Travelling from Crete to Italy was an arse ache.
Travelling from England to Mexico was another one.
My delectable girly had to fly back to Verona, pick up her collection of clothes, suitcases, shoes and other essential items for travelling round the world and then fly back. We recently discovered that, due to some strange and spiteful rule of international airlines, if you miss the first half of a connecting flight you than can't take the second bit, even if you turn up at the airport by other means. She HAD to fly from Verona to London to be able to fly (24 hours later) from London to Mexico...even though she was already in London.
So...she flies off via Ryanair with their generous shoebox allowance and flies back 3 days later with BA and a 40kg limit.
Being the loyal boyf I went to the underground station at the time she said she would roughly be in and stood in the freezing cold December blizzard of Caledonian Road Tube, peering with anticipation over the ticket barriers every time the elevators thunked to a stop ferrying passengers from the platforms to the outside world. After an hour and a half she turned up carrying so much luggage that I could barely see her. Showing my Darcy-esque gentlemanliness I grabbed the biggest one (a bright pink suitcase on wheels) and it nearly tore my arm out the socket. Christ alone knows how she got from Italy to London, at 5 feet 1 inches tall, carrying THAT lot. I've heard women have higher pain thresholds due to the design flaw in God's work with regard to how babies arrive...so maybe that factored in her belligerent determination and lack of fatigue.
The next morning we got up at half past cunt, only to be faced with a power cut. Fumbling around in the dark with her luggage and mine, using only the light from mobile phones to illuminate my mate's flat wasn't fun. Still, we managed to struggle down the stairs with me only forgetting my toothbrush and not my passport or diving knife.
Fate being a nice buddy sometimes, and not always a spiteful spinster aunt, my pal's flat was 200 yards from the Piccadilly line which runs straight to Heathrow. Cue a relatively comfortable ride to Terminal 5, which got better the more people got off until it was just us and some drunken, minging tramp further up the carriage.
In England you can buy an International Driving Licence for about 5 quid from the Post Office.
Problem is only a specific few PO's actually sell them and there's only about 40 in the whole UK.
Not so nice.
Turns out there's one in Heathrow Terminal 3 so I left my tired girly to watch the bags and took the shuttle train over. It's then you realise just how bastard B.I.G. the airport is as the whole thing took an hour even though there was no queue at the PO and the whole process only took 10 minutes. Maybe it should elect a leader and have its own currency like the Vatican.
We checked in to be told by a cheery, rosy cheeked woman that BA were generously offering an upgrade to Business Class- Club World for the price of just 197 pounds each. Having survived backpacking around the world we declined and were very glad of it as the extra cash paid for some wierd pod thing with only slightly more leg room.
I then asked the apple faced woman if they still had their ridiculous and insulting "All Men Are Potential Kiddy Fiddlers" rule about not letting unaccompanied children sit next to men they don't know...BUT letting them be next to an unknown woman. This offensive and moronic policy has resulted in the kind of embarrasment suffered by BA passenger Mirko Fischer who successfully sued BA for over 2 grand after a camp steward humiliated him in front of everyone by yelling that he HAD to move seats after he initially refused...even though he was next to his pregnant wife. Mirko, being a true gentleman, donated all the money to two children's charities.
Apparently BA have now changed this cretinous policy and assured their passengers that seating will in future be handled in a "fair but non discriminatory manner". Her colleague then showed me his book of rules about Customs around the world and it turns out that in Thailand if you look like a hippy they won't let you in. Presumably that's why the Rolling Stones never played there.
Getting on the plane I grabbed a free copy of The Independent, which despite being the Transport sized version they introduced a few years ago (think the same size as "In Case You Run Out Of Bog Roll" tat mag The Daily Mail) still managed to swamp out my seat and my girly's as I read it. Was probably more down to the fact we were in Povvy class than anything else.
