Truth is, reading this story you’ll probably think I’ve never travelled my whole life.
I am very stressed when I fly and I usually allow plenty of time to get to the airport. But on Friday night, when I fell asleep a little after 10pm, D called me to say he was coming home and woke me up (“Baby, I didn’t think you were already sleeping!”). Then the girl that lives above me decided it was a good idea to start playing music at a very very loud volume and slamming her doors and stomping around the flat. Then D arrived home and came to bed. I didn’ get any sleep until half past midnight. This basically destroyed all my chances of having a good day.
There is a reason why I hate flying from Stansted. Most of the time I have booked a flight that leaves between 7am and 8am which means I have to leave the house between 4am and 5am. Like the other day. I woke up at 4:30 to get a train from Clapham Junction at 4:44. Trains to Victoria Station are usually from platform 14 so why was my train from platform 12? When I realised my mistake it was too late and I had to wait 15 minutes for the next train. Which didn’t arrive in time for my Terravision bus at 5:10. So I panicked.
I started checking on my phone what time the next Terravision was and it was in two hours. I then checked National Express and found a bus that would have taken me to the airport just in time for my flight. I got off the train and started running to Victoria Coach Station. Arrived at the bus I asked the driver if I could buy a ticket on board. He said no, I had to go to the ticket office and no he wouldn’t have waited for me. I rushed to where he pointed at and there was a metallic gate to block the access to the ticket machines. I asked the cleaning lady that was there if she could open and she said to me, very angrily, it’s locked. So I hurried back to the bus driver saying that she wasn’t letting me buy the ticket and he was like, well ok if you have cash you can buy the ticket on board. Whaaaaat?? Why didn’t you say that in the first place? Anyway this is what I did and finally was on the bus to the airport. I arrived in Stansted just a little before my flight and went straight to Pret for a porridge. They have just the best porridge I’ve ever had in my life. I devoured it while walking to my gate. Flight was fine. And then everything fell apart again at Hannover airport.
I am not so convinced about the famous German efficiency anymore. Is it possible that at an airport’s train station there is no ticket office, no tourist information but just one ticket machine? I remembered reading online that to get to Braunschweig I should have changed at Hannover train station but when I checked the timetable on the (bloody) ticket machine it didn’t explain anything, it just said to get the 11:06 from the airport to Braunschweig. Which is what I did.
On the train there was no sign displaying where the train was calling so every now and then I checked my Google maps to make sure I wasn’t missing my stop. Problem is I found out I was going in the wrong direction when it was too late to do anything about it. The F word started flashing in my mind like a neon light.
I arrived at Hameln, last stop of my train, where I ran to the information centre and a very kind lady printed a piece of paper for me with the times and platforms for trains to go to Braunschweig. She explained I would have to go back to Hannover and then get a train from there. I thanked her and then bought the biggest pretzel I could find along with a much needed dose of caffeine (Hameln rip off: € 2.30 for a cappuccino straight out of an automated machine).
This is where I was supposed to go.
This is where I ended up.
This is how I got back.
Oh well. Who doesn’t like a road trip in the German countryside after waking up at 4:30, missing the train and thinking they would miss their flight too? (Me)
When I finally arrived in Braunschweig and got off at the tram stop Schloss (= castle) I sent D a picture to show him I was finally there.
My friend later told me that the old castle is now a shopping centre.