Saturday, 8 October 2016

Germany 2016 - Part 1: A handbag?!

Surprise! I’ve been away again. I really should just make this a travel blog shouldn’t I? Then I would have the excuse to go places and write about them more. I feel like I go to places a lot recently but just haven’t had the time to write about them. Well I’m going to at least write about the last 10 days and then work my way backwards perhaps.
My travel buddy and I have had this trip planned for a while now: Germany. More specifically Oktoberfest in Munich and then a city break in Berlin. My brain likes to work chronologically so I will start with Munich.
Well no, actually I’m going to start with Manchester. I was packed and on the bus to the airport on Thursday morning with my trusty (and now well-seasoned) little blue trundle bag and my fits anything charity shop handbag. I bought this handbag when I had done too much shopping and the plastic bags were cutting into my fingers, so I popped into a charity shop and £3 later I had this handbag which now held all of my impulse purchases nicely on my shoulder to save my poor digits from being ripped off. Fabulous bag!
So anyway, I know Manchester airport pretty well now and it isn’t the easiest place to navigate, with 3 terminals all connected with walkways that resemble a 2 year olds artwork, and the bus terminal tucked out the way in a very quiet bit. I confidently strode off to my terminal and I think most of the bus followed me. As a seasoned flyer I feel I can avoid most of the common pitfalls that many travellers fall into so I was feeling smug about how easy going through security was going to be. Boarding pass? Check. Appropriate sized suitcase? Check. Plenty of time before my flight? Check. Oh how wrong I was.
Firstly there was a huge queue and it was like tesco where there are several thousand check outs, but only three open. Next they weren’t happy with my plastic bag with my liquids in so I had to put them into one of theirs – not too unusual but this is one of those rules that I feel most airports overlook because who actually cares which clear plastic bag my liquids are in? Manchester airport security apparently. So I’m now trying to fit a week’s worth of liquids into their seemingly tiny plastic bag. It wasn’t happening. I tried to stretch the plastic and ripped through it. Ok, new bag. I could fit everything in it but not close it. Close enough? I dump my things in a box at the scanner and the security man doesn’t say anything – success! But then I go through the scanner and my bag gets taken to one side for having hidden liquids. Apparently their scanners are sensitive enough to pick up a forgotten about perfume tester vial and a lip balm in the bottom of my handbag. So I’m there trying to explain that I genuinely didn’t know they were in there and at the same time, they pull me up on not being able to close my plastic liquids bag. And all this is after being ok with my boots and then not being ok with my boots, and then the pat down including the thumb in the waist band part and the sit down so I can scan your feet part. So anyway, security says I have too many liquids and I have to surrender some. So I begrudgingly hand over my half empty deodorant and my tanned bb crème. Then I spend a good minute manipulating the bottles into tessellating so this plastic liquids bag closes. Apparently it has to stay closed for 10 seconds so I stand there with the security man counting to 10 to see if it stays closed. It does – phew. Then for good measure my things are tested for explosives. Thankfully I wasn’t accidentally covered in explosives as well as accidentally smuggling liquids.
So after that ordeal I was a little stressed but not too bad. It’s reassuring that security is that thorough and by the sounds of it, my travel buddy flying from London didn’t have any of these issues – worrying for that airport?
Ok so now I’m at the gate and the lady says my lovely charity shop handbag has to go in my suitcase. Eugh. Why? Why does it have to go in my suitcase? My handbag could easily fit under my seat so what’s the benefit of it being in my suitcase? I’m not taking up any more overhead locker space by having my bag under my seat. So now I’m there at the gate behind the lady with my suitcase open trying to fit everything in. I stuff as much as possible into my pockets – glasses, sunnies, ipod, brolly, phone, passport, purse, boarding pass… thank goodness I had large coat pockets! But even with those things in my pockets, I still can’t get my suitcase to zip up. Oh and then there was another member of staff with a wheelchair trying to come through the bit of barrier that the lady told me to repack my suitcase in front of. So now I had to move everything mid packing so he can get through with my stuffed full coat on, getting very hot and bothered. Now I’m in the middle of the floor struggling with this suitcase looking pretty pathetic and stressed. Thankfully a guy takes pity on me and comes to help. He squeezes my suitcase shut while I try to wiggle the zip round and I nearly take his fingers off when the zip suddenly moves. Apparently no good deed goes unpunished. Sorry and thank you to my mystery helper man!
When I get on the flight there’s a stag do heading to Oktoberfest as well. Excellent. But I plugged in my ipod and the flight was uneventful. Ami (travel buddy) was delayed but one coffee, one doughnut, one walk around, and one makeshift sign on the back of a boarding pass later, we were reunited. In this time I also noticed that there were now some white stress points on the outside of my suitcase post handbag fiasco. Damn.
A short tube ride later we arrived at a very cute, bright red terraced house. The owners were out but the neighbour let us in and we set about exploring. It was very bohemian with white walls covered in art, but dark wooden furniture, and everything was covered in patterned fabrics or interesting pottery things.  We settled in and after a brief tripadvisor search I had in front of me, the most German plate of roast pork with both bread and potato dumplings and gravy.  Lecker.