So it all started at around 11am August the 25th when I got ready to leave to pick up my bags and head to the Kigali airport. My flight wasn't till 2 but I figured early is better. I was right. It of course took at least 30 minutes to get us on the road to the house to pick up the luggage (I went with my roommate and a co-worker who were going to pickup the co-worker's replacement that was arriving that day at 11:45am). We get there a little before 12pm and I go through security to check in (you check you bags after going through a set of metal detectors and an X-ray machine. I check in without a hitch and make the decision to check my second carry-on as it weighs a ton and I'm allowed to check two bags on this flight. This proves to be a good move since I don't have to drag it around for hours in the Nairobi airport.
After an uneventful (no books so I just watched a bit of the premier league game) wait in the Kigali waiting area (nothing like gates here since you just walk to you airplane) it was time to board. It was open seating and the flight to Nairobi was pretty fast and before you know it we are touching down.
Now comes the rather horrendous 7.5 hour wait. I was told there was a coffee shop at the end of the terminal. I headed it what I though was the direction and see the Simba kenya airways transit lounge. It looks marvelous and I'm a little skeptical. Turns out I was right to be, it's of course the first class/business class lounge. They direct us the the other transit lounge (for those mere mortals that can't afford the expensive business class seats). It's a rather smelly cafeteria feeling nightmere. After a coke, some sudoku and an hour I'm off to explore the rest of the airport. Thus commences the rather long ritual of ducking into expensive duty free shops that have books I haven't heard of for like 25$ a paperback. There are two little "cafes" if you can call them and so I buy a soda and some samosas and pop a squat on the recessed floor in the hallways. You see you can't enter the gate seating areas until your flight is about to go and there isn't a lot of seating outside it )plus the seats are about as comfy as the floor, which you can at least stretch out on). I play a lot of sudoku, power up my laptop for a few games of spider solitaire (which I've gotten very good at), but have to shut down since I don't have a british style plug adapter which they use in Kenya.
After a very long weight, 3 samosas, 2 sodas, a choclate bar, a bag of chips and a pair of Kenyan sandal/flip flops I was able to enter into the gate for our flight. I got there early which is really good because the room became packed with people just sprawled everywhere and exaughsted as the it was around 11:30pm and I'm sure many were like me and had been there for a bajillion hours. We finally borded the plain and got seats. I was lucky to get an aisle seat since there was no changing to be done. I was unlucky enough to get a seat that constantly moved back and forward as I leaned or sat up (even without pressing the button) and also, our rows entertainment systems didn't work, which meant no movies :(. Luckily it was a night flight and I was wiped so it was probably for the best as I just did my best to doze through everything...though they did take their sweet time shutting off the lights. I debated getting a bunch of alcohol which they give for free! and are very generous with, but decided against it as I was rather intensely dehydratred and it was only going to get worse...not to mention I wasn't sure if I started drinking I'd be able to stop, which would be bad since I still had a long way to go.
Hours of uncomfortable shifting and struggling to get comfy we finally land in London. I then head to customs, get stamped and head to pick up my bags to change terminals and recheck them. This goes rather smoothly, though I had to track down someone to tell me where I needed to be. I get to terminal 1 and they check me in and give me my ticket but tell me they can't take the bad until 2.5 hours until the flight since there is no one there to load it. They tell me to come back and just drop the bag off later...no need to wait in line since it's ticketed and everything. Thankfully I have a trolley so I just wheel around for a bit. I'm in a bit of culture shock as I enthuse about the stupendiously clean and completely automated bathroom. A newspaper, mocha coffee, choclate muffin, chocolate bar and bottle of water later I drop my bag off and go through security. OMG SHINY! Everything is so clean and purdy and OMG CHAIRS! tons of them...and with actual padding! Crazy!
I go over to a book store and just stare....so.much.choice. *cue mental stupor* I'm not sure what to do with all this choice. I pet the books like lost fond pets. I decide against buying a book because while more reasonably priced they aren't cheap and I'm too dead to read and god how am I supposed to choose? what is this choice you speak of? So I go and sit in the lounge middle and stare off into space as I wait for my gate announcement (which they don't announce until 45 min before the flight?!?) They finally announce and I go to the gate (gate 5) which is like in BFE next to gates 74-76? After like 12 turns two flights of stairs (one up and one down) I finally get there and people are already lined up to board!?! The plane is BA and the seats are pretty nice; though at this point my ass is about to rebel and is telling my body to go F itself because it's sick of being sat on (I really need more padding; my ass is waaaay too boney). We get a sandwhich lunch and I doze until we land (FINALLY)
I get off, collect my bag and meet the tutor who picks me up and takes me to my apartment which is amazing! The rest of the day is another story so stay tuned for "First Night in Finlandia: A Tale of Meatballs and Hair Driers".