Taken from my journal, 30th May 2018.
Flight W6 3136 – Bergamo > Bucureşti Otopeni.
”The gate to Sofia is closed. You must go to the ticket counter. 2nd floor.”
I’d never missed a flight before. We left in the morning pretty sharpish, a little later than our scheduled time but with still plenty of room for error. My nerves were further eased thanks to the Italian authorities somewhat relaxed approached to highway speed limits. It’s a business for them with all the tollbooths every few kilometres. Deaths don’t matter.
The route was special. You can look at all the brochures, pictures and YouTube guides you want. Nothing beats being smack bang in the middle of the most beautiful places on Earth. Like an All-You-Can-Eat buffet for dreamers. It’s no wonder three countries have laid claim to a piece of this treasure.
It was my second time in Malpensa Airport. A real nightmare experience. My boarding pass wouldn’t scan upon entry and this little old apathetic & uninterested Italian man stared carefully at nothing while I signalled desperately for help. He didn’t seem to care for my troubles. Eventually (without aid) I passed through. At the security check it was much of the same problem. Prolonged queues, few staff and thick-witted ‘heed the baws’ who wait until their up before delving into their oversized cases to search for any liquids. Thoughtless idiots of the highest order wasting precious valuable time while the rest of us are forced to wait attentively and sweat the last ounces of eager body chemicals from our pores, good to go. I was beginning to grow concerned, but not overly.
Once I was through I started to get a jog on, realising that time was beginning to go against me. I found my gate number. The last f***ing gate in the airport. Speed became my main issue. A man can only run so fast when he’s carrying his house on his back. The sweat was running quicker than me now and my back was aching from the strain of the weight. My hands shuffled additional bags in a valiant attempt to juggle them without error. The gate was closing in. I turned the corner expecting the last of my fellow flyers to be heading out onto the tarmac.
I wasn’t to make it to Bulgaria that day. I trudged back into the airport lounge, awaited my partner who hadn’t yet left and began to search for a new flight to the Balkans.
9.55pm. Milan, Bergamo > Bucharest Otopeni.
Romania wasn’t part of the plan. I knew very little of the place itself except for the odd football team, Dracula and the swathes of gypsys who use the country’s identity when begging across Europe. Bergamo Airport was an hour away so I got one more afternoon to spend with my lady in a pleasant Italian city. The roads were typically populated with classy vespas and angry commuters, repeatedly antagonising other drivers with their bellowing horns and their flailing Italian handwaves of disapproval. We took the road upto the city centre, sitting high and mighty in a fortress on a hill. We ate joyously in a little restaurant called Da Mimmo’s. Classy joint with the kind of Pasta you can only find in this corner of the world. Authentic Italia.
It would seem that our enduring morning had been sweetened by an unforgetable dining experience. But the mayhem of mishaps returned almost instantly to fire up the flames of anxiety once more. Parking problems, failing cards, security checks once again causing disruption (they took my tent pegs and pocket knife, my only source of protection.. Graze mille) and the flight company charging me 35 Euros to check in at the desk. My phone had died earlier, what a shitshow. My girlfriend questioned if it was best if I go. The whole day had been a taxing mess. But my luck was going to turn and my dreams soon realised. I couldn’t give up. This was it.
The next few lines come directly from my journal, expressing my feelings as the plane began to land.
”So now I find myself.. starting a descent into Bucharest, Romania. Who knows what may lay ahead. It feels glorious. Whatever happens, it doesn’t matter anymore. Even the bad times will be good. I look out the window and the lightning forks dance feverishly in the sky. The vibrant moon flirts modestly from behind a curtain of clouds. Everything has felt right since boarding the plane.”