Newcastle - full of wonderful, caring people!!!

Trip Start Dec 26, 2009
Trip End Feb 06, 2010

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday 13/1/10 (apologies in advance - very very long blog today and no photos)

Wow – what an absolutely surreal and unusual day - its funny, you get up in the morning planning the day ahead (as much as you can given that you also rely on those situations that are not in your control to also go according to plan) and you believe, I mean truly believe, your day is going to go one way and then all of a sudden, a series of events occur catapulting you into a totally different and unique "parallel universe" where nothing goes as planned, I mean absolutely nothing! And with travel, how unusual is this??? Hahaha!!!!!

We awoke again at 2am (it has become our new “magic jet lag” waking up time) and it had stopped raining woohoo - and the taxi man was on time. Jumped online to begin the day with the usual joke – BA has found our luggage – nup, no such luck – we think the website is stuck and not being refreshed. But we don't care, we are on our way to Newcastle into the arms of loved ones and feel excited about the short trip from Barcelona to London at 7:30am then onto Newcastle at 12:30pm and arriving 2pm, fantastic!!!!

Got on the plane at Barcelona after waiting around for 3 hours to board (nothing was open in the airport) and we waited for the flight to London (. On the plane by 7:10 and we were sitting for about 10 minutes and the captain came on (just remember, they now have us on the plane so there is nothing we can do about the exciting news the captain is about to share with us). “Heathrow airport has had too much snow and is closed so we are flying to Newcastle” he said and 300 people groaned and two very excited Aussies punched the air and yelled out “woohoo” (much to the disgust of the other passengers I think). Anyway, we were so excited that we could just not go to Heathrow and go straight to Newcastle, the BA gods were favourable to us again. We landed in Newcastle and everyone stood up – “please stay in your seats whilst we speak to ground control” the captain says over the PA. He came back and said that we would be sitting on the tarmac for a while as they had to refuel and had to wait for a spot at Heathrow to land, he also said that the hosties would be coming through the plane and answering any questions for us. I thought – this is my chance to get us off this plane, so I went and spoke to a flight attendant and asked if we could get off the plane (I showed her our flight tickets) and she went and spoke to the captain who said “NO” I couldn’t believe it – we were right there, right there on the tarmac of our destination for that day – please please please take pity on us and let us off I said – she said NO because we had a piece of luggage in the hull, we couldn’t leave our luggage (funny that considering our first lot are all by themselves without us). We sat there for 3 hours and then took off and flew back to Heathrow.  On the way back, I asked the flight attendant if any flights will be taking off from Heathrow to Newcastle and she said “NO” all flights out of Heathrow have been cancelled today!!!!!!!!

Now stay with me because this story only gets better (please insert a hint of sarcasm here), we flew in to Heathrow and it was totally manic (if I hadn’t been so scared about being arrested,  I would have taken a photo of the chaos before us). Apparently at 2pm when we landed and went into the baggage collection area, there were 14,000 people standing there waiting for luggage (some of them had been there all day searching). They had thousands of pieces of luggage lying all over the floor in rows, it was incredible to see – people were yelling, arguing, crying (lots of people were crying) about possible lost luggage and because Bill and I had been through that only 5 days ago, we could totally sympathise but we were also so used to it, it didnt phase us. We spoke to BA staff and asked where our luggage may be and they held their hands out in front of them and said “off you go, your luggage could possibly be out there on the floor somewhere” (no luggage were on the carousels, just scattered around the entire airport floor and not in any plane arrival order).  Then they said “if you don’t find it in 3 hours, you will need to line up and report it lost or delayed to Customer Service personnel”. We waited for 3 hours and no luggage so then we lined up 2 hours to report our luggage lost (does this story have a familiar ring???) and we just couldn’t believe we had been stung yet again – those BA gods are obviously still very angry that we got upgraded to business class and didn’t pay for it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was like we had gone into that “parallel universe” I mentioned earlier – it was so disturbing and maddening we just kept laughing and people in the line were asking us where we had come from and where we going and did we think we would all get our luggage back by tomorrow – god, now thats funny – it so is (being in a queue for 2 hours gives you an opportunity to talk to total strangers). So sometimes we told them we had already been waiting for 5 days for our first luggage and they now had lost number 2 luggage and the shock on their faces then turned to fear when they realised that they may not be getting their luggage tonight, in fact, they may never see their luggage ever again!!

