What a terrifying ride that was. No, no – I’m not talking about the flight here. The taxi to the airport from our apartment.
The driver stopped, opened the window and asked “Demitroula Apartments?”
This is where we had been staying, and from the fact he had a couple already in the car, my girlfriend and I both assumed he was lost, and looking for the place, for these new people who were arriving. Sadly, not. He was picking us up to take us to the airport.
We’d been told to wait in that spot, by our rep, and were expecting a coach, so a taxi was worse.
He got in, phone in hand, and started a call as he was pulling away. It being a manual, this meant he had to take his one remaining hand off the wheel to change gears. Well what could else could he do? Hang up, and concentrate on his driving?
As he took his hands off the wheel and accelerated, the car would vear off to the right. He’d yank it back, and so on. All the way down an already narrow road, with cars parked on one side.
We joined a dual carriageway, on which he got well over the speed limit (I think it’s about 70mph ish, but there were points when he was hitting 100.)
He finished his call, put the phone back in its charger. And relax.
Then he got it out again, made another call. He holds the phone with one hand, pushes the buttons with the other, alternating between which fingers are just grazing the edges of the steering wheel occasionally.
Put some hands on the wheel, for fuck’s sake!
After a few miles, he suddenly remembered he needed to wear glasses, and popped them on so he could see where he was going.
It was no better when we left the dual carriageway – he overtook people on blind bends, went down single track roads and through residential areas, all still at the 90kmh he was happy with, and when we arrived at the airport, with it’s “30kmh” speed limit sign clearly showing, he was still doing double that, over speed bumps and everything.
I was very nearly sick on arrival. That is the worst transfer a holiday company has ever arranged for me.
When we got to the airport (before half of the other people who had booked through Cosmos and would be travelling on the same flight – so clearly the excess speed and dangerous driving was necessary), we were told to queue outside. Everyone immediately sparks up a cancer stick. Smelly smoker bastards.
It wasn’t much better inside.
I love how airports insist you are in control of your luggage, you be vigilant, and make sure nobody touches anything you’re carrying, then cram you into as small as space as possible, so that this would be easy for a pickpocket to rob you, or someone smuggling drugs to plant something. I’m vigilant to the point of paranoid.
We reached the desk for checking in luggage. The girl behind the desk couldn’t have been more of a grumpy cow if she tried. She had her chin in her hands the whole time. My girlfriend put her suitcase on, it was weighed…then nothing. No reaction, not even a second look at us, for ages. My girlfriend turns to me and says “shall we weigh yours?”, and reaches to lift her luggage off the weight scale, only to have it yanked back. “No!”
I should explain. In a normal airport, your luggage gets weighed, then goes down the conveyor belt. At Corfu airport for some reason, it gets weighed, then you have to lift it off and take it somewhere else, to have it inspected again and put on a conveyor belt.
Anyway she finally stuck a sticker on my girlfriend’s suitcase, and motioned for me to put mine on the scales. Not a word. She stuck a sticker on it, and just dropped our passports/boarding passes on the top of the desk.
That girl has some of the worst customer service skills I’ve ever seen.
Also, despite what I said about the taxi driver earlier, the flight was also terrifying.
We took off at night from Corfu airport (which I have convinced myself is a VERY short runway – and it leads to the sea, so if a takeoff failed, you’d possibly drown (but this is all speculative guesswork as I don’t have any facts about this at all)). Sadly, the weather was “lively” (as the captain put it). Thunder and lightning. The seatbelt signs remained on for over an hour as they fought their way through, turbulence all the way.
And then when the seatbelt signs went off, still turbulence somehow. Not a smooth journey at all.
They bought round the meal I’d paid for, and all I could manage was a cup of tea. No idea if the beef stroganoff was nice or not, because I couldn’t handle food, with my stomach turning.
After a period where I tried to concentrate on breathing, and an even longer period trying to convince myself the quiet guy standing by the toilets for ages (but never going in) wasn’t actually a terrorist – just weird, my girlfriend thought I was going to be sick, and requested a sick bag for me.
I’m glad to say, I didn’t use it. Closest I’ve ever come to needing one though.
Oddly, after flying in a metal box miles above the ground, at hundreds of miles an hour, through lightning, calming me down while being seemingly very relaxed herself, admiring the view, etc., my girlfriend walked straight into the airport and was confronted by a thing she really doesn’t like – the dreaded escalator. Sorry – I don’t mean to poke fun. They’re both irrational fears really. Very few people have been seriously injured on escalators, and comparatively, not many have died while on regular passenger flights around Europe. It doesn’t stop either of us struggling with them.
So now I’ve just got a hour wait for a bus, 3 hour journey, and another bus/taxi home. Then bed. Yay.
P.S. The toilets in Gatwick (south at least) are so nice they deserve a separate blog post. Coming soon.
(No I wasn’t going to do a Part 9, but I have done. So there.)