After I make several phone calls to say goodbye, I board the plane. The aisle seat reserved for me on British Air does not exist. Instead I draw the second seat of four in the middle section of the Boeing 747. Sandwiched between two gentlemen, one American (who asks why I did not reserve an aisle seat), the other Austrian, I view a movie screen. My flight experience, a floating movie theatre. The American is friendly, attractive, and not wearing a wedding ring. He scores by storing my backpack in the crowded compartment above.
Ready for bed, my contacts out and my black leather shirt removed, I fall asleep in tights, T-shirt, and a floral thigh length robe, a piece of cheese between two slices of bread. Awakened twice, once for a salmon dinner and once for breakfast, I prepare to deplane. Ground control has another idea. Circling and circling, we land 30 minutes late. The bus that transfers me from Terminal 4 to Terminal 3 at Heathrow arrives in the nick of time of me for me to catch the United flight to Berlin. However, I am not allowed to board because my suitcase is still in transit. I am told to go back to Terminal 4 where I came from. When I refuse, the lady from United takes me over to a lady from British Air.
United: Its your fault she missed her flight. Your plane was late. What are you going to do about it?
British Air: Its not our responsibility. She was not booked all the way through on British Air
United: I thought you would say that. If it were us, we would give her a free ticket.
More barbs were exchanged. I offer to purchase a ticket. The cost is $200.00 for a one-way ticket. The ticket turns out to be first class, which I would not have purchased knowingly. My plane will not depart until 12:45. It is 10:30 pm Eastern time and 4:30 am British time. I see a duty free shop. I start to glow. My favorites await: Hermes scarves, Lladro figurines, Royal Daulton Mugs, Bally shoes, Yves St. Laurant purses. I select a wonderful bird sculpture for Saul’s birthday present. In my mind I convert pound to dollars. I go to pay.
Sales Clerk: Where is your boarding pass?
Sales Clerk: But this plane has left.
Me: Well, I should have been on it. But I missed it.
Sales Clerk: You can’t use this boarding pass.
Me: Here is the ticket for my new flight.
Sales Clerk: That flight is from Terminal 1. This is Terminal 3. You can’t use it to buy this.
Me: Well, I guess I can’t buy this thing.
Sales Clerk: No you can’t. I don’t know why they tell you that you can shop here. They think they can get away with it.
Me: Nobody told me.
Sales Clerk: Oh.
I leave Terminal 3, walking a winding mile through olive colored walls. My ride to Terminal 1 on the transfer bus is peaceful. The only passenger, I read, think, and relax. Having received a new boarding pass from a handsome agent, I am directed to the security checkpoint. My knapsack fails the radar system and I am shuffled to one side, a security risk. A guard goes through my knapsack and I think he is looking for my knife. However, when he finds it, he opens it, closes it, and replaces it in my bag. Now, I am confused. What could I possibly be carrying? When the weapon comes to light, it is mace innocently attached to my key ring.
Guard: Gas is illegal in this country. It must be confiscated by the police.
Me: You can just have it.
Guard: No, we need the police.
Waiting patiently, I make myself a cracker and cheese sandwich, leftovers form the plane. A lady police-person arrives, pushes a paper in front of me to sign, and removes the mace in a plastic bag.
Moving to the lounge to await the Berlin flight, I am told to wait in the section for business travelers. My luxury ticket entitles me to comfortable tables and chairs and two long bars stocked with wine, champagne, juice, coffee, tea, biscuits, cookies, and fruit. I eat two chocolate cookies with my cup of tea and relax. When my flight is called, I sleep most of they way, with one interruption for a cold poached salmon meal. We arrive at 3:30 pm Berlin time, 7:30 am Eastern time. I feel relieved when my suitcase is unloaded. Customs moves quickly and soon I am on the sidewalk outside the airport. Bus 109 is recommended by my guidebook as the cheapest way to travel to the center of Western Berlin. It is waiting, and although the driver does not speak English, I pay and with his help decipher the correct bus stop.
I am here. Now what will I experience?
Next blog, My first Core Energetics Teaching Experience in Berlin