Heading East

Ahh, East Midlands Airport; how I’ve missed you. I say “missed” in a way akin to missing a case of the squits. You never quite know when they’re going to come back, but boy do you know about it when they do.

In fairness we should remember that barely two years ago flying anywhere from the UK was impossible because of the Covid Pandemic. The last time I was flying anywhere significant from East Midlands followed a summer when three other planned trips were thwarted by the virus, and I was more than pleased to be just getting out of the UK. And so was the dog.

But now things have returned to near normal, so has the confusion and disappointment of flying on a budget airline. East Midlands is much like any other regional airport, In fact, when it comes to things like security and organisation in general, it rates better than others of a similar size. But what you can’t account for is the incompetence of a budget airline or a ground handling crew that literally doesn’t know its numbers. Seriously, NewsMutt himself would have done a better job!

“Gate 21” is allotted for the flight to Wrocław, which means a trip to the furthest possible end of the airport from security. In some locations this would be called Terminal 2. Then again, in some locations there would be working escalators or a shuttle bus to take you there. This being East Midlands there is neither.

Still, a brisk walk before boarding gets the steps in and keeps you healthy. I haven’t paid for Priority Boarding, which seems just as well since the non priority queue seems significantly shorter. On a two hour flight there seems little point in upgrading how quickly you get on the aircraft, only to find you have to squeeze your legs into a tiny space for half an hour longer than everyone else.

As usual with Ryanair, there are the stern signs everywhere, warning an extra fee for a bag that doesn’t fit, a boarding pass that is incorrectly printed or looking the wrong way at a vending machine. There is also the usual shuffling about of people, cramping up the queue. Thankfully I am near the front of “non priority”. Which is just as well, because I can easily hear the embarrassed ground handler informing everyone that the Gate has moved. All the way back to the other end of the airport.

There is moaning and disbelief from many passsengers, apart from the smart ones, like me, who briskly get on with it, be British, and march quickly through the entire building back to our new boarding point. The flight is now going to be late, and there’s no sense of organisation at all, meaning no distinction between priority passengers and the rest. The lesson; paying for extras rarely counts.

At last, we are away – only 30 minutes later than planned. There’s no hurry anyway. Liverpool has John Lennon Airport. Belfast has George Best. But Wrocław’s is named after Nicolaus Copernicus, the father of modern astronomy. Slightlyconfusingly, he was born in Toruń, a city some 350km north of Wroclaw. Then again, Ryanair is well known for flying into airport nowhere near the actual destination.

Thankfully, Wroclaw airport is pretty close to the city centre, and after waiting minutes for a bus, one duly arrives as scheduled. Inside the terminal an alternative “Express Bus” had been offered for the price of 10 Euro; the fare on the local bus, which brings you to precisely the same point, costs 1 Euro, or 85p. Or, more precisely 4.6 Polish Zlotys.

Although Poland joined the EU in 2004, and is its fifth most populous country, it doesn’t use the Euro. Mainly because it doesn’t meet the EU’s strict criteria of financial stability, but also because many Polish laws aren’t compatible with EU legislation.

But enough of the politics lesson. It’s time to do some exploring!


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