So after a crazy few days full of emotional goodbyes to all my British beaus, it was last-minute shopping, quick-fire packing and Uber Dad dash to the airport. Packing for an 8-month excursion would appear to be a skill in which I am certainly no artisan. As a perpetual hoarder, with only googled weather forecasts to hand and a British skepticism, there was some prolonged head-scratching whilst buried under a mountain of ‘stuff’. Eventually my potentially excessive 15 kilos was on it’s way.
Now the fun could start. Arriving promptly at the airport courtesy of my militantly organised father, I the novice traveller extraordinaire, was able to display some of Google search skills. As our flight was one-way, the airline will require proof that you are leaving the country; without this they will not let you on the flight. We had booked a bus crossing from Mendoza in Argentina to Santiago in Chile, for a date around three weeks after our arrival in Buenos Aires. The total cost of this bus was only £20 and though we had chosen a date which we hoped we would be able to use, £20 to allow an open-ended trip is a small cost if we change our plans.
So bags are checked, it’s through security and onwards to enjoy some of Heathrow’s finest beers. As a nervous flyer I like to sink a least two or three pints of the bravery juice before hitting the skies. Our flight itinery was a short two-hour hop to Rome, an hour and a half lay over, followed by a 13 hour long haul to Buenos Aires. Though slightly long-winded, this allowed us to travel to BA one-way with Alitalia for only £510 each. Thank you Skyscanner for doing the leg-work, by far the best flight-search website when hunting down a bargain. The running joke between Ste and I had been that for years I had asked to travel to Italy. Each time we went to book flights, pesky Skyscannner had morphed our Italian trip into a bargain excusion to Copenhagen, Dublin, Cologne etc etc. So now my dream had come true. For an hour and a half at least.
So while squeezing in some final conversations with our favourites, it quickly became apparent that things were about to get interesting. Hello delayed flight. With our short lay-over time decreasing by the second, our gate was finally called. Arriving at the gate, we were met by a sea of anxious faces. Overhearing the air-hostess chatting to a panicked Albanian couple, it was clear that for the majority of the passengers this flight was a connection. Temporary sigh if relief; safety in numbers. Eventually we took off an hour and half late and the real game had begun. Touching down in Rome at exactly 21:45 (poetically the departure time of our next flight) it was holdalls at dawn as everyone scrambled over each other to bolt to their connection. If ever there was a time to deploy the emergency slides it was now.
Screeching shoes came skidding across the polished floors, people yelling directions at their newly found allies and crushing their rivals (Where are you going? Santiago? When’s your departure? 21:50? Screw you’ve got 5 minutes on me!). We weaved our way through the warren that is Leonardo da Vinci International airport transfers, including another security check (for what reason I have no idea – unless some maverick airline has a deal on duty free fireworks?!). Through the maze we collided smack bang with that falsely apathetic smile plastered on the stewardess’s face. Airport disappointment sponsored by MAC make-up. The crazy movie scene of adrenaline-filled fanatics had reached a less than blockbuster climax. The doors were shut. The plane was off. And we were staying in Rome. Be careful what you wish for.