Tag Archives: Iberia Airlines

Afrique du Sud… finale

Wedded bliss

On Saturday, the event we were all psyching ourselves up for finally came about… Kirsty and Ian’s wedding. Man, was it a non-stop day. I met up with Kirsten in the morning to go to the hairdresser and be beautified. Oddly enough it turned out the wedding party was at the same hairdresser so it turned into a big bonding session with Dawn and I doing our best to harass the bride. We’re not evil at all us two…

I think Kirsten and I set a land speed record getting all the admin that we needed to get done in the morning. It took us only 45 minutes to buy shoes, a wedding gift, party feet, a stick on bra and a card as well as having sushi for lunch. This is possibly because I was the shopping Nazi and kept barking orders at poor Kirst and forcing her to make a series of snap decisions.

From there we met up with Natalie and Tamarin at the lodge they were staying in so we could get dressed. Considering that Kirst and I had already had our hair done, you would think that almost two hours would be plenty of time for us all to get ready. Ha! We were hopelessly late and skidded into the Vaal Rivera with moments to spare. It being Gauteng in summer the sky smiled at us and disgorged a torrent of rain that would have made the Old Testament floods look tame. Kirsty and the bridesmaids had to walk into the church under gold umbrellas. Of course the deluge took nothing away from the charming ceremony or how incredibly beautiful Kirsty looked.

After the wedding we hung around in the bar (where the Currie Cup final was showing) and waited for the bridal couple to return from the photos. This was where we first encountered “Nice Rack Man” (NRM), so named for reasons that will become clear a little later. NRM was chatting to a “friend” of his and congratulating her on her pregnancy (may I point out that we were not eavesdropping, he was very loud). The problem was that the friend was not actually with child and no matter how much she tried to make this clear, he was insistent that this was what he had heard and therefore it must be true. We took one look at his beige suit and thought… twat.

Arriving at our table for dinner and speeches, etc, we discovered that we were the Hawaiian Barbie table. While most of the rest of the guests were dressed in sedate colours, our table included two purple dresses, one cerise pink, one turquoise and Dawn’s yellow bridesmaid’s dress. Sadly it was also the wardrobe malfunction table. I will not go into detail but we were all struggling to stay in our dresses.

The wedding proceedings were lovely. All of the speeches were very touching as well as the first dances. Ian’s look of concentration while he waltzed his way around the room will become the stuff of legend. From there it just turned into a wild party. While I was milling around in the bar NRM cornered me and told me I had “a nice rack”. I was less than encouraging but he followed me around for the rest of the night restating his appreciation for my “rack” and eventually offering to “motorboat” me. I was disinclined to acquiesce to his request.

Finally the stragglers ended up in the bar for a couple of drinks before Dawn and I decided it was time to retire to our hotel room. Except when we did retire, we decided we were hungry and we missed Barb. So we actually ordered toasted sandwiches from room service and called Barb in London. Felt a bit like being in a film.

It really was a beautiful wedding and I am sure Kirsty and Ian are going to have an amazing future together. They are currently on honeymoon in Mauritius. I would rather not know what they are up to.

The return

I was hoping my return flight would be quietly uneventful. In the lingo of Russell Brand (whose autobiography was on my holiday reading list)… T’were a vain hope. The chaos started at OR Tambo International (formerly Johannesburg International) airport. I was briefly offered a direct flight to London on SAA since my flight was overbooked. I rejoiced. It would have meant freedom from the horror that is Iberia and no connection. However this dream was snatched from me since they had already found enough willing participants and I was condemned back to my original fate.

The plane was jam-packed. Fortunately my lack of sleep caught up with me and I managed to doze off for a lot longer than I usually do. This was pretty fortunate since the completely crap movie screens had failed. The Iberia air stewards and stewardesses are pretty interesting. There was one woman whose job it appeared to be to yell at people and another guy who just meandered up and down the aisles drawling. “caaaaaawffee” in a way that made it sound like a sexual proposition.

When I eventually arrived at Madrid airport (which has bathrooms that are more revolting than the Covent Garden public conveniences), I could not find my flight on the departures board. Then commenced a lot of running around like a headless chicken while a series of hopelessly unfriendly Spanish “information” representatives gave me conflicting information, sent me to incorrect desks, joked about me missing my flight and laughed at me. I am not sure customer service is at the forefront of the Spanish mind… but maybe that’s just my experience. I suppose the most bizarre experience was checking through security with about 20 American nuns and priests in head scarves and fedoras… I wonder where on earth they were going.

I finally did make the flight and on the 10 minute bus ride to the actual aeroplane, chatted to another South African girl (in Afrikaans) who had had exactly the same experience of the customer service. Hmph! Once on the plane I realised I was dying of thirst and ravenous… only to discover that they were CHARGING for refreshments. Please note that this was not a SleazyJet flight… it was fricking Iberia. Oh the cheek. I didn’t have any Euros and the principle infuriated me. So I sat there with a dry mouth, muttering under my breath.

When I did eventually get back to my lair, I felt like I had returned to heaven. After 10 days of living out of a suitcase, sleeping in one’s own bed is the height of luxury!

