Oh no, Ryanair. But the only way to deal with Ryanair is to be prepared, so this is what you do: Shower, and wash your hair before you go to bed, you’ll be too stressed in the morning, plus sleeping with wet hair gives you a nice bouffant that you wouldn’t normally have. Check in online and prepare all documents, print out your boarding pass, find your passport, vaccination document, and proof of Portuguese residency in a folder. Close your computer and don’t be tempted to look at it in the morning. Charge your phone, iPod and check the headphone battery. Make sure your bag is packed as well as it can be and use the morning to check baggage weight. Make sure you own one of those baggage weight devices, you don’t need any surprises at the airport. Set alarm for earlier than you need. Sleep. Now you have a chance.
So, I did all this and in the morning I weighed my bag at just under 20 kilos, my extra cabin bag at around 10 kilos and had my Amoeba bag with my headphones and some extra records that were making the other bags too heavy that I felt I could get away with on check-in. Muesli, the last portion, cuppa tea, Olivia up and ready for her trip and Olivia’s dad, Gerd, kindly taking me to the airport. From there Olivia will take a train to see friends before she returns to Porto on Saturday. Gerd was coming just in case there were some issues with the flight, Lufthansa were on strike today, all their flights were cancelled and we wondered if Köln/Bonn airport might have some of the chaos passed on. As it happened it was calm and Gerd left. Olivia accompanied me to check in, it was really weird her not travelling, I’ll survive, just. The guy at the check-in was really nice and told me I could check in my extra cabin bag, perfect. This was the point where I was happy about checking all the weights because they were on capacity. Still, I asked him if I could put my Oz winter jacket and hoodie in the bag, increasing the weight, I didn’t need them (it’s summer here), he said yes, double perfect. I said goodbye to Olivia at security, not so perfect.
The flight was fine, I had a window seat, 15F, but I was sitting next to two German students who were tall, fidgety and talkative. I had my iPod so I was trying to listen to something loud – I could hear them even with noise cancellation headphones. I started with a Nazareth anthology, that was loud and scratchy but the mp3s were thin. I moved to Robin Trower’s Twice Removed From Yesterday to remind myself what a guitar sounded like through an amp. It was much better quality and I was almost able to let the music blank out the background noise. The problem was my feet. I had my new Blunnies on to save weight in my baggage, but as your feet swell in the cabin, my left foot especially was beginning to hurt. At some point, the talker in the middle seat got up and I used the room to prise my shoe off…and then the other one.
The flight was two hours and twenty minutes and the flight attendant announced that this was the flight to “beautiful Porto”. At the other end, I waited for everyone to get off so I could get my shoes back on and descended down the stairs on a beautiful day to put my feet on the Portuguese land. No queue for the taxi, I often have to speak Spanish here as my Portuguese isn’t good, but if you ask a Portuguese if it’s ok and don’t just presume that they speak Spanish, they will usually be happy to oblige and are able to understand. I sent a message to Hugo who had my keys and has been watering the plant and picking up the post. We met outside and I was home. Hugo and Mohamad and his family who had stayed here for a week, left the place looking pristine, I was home, just the one missing piece.
I went shopping, filled the fridge and had beans on toast for dinner, thanks to Mohamad who brought us some English classics from London. I watched the women’s Euros semi-final, Germany beat France 2-1 and I look forward to the final against England on Sunday – with Olivia.