Friday, 13 July 2007

Leibe Gott! Was machen wir jetzt...

Naturally, the morning I was to spend five and a half hours jetsetting and looking chic in departure departure lounges dahling (at least that had been the plan), I woke up shivering and aching, having developed something akin to the bubonic plague from tonsils outwards. To top it all off I managed to bang my kneecap sideways on the edge of the bathroom sink whilst reeling my way unsteadily through my morning ablutions.
[author's note- I wrote this a week ago in the redundant 'addresses' section of my diary, when sitting in said airport lounge, and my mind is boggling at the logistics of the kneecap episode. How kneecap and sink managed to be in such close proximity with the force required to produce a bang is a mystery to me. I have been trying to re-enact the scene using the radiator at work, but to no avail.].

Of course, it started to rain almost as I stepped out of the front door. What's more, I managed to buy the pastry from the very bottom of the pile at the bakery stand: the one where the creme patissiere (or Polish approximation of it) had started to look translucent and slightly crusted at the edges. Clearly this pastry had been out late last night, had a couple of beers and tottered home from a sweaty session at Prozak via ul. Starowislna, singing football songs through a mouthful of kebab.

Today, even after three months of walking to work, I was about to send my carbon footprint into the red.
Perversely, I was more excited than anything about trying out my pre-GCSE German during the two hour changeover at Munich airport. Although 'Ich bin der Grosse Muzzy' turned out not to be the greatest success at passport control. And 'Die Prinzessin leibt der Gartner?!' did very little for my departure lounge chic.

I have always been cynical about national stereotyping. I've met happy Russians, disorganised Germans, punctual Italians, and even one or two friendly French people, and I like to keep an open mind (and a stiff upper lip) about such things. However, where airports are concerned it's another story. Compared to Krakow Balice, Munich was spacious, cool, efficient [author's note: any similarity to a car brochure is entirely work-induced and not her fault]. And this to extremes: automatically retracting hand towels anyone?
Not seeing my flight displayed, I went to the next gate to find out what was going on.
-'Sorry, I have to close the flight. I can't talk to you'
I was really too sick to behave badly and feeling desperately in need of my duvet, otherwise words would have been had. I moved on to the next gate:
-'Sorry, I can't answer your question. You have to go to the service desk. (All this was in impeccable English, of course)
The service desk was upstairs. I had visions of my flight taking off with one seat painfully empty, and my unclaimed suitcase circling around and around the baggage carousel in Geneva like the coconut Quality Street on Boxing Day.

Around forty minutes later I was roused from my daydream by 'Final and urgent boarding call for flight LH6439 to Geneva, Gate 83'. I leapt up and sprinted for the bus, scattering the free international edition Financial Times in a salmon-pink paper trail behind me.

In spite of my new-found enthusiasm for the wunders of the Deutsche language, it simply hadn't occurred to me that 'Genf' and 'Geneva' were one and the same...

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