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Da Treviso al Paradiso 

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by Allan, Konrad & Francesco 


  packing list

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  packing bikes

  stansted airport  

  treviso airport

  salzburg airport

We'd been very lucky this year.  A friend of Konrad's was travelling to Stansted Airport on the same day as us.  He and a friend were going walking in the Pyrenees and he kindly offered to take us down to the airport. So, after a 6 hour drive from our home town of Ulverston, we arrived at Stansted Airport around 12:30 and our flight was not until 18:35, so we had tons of time to kill.  

Being 'northerners', this was our first visit to Stansted Airport, and I must say in terms of appeal, it rates a poor second to Manchester.  The one thing it has going for it of course is that all the cheap airlines fly out of there.  A bit of a sore point - especially when it's a 6 hour drive or train ride away!  Come on Manchester!

We saw quite a few bikes being wheeled about.  I was amazed to see that some were not packed in any way at all.  You could literally have ridden them up to the check-in.  I wasn't convinced.  I was glad mine was at least covered in pipe lagging.

As soon as the desk opened, we checked the bikes and baggage in.  I noticed my panniers were about half a kilo heavier than last time (14kg), so not bad considering the extra bike clothing I'd brought this year.

The girl on the check-in never mentioned payment for the bikes (so we didn't either).  We were expecting to have to take the bikes somewhere, but she said to just leave them against the check-in desk and someone would pick them up later.  I think she could see by our faces that we were thinking 'yes - anyone could pick them up later and walk off with them!'  So she very kindly stored them on her side of the check-in desk.  If Mr RyanAir is listening - she deserves a pay-rise.

The time passed remarkably quickly.  After checking the bikes had been taken away, we decided to make it to the departure lounge.  On the way we passed a coffee shop and with a bit of time left to kill hung about there for a while.  With about 20 minutes to go, we ambled to the gate - or should I say followed the signs pointing to the gate!

I'll recap here.  We'd never flown from Stansted before - and nobody mentioned you have to get a train to get to the gates.  We both broke out in a cold sweat, which turned to blind panic when we saw a notice saying that the train takes 10 minutes to get to gates 1-19!  The train arrived (after what seemed like hours) and we hopped aboard.  

After what seemed like another hour, the train doors finally closed and we moved off.  Arriving at the station for gates 1-19, we legged it up the escalator which takes you up into the middle of the concourse (in our case, about gate 9).  We ran like demented souls toward gate 1.  My heart sank as I saw it was closed.  I was so angry with myself.  Many's the time I've sat in airports while they make a 'last call for Mr Stupid', and I've thought - How can people do that? They must be lacking a few brain cells. It was even more galling for us - we'd sat in the bloody airport for over 6 hours!  A lady on gate 2 asked where I was going.  "Treviso", I shouted.  Oh that's been moved to gate 19 she said. "We've announced it several times."  Well maybe if your actually at the gate you can hear that, but you can't anywhere else.

I set off back toward gate 19.  I passed someone familiar running the other way - Konrad.  He did a double take, turned round and followed me.  Gate 19 was of course right at the opposite end of the concourse.  Well, we made it, but only just.  Infact, we weren't the last ones on the plane, there was a family who arrived after us.  I didn't have the gall to give them my smug "Come on - we've been waiting for you" look ;-)