Thank-you to all my friends and family for your wonderful hospitality and for taking the time to hang out/get into trouble with and entertain me. Until next year…

A quick round up from SA so far

17/10/08

I am writing these as I go along and posting them when I can… so here are a couple of entries

The flight

My trip to SA was pretty eventful before I even arrived. I am typing this en route from Madrid to Johannesburg at about 7.30am, a bazillion miles in the air with barely a creature stirring around me… well except for the granny I just put the skrik (fright for the non Saffas) into. My tattoo is still healing so it still requires regular application of Bepanthen until the scab comes off. After a quick trip to the loo, once I had decided to give up trying to sleep (I don’t sleep on planes. I just kinda pretend. I’ve tried everything… including drugging myself), I decided it was time for a reapplication. I pulled up the leg of my jeans and was happily rubbing in the cream when I saw el madre watching me with a look of abject horror. I suppose the tattoo is quite a sight if you’re not expecting it. It’s 12cm long. After she spotted that I had spotted her spotting me, she gave me a little smile… the kind of smile you might give a gang of chavs on a street corner, in the hope that your friendliness means they won’t stab you.

I am flying Iberia because it was cheap. Gotta say NOT my favourite airline experience in my travels so far. First off they did not mention that they share routes with British Airwaves. I arrived at terminal 2 yesterday to check-in at the Iberia desks for my Iberia flight only to find out that I was on a BA flight leaving from terminal 1. Grr! Luckily I was hopelessly early. The only thing I am ever early for is flying. My fear of missing a flight borders on irrational.

When I arrived in Madrid, I was the only person on my entire flight who went into the “transit without visa” section… in fact I was the only person in the entire airport in this section. The somewhat bemused immigration agent muttered away to me in Spanish for a while before I managed to get him to understand that I didn’t understand. Eventually he called around two sleepy looking guys to inspect me. These two spoke minimal English so we had some fun with me getting Frank out to be scanned separately. When I went through I beeped (I beeped at Heathrow too… I dunno maybe I swallowed a button or something I don’t remember). They didn’t have a female agent so they couldn’t search me. Lots of back and forth through the scanner until they eventually just shrugged and motioned me through.

From there, I got drawn into a gurning competition with two Spanish boys who I must have been about five or six. They were pretty good but I had more practise. I don’t think their poor mother was particularly thrilled, they were pretty geed up for midnight and the face-pulling just made them more hyper.

The one pro of being so damned early yesterday afternoon was that I got an emergency exit seat… I hadn’t even asked. It makes the pretending to sleep so much easier. What SUCKS about Iberia, is no movies. Well kind of on the central screen but once they had been through a short history of Guatemala and a demonstration on how to make spider crab soup (no joke), I wasn’t in the mood for Get Smart and did some wriggling around pretend to sleep. What also sucks is that we’ve gone through the entire night with no offer of water and very little sign of the cabin crew at all. Thirsty!!!

I have gotten myself a bit banjaxed with the time differences in the transit. We land in two… maybe three and a half hours. I am so over flying already! By the time I post this I may very well already be back in London but I’m going to keep doing them as I go along and put them up whenever I can.

Die reunie

Last night was my ten year high school reunion. I’ve got to say that it was one of the most unusual experiences of my life. Throughout the entire lead up I could not quite figure out how to feel and so I bounced between nerves and excitement for weeks.

I met up with B yesterday morning and went straight into helping with the bits and pieces of set up that still needed doing. This girl is a machine. She had everything so organised you would have thought she had spent 20 years as a wedding planner or something. It was at this point that we started putting up photos that had been dug out from our matric year. Seriously… what a shocker… I can’t believe I wasted the years that I was young and skinny looking like THAT. As La W (our head girl and deputy head girl are both Laurens) pointed out, our teenage photos could be called “when bad clothes happen to good people.”

I fear that the shoes I wore to the reunion were somewhat ill-advised. I bought them for Kirsty’s wedding and thought I should get another night out of them. I forgot that the penchant for skyscraper heels is more of a British thing. I towered over everyone… including a number of the husbands…

My first job of the night was ticking people off as the arrived and making them write name tags. Thank god for the name tags… I did not know who a lot of them were (sorry guys!!!) and if they weren’t writing tags, I wouldn’t have known who to tick off. Of course as soon as I was behind the table with my pen, it started raining. Not a little bit… like the Armageddon was upon us. Eventually I had to relinquish my position of power and stand in front of the table. Very disappointing.

The fact that I was ticking off names made people think I was a lot more in charge than I was. I had no idea what was going on. If I gave anyone bad information… I apologise. I also got the privilege of helping B to MC the event. It started out as a kind of fleeting idea that La G and B had and the next thing I had a mic. It was fun being up there and I think B and I were pretty good. My favourite part of the whole thing was reading out the little “info” slips we had given people to fill in. They had things like “your funniest memory from school” and “one fact you want everyone to know” on them. It seems everyone is happy in their adult lives… married, amazing careers, babies, dating rock stars… taking over the world. I was really proud.

When the official proceedings were finally over… of course completed by speeches from the Laurens and the new headmistress… I could finally mingle. There were so many people to catch up with that I didn’t even get to chat to half of them. It was not awkward as I was expecting, possibly because I was at school with such a wonderful group of girls. Some had changed a lot, some had not changed at all… apparently I had changed the most… everyone had grown up.

I wanted to say a little personal thank-you to all the teachers who came, to B and La G for all the planning. To B’s mum, Wynona for all of the wise insights and extra running around and of course to everyone who came. You guys rock! See you in 2013 for the 15 year reunion!