Monday, 12 September 2016

All this for a Tim Hortons Coffee!

All my weak points throbbed as I travelled down the all familiar A55 towards Manchester airport in my mates trusty old camper van.  They seemed to be crying out to me to reconsider 
'Don't go" cried my shoulder. 'We're not ready' grumbled the back. 
'It's just nerves' I comforted. 'We'll be fine. Let's do this'. 

Airports are not my favourite place. I enjoy the people watching, especially when you're going to pick someone up from the arrivals gate. Now that really is a nice place to be. I can get quite emotional watching the newly alighted coming through, each one in turn spotting their loved ones, their faces turning from searching to beaming, and the hugs commencing. I often wonder about each story and try to guess where they've been, who's picking them up, how long they've been away and so on. 

With that said -  I generally merit airports on the same enjoyment scale as ironing. Airports mean queues, rushing, being forced through perfume aisles and bag searches! All necessary of course but what's to actually like? These are all things that I can do without given half a chance. It did serve to remind me though, why I like to ride my bike! 

This airport visit was particularly interesting as my bag tested positive for TNT and nitroglycerin! I was questioned, searched again and given a full body X-ray. Funny how you consciously try to look innocent and feel guilty in these situations! Is that just my guilty conscience? After all, I'm usually guilty of something. It would take a shrink rather than a body search to find the reason though! 

The 9 hour flight was easy and uneventful. I spoke to no-one and I barely got annoyed at the fact they charge for blankets whilst tuning the aircon to freezing! Good going! I travelled back in time and arrived just 1 hour after I took off. Jeremy was there to meet me as promised. It was good to see him again. Jeremy is a Vancouverite and our paths had originally crossed whilst riding in Australia (Jeremy rides a rather impressive HP2). On arrival in Canada, he had met a broken me at the border, taken me to ER and put me up for 3 weeks or so before escorting me to Kelowna to ensure I got there safely. This time was different. This time I walked out of the arrivals with a beaming smile and a fully restored feeling of drive and optimism. Jeremy commented on the difference straight away. It was obvious. 'Welcome back' he said. 'You look soooo much better! Now we can actually do something with your time in Vancouver.' And so we did. We ate delicious food, rode the gondola up Grouse Mountain and spent a lovely afternoon in Capilano park where we mostly wobbled over their rather impressive suspension bridge.

On Sunday we took the skytrain to the airport, sitting in the front (where Jeremy always likes to sit) as we blasted through the tunnels. I see why he likes the front. It made me feel like I was in some crazy dream. I half expected to see Morphius, in his shades and long leather jacket waiting at the next platform, holding out two pills 'Which do you choose? The blue pill or the white pill?' Suddenly the darkness was replaced by a light at the end of the tunnel. We came bursting out of it and there lay before us - Vancouver airport! Joy! 

If general airports are like ironing, then Vancouver airport (although pretty and well groomed like it's people) is like ironing a pleated skirt! Annoying and difficult to navigate with pointless lines everywhere! Air Canada have tried to get clever with their queing systems (making it different to everyone else in the world) which resulted in me joining the wrong queue then another even longer queue, before being turned away at the desk as I was too late for my flight (with half an hour to spare). Begrudgingly, I bought another ticket and waited for the next flight which would be in two hours. I was charged more for this ticket than the original. I love airports! 

Travel, even by this uncivilised manner though, does often result in chats with strangers where you get a glimpse through the window in to someones life, as you briefly make their acquaintance. This time, at  the gate, I met a lady
from York with a lovely Yorkshire accent and a pretty pink freshly drawn tattoo on her leg. I learned in this brief time that she was 43, had 2 kids and had been shunned by her family for not being a practicing Jehovah's Witness. She had been travelling for 30 hours. This time did nothing to quell her excitement though as she was about to meet a man with whom she had been speaking online with for the last 4 months. He too had a similar story and most importantly had Romanian gypsy blood with (apparently) beautiful green eyes. On paper he was the man of her dreams and he was going to whisk her off to Cherryland (??) for 3 weeks. I hoped it would be the fairytale she had dreamed of. I didn't have a Romanian gypsy waiting but I did have Rhonda! 

Arriving in Kelowna and waiting at the carousel for my luggage, I quickly scanned the area for the girl with the pink tattoo. I was not disappointed. She was hugging a rather dishy green eyed man who looked just as excited and nervous as her. She caught my eye and beamed at me. I reciprocated and mouthed 'nice' with a thumbs up! He spotted our silent comms and looked puzzled. Initially I thought about running over and swapping emails so I could find out how it went but thought better of it. This way the story ends with them walking off in to the sunset hand in hand having found what they were looking for. 

Ryan (my Canadian chopper riding happily grumpy friend) and his mum were waiting for me and within 5 minutes I had the very thing I had come back for in my hand - a hot cup of Tim Hortons coffee!

Picking Rhonda up tomorrow! 


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