Still In The UK

By | 30th August 2017

Gatwick airport from the plane

Gatwick airport from the plane

Not long before midnight we were waiting for a hotel shuttle at a seemingly deserted bus stop outside Gatwick airport. Although we were tired we could still read a printed bus timetable, but the bus that was supposed to come, never came. There was only one other traveller waiting with us and when he suggested sharing a taxi to the hotel, we quickly agreed. He was older than us and on his way to Iceland for a week of trekking, being employed as the expedition doctor by a company called Action Challenge. We talked about what it was like to go trekking in Iceland and about our own travel plans through Greece, Turkey and Palestine. He was a pleasure to talk to, showed genuine interest in our trip and insisted on paying the full fare for the taxi, saying he wanted to contribute to our volunteering efforts in Palestine. It was one of those moments often described as one of the joys of travelling – meeting interesting people.

Gatwick from the plane

Gatwick from the plane

Our accommodation for the night at Hotel Ibis was a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport. Back in May, I’d stayed at a similar Hotel Ibis within walking distance of Luton airport, on my way meet Clare in Jerusalem on another very early morning flight. It had been such convenient, comfortable and good-value accommodation that I decided to do the same again for this trip. Our flight was at 6:35 the following morning, so it made sense to be as close as possible to the airport the evening before.

Our room was just what we needed after a busy day. So much so that we joked about staying longer than just one night. It was like a hideaway from the world. Clare commented that “no one could get to us here” which I could fully appreciate after all the flat-related phone calls she’s had to make recently. I considered what friends’ reactions would be if we told them we were imagining spending future weekends away, alternating between hotels at Gatwick and Luton airports. I guess it’s a compliment to Ibis Hotels and their virtually soundproof rooms and super-comfortable beds.

Approaching Kefalonia

Approaching Kefalonia

Unfortunately our stay at the Ibis was cut short by our alarm going off at 3:30. Drowsy with lack of sleep we scrambled our belongings together and made our way downstairs for the first shuttle bus of the morning to take us to the airport. It was dark and rainy and we all sat inside the delayed Norweigan flight on the tarmac for a good half hour before it finally took off at 7:15.

Three hours and twenty minutes later, we landed in Kefalonia. It was hot and sunny and thirty degrees.

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