We decided that we wouldn’t plan our travel till we had our visas in hand. Our travel agent called us on 5th October to confirm that we’d got our Schengen visas, and we immediately started looking up flight tickets. I basically looked at flying out of every possible Indian city and into every possible European city – and by the end of the day, I was tearing my hair out! But all that hard work paid off when I chanced upon an excellent deal: outgoing from Chennai to Paris, and return from Rome to Kuala Lumpur on Etihad Airways for INR 34000! It was saving us atleast INR 20000 per head compared to the next best option (which would involve Chennai – Paris – Chennai tickets + Rome – Paris tickets + one night stay in Chennai + Chennai – KL tickets. Phew! But now you know why I should be your go to person for travel planning). So I did the happy dance, and booked the tickets for 15th October, and we had barely nine days to go before take off!
The next week was a blur of daytime activity and sleepless nights. The very next day I ran around getting our tickets and other documents together to apply for our Malaysia visa. And then booking accommodation for our first week in Paris, figuring out a rough itinerary, writing to/calling the embassies of the non EU countries to confirm that we could enter the country with a Schengen visa (I REALLY didn’t want to end up spending time in a communist era jail for entering or passing the country illegally).
In the middle of all this, I traveled from Vizag to Hyderabad, met up with family and friends, went clubbing, spent two days celebrating Gautam and Sarikas (Nikes brother and his wife) first wedding anniversary, fell ill, bought new contact lens, and got a haircut!
Sunday finally arrived – and Nike fell sick! What a start! He slept the whole day while I packed and took about a billion printouts. Gautam and Sarika dropped us off at the Hyderabad airport. In line with my idea of budget travel, I wanted to take the train from Hyderabad to Chennai, but the timings were very inconvenient, and Nike insisted we fly – a decision I was later grateful for, considering the long journey we had ahead of us!
Dinner at the airport and a short flight later, we were in Chennai by 10.30pm. Our flight was at 5am but they wouldn’t let us into the international departure terminal just yet. Thankfully, there was a Zara Tapas Bar right outside and we whiled away a few hours there before finally entering the terminal.
I always end up spending hours and hours at old, crappy airports, while I never have enough time in the swanky new airports. For example, I spent many, many hours waiting at the Kolkata airport (which is in appalling condition) while I’ve never had time to try the buffet breakfast or the bookstore sale at the Delhi airport – even though I fly through Delhi airport all the time. Just my luck! And in keeping with that trend, here I was, stuck in Chennai airport, with no wifi, and no decent restaurants, bookstores or shops.
Anyway, we finally checked in, and then Nike realised that he’d left his tripod at the domestic terminal – in fact, he’d never bothered to pick it up from the baggage carousel (and this will be a recurring theme in our travels). After scrambling around, we finally retrieved it, and completed check in and security check formalities. I’m always hoping when checking in to an international flight that they’d miraculously upgrade me to business class, but no such miracle happened this time (or any other time, for that matter). Instead, our flight was delayed by over an hour so we waited in the boarding area for about two hours (cue for another rant on appalling airport conditions) before we could board and we finally finally finally took off.
Erm. This was supposed to be just a paragraph but has become a post in itself (I really MUST learn to write crisply) so I’m going to end here for today.
Meanwhile, what’s the worst airport you guys have ever been to or had to wait in?