It happens so rarely, I feel I ought to share it with you. Earlier today, I travelled from Rome to Birmingham (which isn’t the part that’s rare, so keep reading) and the journey went smoothly. Not relatively smoothly. Smooth in an absolute sense. At the moment, no airline company has accountants that can make sense out of a direct link between the two cities, so travellers are forced to find more circuitous routes. This is increasingly common; a friend of mine is about to fly from Rome to Bournemouth via Gerona as though it were the most natural thing in the world. So each time, with enormous effort, I find new ways of getting from A (Rome) to B (Birmingham) and back.
This visit, the cheapest option was Swiss (ex-Swissair), via Zurich, incidentally one of the most attractive airports I’ve ever seen. I’ve done this before, and enjoyed certain aspects of it very much. After a hundred low-cost flights the simple fact of being offered a free coffee and croissant and a piece of chocolate with the letters SWISS embossed on it made me feel as the Queen must have felt when receiving a personal iPod from Obama. Finally, I’m worth it. But it doesn’t quite compensate for the manic rush from one terminal to another in the 45 minutes deemed sufficient by Swiss, with a Security Control, like Cerberus, in the middle. Today there was a man with a head shaped like Fester (Fester’s head, that is) and the most charming, desperate, arm-waving way of saying No you must make the queue HERE I’ve ever come across.
In the past, I’ve missed more connections than I’ve made, often because of ‘technical problems’ at Rome’s Fiumicino. Zurich airport, as I think I’ve said, is lovely, but five hours there bites significantly into a weekend visit to a place that isn’t Zurich airport, that isn’t even Swtitzerland, wonderful though it no doubt is. Today, though, we left Rome on time. We arrived in Zurich slightly before time. Fester notwithstanding, I passed through Security Control (a second time) on time. A slight hitch occurred when a passenger with special needs had to be disembarked from our plane before we could board it. As far as I could see, and judging from the limousine with the number plate SWISS ONE that carried the sheikh-like figure off, the special needs were closely linked to significant wealth, but Switzerland has always had a special understanding of the special needs of the rich.
Still,we made it up. We landed on time. I went through the fabulous iris-reading thingumajig at Birmingham airport and IT WORKED. The shuttle to the station was waiting for me, the train I had to catch gave me just the time I need to make a very satisfying call (of which, more news anon). I even had the right change for the bus that brought me, triumphant and ON TIME, to my destination. I feel blessed.
And so, two countries away from where I woke up this morning, to bed.