Tuesday, 17 May 2011

International arrivals

The journey from Edinburgh to Boston on 15 May went reasonably smoothly with only the odd hiccup. Thus began the adventure.

At a ridiculous early hour of 3am I set out for Edinburgh Airport for the first of two flights. A short one-hour hop to Amsterdam saw me safely in Schipol Airport ready for the Delta Airlines to Boston.

However, the flight was delayed by an hour due to “a problem” with the plane. As I sat patiently (and if you believe that you’ll believe anything) I was entertained by a group of hooded crows gathering on top of the giant aircraft, maybe in the hope of hitching a ride to Boston. But they had worked out which door the catering truck comes to on the aircraft and waited as it elevated it’s cargo for loading, then hopped down when the crew’s back was turned to nip inside for a scavenge.

We would have departed on time, or should I say on the one hour delayed time, but we were further delayed by a farcical series of security checks. A team, some ten strong, of US officials turned up, each with their own little lectern, and took the four hundred passengers, one at a time, and asked the same questions that we had been asked at check in. Then re-scanned our hand luggage, then put us individually in a full body scan machine, before making us wait again for boarding. Why everyone, except the Europeans, decided it was a good idea to stand and queue for the entire time, beat me. Eventually I was summoned and interrogated, chipped, barcoded, cavity and body searched before being shrink wrapped and bundled on board.

You could argue this was a good safety approach, but consider this: I asked if I could take a bottle of water on board and was told yes, as long as it was sealed in an airport security bag. So I wandered off and bought a 1 litre bottle of water, only to be told I wasn’t allowed that size. I could however buy as many as I wanted of the 330ml size!! So I could in effect have taken several litres of water in small bottles, but none at all in 1 litre size. When I asked the Dutch cashier why this was, she smiled and said: “we just do what the Americans say”.

I didn’t manage to sleep going across but the seven hour flight passed quickly. I was through customs and immigration in no time, despite having large cardboard cartons containing kit and a bike. The arrivals door slid open and there was Pauline, with a card like a waiting chauffeur, with “Yo Kitchy ma man” written on it. An emotional welcome was exchanged and we left by “cab” for the hostel.

Our first couple of days have been spent preparing for the journey ahead, though we managed a short sight-seeing wander past the home of the Red Sox baseball team at Fenway Park and through Cambridge, home to Harvard.

So far it has rained every day and is freezing cold. Tomorrow we set out south for Plymouth and hopefully better weather.


velocity-m said...

Hullo, hullo, from a very autumnal Edinburgh! Glad you got there in one piece, that the bike went to the same continent, and that Pauline found you so quickly. Hugs and hot water bottles to you both xx

Jenn, Cartographer said...

Glad you made it state-side, sorry for the security business. Looking forward to your posts from the road...


StarJ said...

Hey mate !

Glad you made it over safe and have got these old legs of yours working again ;)

Up, up and away !