After completing yet another lost luggage report, we then had to line up to trade our Newcastle airline tickets for a Newcastle bus ticket so 1 hour later we had our bus passes. We were told to wait for the next bus to come and the crowd started getting bigger and bigger and we didn’t know if we would get a seat (everyone else must have felt the same!) so at 10pm (don’t forget we had been up since 2am and had officially taken off and landed 6 times today already) the bus appeared and we all piled on - some people with luggage couldn’t fit so they had to wait for the next bus or sleep in the terminal till the planes were flying again.

The bus driver obviously had learnt at the same school as all Barcelonians because people were genuinely scared of his driving (including us because we were sitting just behind the driver and could see him weaving all over the road that had snow on it doing 110 kms per hour). I will go back a bit – whilst we were waiting in the terminal for the bus, some elderly people turned up and stood next to us. We didn’t think anything of it and she wanted to go and have a smoke outside so I said I would look after her luggage while she did that and her husband went to the loo – no big deal. When she returned, we just started chatting, we were joking about various things and we swapped travel stories. They had come from Tokyo that day and we talked about Japan, it was really good and it helped pass the time. They were not surprised BA had lost both lots of luggage and said that the airport is famous for that. Her husband was quite unwell and had trouble with his legs and back also. She had 4 bags on a trolley to look after and also assist him getting on the bus so I said that Bill would take their luggage and I would help her with her husband. She wouldn’t hear of it – she said she had come all that way handling everything and she would continue but I could help with her husband if that wasn’t too much trouble. So we told the bus guy that he was sick and he let them get on the bus first – of course, they took the front seats but then she was waving at me and pointing at the front seats behind the driver from inside the bus and she had actually saved us the other two front seats! How absolutely lovely of her – so we were guaranteed a seat, thank goodness.  Its funny you know, situations like this bring out the worst in people sometimes but they can also bring out the good in people and through a random act of kindness from us we were rewarded – I just wanted to help them – I didn’t care about getting a seat but she was so kind of her to repay the favour. So different to most of the Spanish...

All through the events of today, we were in contact with Chris (father of the bride and such a lovely, genuinely caring guy, very positive and funny) updating him with any information we were getting as he was originally going to pick us up from the airport. When we found out that we had to catch the bus, we tried to contact the apartment place we were staying at to let them know that we would be turning up around 4am but it went to an answering machine. We didn’t want to be sitting out in the snow, waiting for someone to turn up and let us in so Chris said his wife Sonia had already made up our bed and we could crash at his place – what a guy, I felt like crying at this point – again, random act of kindness can bring you back to earth and make you realise whats important and whats not.

When we got on the bus, Bill went to call Chris to let him know we had finally boarded and we would be getting there (hopefully) by 4am and our mobile was flat – out of power! I just started to cry – I couldn’t help it – here we were in the middle of the night – no luggage, no mobile phone and very exhausted. Yet another random act of kindness – the woman behind us said that I could use her mobile and when I offered to pay for the call, she just laughed and said she didn’t want the money – it was so kind of her. Again, these situations bring out the best in people and even though she may not have thought it was a big deal, it made us feel so much better all at once. Then we realised that Chris’s number was on the mobile phone and we had no way of getting that number because the phone was dead – what were we to do???????? How would we contact Chris with no phone and no number?????

Bill was exhausted so he fell asleep and I was wracking my brain trying to find a solution to this problem – then it hit me – in the airport, I told Bill to go and buy yet another country power converter (third lot now) for England and he managed to find one. I got excited all of a sudden because we still had the mobile phone charger with us (in my wisdom, I had packed our thermals, ski gloves, a pair of socks for both of us, a pair of small boots for me, a pair of pyjamas for me and of course the phone charger, into my backpack -  I am learning Cheryl Poulus!) I was surprised they fitted in and it was pretty heavy but in the end, it was a good decision! Now, if we could only find somewhere to plug it in, we would at least get enough power to call Chris. So I woke Bill and we hatched a cunning plan – when we stopped for a break, Bill would take the mobile charger and phone to the mens loo as apparently, they have a shaver connection in there (I thought it might look weird Bill hanging around in the loo waiting for it to recharge but by then we didn’t care).

