sexta-feira, 11 de novembro de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 23

Day 23 - Paris and Helsinki

I had some junk food just after I landed in Germany. I hadn’t eaten anything in Salzburg, and they gave nothing on the flight. I wondered again where this sudden love for junk food had come from. It was funny how eating those burgers and fries would make my dear friend Carol so close to me. I could almost feel her presence. So eating that kind of food was soothing and I just hoped that when I came back to Brazil this habit would vanish.
I loved the comfy chairs that there was in that diner. I opened my book and ate very slowly as I would have all night long ahead of me. It would be wonderful to sleep there. Anyway, some time later they closed the restaurant. It was fine for me because the chairs were in the middle of the terminal, so I could just stay there until the gates opened. Well, the guy of the cleaning didn’t think so. He told me the restaurant had closed and I had to leave the place. I thought it strange and he told me I had to walk ten steps and sit on the airport bench, which was way too uncomfortable if compared to the other. I made a face at him, but as an obedient person I agreed and moved across the hall to the benches. I resumed my reading when about half an hour later a guy, some sort of security man came to me and told me something in German. I don’t know what kind of face I must have made, but I hated him coming to me and addressing me in German. After weeks listening to that language, I had grown accustomed to that but it would be a relief to arrive in Paris and hear French. He told me in English I had to leave the terminal because it was closing. My flight was at six, it was not even 1 and I looked at him puzzled: an airport closes at night? How come? The he told me if I wanted to stay at the airport I had to go to terminal A. I was at terminal D, so no problem there, right? Well, I couldn’t get there through the airport because terminal C and B had also closed so I had to go outside and get to the terminal. I didn’t like the idea of getting outside, in the snow and all, but I was happy I hadn’t kept my suitcase. I walked and I don’t know if it was my sense of loneliness but it was much colder than I expected. Also, there were some parts of the airport under repair, so I had to go zigzagging instead of walking straight. When I finally got there, what a surprise: terminal A was 3 times smaller than D, and I guess everybody else who, like me, preferred the airport to a hotel, were there. No seats available, all of them taken by people lying or sitting. Some families, people chatting. I felt it couldn’t get worse. I sat near a wall and tried to read. When it was about 2am I couldn’t read anything at all, so I used my bag as (hard) pillow and just lay down, on the floor, I had no sleeping bag or sheet to put there to protect me from the cold, but luckily I was wearing my best coat. I kept dozing and waking with the white ceiling light on my face or someone laughing or talking loud. Well, weren’t you the adventurer? Where was your sense of adventure then? Who had bought that flight, with a stop instead of one direct? Only because of 20 or even 40 euros? Living and learning. I got up at 5, a bit before the alarm I had set and went to terminal D, now through the airport. I got there, went to the gates but before I had breakfast in an expensive stall. I felt so tired. In about 1 hour I would be landing in Paris. It was so strange because I had landed at Orly and it was the first time I had been there. But the subway, everything seemed a bit familiar.
But of course, before leaving the airport, remember I said nothing could get worse than sleeping on the ground? My suitcase would never come: it was either stolen or it was probably going to China. I wanted to cry, to scream. I thought about the presents I had bought, my clothes, everything else. I had the insurance, but when would I be able to buy new clothes, a new bag and where? I went to the service of baggage claim and tried talking to a very rude guy. I filled in a form and he told me they would look for my bag, as it would probably have stayed in Berlin. Where was I staying? Good question? Remember I hadn’t wanted to stay one week alone in Paris when I was in Prague and bought a ticket to Finland? So I had a flight that same night, without my clothes or anything. If they sent my suitcase, in case they found it, to the hostel, would they receive it? Well, let’s hope so. It was a rainy day in Paris. Of course I had taken an umbrella, which I hadn’t used till that point of the trip and it was in my suitcase. So, to the hostel under the rain. I just couldn’t get lost. It was not difficult to find the hostel, but guess what? I was tired and wanted to sleep and relax, but I could only use the rooms, closed to cleaning and all after 2. It was about 10am, and I would have to wait four hours to sleep only one hour because my flight to Finland was at 5pm and I would have to be back to the airport 2 hours in advance (with my luck, missing the flight was just the topping of the cake).
The attendant of the hostel (I will talk more about it, putting link and description when I continue the adventures in Paris) was kind enough to let me take my things to the room. As I hadn’t cancelled my days there, she charged me the first day and told me she could cancel the others I would be in Finland. I checked and saw I should not go back to Orly. My flight was departing from Charles de Gaulle Airport. Lucky me I checked because knowing myself I would have gone back to Orly. I was so pissed that only when I got to the airport again I felt hungry. So I had lunch there, can’t remember what and there were lots of lines to check in. Would I be late? No, after some exercise of patience, there I was, by the gate, waiting for the flight.
When I entered the plane, I decided to sit near someone I would feel like approaching. I was feeling lonely and I thought trying to make a friend would do me just fine. I sat by a guy who had already called my attention at the waiting room. He was reading some material in Russian, and that was the hook I used to start a conversation. He was Paul from France, but we talked in English. He was an International Relations student in St Petersburg and was visiting family on the holidays. We had a nice time talking during the flight, he was very kind and I felt happy for the first time since I had left my hosts’ house in Salzburg.

As I arrived in Helsinki, my friend Sheela was supposed to be there waiting for me, to pick me up. But she wasn’t. I waited and waited and nothing. Maybe she had sent me a text message, but of course I would only be able to see it as I arrived back in Brazil. I had my other friend Jarkko’s phone written somewhere and with some euros I could find a pay phone and cry for help.
As I was just managing to make the call, I saw Sheela’s husband, Sampo, walking into the terminal looking around and I made myself visible. He apologized and said Sheela had had to go somewhere to solve a problem and he had to come pick me by taxi. So we got another one to go to their house. Soon after we had arrived, Sheela came and we had some dinner she had prepared (or was it Sampo who did?) I summarized to them the whole story of the trip, the accident, the highlights and the missing suitcase. He told me he could lend me some clothes in case I needed some and I had no other idea but to sleep in a soft and warm bed.

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