well. I got off, checked for gate information, and waited.
This is when I discovered that everything was closed and part of the station was closed. Everyone was departing and boarding from the same side.
Not a big deal, I would soon arrive at the airport. I didn't realize what a mission it would become to arrive at the airport. Mind you, we are slowly approaching 1:00 am.
Due to the time difference, I couldn't fall asleep until roughly 2:00 am. I might have been hunger and almost sleepy, but thankfully still fully awake. Which will prove very important!
All's well, that is until I arrived at London Paddington.
Excuse me, did you say the last train stop running?
45 minutes before you arrived, but you can take the bus.
A fellow passenger asked where I was heading and I mentioned my airport and he was going somewhere I don't remember. He went his way, and I took a moment to ask for direction and look around. "Just go up that way, once you see the stop sign it's on your left." This train station was empty but beautiful. It would have been fun to be there during the day and that was my last thought before.
I had three hours to make it to the airport and five before my flight.
On my way up to find the buss, it was dark, and people were scarce. It was scary walking away from the train station through this dark street. There were a few taxi drivers asking if I needed a taxi. I wave my head and go on my way. I see the bus stop ahead. The passenger that had asked me where I was going was already waiting there. It was nice to see a familiar face.
No phone means no GPS
Also, there were no "you are here" signs on this lovely map.
I attempted to make sense of this and the same passenger, the one I met before leaving the train, had pulled up directions. He said you get off two stops before me.
Perfect! Instant travel buddy.
He was handsome and friendly, how lucky was I? The first two buses we were supposed to take came and left; while we were making sense of the map. We wouldn't miss our third, he boards and I reach into my pocket for change.
In France, the buses were all $1.50 Euros. Not the case in London. They have buss cards or you can swipe your card. My cards didn't work, so I hopped off and tried not to panic.
The taxies were all gone, the train station bus ticket selling thing was closed/off. They mentioned there is private cars/taxi up the street.
A very nice corner store owner helped me find it. He said it would be much cheaper to take the bus, usually, if your card doesn't work they just let you on.
Apparently, I wasn't that lucky.
I told him they didn't let me. Shocked, "you must not have had a nice bus driver." He walked me over to this private driver hole in the wall. I walked right passed it and didn't notice it. He knocked on this open door and a man appeared.
I had two options. Pay $14 pounds to get me to where the train was supposed to then take the bus to the airport or $45 pounds straight to the airport. Out of cash, I asked if he took cards. Nope cash only, he points down the street makes a left at the end of the street and use the ATM to cash out.
Off I go down another dark side street to a darker corner to withdraw money.
My bank told me I could withdraw anywhere.
This proved to be true for such a lovely fee.
I was able to withdraw money, shaking in fear as another person slowly approaches. Surely this was the end. I was going to be mugged, stabbed, and killed.
My phone wouldn't load and there was no wifi.
I saw this loading image often while traveling. My attempt to look like I wasn't lost was failing me again. Thankfully that random stranger was just withdrawing money.
He came and quickly left. I ran back to the car service and soon my ride arrived. His boss I assumed told the driver where I was going and how much it would cost. The driver didn't say much. He was listening to some random radio talk show about American politicians. Every 15 minutes he would adjust his mirror to look at me.
At this point, I thought he was either checking to see if I was sleeping and if not if I was paying attention to where we were going. Surely this was the end. He was going to drive to the middle of the woods and kill me. As the hour ride continued, the staring continued, I was not sleeping, and very much aware of which turns he was making.
Arrive at the airport.
Security was under construction.
There were so many people sleeping in every corner of this airport. Apparently, I wasn't the only one here early. They had an exchange service and I took the extra pounds currency I had and exchanged it for Euros.
I would soon be in Pairs and wanted to spend my funds there. Euros go a lot further than Pounds. I had enough for breakfast, which quickly filled with people, as the mid-morning flights came and left. This airport has flight information station in the middle of the airport. They announce your gate 45 minutes prior to departure and close the gate 10 minutes before flight time. At this point, I've been awake for 24 hours. I find my gate, sit, and wait to board. There is a panicked passenger next to me that leaves after a few minutes.
He must have flown out of this airport before. I found it odd that they announce flight numbers or destination and when the gate closes. Sometimes they announce final boarding, but don't mention which gate. Well, I soon realize that I was sitting alone. Actually, everyone in this area is gone.
I check the screen and my gate changed. I gather my belongs to walk over and the screen changed again. In big bold red letters GATE CLOSED. I run over to the gate, scream to the workers tell them I'm coming!! Apparently, they changed gates a few times and there were three passengers plus myself that had missed their flights to Paris.
I HAVE NEVER MISSED A FLIGHT BEFORE.
... To be continued
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