Wow! What a day! I’ve just got settled into my hotel room in Lima, Peru – some 16 hours after I left Birmingham.
The check-in at Birmingham and the flight to Amsterdam were a doddle. I have flown to Amsterdam from Birmingham a few times before, so only checking in luggage was new for me. As usual I found my time in the departure lounge to be nice and relaxing. I got breakfast, a magazine and some sweets for the trek: apparently you need the sugar/calories to help you along. My trek sweet of choice was Haribo: a pack of the small individual bags and also the chews…I just hope they last until the trek, they are very tempting!
On the face of it, my transfer at Amsterdam seemed to have the potential to be quite tight. The flight from Birmingham always seems to be a long bus ride away from the main terminal and I was confident of me making it to my departure gate for the Lima flight in plenty of time (I had a 50 minute window), I wasn’t so sure about my luggage making it there. My doubts about my luggage were further increased when 2 or 3 bags fell from the luggage truck we were following to the terminal – thankfully I didn’t think it was our luggage truck and none of the bags looked like mine.
By the time I got through into the main terminal my flight to Lima was already showing as boarding. But I still had plenty of time to get there. Plus I knew that the security checks at Schipol are done at the gate, so it takes quite a while to get through and onto the plane. Sure enough I had plenty of time.
The flight was great. It takes almost 12 hours, but the time seemed to pass really quickly. My comfort was improved because there was a spare seat next to me, but I think I would have been ok anyway. I often joke that long haul flights are ideal for me because I get to sit still and watch films all day whilst people bring me food and drink – many a true word spoken in jest. I watched Super 8 which was really good: it captures the feeling of the Goonies, Explorers and films of that ilk and the young cast are superb. I followed that with Bridesmaids: it is laugh out loud funny in places which always draws attention on flights although I did think that they stretched it a little too much and it seemed over long. I think I must have then been quite tired as my quality control and judgement started letting me down badly. First was Blitz which was terrible: it tried to be stylish and failed and the cast of Jason Statham, Paddy Considine and Aidan Gillen really should have done better. If I thought that was bad, worse was yet to come: The Rite – Anthony Hopkins in an exorcist style horror. It started quite promisingly and only became terrible once Hopkins was in it – I think I’d prefer it if he “phoned in” his performances rather than overacted. To round off the downward spiral was The Dilemma – Vince Vaughan with Kevin James, Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connolly in a comedy directed by Ron Howard – what could go wrong? In one word: everything. It was awful: Vaughan looked too out of shape and worn out to carry the performance his part required and the whole thing looked and felt like it had been a long time in the editing suite while they tried to find funny bits to piece together. Funny bits in the Dilemma are like hen’s teeth or unicorns…they don’t exist.
Although I had extra room in my seat, I had no decent view. As we descended over Lima, I saw nothing of the place. Departing the plane and getting through immigration (you have to fill in a couple of forms on the plane and retain half of one for when you leave Peru) was a breeze. I wish I could say the same for my luggage collection. I was already a little nervous about my luggage having made the transfer at Amsterdam and was even more nervous when it seemed that everyone had collected their luggage except me and the carousel ground to a halt.
My mind started racing about what I would need to buy and how I would report my luggage lost, etc. And I walked to an official by the start of the carousel to speak to them. But wait, my luggage was there! Someone has taken it off the carousel and left it there. I could not see that area from where I had been waiting, so my luggage was probably the first one out and left there while I stood like a lemon!
Leaving baggage claim and entering the main terminal is hectic. Lots of people waiting for arrivals – I even got caught up in a family reunion as I fought my way through the crowd. My greeter was awaiting me, arm aloft with a “Journey Latin America” clipboard. We shook hands and made our way into the early evening air of Lima…for all of 50 yards. I have an early flight to Cusco tomorrow, so I am staying in another airport hotel. It is literally next to the terminal, so it was a quick check-in and up to my room.
Technically I am in Peru, but I have yet to see much of it other than a very busy road and lots of advertising hoardings from my hotel room. I didn’t sleep at all on the plane, so I’m going to have an early night. I fell asleep watching some South American club football on TV. It wasn’t a very good standard.