Thursday, February 5, 2015

Britain queues because of insufficient staff

Previously, Starbucks in Lisbon thought my name was Costy, and I kind of sort of found my dream house. Shame it's in the middle of nowhere in Portugal, and is kind of falling apart. 

Our last morning in Lisbon was relatively unexciting. There were all the usual packing things to deal with, plus four of us to get through the shower. Finally, we were all ready and it was time to head to the airport. Well, except for C who was off to the train station for a few days in Porto. We bid him farewell, and headed to the airport. It turned out we'd allowed far too much time because checking in and dropping our bags off was pretty damned quick, so we spent a chunk of time wandering around the airport, and then ended up stopping off at Harrods(?!?!?!?!) for a bite to eat before our flight was called. Obviously, I took advantage of the opportunity to have one last custard tart.
It was a liiiiiittle disappointing, to be honest...
The flight back to London was smooth sailing and I took advantage of it to finish off a book or two. We arrived on schedule, and I immediately texted Sara to let her know that we'd arrived and would be picking up the hire car and hitting the road reasonably soon. And then we got to the immigration hall...

The problem with travelling in Europe when you're Australian? Chances are pretty good that you can get a work permit without too many problems, but travel's a bitch because you have to go through the "EVERYONE ELSE" queue. Which, at that particular moment, was approximately A MILLION PEOPLE LONG. Every time we managed to make something resembling progress towards the front of the queue, another staff member would go on break.
Basically, this. 
As we wound our way through the queue, I pointed out a particular immigration officer to Mum, and was like "I want us to get that guy". Why? Because unlike everyone else, he was churning through people like they were paying him on a per head basis. He was a jolly looking older guy, kind of like if Santa had a shorter beard and worked for UK Border Control... Anyway, when we got to the front of the queue, a wondrous miracle happened and he called us over. I hereby recount for you the full details of our conversation:

Immigration Santa: "Whereabouts in London is [C's address]?"
Me: "[suburb]"
Immigration Santa: "Oooh, lots of lovely pubs around there! Make sure you check some of them out. [stamps passports] Enjoy your stay!"

It was magical. We headed through to get our luggage and I totally sprinted clear across the airport because I saw my suitcase heading towards that annoying little gate thing where you have to wait for it to come back the other side, and ain't nobody got time for that. We stopped off to get my poor gluten-intolerant mother something to eat and then spent 20 minutes waiting for a bus to the hire car place.

Despite having booked online, picking up the car took FORTY FIVE MINUTES. They had to up-sell us on practically everything, then dither about with the paperwork, then give us really vague instructions on how to find the car and how to actually get out of the carpark and onto the motorway and basically IT SUCKED.
My face every time they asked for more information. 
We finally made our way out of the carpark and onto the M25 where traffic - obviously - was at a stand-still. We crawled along until we hit the exit for the M3, and from there it was a relatively simple trip down to Winchester, where the parentals were dropping me with Sara. Poor Sara had stayed late at work to wait for us to arrive, and ended up staying rather longer than she'd bargained for thanks to all the delays.

And bless her heart, she bought me cookies to sustain me on the drive back to Portsmouth. We threw my suitcase in the back of her car, said goodbye to the parentals, and hit the road. It took us the better part of an hour to get to Portsmouth, and once we arrived we were only at Sara's flat for about 20 minutes - long enough to change and go for a wee - before we were heading out to birthday drinks for one of Sara's friends. We were both too cheap to order food at the bar, which is how we ended up making honey toast for dinner at 10pm and eating it in front of Gogglebox.

Yeah. We're the coolest.

Next time, Sara and I head to Bath, because JANE AUSTEN.

K xx


  1. I find it really odd to read about Britain from a non-British point of view. It's fascinating though! I hope you had a lovely trip.
    Beth x

  2. Immigration queues are usually the worst. Really, they suck though I mostly speak from experiencing this as a memeber of central EU country, I know I have it good most days I decide to travel. And still, immigration is meh. But seriously though, isn't the Queen still someone on Australia? How can they be this rude to you former Coommonwealth people?


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