The long flights back

Thursday 9th & Friday 10th May

Well today is the day, the day we start the long trek back to UK and then onto Spain.  Again we were early to bed last night so naturally this morning we were wide awake at 0700hrs, showered and down for our last lingering breakfast in the Galapagos and enjoying the view by 0800hrs.  We had been told our taxi driver would be collecting us at 0930hrs but imagine our shock when the bell boy collected our bags at 0830hrs saying our driver had arrived!  A quick scurry round, into reception to settle our bill only to find our driver was not waiting, we think they just wanted us out of the room for an early clean.  That didn’t work as we went back to complete what we had started earlier!

0920hrs our driver actually arrived, he loaded our bags into the water taxi, we followed and we were off.  Out of the water taxi and into a Toyota Pick Up truck, that is what they use as Taxis here, and the ¾ hour drive back to the ferry which takes us across onto Baltra where the airport is situated.

Our taxi driver had accompanied us all the way and deposited our bags and us at the check in queue where we said our good bye’s, only to find when we arrived at the counter our flight was running 1½ late, there’s a surprise!!!  We sat down for a cuppa when we suddenly heard our names called out over the tannoy system, oh we thought, they may be putting us an earlier flight as we had pestered them about our connecting flight to Madrid, but no, one of our bags tripped their security system and it had to be checked.  Christine went out to open only to find they were worried by the wind chime she had bought as a souvenir; why this tripped their security we can’t think; back again to the Café for another wait.  Apparently this flight originated in Quito where the Ecuadorians have built this new modern airport, flying via Guayaquil to Galapagos but, this new airport suffered bad weather and all flights were delayed!!!!

Anyway we did the security thing, got “booked” out of the Galapagos Islands and were waiting at the gate by 1330hrs, the time we were told to be there.  Our ‘plane eventually arrived around 1400hrs and was turned around by 1430hrs, two and a half hours later than planned, we took off.  By now we realised we would miss our connection but had already decided that an extra day in Guayaquil would be very acceptable, but no.  Upon landing there was a LAN rep collecting all the folks who had missed the original flight and organised us onto a later flight.

This new flight was heaving, not a spare seat anywhere and worse, it was a very old Airbus, and the trolley dolly said it was due to be scrapped. I agree it should, it was one of the most uncomfortable seats I have sat on in an aeroplane and worse, it didn’t have the entertainment screens in the seat backs that we have become accustomed to; it was like flying in the late 80’s early 90’s when there was only one film on a big screen and it was pot luck if you liked it or not.

We arrived in Madrid next morning, our time, but in fact it was 1400hrs Spanish time. To be fair to both the Captain and the old aeroplane, between them both they made up quite a lot of the lost time but not enough to catch our Heathrow flight.

Again we were placed on a later flight but this time we were on a brand new aeroplane with all the bells and whistles and full entertainment system but unfortunately being only a short flight, we didn’t have sufficient time to watch a film, oh dear you can’t win in this world!!

In the end, after the changes and delays we arrived at Heathrow 2 hours later than originally planned.  The combination of Iberia and LAN Airlines and their staff did us proud, apart from the extra wait in Galapagos, everything went extremely well.

The other worry we had was, will our bags arrive with us bearing in mind the flight changes etc., so you can imagine our anxiety whilst we watched the conveyor belt going round with everybody’s bags on but ours, and then, there it was, our first bag. We then relaxed, assuming that if one bag arrived OK the other would soon be following; it was.

Heathrow, Terminal 5 is a very civilised terminal building, as yet not too busy so we were soon through and onto the Heathrow Express and 20 minutes later we had arrived at Paddington Station; far better than catching the tube into London.  We jumped into a cab and arrived at Andrew’s new flat in Soho ½ an hour later.  We got caught in the Friday night rush hour, theatre traffic, as well as every red traffic light en-route, still we arrived into Soho’s buzzing atmosphere with Andrew waiting at the corner to meet us.

After a “proper” cup of tea we ventured out for a meal, Andrew took us to a Japanese restaurant which was very busy but nice food, after which we had a couple of pints of good, true, British real ale in one of Soho’s many old pubs. This was a very satisfying end, to an extremely happy and exciting honeymoon.

Once we had decided where we wanted to visit for this special holiday, we were recommended to use “Select Latin America” they advised us and made many itinerary suggestions before we finally decided on what we wanted.  Select Latin America then organised everything for us, they told us when to get to Heathrow and from then right through ‘till we arrived back to Heathrow, 25 days later, everything went according to plan.  At every juncture where we had to change hotels, flights, trains etc., etc., they had a personal representative waiting to collect us and send us on the next part of the journey.  We both had a wonderful time and we have to thank David Howell and Luke Charny for organising everything but notably, their attention to detail; it was first class.

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