Escape from Sarajevo

Breakfast is unappetising but an interesting conversation with the chap serving it. He is Turkish, did a business management degree, and has been running his own travel agency for the last five years. He is about to go bankrupt because three operators have cancelled large groups which he has set up and paid for. More though is his description of the corruption in local government. Apparently the Serbs over the river are doing much better at attracting investment by only seeking 10 per cent whereas the Bosnians have priced themselves out by asking for anything up to 100% to get planning permission.

Going to collect my forgotten green shirt from Ada, she is not there and after waiting for a while I leave the Kate Atkinson on the doorstep and head off. She can give it to a worthy immigrant. One thing I had remarked upon in Sarajevo was the large number of people scavenging in the big dumper bins, men and women.

Finding the airport bus is tricky. The Baker is in, fires lit but a bit late so no bread yet which is a shame. Several people give me different versions of where it starts and I eventually walk down to where I know there is a stop behind the cathedral. Twenty five minutes after it is due it eventually comes hurtling down the road and rather than stop behind the tram it just pulls out and whizzes by. So resort to an ordinary bus that goes near to airport which the Google map should allow me to find my way to. I am very early or rather I was. Its a hot sunny day and a ten minute walk through a housing estate brings me out at the airport. But no sign of any planes taking off. More doom and gloom.

In fact when I get inside the flight is one of five today, with another going to Koln. The last of the day at 2020 goes to Istanbul. Another time. All I want now, is to get out and away and back to watch the tide come in and out on the Exe. The Koln flight leaves on the dot but we are left on the runway for ninety minutes waiting for an illegal passenger they brought in today to be put back on the flight to Stuttgart. My connection to London had a 75 minute gap so that has gone down the pan. Stewardess tells me there are no other euro wings flights to London. So when we finally arrive there is a new box of tricks awaiting. That is if we ever get off the plane. Announced that the police are not happy and then an ambulance appears full of gents in hazmat suits. Prospect of us all being sprayed or even sent back to Sarajevo? I can see an assorted group of police, workers and crew milling around aimlessly. After 20 minutes the hazmatted get back in the red ambulance and the others wander off. We disembark.

Quite a few, people have to get new connections. Dutch couple in front of me going to Amsterdam, which is not that far, have to wait till the morning then take a, flight via Frankfurt. Not a good prospect. Another younger Dutchman behind me goes the same way and there is a moment of comedy when the desk girl asks how many rooms they want for the hotel that night. I think they settle for two. My lucky dip produces a Lufthansa trip to Heathrow via Munich that same night, getting there at 10.45. Too late for a train and a longish wait till the first in the morning at 5.32. Hobson’s choice. Once again two steps forward one step back. Started to feel frayed round the edges. Checking the trains, the price of a single ticket from Heathrow would have been over £120 so the pass, even with only four trips used, has paid its way.

A text from pegasus air comes in saying they have cancelled my flight on 30th from Istanbul so that will be refunded I guess. Realise I currently have six different flight tickets waiting for refunds.

The flights on Lufthansa are virtually empty, though a stewardess tells me they were packed solid with people coming from UK. Seems that either the Brits have not been travelling or they got out earlier than me.

At Heathrow because I am in no hurry my bag is straight off and I go looking for a bar. Guess what, they are all closed. Cafe Nero has seats and charging points. When I look more closely it also has, every sofa, comfortable chair and bench occupied by sleepers. Cafe staff seem unphased and just carry on. I have heard stories of homeless people inhabiting airports and wonder if that is the case here. A can of San pellegrino lemonade and Zagreb peanuts while I catch up.

Do we travel more now because the Internet makes it so much easier to organise and manage?

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