got an alarm call at 6:45, had a quick breakfast and while we were
checking out, the pre-arranged mini-bus arrived. The chap
running it was very helpful and friendly. He cycled himself (and
did rock climbing). It always helps when you get a kindred
spirit. To get all 3
of us with bikes and luggage to the airport from the centre of
Salzburg cost us €20.
chose the wrong check-in desk. A very stony faced girl who
needed a personality transplant. First of all, "Have you
got a bike voucher?". Errr no, we hadn't. Well we had
to get one of those first. So, off to another counter where they
sold us 3 for the princely sum of €22 each, and back to the desk
waving our vouchers.
Now she didn't
like the look of Francesco's id-card. I wasn't sure what was
wrong with it. I know the picture was a bit naff, but have you
looked at your passport photo lately?? But, after reading it
from cover to cover and memorising every detail, she accepted
Once she'd dealt
with that hurdle, she couldn't decide whether she wanted the panniers
on the conveyor belt or off it. She was getting more and more
frustrated as we'd put them on, take them off, put them back
Eventually after plastering them with stickers (which
peeled off as you stood and watched them), she told us to take it all
(bikes, panniers, the lot), to the self-service (i.e. do it ALL
yourself) 'bulky items' baggage point.
We weren't sure
what to do here. Do we wait for someone to come out to take the
things off us? No, of course not - you press all the buttons you
can find on the wall by the conveyor belt. As if by magic, a
steel door rose to a height of about 15". We put the
panniers on and they went under easily enough, and disappeared.
Now, the bikes. Laying them down on the conveyor belt, they just
wouldn't fit under, but if you tipped the back end up and got the bars
through, then laid it flat it went under. While we were
manouvering the second bike into position, the steel door
closed. Hope it won't do that with a bike half way under I
thought to myself.
got the last bike through, went for a coffee and then off into the
departure lounge where we saw the flight was delayed by 1½ hours!
Once more, the
flight was uneventful. Francesco bade farewell to us at Stansted
airport (it was now his turn to hang around for an evening flight back
to Ancona - I couldn't believe that it was quicker and cheaper for him
to fly Salzburg-Stansted-Ancona than to get a train from Salzburg to
The train journey
home to the Lakes was something I was dreading, but, it was
perfect. We changed at Peterborough and Manchester Victoria and
that was it. About 7 hours in total, but absolutely bang on
time. No problems with the bikes either. Well done
RailTrack! (or whatever you're called this week).