Flying with a bike is always a ballache. I’ve done it a few times now and every time I swear I’ll never do it again, but in this topsy-turvy world, the slower, greener, friendlier alternatives always cost 3-5 times as much as the plane, so I end up going against my own self which adds another layer of infuriation for someone as pigheaded as me.
I somehow misread EasyJet’s baggage guidance and had to pay an extra £9 for a few more kilograms of weight allowance on the morning of the flight. Quite good value compared to the £4.75 Heineken I ‘treated myself’ to at the airport. I don’t think I’d had a beer-free day in the two weeks preceding my departure so you could say I it was really a nutritional requirement.
Weight restrictions forced me to load up my hand luggage with as much heavy stuff as possible, which in this case meant such diverse items as a d-lock, half a pack of polenta, a salt grinder and all of my tools (for reassembling my bike at Faro airport – this way if my luggage got lost I wouldn’t be stuck with an unrideable bike). Of course, this exotic combination flagged me as a ‘person of interest’ and my weird-looking pannier was subjected to a full cavity search. After much discussion and supervisor-questioning, it was decided that everything was okay except for my multi-tool and cone spanner. I’d need the former to reassemble my bike. Damn. Plan foiled.
Despite obviously not reading the small-print myself, I still disdained my fellow ‘searchees’, both of whom were idiotic enough to try to bring through several bottles of perfume, shaving gel, and nail polish outside of the prescribed zip-lock bag. The numpties.
Anyway, not a huge problem, I’d just buy another in Faro, but it did necessitate a cab journey with a massive bike box, huge Chinese laundry bag and hand luggage. There was much shrugging, brow furrowing and lip-pursing among the assembled cabbies at the airport but one eventually relented. I made sure not to tell him my destination until both myself and said luggage were fully inserted in his people carrier. It was only a couple of kilometres away. There was much tutting, head-shaking and sighing from the front seat for that 5-minute journey. ‘5 hours I wait at airport! Eight Euro fifty!’ he barked as we arrived at the hotel. They were the first words in any language he’d spoken. I considered not leaving him the 1.50 change, but I genuinely didn’t know if that would be worse for him and there was no way I was going to give him 20, so there it was.
After checking in I unboxed my bike in my room and was amazed to find no damage. That meant the following day should be straightforward.
I had a great night sleep, despite shouty hotel guests in the hallway, thanks to the glory of light-blocking roller-shutters over the windows. Why aren’t these more popular in the UK? I want my bedroom to stay pitch black until I say so! Some people may insist that waking up ‘naturally’ with the sun is best, but that usually results in me being wide-eyed and pissed off at 5am every day…
The next day I sorted all the things I couldn’t do before leaving – Portuguese pay-as-you-go sim card (15 Euro seemed like a lot but I’m not in a position to shop around really), and denatured alcohol and a lighter for my Trangia cooking stove. I also got a tin of bean stew for lunch (which turned out to contain ‘20% porcine head’ – as grimly gelatinous as you might expect) for E1.25. After that I walked around Faro a bit – it was beautifully sunny but there was a worryingly intense wind blowing from the north which cooled things down. I’ll probably be riding up that way next week, so hopefully it will have turned around by then.
Apologies for the lack of photos on this post. I will make more of an effort in the future, I promise.