Marrakech Day 4

Thursday 3 November 2022

I wasn’t going to write a blog today. All we are doing is getting up, having breakfast and leaving for the airport. What’s to write about? Well…

Riad Lhena Rooftop
Riad Lhena Rooftop

We get up to a message from EasyJet saying our flight has been delayed by 75 minutes. So we head for the Riad roof top for a leisurely breakfast as we have all the time in the world, right?

Medina cat
Medina cat

The old man, who usually baulks at the idea of using public transport, agrees that the new departure time leaves us with enough time to travel to the airport by bus. We have all the time in the world, right?

Medina cats
Medina cats

We pay the bill and depart. As we reach the end of the alleyway, the Riad manager appears. He has forgotten to add the airport pick up to the bill. The old man returns with him to pay the bill part two, while I wander around the alleyways taking photos of cats. We have all the time in the world, right?

Medina cat
Medina cat

The airport bus actually goes in a circle from the airport to the medina, the new town and back to the airport. This means that if you board in the medina, it is still full of arriving passengers heading into town and you must travel for several miles in the wrong direction before actually heading to the airport. Traffic is terrible and progress is painfully slow as we head further and further away from the airport. It’s a good job we have plenty of extra time…

Medina cat
Medina cat

Finally, we reach the station, the last of the arriving passengers alight and we can head for the airport. Luckily, the road is clearer in this direction and we reach our destination shortly after.

Medina cat
Medina cat

We are already checked in and don’t have any bags, however we still need to join the large queue at check in to get an official stamp on our boarding passes. It should be OK, we have plenty of time, although funnily enough the airport screens have our flight departure as ‘on time’.

Marrakech Airport
Marrakech Airport

Once we have the all important stamp, we join the large queue at security. The couple in front of us have a pushchair. It won’t go through the x ray machine because the wheels stick out. The security staff determine to remove the wheels. Everything comes to a grinding halt. I ask an official who is sitting doing nothing next to the x ray machine which is also doing nothing if I can pass in front? She says it’s not my turn. So we wait and wait until finally the wheels come off and security reopens.

Next, the equally long queue at immigration. Finally, some considerable time after arriving at the airport, we are in the departure lounge and walk to the gate. The airport boards are correct, our flight is not delayed and we arrive just as the plane starts to board. I have been on plenty of planes which claimed to be on time but departed late. But claiming to be delayed and departing on time is a first for me.

Just enough time to dash into a shop and purchase a very expensive bag of crisps and 2 cans of coke (12 Euros!) before boarding. We then have to sit on the plane a while as, not surprisingly, some of the passengers haven’t realised the plane is ready to depart and have to be prised out of duty free.

We take off for our three hour flight to Gatwick. It’s fairly uneventful, apart from a bout of turbulence over the Channel, and I am relieved to finally spot Brighton Pier out of the window, as we head towards our destination and begin our final descent.

We’re very nearly on the ground when the pilot announces that another aircraft has had an engine damaged by hitting a bird and must make an emergency landing, we must abort and circle the airport for 5-10 minutes until the stricken aircraft has landed and cleared the runway.

So we fly round and round and round south east England. Every time we pass Brighton Pier, I’m a little less pleased to see it. Finally, the captain again; the damaged plane leaked a large amount of hydraulic fluid onto the runway, which is now closed for cleaning. We must circle until the runway reopens.

Round and round we go, the airport won’t give a time frame for the clean up. Finally, the pilot announces that he is running short of fuel and has asked for permission to land at Bournemouth. Can you imagine? It’s been a long and day, and now we’re detouring to land practically in sight of our house, whilst our car is parked 120 miles away.

I’ve had enough and determine to disembark at Bournemouth. The old man says we won’t be allowed off the plane. I say I shall kick up a fuss and get myself arrested – that way they’ll have to take me off the plane.

Anyway, we shall never know if I am stupid enough to go through with the aforementioned plan as the captain announces that Bournemouth has reached capacity and we are off to Stansted. So, 25 minutes later we land at Stansted. We are now 160 miles from home and 70 miles from our car.

We sit on the tarmac for a while. The captain explains that we are waiting for the ground crew to deliver some steps. Apparently it will take a while as they weren’t expecting us. Here’s a clue ground crew, it’s an airport, expect aeroplanes!

Finally, the steps are delivered but the captain says that Gatwick has reopened, so we will now turn around and fly back there. We must just wait 40 minutes for a push back, as they weren’t expecting us.

People start to get up and stretch their legs. We have been on the plane a lot longer than anticipated and it’s been a long time since the fasten seat belt signs came on for our planned landing. I am really thirsty but the cabin crew seem to have gone into hiding.

The toilets, which were locked for landing are reopened and I join the long toilet queue. It seems like pretty much everyone on the plane needs a wee. Finally, it is my turn and the man before me emerges and says he cannot flush the toilet. I dart in quickly while I have a chance. Just as I sit down, the captain announces that the waste disposal is full and the toilets will be closed again. No matter, we have our push back and we’re off to Gatwick.

We fly back to Gatwick, where we should have landed some hours ago, land and sit on the tarmac for a while. The pilot explains that we are awaiting ground crew to operate the air gate. We have landed unexpectedly and they weren’t expecting us. Here’s a clue ground crew, it’s an airport, expect aeroplanes!

Eventually, we parked up and can make our way up the air gate into the airport. Only we can’t because the door to the terminal is locked and the staff cannot unlock it. We must stand in the corridor while security is called to release us.

Eventually, the door is opened and we can get into the airport and join the very large queue waiting to use one of only 4 working e-gates at immigration.

We have parked at a friend’s house. The last bus that passes nearby is at 7.20. We were due to land at 3.50. It seemed like a no brainer at the time. We run the final part of the route to the bus stop and just catch the 7.20 bus. It has been a long day. All we have left is the 120 mile drive through torrential rain and wind and we will be home…

Author: Jane's Midlife Journey

Stopped work, started travelling. Sometimes I run - combining the two with some parkrun tourism.

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