Back from reality

My flight back to Riyadh has been quite eventful this time. I was booked on British Airways who will, by the way, discontinue their service to Saudi Arabia sometime in March this year because the line "is not yielding a profit". Well, the packed-to-the brim Economy Class from London Heathrow to Riyadh did not make that impression. But then, it's pilgrimage time.

I Arrive Barcelona airport for the first leg of my trip at 06:30, one hour before boarding time for my flight due to leave at 07:45. There is a loooooong queue at the check-in desk because a Ski Team is trying to get their equipment loaded. Inquring later on the plane I find out they're going to be flying to Denver from there on. Despite this, I manage to check in just at the time the boarding for my flight is announced, take my (aisle) seat and and we leave witout delay.

I sleep most of the flight, waking up just for breakfast, and as the Captain announces that heavy winds are causing some havoc at London Heathrow Aiport, and I witness what has probably been my worst landing ever. I fly roughly 100.000 miles a year, so figure that. The entire approach to LHR is extremely bumpy, but despite this, we're landed safely, proceed to our parking position and leave the plane.

I walk to the Tranfer Centre, and after clearing the security control most easily and swiftly, I proceed to Terminal 4, where my flight is supposed to leave at 15:45. Since I've "gained" an hour of time, it is now some minutes after nine o' clock, and I have plenty of time on hand. I decide that the best option is to proceed to the "Holideck" Lounge, shell out 16 UKP for the privilege of staying there and enjoying free drinks and snacks. A quarter dozen of nice'n'stiff Gin Tonics (doubtlessly one of Britain's great contributions to modern culture, along with afternoon tea, Golf and Worcestershire Sauce) help me relax appropiately and enjoy the full aroma of nice Cheddar cheese sticks with crackers. A smoking area is also on hand, and the wireless internet access works flawlessly and at a very decent speed.

Shortly before boarding time I proceed to the gate, we are taken to the plane by bus, I get on, almost miss lunch (I fall fast asleep once I board an Aircraft, and furthermore my entertainment system is not working). I wake up again as the pilot announces we are now over Saudi Arabia, get out my laptop and watch a movie for 45 minutes, before we are kindly requested to discontinue the use of any electronics prior to landing.

Once we're there, I clear passport control amazingly quick and get my suitcase (one of the last ones to appear). Customs also does not feel much like working after midnight, and so they process my baggage quickly and diligently.

Another team colleague from Switzerland was on the same plane, so we proceed to meet our driver, Nour in the lobby, get on our Ford Crown Victoria, and are off to the compound.
In the Villa, Steffen has obviously awaken due to the noise my luggage made when carelessly been taken upstairs, so he joins me in the kitchen for a quick, hearty snack before I'm off to bed.


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