I’ve heard many a story about the chaos that is Heathrow. They didn’t prepare me for it though. A non-functional loop, laughable crowd “control”, and summer “heat”, all combined to create a stressful last leg.
My sister spent two years living in London, and has always suggested that was more than sufficient time to experience the place. I spent about two and a half hours there and that was enough for me. Thanks to Heathrow being the bubbling chaos that it is, I very nearly missed my flight through to Madrid. I’m trying my best to get a bigger window for changeover on my return flight.
The flight from Hong Kong to Heathrow was dull, and trying. As we were flying to the north of the Himalayas, they decided we needed to shut down all the windows for sleepy-time, and then after that only a handful of people decided to re-open theirs, eventually. The guy sitting at my window seat wasn’t interested in re-opening his, and so we passed by south-east Asia and eastern Europe without a view at all.
Heathrow was fun, not. They ended up dropping us at Terminal 4, not Terminal 2 where we were supposed to be, and where my Iberia flight was departing from. The loop between the terminals is closed for renovations at the moment so it was all buses, which meant about a 30minute wait before I got to T2. THEN there was a lack of direction from staff about where we had to go and what we needed to do re: bag checks et al. So everyone went everywhere, but all eventually ended up at the same security checkpoint. The guys directing people into queues were adamant it would be 20mins and we’d be through, however 20mins only got me less than halfway, and I cleared the security screening 5mins after my flight started boarding. The two and half hours, which were supposed to be “plenty of time” when I booked my flights, had been whittled away by one little mistake after another.
I didn’t get to see a lot of Madrid coming in, but the surrounding countryside reminds me a lot of home—very dry. I had a bit of a tourist moment in the departure lounge of the airport where I simply followed the other passengers from the plane, expecting they would lead me to the baggage carousel where I would hopefully find the rest of my luggage. Most of them went down some escalators, I took the lift with some others. When I got out of the lift, my baggage trolley locked its wheels, and in the time it took me to realise the trolley was only for use upstairs, the remaining passengers had disappeared, the lift had closed behind me, and there were no buttons to call the lift back down, because it was, for all intents and purposes, a one way lift—more of a lower, actually, because it wasn’t taking me back where I came anytime soon.
After wandering aimlessly and in an ever increasing state of panic in the luggage hall (should’ve been a hint I guess), eventually I bowled up to an information guide, not expecting her to speak English and panicking at the thought of my very broken Spanish needing to be dusted off quite so soon. Luckily she spoke English and pointed me to the correct baggage carousel, and before long I’d found my way to the metro (at the other terminal), and was on my way into Madrid.
I am staying in a residential hotel in Colón, which is very close to the historic centre of town. There is a strong temptation to say I am lodged in Madrid’s Colon, but I won’t. I will probably be lodged here for the first month, depending on how things go. I have a week or so to get myself oriented here, before I need to then get to Barcelona for my interview.
It’s been a long day for me, and given I was flying towards the date line the long way around, it was especially long—around 30hours to be exact. I’m just glad we started the flight late on the Monday.