It seems the "Not All Men Who Like Kids Are Perverts, Some People Are Just NICE" rule has really kicked in as the front row near the separating wall in our section had 3 bawling babies in it while a nursery of slightly older but equally loud infants were googling and grizzling all around.
Settling in to my seat with a complimentary blanket, snooze kit and toothbrush I had a shy yet obnoxious 3 year old girl next to me who when I smiled at her, shook her head vigorously as if to say "not talking to you, you're smelly!!" and banged her hand on the arm rest in a temper when I just shook my head equally as vigorously back at her.
I settled in to a marathon of The Expendables, Shrek 4, Despicable Me and Iron Man 2 punctuated by a meal and a coffee and trying to sleep in a foetal position. The kid shook her head every time I looked at her while her mother apologised and I said it didn't matter. She eventually warmed to me and gave me and her mum a high 5 as the plane landed.
Landing in Mexico City I asked if I could be so bold as to take a look into First Class. As an Economy traveller I felt guilty even asking the stewardess and fully expected some burly posh person's minder to tell me politeley yet gruffly to vacate the area. She smiled and said "of course" and with bated breath I walked through Business World and the kitchen area to be met by something that definitely isn't worth around 4 grand One Way.
They get indivdual "pod" seats in a sort of imitation wood, formica effect plus the blankets and luxuries that we get given in Great Unwashed Class, but better quality. They also get to get on and off before the rest of the plane. Apparently the Secretary of State of a country they wouldn't tell me the name of was on the flight but, as I looked around I realised you have to have a fuck of a lot of money to justify spending that much cash on being just that little bit more comfy.
My missus sailed through customs with only a few minutes wait while I had to wait for 2 hours in the Foreigners queue. Expecting a grilling from the armed Immigration officer I was surprised that, after all the build up, I got through in about 5 minutes with only 2 questions ("work or tourist?" and "where you staying?") and a new stamp to show off in my passport.
Getting a taxi was smooth. As there's a lot of unlicensed fucks kicking about they have a desk where you pay the pre-arranged price, take your ticket and then go to a waiting cab outside. My arms were almost falling off by the time I got to the car (which was thoughtfully parked 500 metres up the street). We got to my lady friend's granny's house and while being so tired I was falling asleep on my feet, I chivalrously agreed to help shift two TVs into different rooms which weighed a ton. Next day we briefly saw a small glimpse of the city before entering the bus station for the 10 hour hike to Tampico.
Now, I'm used to security checks having travelled a lot in the last 2 and a half years and being an audience member on the spin off shows attached to Big Brother UK (not proud of it but we all have our Baby Photos). However the bus station security was like an international airport. First they scanned all our bags via x-ray, then we were obliged to step through a metal detector. Setting it off meant a pat down. We then waited by the bus and stuffed our luggage in the hold, only to have two vinegar faced women then do a final frisk before we got onboard.
Apparently the increase in gang related violence has resulted in this but having been a cop in the UK my 7th sense for "being fobbed off" is pretty acute and you have to ask yourself, what type of self respecting, gun toting, heroin dealing gang member would travel by bus anyway?
I tried to watch The Walking Dead on my netbook but there was one soft core shagging scene between Dr Tancredi from Prison Break and her not-dead husband's best friend the Sherrif's Deputy, so I fast forwarded to the horse eating scene instead and then the battery died. In-flight movie was in Spanish so I broke open the Snooze Kit and after stuffing the squashy ear plugs in, inflating the neck pillow and putting on the blindfold I managed to doze through most of the bumpy ride, waking up occasionally to realign my neck vertebrae.
We arrived in Tampico at 3am and my belle's mother and younger brother were waiting in a people carrier. We got home to find two large slobbering dogs waiting in the yard (one of which has a habit of getting in to the dried out swimming pool to get his ball and waking up half the neighborhood barking when he can't get out again) and her younger sister who spent 2 hours trying on all the clothes my other half had brought back from Europe.
I politely watched the touching family scene for a while and then collapsed into bed.
Bring on the New Year.