And….landing

ImageWell, the day finally came when I had to make my way back to England. Goodbyes and hugs here there and everywhere, of course lots of tears, and my little one looking lost and confused as to why he suddenly was wearing a long sleeve shirt and a jumper when he has been with a sleeveless bodysuit for almost a month.

The flight was at 13:00. Knowing that in Buenos Aires almost anything is possible, I made the decision to leave the house reasonably early, perhaps too early to the trained and experienced traveller, but for me, it made all the sense in the world.

Let’s put it this way: I was not in England, where you know that the major obstacle between you and the airport is either the M25 jam packed or the Piccadilly line with “minor” delays due to a signalling problem and in the worst case scenario, you can always talk to someone and explain your situation and make the suitable arrangements; no.

I was in Buenos Aires, where you can find yourself facing a demonstration or a picket at any point of your route to the  International Airport (important: there is only ONE route to the International Airport and there’s only one International Airport which is called Ministro Pistarini, AKA Ezeiza (that’s the name of the location).

The other Airport is smaller in size and it is the National Airport and it is located by the riverside and it is called Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. Mind you, you may, on the odd occasion, catch an international flight from Aeroparque; but that is almost one chance in a hundred.

Anyway, we left early to Ezeiza, in order to avoid and/or diminish any kind of situation explained above. Hence, we woke up early – that’s not a problem when you have a seven month old little boy! – And got ready to leave my mum’s flat where we were staying.

Add to that that there was no electricity (the previous night was raining quite hard, hence the electric substation that feeds the blocks was flooded, hence no power) and I had to come down 10 stories with a baby, the pram, two suitcases and the pertinent bags for both for the flight; and oh, yes, my mother who was very persistent to come with us to Ezeiza,  despite the fact she would face going up ten stories in order to reach her home when she got back from waving goodbye.

You may wonder, well, probably the power at that point would be restored. Nah. Is Buenos Aires, very difficult that anyone would provide services during a weekend.

Weekends are sacred down there, and if anyone can avoid doing some work – even emergency ones like restore electricity – they will do. To give you an idea, when I called to report the power cut (this was at 5am) the person who answered the phone sounded half asleep, and the answer to my query was “due to union problems, we don’t know when we will be able to send an emergency service to your area”. You may wonder when the service was restored. Nearly 12 hours later, according to my mother who sent an email to tell me so.

So. After doing my exercise quota, we got in the car and made our way to Ezeiza. And an hour later, we were there, trying to find a place to park. In the meantime, I was left in the drop off area in order to wrap the suitcases and get everything ready to start the check in.

Bags wrapped – that’s something I always do, no matter what! I had some nasty experiences before and I learnt my lesson the hard way! – boarding passes and passports in my hand, I made my way to the BA desk. It was crowded. Despite the fact that I arrived almost three and a half hours earlier, obviously there were people with the same idea.

However, someone from BA saw me with my little one and told me to go straight to the beginning of the queue (would you believe the amount of evil looks we got?) which I did. Because I had everything printed, the process was fairly smooth. The assistant at the desk was very helpful as well which made the beginning of the journey a bit more bearable.

More tears and more hugs, we make our way to customs.

Oh well, sit down and grab a cup of tea, because that deserves an entire new chapter.

Travelling…

Are you travelling soon? Are you going through Heathrow T 5? Are you travelling with your little one? Are you travelling on your own?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, carry on reading!

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Recently – say  a week  ago – I went through Heathrow T 5 on my own with my little one (6 months) to South America.  No need to explain that I was extremely anxious about the whole experience, the whole idea of a 14 hour flight was giving me the creeps, and for the two days prior to departure I was daunted by the task at hand and several times I thought about pulling out and changing the dates to a later stage when my partner could come with us.

Since I was travelling on my own with my little one, I decided to make my life easier, so I had  thought about  everything from the minute I arrived at the airport to the minute I sat on the plane.

So.

I prepared the bag for my little one, with nappies, wipes, bottles, muslins, spoons (for his breakfast) and a change of clothing. And some toys for the journey, a blanket from home and another of his blankets. You may wonder why a blanket from home? Simple, because the cradles the airline provide are a bit flimsy and not very warm. Also my concerns were that on planes, normally they lower the temperature, and also I wanted my little one to have something that smelled like home.

Then, I prepared my bag: Laptop, camera, passports, a book, reading glasses, hairbrush, toothbrush, and a warm pair of socks, tissues and purse. Finito.

On a separate bag (a third bag) I put all the liquids that have less than a 100 ml (make-up, hand gel, hand cream, the small 90 ml milk bottle for my little one and a small bottle of baby lotion) all in a transparent bag, so when I got through security everything was ready to go, without the hassle of taking everything out of the bag, messing around with the stuff, you know how it goes.

You may wonder, on a 14 hour flight, will a 90 ml bottle of milk be enough?  Nah, I’m not that careless. Thing is, you can buy (it is called reserve and collect) all the baby stuff you may need for your journey online via Boots,  and pay and collect all the stuff once you went through security at the airport. Isn’t it wonderful? So, one worry less, I bought the 200 ml. milk cartons and a jar of fruit.

Well, the day came, all set to go, we arrived at the airport, after doing the check in (boarding passes were printed at home, so I only had to drop off the luggage and that’s it)  and after enjoying my last decent cup of tea until my return, I started my journey. Rivers of tears when I had to leave my other half, my little one was completely asleep so he didn’t realise what was going on.

Went through customs. Passports were handy, together with boarding passes. Check.

Went through security. Pulled the transparent bags from the bag, and the laptop. Check.

Went to Boots, to collect and pay for the stuff. The milk and the baby food were ready, paid for the stuff. Check.

My little one was asleep. I had a wander through the Duty Free Shop, then a quick stop at Smiths to buy something light for me to read. Or at least to distract me for a while.

Finally the gate was announced. We got on the plane; I gathered up all the stuff and slowly, gently woke up my little one. I prepared everything so that when the plane takes off, my little one would be having some milk and would “forget” about the annoyance of the ears going “pop”.

He was so distracted by the lights that I would love to think he never realised what was going on. As soon as the plane got to a certain altitude, the cabin crew gave me the moses basket for my little one, I put the blanket from home inside and he sat there, until slowly but surely he fell asleep.  Believe it or not he slept for 6 hours and then I woke him up for a change and a feed; he fell asleep again for another 5 hours, until the first rays of sun appeared.

It was then when he became a bit agitated. I think he realised something was not  “normal” and that same thought probably left him exhausted, because he fell asleep whilst landing, and was asleep through the ordeal of customs and luggage collection.

Conclusion:

The people at T5 were very kind and understanding. The people from security was very patient, I have to say the whole T5 was helpful through and through.

It *did* help big time that I prepared the bags and separated everything beforehand at home.

It *did* help to use the “reserve and collect” system at Boots.

I want to think that the blanket from home did the trick for my little one to sleep more comfortably.

As for me…well, exhausted.