I have just made my first ever solo trip abroad, spending three days in Berlin. It was my second visit there and overall it was a wonderful few days, which reaffirmed my view of Berlin as my favourite of all my European cities I have visited so far.
Before I go on to talk about what I got up to, I need to describe the “fun” I had on my flight to Berlin. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will already have a rough idea of what happened, but I want to get the facts down. Actually, a Norse epic poem may be the best way to write about what happened, but that’s a bit beyond me, so you’ll have to make do with a blog.
I was nervous. I’ve been to Berlin before, so I wasn’t entirely unprepared, but I was still anxious about being a lone traveller in a foreign land. In my head, I replayed all the worst-case scenarios that could happen. Urban unrest, bad hotels, striking train drivers, eruptions from unpronounceable Icelandic volcanoes – all of them could put a spanner in the works. I tried my best to put those thoughts to the back of my mind, but not entirely successfully.
I turned up at Liverpool Airport on Thursday afternoon in good time for my flight. I’m well versed in security and related procedures thanks to the expert tutelage of Andrew Bromage, so I got through the checks quickly and was in the departure lounge with plenty of time to spare. I bought a Boots Meal Deal and sat down alongside my fellow passengers to wait.
The flight was called and we climbed aboard the plane. Just before the scheduled departure time of 18:10 we were taxiing along the runway, ready to take off. I sat back and relaxed. I would be in Berlin by 9pm, checked into my hotel by 10pm. Then, maybe, I would have time to slip out to Blond for a quick drink while… ahem, admiring the view.
It soon became clear, however, that all was not well. I became aware of an unusual smell in the cabin. A strange chemical-ly sort of smell. In fact, it smelled exactly like TCP. I started thinking of that One Foot in the Grave episode where Victor uses it briefly and the smell lingers on him for days.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed it. The other passengers and cabin crew were aware of it, as was the captain, who announced that the plane was returning to the terminal building for the engineers to take a look at what was causing it.
This announcement was greeted by a collective groan all round. A second, louder groan soon followed, when it was confirmed that the problem was not going to be an easy fix and we were all ushered back into the departure lounge.
I tried to stay optimistic. It would be a simple problem to fix and we would be on our way within an hour or so. Right?
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