When the bus stopped and we ran inside (remember we were right up the front, so we were first off)  it was a little place and it was like a really little shopping centre with a couple of shops and when we started to run down the internal walkway, we saw a sight to behold and our spirits soared – a kids ride sitting there on the floor (people must have thought we were very weird getting excited about a childs ride like they didnt have such things in Australia) but it wasnt the ride itself that excited us - these things have to be powered somehow don’t they and there were no kids on the bus who would use it so we plugged in the mobile and charged it up for 30 minutes!!!! We were saved!!!! We had enough power to call Chris!!!!!!!!!

While we were waiting there (we had to stay with the phone) people kept looking a us(they couldnt see the phone as it was behind the ride getting recharged) - it was so funny – Bill and I sitting on this kids ride waiting for the phone to recharge and people from the bus were looking at us strangely but again, we didn’t care, we were exhausted and way past caring what people thought of us. The lady that had saved us the seat came in to see how we were doing and she had made a small snowball for me to hold – wow, another random act of kindness – it just kept getting better  ! She then rang a hotel near the airport and asked if they had any rooms for us – again, just amazing how an act of human kindness can bring you to tears (sorry, yep again with the waterworks) – she just hugged me and I felt so much better – it had also been an even longer day for them and all she was thinking about was making us feel better! So we rang Chris (it was now 12 midnight) and he had been waiting for our call so we said that it was getting too late for him to come and get us in the cold and snow at 4am in the morning, he had only just gone to bed and would be very tired. We said we would try and get a hotel room somewhere and he wouldn’t have it – he said he would come whatever time it was, he didn’t care – we were family (I told you he was a caring guy!) this was good because there were no hotel rooms anywhere near the airport free so we would have had to sleep in the air terminal till it was light and someone was at the apartment block to let us in.

Just as we were about to get back on the bus from hell, it started to snow lightly – just a little bit – apparently it was what they call “wet snow” god, I didn’t know there was different types of snow, to me, snow is just snow, its cold, its lovely and it falls from the sky! If this was just wet snow, I couldn’t wait till the real snow fell on me – we were so excited!  Yep, you guessed it -waterworks again, I couldn’t help but cry – it was like a scene from one of those crazy movies where a family goes on a holiday and everything that can go wrong – does and then at the end of the movie, everything turns out (all we needed was the soppy music to fade in and we could have been in that movie)! It had been a crazy day, a  bad day, a funny day, a sad day and here we were on the other side of the world and it was snowing on us, we were safe, we had each other and we were about to be with the wonderful Gillinder & Quinn families – life was amazing!

Chris picked us up at the airport at 3:30am and it was just incredible to see his car coming into the car park, what a relief – we had made it to Newcastle – safe and still quite sane! We were so happy to see him (he is a tall guy and I just feel so small when he hugs me, it a lovely comforting feeling and made me feel so much better). We were freezing and it was so warm in the car, we could have just closed our eyes and gone to sleep right there and then. Chris had organised for his doctor to write up the prescriptions I needed without having to see him and had even gone and picked up the forms  I needed to fill in earlier in the day (what a guy hey, sorry girls he is already taken), I just had to try and remember their names and the dosage (easier said than done normally but when you are past the point of exhaustion, it can be quite challenging) and he would take the paperwork to the doctor and then pick up the medication for me, how very, very kind.

Chris and Sonia have a beautiful place, 3 levels of loveliness (and warmth) and Sonia got up to greet us and show us our room – we slept the sleep of the dead, 5 hours with no thought for luggage problems, just me and Bill together safe and warm and amongst family who love us – so ends day 1 in Newcastle!
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Debbie and Jeff on

At last; good to know you are in the comfort and care of loved ones. Take care of yourselves and we'll see you in a week!

Mum and Dad on

What you need Karyl is a good sleep. Hope you have had one by now and Bill too. Received your email today and this blog tonight though it is dated two days before. Give Chris and Sonia a big hug from me as I am so glad you had someone to look after you at last. What a frustrating day - to have sit on Newcastle tarmac for three hours and then lose your bag as well. I don't know how Heathrow is ever going to sort out the luggage. It will just pile up on topof itself until there is no room for passengers. Please don't worry about the card, we are not, we will catch up with Kevin and Sian later. Just pass on our good wishes. While in Newcastle I hope you both manage to catch up on some sleep before the wedding. Love Mum and Dad

chezza on

OK I give in, your horror stories on this one trip, surpass the many dramas over all our years of travelling (such as having my passport stolen in India and Singapore Airlines not letting me fly until I had a new passport !!!!!!!!) It will take many 4DAPS for you to get over it all.

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