The Long Journey Home

Mastihari, KosOne part of all holidays that always seems to come very quickly is the day when you have to leave and return to the United Kingdom. You may remember reading a hint on last Thursday’s post that the journey home didn’t go as well as planned:

We were picked up at 4pm and taken to the airport (10 minutes)… I’ll talk about what happened then later in the week – it wasn’t as simple as check-in and go, unfortunatley!

Quoted from a previous post on this blog

If you haven’t guessed already, its because the moment we got to the airport we were informed that our flight was subject to a minimum of a 4 hour delay. You may think that 4 hours isn’t that long… however when you’re in a busy airport with 5 departure gates that can probably only handle 2-3 flights at a time but tries to take 10 at a time (can you see where this is going?) then it is. And with a 4 hour flight facing a 4 hour delay, I managed to work out that the plane was probably still sat at Gatwick.

We were asked to check-in as usual, and then make our way over the road to a small taverna. It was probably the type of taverna that is very quiet most of the time – only filling up in the event of a flight delay. The owners probably weren’t used to having a flight load of English tourists arriving! By “flight load”, I should point out that it was a full flight – 40 rows of 8 seats. That adds up to 320 people arriving at the same time, staying for 4 hours, and leaving at the same time.

According to the small print in the Olympic Holidays brochure, passengers are entitled to “free light refreshments”, in the event of a flight delay of 4-6 hours (we only just fit that criteria). That’s exactly what happened. To get those refreshments you had to show your boarding cards. That got us a cheese/ham toastie and an orangeade/lemonade (πορτοκαλάδα/λεμονάδα) drink. Whilst most people went to get their refreshments straight after check-in, we decided that it would be more sensible to wait until later in the evening – 2 hours into our 4 hour wait.

Whilst the rest of my family sat playing cards, I sat and did nothing! I looked around and noticed a few people were dressed as they would if they were in England – wearing trousers! It makes me wonder if people are prepared for travelling within Greece. It was 5pm and 34°c! Anyway… enough on that topic. I’m starting to get sidetracked now.

About 3 hours after arriving at the airport, we were told our flight would be arriving at 21:15 that night and departing an hour later (at 22:15). Knowing that our flight had now left the UK made us feel better. We were asked to stay at the taverna until 20:30, when we were to make our way back towards the terminal building and through security.

Once we were through security, I think I decided we’d have been better off staying in the taverna. As I’ve already mentioned, Kos’ airport has 5 departure gates and can probably only handle 2-3 flights at a time. Most Greek airports are like that and its not usually a problem. The trouble is that Kos is a busy island – packed with tourists – and the airport tries to take 10 flights at a time. It meant that the departure lounge was packed, had no spare seats, and you couldn’t move around that easily… it probably didn’t help that there were an extra 320 people (our flight) in the departure lounge, which was no bigger than the main hall at school (OK… it does have an upstairs, so maybe the total area is slightly bigger than suggested, but you get the picture).

Finally, just after 21:45, the call came for our flight to start boarding. This meant joining the back of a queue to get to the departure gate, where 2 people were checking passports. The departure gate was basically a small doorway. With 320 people trying to get through it. Anyway, we eventually got through and onto the coach that took us to the plane, and we took off 3hrs 55mins later than originally planned, at 22:15. The flight was 3hrs 50mins long, which meant we arrived at Gatwick at 02:05 (00:05 UK time), and it wasn’t until 01:30 by the time we’d cleared customs, re-claimed our luggage, got back to the hotel where the car was parked and got in the car.

The drive back was fairly easy – the motorways between Gatwick and Cirencester are clear at that time of night – and we arrived at home 2hrs 15mins later. Bear in mind though that 03:45 in England is 05:45 in Greece… effectively, I had been travelling all night. You may remember remember from last Thursday’s update that it was 11:15 when we left our apartment to get the ferry over to Kos.

To conclude, I enjoyed the holiday on Kalymnos and would like to go again. I didn’t mind the 3 hour stop in Mastihari, Kos (Μαστιχάρι, Κώς) since it broke up our journey home a bit, but I could have done without the delay. I don’t think much of Kos International Airport, but delays don’t happen that often and we are unlikely to be stuck there for 4 extra hours if we go back to Kalymnos.

Well… that’s my 14 day holiday condensed into a series of 7 blog posts, which like all posts on this blog, will remain on the archive. To find them in the future, visit fred-hart.co.uk/kalymnos. Its back to normal operation tomorrow: posting my opinions on different topics, commenting on the news or anything I find interesting (etc).

The image used shows me, stood on Mastihari’s beach (looking back to the island of Kalymnos). It is licenced under a Creative Commons license. This means you are free to copy, distribute, display and perform the work on the conditions that you attribute it (with a link to this website) and do not use for commercial purposes. If you alter it, the work must be re-distributed under an identical or similar license.

Fred Hart

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