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Prague June 24, 2008

Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
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The journey to Prague has been an interesting one.  I will refrain from commenting on Easy Jet until I get back from Athens at the end of next week, but suffice it to say that we were delayed.  Indeed, delayed, inconvenienced and downright petrified would be good words to describe Sunday.

Apart from the fun of seeing my brother in law, there was a logic to staying in Luton, where he lives.  Over the duration of my stay I will be flying into and out of three of London’s airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton.  Luton is ideally placed as a place to stay for this kind of trip. However I use the words Luton, ideal and stay advisedly in one sentence.  If the architectural historian who critiques northern architecture, Grundy’s Wonders could be enticed to venture south, he would have a lot to say about Luton and not a lot of it would be good…

However the train route that Luton is on links directly with Brighton on the south coast and one of the stations along the way is Gatwick airport, this is what makes makes Luton an ideal location, it is an easy drive from Heathrow, has its own airport and is on the direct train link to Gatwick.  However this weekend, right after I had been charged 22 pounds, I learnt that I was not able to go right through London, but had to get off at St Pancras due to essential engineering works at Blackfriars.  I therefore had to get accross town, suitcase and all using the tube, what an exercise in madness that is, how anyone with a wheelchair negotiates the London Underground with its myriad of levels, stairs and inter connecting bridges is a wonder.  Anyway the 50 minute trip from Luton to Gatwick took just over two hours.  So hot and sweaty I was late to meet Helen.

After the initial hellos we quickly settled to working on our presentation for the first time in person amidst the throngs of the great British public making their annual pilgrimage to the Costas for too much sun, too much of everything…

We were delayed by Easy Jet and had to hang around for ages to check in, the cute dogs of Auckland Airport were not nearly as cute at Gatwick. This was in part due to their breed but principally they were being handled by Police, armed to the teeth with machine guns and they were not checking to see if you had a banana in your bag, they were looking for something all together more sinister.  After the scrum of check in and the dogs and guns, we had to run the gauntlet of UK security.  They make you take everything off, shoes, belts, watches etc (interestingly the metal in my arm, does not set off the alarms).  With everything being scanned it is and was hard to keep track of what you had upon you before the deconstruction of your being to be scanned, prodded and x-rayed.  I temporarily mislaid my passport in the melee.  Helen however did not fair as well as me, she had already been through the same security process earlier in the day as part of her flight up to London from Plymouth, however on this second scan they found her utility knife in her handbag (see above) it was all very funny, but it was not happening to me…

90 minutes after we should have left we departed Gatwick on an Airbus bound for Prague.  We were further delayed by the luggage handlers in Prague, so it was well after 11:00 when we staggered out of the terminal to be picked up by the hotel transfer driver, who spoke two words of English, yes and no and used them in a random staccato fashion that made no sense, by the time we had left the airport perimeter we had all fallen into a weary silence, partly brought on by his driving skill.  He was a man on a mission, traffic lights and general road craft were an optional extra as was the brake pedal, my right leg had practically cramped through phantom breaking by the time we arrived at the hotel.  It has to be said that traveling at speed on a motorway is one thing, however doing that same speed on the cobbled streets of a medieval city is quite another.  At one point after we had crossed the river into the old city, we were doing 110km…  Sleep was not an easy state to acquire that night as images of the city, replayed at great speed, flashed disconcertingly across my sub conscious state…  What a way to prepare for a presentation.

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Comments»

1. AllanahK - June 24, 2008

All part of life’s rich tapestry. You are having an adventure- I must say I prefer our banana sniffing dogs! It’s a whole ‘nother world out there!

2. davidit - June 24, 2008

Allanah, it has been an awful lot of fun and hard work so far. The security aspect really annoys me. The whole thing is packaged as a process to ensure we are safe, when in reality it is a control measure. These stringent control measures are imposed upon 99.99% of the travelling public as an in perpetuity, after the event, knee jerk reaction.

3. Douglas Harre - June 25, 2008

Al the best for the talk David….I know it will go very well……


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