Thursday, 23 December 2010

Tuesday 21st December - Doha/Manchester/Home

We heard rumours last night that we were all being shipped out to Manchester the next day and should be checked out and ready to go at 6am.  We were thinking of avoiding the Qatar rep in the hopes of being left behind and hopefully getting on a Heathrow flight.

Unfortunately we saw the rep.  He confirmed the 6am pick up.  I asked if everyone had been informed of this fact and he said that the hotel would be advising people.  I asked when but didn’t get a response.

We went back to our room, Will went to lay on the bed around 10pm ostensibly to watch TV, within 3 minutes his snores could be heard the other side of the suite.  I sat about typing up the blog and then playing games.  By 11.15 I realised that the hotel had not informed us of the pickup.  I got dressed and was just about to go looking for the rep when an envelope was slipped under the door informing us of the 6am pick up.

Went to bed around 1.30, watched some crap telly and finally fell asleep.  All too soon it was 4am and time to get up.  I showered, dressed and packed up my stuff.  Took Will his coffee and after he had performed his ablutions we packed the remaining stuff and went to check out around 5.45.

As usual the rumours were that the bus was going to be cancelled again.  The good news was that breakfast had been laid out early so Will and I dashed off to feed our faces.  Trouble was neither of us felt like eating very much at that time of morning.

The bus from the hotel was pretty surreal; there was a radio show on preaching about Islam.  The English narrators were awful, their intonation was all in the wrong places so everything sounded like a question but was in fact a statement.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if they had nice voices but they didn’t.  Still, we are all aware of the five pillars of Islam now.  Immediately after the sermon an American sounding female DJ played John Lenon’s “Imagine”.  I held my breath when it got to the verse about there being no religion!

We get inside the airport and as usual there are no information boards and about 20 queues.  We did not know our flight number so Will accosted the first Qatar rep he found.  He showed him our boarding passes from the Sunday flight we should have been on and asked what was going on.  The rep in all seriousness said “You have missed your flight”.

I thought Will was very patient when he informed him that we had not missed our flight, it had been cancelled and we had been sent to an hotel.  He did mention something about the rep looking at us as if we were from Mars but didn’t catch much of it, I was too busy laughing.

We were directed to join a queue, then told by someone else to join a different queue.  300 people one check in desk.  The clerk was quite quick in checking in some people in under 8 minutes, others were taking as long as 25 mins.  One chap who had changed his flight to Monday into Gatwick was told that he should have been there yesterday as he was booked on a flight and was marked as a no show.  This was the man that spent most of his time talking to the rep in the hotel and still wasn’t told anything.

They gradually opened more gates which meant the queue behind us got smaller and we waited even longer.  I needed a pee and there were only 8 people in the queue in front of us.  Will told me to hurry up.  I pointed out that even if she was super fast and only took 7 mins per person I still had an hour in which to pee.

It eventually took us about 2½ hours to get checked in.  Just enough time remaining to get a nicotine fix in before boarding.  Luckily there were empty seats around us so Will moved into one of them so we could spread out a little. 

The flight passed reasonably quickly, I watched three films and played online games.  We landed after 7 hours 45 mins to a light smattering of snow.  We collected our luggage and set about putting on warm clothes.  We found a rep who told us that the buses were outside. 

I managed to get a quick ciggy in before we boarded the bus.  Our Scottish Driver, Dave informed us that he could only drive for 4½ hours before he had to stop for a break.  However, we would be hitting Birmingham at rush hour and we may well have to stop short of Heathrow, but he would do his best to get us there in the 4½ hours.

We settled into our seats, ok we wedged into our seats with hand luggage between us on the floor taking up what little leg room there was.  As we were driving we realised that there was hardly any traffic.  We also realised that it was getting warmer and warmer in the coach.  Several people went and asked the driver to turn down the heating. 

When the temperature hit 29 degrees inside I had my first nosebleed and went and spoke to the driver.  It turned out that the heating computer was malfunctioning and he could not turn the temp down.  I burnt my foot on the heater and started to feel sick.  Most people fell asleep or just sat sweating. 

We made it to Heathrow in record time.  Sadly we had advised our cab driver to meet us about 8.30 we arrived about 7.45.  I managed to get a good few ciggies in before he arrived.  The snow was much thicker around London but most of it had melted.

We finally arrived home around 10.30 a mere 19 hours travelling, much better than the 24 hours we had been expecting.

It was good to be home and I had my first bowl of Frosties for almost three weeks.

All in all an excellent holiday, even the delay wasn’t too bad.  We got to stay in a great hotel of a standard we will never be able to afford.


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