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Airports Suck (Flying Does, Too)!

A Primus concert before our hellish flight back from Germany.

Part of the "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" set

The above statement is nothing profound, almost anyone who flies Economy Class on a reasonably regular basis would agree. When you get to the airport there are the bizarre rules, awful security guards and the endless waiting. When you finally board the plane there are the cramped conditions, the screaming children and the endless waiting.

Dinner with Anna's colleagues

I really need a haircut!

The last week has been extremely hectic; Thursday and Friday for me consisted of tying up all of the loose ends in Bonn, multiple trips to the post office and the laundromat while Anna was at work, plus a special farewell dinner on Thursday night with Anna’s professor, colleagues and a visiting professor from Rome at an incredible Michelin-star restaurant (right). Little did I know that the fun was just beginning…

Saturday, June 20, 2015
Saturday was the day that we did all of our packing and cleaning. I had sent all of our Winter clothes, most of my t-shirts and some books to Anna’s cousin, Emilie, in New York on the previous Thursday, so we thought this whole packing thing would be a breeze. Boy, were we wrong! You never truly realise how much stuff you still have until it’s time to pack, but fortunately the post office near our place opens until 2:00pm on Saturday, so we could send a bit more stuff to New York, as well as a few things back to Singapore.
After we had finished cleaning we had about half an hour to relax, then it was off to Köln for the night’s main event:

Doors open at 7:00pm

Doors open at 7:00pm

We caught a train to Köln West and headed to the concert. The doors opened at 7:00pm and at every concert I’ve ever been to it has taken about 45 minutes for the support act to start, they play for about 45 minutes and then you wait another 45 minutes for the main event. Not on this occasion. We arrived at 7:20 and Primus were already into their set.

Part of the

Part of the “Primus and the Chocolate Factory” set

The show  consisted of two main sets. They began by playing as their regular three-piece, doing a greatest hits set on an extremely small stage in front of a black curtain. After that set everybody went outside to get stoned, then returned for the main spectacle

The black curtain peeled back and Primus returned to the stage to play their latest album from start to end, their rendition of the soundtrack to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now, I have been to a lot of concerts in my life, I’ve even seen Primus before, but this had to be possibly the most absurd show I’ve ever seen! Primus singer/bassist Les Claypool was dressed as Willy Wonka, there was a giant inflatable mushroom on stage, scenes from the movie playing in the background and people dressed as Oompa-Loompas kept coming out at the appropriate times, however, they weren’t dwarves, just regular-sized guys with enormous masks on, plus there was a xylophone player and a wind section. Witness some of the craziness for yourself:

I was surprised that even Anna enjoyed it. At the merchandise stall there were chocolate bars named after Primus songs, Professor Nutbutter, Jerry Was A Race Car Driver, and the “Bastard Bar”. We bought a couple, they were great:

The concert finished at about 9:30.”Sweet”, we thought, “We can get an early night before our flight tomorrow”. So we grabbed a kebab each for a late dinner (we hadn’t had one yet in Germany) and then headed to the train station, only to barely miss our train and the next one wouldn’t be there for another hour. By the time we got back to our place it was almost midnight. Oh well, we had the best of intentions.

Sunday, June 21, 2015
We were up at 6:30am after very little sleep and ready to go. We reached the airport on time for our 9:30am flight, which would land in Munich after an hour, after which we’d have a three-hour layover and fly 11 hours to Singapore. Arriving at the airport was probably the last good thing to happen for the day. Let’s see what else happened before we even got on the second flight:

  • I woke up with an earache, I’m not sure if it was an infection, that was agony in my right ear when I got the hiccups.
  • Had the hiccups for most of the morning.
  • Our luggage was overweight, despite the fact that, a) we weighed it when we packed and b) we were allowed 60kg between us and our luggage totaled less than that, but mine was slightly over 30kg. They wouldn’t accept a surcharge, they just told us “The handlers just won’t take it”, so we had to re-pack in the airport to make sure everything was evenly distributed (just). I made sure they saw my most disturbing underwear!
  • There really is nothing to do in Köln/Bonn airport.
  • My boarding pass wouldn’t initially let me on the plane and I had to wait to have a new one printed.
  • During our layover in Munich, Anna wanted to claim all of the tax back from our three months away, which amounted to quite a fair bit. This involved queuing up with a massive tour group from Shanghai for an hour, listening to their constant fighting.
  • We couldn’t get seats together on the second flight, even though we tried to check in online days earlier.

Now, I can’t fit in the regular seats on a plane, I can only fit in the emergency seats. In fact, I usually can’t even fit in the toilets on a plane; I’m too tall to stand, but usually if I try to sit the door can’t close! When we requested emergency seats we were told they were all taken, however, when we boarded we discovered that Anna’s seat was in the emergency row so we switched seats.

Just like when we flew to India, I was quite stressed from the whole packing and airport thing, plus I hadn’t had much sleep. For me, stress and lack of sleep are a recipe for a disaster. After the in-flight meal, my next clear memory was being in a different seat on the plane, laid out and surrounded by cushions with Anna telling me I’d had a massive seizure. It turns out that Anna had seen something going on at the front of the plane, saw one of the stewards reach for the emergency phone. She ran to the front, told them I was just having a seizure and I would be fine in a few minutes. Apparently, the steward asked the rather fat woman next to me give up her seat so Anna could sit there, but the woman said she wanted to be next to her sister and wouldn’t move. I believe she just couldn’t fit in the regular seats, either, but fortunately some passengers up the back were nice enough to give up their seats so I could lay down.
I’d like to give special thanks to those two passengers, Singapore Airlines and especially their crew for their care during the flight, you definitely made a bad time a lot more bearable for me.

I felt like I’d been hit by a truck for the rest of the flight and it was impossible to get comfortable, but it sure was nice to be back. We landed at about 7:00am and were in bed by eight. I missed our huge bed here so much I slept until 4:00pm.

Anyway, I’m feeling a lot better, but, because we’re so busy over the next week or so, you might not hear from me again until I’m…

As of June 30.

As of June 30.

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