BHow can you get excited about a new travel, even one that's scoped to last half a year? When between one and ones adventure are sixteen hours of aero transport, sandwiching between fourteen hours of enforced layover? Thirty hours of dead butt. To which I can now add the spectre of industrial action.
Excitement is the anticipation of the pleasurable, the unknown and the hunt for the quirky. Only there's little anticipation to be found in these prospects. The guarantee comes with an enforced inoculation of pathogens and recycled farts, the promise for a purgatory of haute coutureial shopping. And by the way, Air France pilots have been on strike for the last ten days.
Now I'm no different from the next person, I like a deal, that and I like to burnish a reputation for thrift. We even, on occasions, learn from our previous experiences. So yet again it's a 'red eye' flight into Northern Europe, followed by an overnighter down to South America. Which begs a question: does an accountant somewhere take pleasure in creating flight packages with the maximum of inconviences, or do they hope through the medium of tedium that I will succumb to pleasurable retail experiences afforded by tax-free diamonds and stiletto heeled shoes? At least on this occasion we did take cognisance from previous travels and avoided an additional stop-off in Brazil and decided against sleeping out on the terrazzo of Edinburgh International. The former a tale of bureaucratic inefficiency, the latter one of 'enhanced visitor experience'. One, a three hour queue of only ten persons, just to acquire two boarding passes, the other a sleep deprivation of incessant fire alarm tests and inquisitive police constables.
The early flight requires an anti-social check-in which would necessitate a six mile hike and an 'all night bus' to get away from home, so it's a cheap room in central Edinburgh. An oxymoron, especially as we're offered the seventh floor view of the capital's iconic establishments. The North British, the Scott Monument, the Old Town, the Royal Bank, all spread out across the rooftops of Princes street's department stores. A quirk, a fluke or has our God of Cyclists out trumped the 'Lords of Misrule'? From St. Giles' crown tower on the horizon to Top Shop's air-con to the fore, from the Castle's ramparts in the west, to the clanking tram down by the 'gardens', the panorama stretches from Altars to Mammon, from the Dark Ages to the New Enlightenment. (Give it another ten years, and you'll start to hear Edinburgians crowing about their tram, whilst the Weegies in the West will point out that they've had a rapid transit Metro system for over a century).
We sit in our alumina tube on the edge of the runway for an hour, whilst 'awaiting clearance from Brussels'. Only we're supposed to be heading for Paris. Maybe someone's worried, now that the pilots have returned to work, it will be the turn of French air traffic controllers to catch the revolutionary fever, and seconded services to the Belgians. In truth, our return to Buenos Aires was hassle free, even our new 'tax paid' diamonds; our new Rohloff hub geared wheels came off the carousel intact. That, and to my eternal grief, the navigator reneged on my offer of new stilettos, opting for her cycling sandals.
This 'journey" is simply a means to a "destination". Now the real journey can commence. Time to rebuild the bikes.