I recently had a classroom discussion with my students about travels and their experiences. We then had a section about “travel troubles” where I shared some funny stories about my trips that have gone terribly wrong. Like that one time I was stranded on the side of the road in Costa Rica, or that time I was with a tour group in Cordoba, Spain and we left two girls behind (story soon to come). My last day in London was nothing short of a dramatic “travel trouble” day. Brought to you by gifs: which make every story better.
Background information: My 3:30pm flight was out of Stansted Airport, an hour outside of London. On my way into London I took a train from the airport, but when I wanted my return ticket to the airport, I was denied because all the train tracks would be on construction that day. OK no worries, I got a bus ticket. And now let’s begin:
10:00 Goodbye Breakfast with sister. This trip combined my two most favorite things in the world: my sister and traveling. I can’t wait to travel with her again
11:30 Take the Underground to the main bus station and try to find my bus. I show someone at the information desk my ticket and he shakes his head and sighs. Oh no, this isn’t going to be good. He says, “The bus company you are using has been banned from the airport, so they will drop you off in a parking lot and you’ll have to take the airport shuttle to the entrance.” HUHH??!!
I asked him if I should just buy another ticket for another company, he said that I had plenty of time and the bus will try to get to the entrance, maybe I’ll get lucky. haha lucky me…no way!
12:30 Bus arrives and I get on with a large group of people, maybe 30 in total. OK good, this gives me hope. At least all of us will be able to find our way the entrance if the bus dumps us on the side of the road.
1:30 After a little snooze, I open my eyes to realize we are still in London City Center and have arrived at King’s Cross station. Bear in mind that we were supposed to arrive to the airport by 1:30.
My type-A personality was starting to freak out. Just. a. little. bit. The bus driver tells us to get off and wait for another bus that would arrive within a half hour. NO. NO. NO. I’m standing next to 3 German men arguing with the bus driver, I hear their flight leaves at 2:45 and they’re trying to figure out how to make their flight.
Train not available due to construction. Bus not enough time, because it takes an hour and it’s almost 1:45 now. Taxi: the only option with a slim chance of making their flight but it’s going to be expensive. They look at me and ask me if I want in…Now I faintly remember thinking back to elementary school when they told us to never get in a car with strangers. But then I blinked and said yes, I’d join them.
Now we had to do some negotiating because we didn’t want to pay over 120£ for a taxi. Only one of the Germans spoke English so it was up to us to make the deal. 5 minutes back and forth, both of us on our knees begging, and me shedding one tear looking for some pity. We settle on 20£ each, because it’s literally all we have left (So much for saving a pound or two for my scrapbook of currency) and 5€ each. And we tell the taxi driver to floor it. He responds that he can only go the speed limit… Ok dude, pretend you were going to miss your flight and then drive with that in the back of your head.
2:40 We arrive to the airport and we all start dashing like the opening of Walmart on Black Friday.
I get in the line for security and the person in front of me needs additional screening. You would think that they’d pull this person aside, but NOOOOO. We all had to wait.
I sprint out of security as fast as humanly possible. Didn’t even wast time to zipper my shoes or button my jacket. I now realize that I probably looked like a crazy woman, but those yellow letters on the screen that said “Boarding” were my motivation to get to my gate ASAP.
And of course my gate was all the way at the end of the airport. FYI Stansted Airport has more duty free shopping than you could ever think of. I know this because I ran through all the shops and almost knocked everything over with my flying coat and heavy backpack.
3:25pm I sit in my seat in the airplane and take a deep breath. pffff I made it