Last weekend my Husband and I drove from Hamburg to the borders of Holland – by accident. Doh!!
How in the hell can someone drive all that way by accident? I hear you pondering this and we wondered the same thing in dumbfounded disbelief for many hours, until eventually we found the cause; but we still had to concede that we had been a couple of boneheads.
We had it all planned out so well beforehand. Drive to the Manchester Airport hotel on the Thursday after work. Wake at 4.15am, ready to get the shuttle bus at 5am. Plane leaves at 7am. Arrive in Hamburg an hour and a half hour later. Pick up car from Europcar. Arrive in Minden three hours after that. Catch up on work emails in the hotel for a couple of hours. Surprise my new step-Son at his house for his 40th birthday weekend. Party at his house the following night. Head back to the airport at noon Sunday afternoon & be home in Wales by 8pm. Boom!
Well, that went tits up!
My brain woke me up at 3.30am and wouldn’t shut up singing “Baby shark do do do do duh do do do doo” on repeat. Not impressed! Arrived at the airport with my fancy new Lulu Guinness suitcase all lovingly packed (I normally am a shove it in type packer) and had my electronics, medicines, mini bottles of soya milk etc all ready in sealed plastic bags. Well done me. Apparently, it was not to be. This time round, we are only allowed ONE plastic baggy, so they stole, STOLE, my soya milk from me. I watched in horror as my mini pots were heartlessly tossed in the bin, and with it, all hopes for a brew on the plane. I was Gutted!! They still weren’t happy though. After being practically strip searched and then kept waiting for 45 minutes for them to swab down and decimate the contents of my suitcase, they discovered the dangerous weapon inside – my epi-pen. I then had to throw out my newly gifted shampoos in order to fit the epi-pen into my single baggy. As I repacked my belongings I decided I had jinxed myself by packing properly – I wont be doing that again! I had never been so thoroughly vetted in an airport before and I couldn’t help by wonder whether it was because I was in a hooded trackie, in Manchester behaving disproportionately venomous over little pots of white’ish liquid?? In fairness, the staff were really nice about it and I would much rather we all are checked properly than risk something terrible happening.
For the first time in a long time, we hadn’t booked the VIP lounge, since we figured it would be too early to eat and wouldn’t have long before the flight. We jinxed this too! Stood in the ‘speedy’ boarding queue for nearly half an hour, we were finally told by a sheepish bloke in a fluorescent jacket that the EasyJet plane was delayed due to an issue with the inflatable slide. Everyone groaned and the poor messenger scooted off before he could be shot. Most of the other passengers set off back to the main hall, so we bagged a couple of seats in the ‘speedy’ queue zone and decided to wait it out. I took the opportunity to get my book out, but before I could read a single sentence, a very nice bloke sat next to me and started to natter… a lot. I now know everything about his life, his kids, pets, his bucket list, his birthday plans and something a bit dodgy about his son’s recent masturbation incident; I really need to be less friendly.
An EasyJet notification pinged up on our app to let us know that the plane would be delayed by a further hour, this time though the problem was blamed on a bird hitting the plane. It is a big fookoff stationary jumbo jet, what kind of bird hit it so hard as to put it out of commission, a bloody Pterodactyl?? Hubs and I lugged our luggage back to the main food court and ordered some breakfast. Four hours later, we were back in ‘speedy’ boarding with a steward telling us the delay was due to an engine fault. Hmmmm…
We slept through the short flight and arrived in Hamburg feeling better humoured. We picked up the keys to our car and located it in the carpark. “Argh Crap” sighed Hubby. He has been driving an automatic for the past year and this car was manual. Add to this fact that in the rest of Europe, the passenger side is the drivers side and the gear stick is on the right, not the left. Then the sat nav was in German, and it took us ages to change the language to English. I typed in MINDEN and after a bumpy start, we eventually drove out of the lot.
The sat nav said two and a half hours and x number of miles to go. I checked it against my Google Maps on my phone and it said pretty much the same thing, so all was well. Or so we thought. Passing Bremen, hubs said “I am sure we are supposed to go through Bremen and I know my way to Minden from there” He looked very dubious but continued to follow the sat nav lady’s orders. Three hours passed and the signs that we could make out through the torrential rain had him confused. Still we kept going. Hannover, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Dusseldorf “This cant be right Linz, we should have been there hours ago, check your Google Map on your phone” he said. It was now pitch black outside and both my bum and face cheeks were seriously aching from clenching, as hubby sped through the bucketing rain on roads with no street lights and no speed limits. As I wafted my phone around hoping to catch a glimmer of signal he let out a massive “Fuuuuuccck” I clenched harder and turned to him quickly. “Eindhoven” he roared pointing a finger at the road sign. I looked at him with eyebrows and shoulders raised, I suck at geography. “We are nearly in bloody Holland”
We pulled into a service station and checked the sat nav. I went back to the start and then tapped in recent destinations. MINDIN. My hubby looked at me in utter exasperation. “That’s not how you spell Minden Lynz, that’s why we’ve been round the whole of bloody Germany” Whoah. No way. I know exactly how to spell it and have done since I was a small child, when I heard that my grandmother lived in that small town. When I met my husband eight years ago, we were amazed to discover that both our families are from the same place; I mean, what’s the chances? In a bit of a huff, I told him to put the destination in the sat nav himself next time, which he did. M.I.N.D.E.N then taps Go …autocorrects to MINDIN. “See” I say, secretly relieved that it wasn’t my fault after all. He tries again with the same result. “Bollocks”
Inside the service station, I was surprised to see hard porn, alcohol and haribos on the same shelf as the road maps. We used google translate to ask the dude behind the counter to help us get to Minden. We were three hours away. OMG!! He set up Google Maps on my phone and sent us on our way. Amazingly, we managed to keep our sense of humour and never argued once. We pointed out landmarks such as Cologne University and the Baya Arena – again – as we headed back in the direction we had come from, until finally we reached our hotel, at exactly midnight.
19 hours. That’s how long it took us to get from Manchester to Minden. It should have been a maximum of 5. Inside the hotel, no soya milk for a brew, nor was there a kettle anyway. I settled for a mega expensive bottle of Grolsh and went to bed.
Thankfully, the rest of the trip went fantastically. We ate delicious food, visited lovely relatives and had a fab time at my Step-Son’s party. On the trip home, it went smoothly with no strip-searches and we arrived home for 8pm, as planned. The only gripe we have is that Europcar can instantly block £354 on our debit card to cover the car, but apparently cannot instantly unblock it; not impressed!
Although we spent two out of the three days travelling, we still really enjoyed ourselves and we are looking forward to our next visit in July. Next time though, I am tempted to go to the airport already naked, with an almost empty suitcase carrying nothing but an English speaking, pre-set sat nav.