Exactly one week ago, I was lost for a couple of hours in an airport, that less than one month ago I had no idea it exist. I wanted to go to London for a couple of days, with the cheapest following route and this is where I landed: Stansted airport, 47 minutes from London. Fortunatelly, my arrival was in time – apparently Ryanair changed a lot since my last trip to Vilna, more than 2 years ago, the buses were waiting in line to take passangers to the big city for good prices.
Only my departure was a big problem: my flight was schedule early, at 6am – as the airport is under the night quota restrictions between 23.30 pm and 6am – and I was quite tired after a very intense travel across London. Thus, even I arrived in time at the airport – around 3am, with the help of the non-stop bus service – I was extremely tired and fell asleep. I woke up apparently in time, but went to the wrong gate and realized it is wrong only 10 minutes before my flight took off. Very romantic, isn’t it?
Anyway, I was lucky enough to find another flight to Berlin only 3 hours later and after paying more than I paid for the initial ticket reservation, I took a coffee and found a seat in the front of the screen announcing the gates, to be sure that this time I will read 4-6 times the gate and don’t repeat the idiotic mistake from a couple of hours ago.
In order to keep my spirit high, I made a small tour of the airport, trying to better understand what it is going on there and get ready with a post. (Because I forgot that I need an adaptor for my computer and cell phone in the UK, I was almost cut from communications and unable to write live from the airport). The cost of 10 minutes of Internet in the airport was of 1£ for 10 minutes, enough for updating my close family that I will be late back home, but not enough for a sophisticated writing experience.
The airfield in Stansted operates since the end of the 40s and between 1946 and 1947 was used for housing German prisoners of war. In 1984, the airport went through serious transformations and now is considered the world’s best airport for low cost airlines. It is the fourth busiesit in the UK, according to their own website, with over 17 million passangers the day, 32 countries and over 150 destinations operated regularly. The officials of the airport mentioned that the top international destinations are: Dublin, Alicante, Malaga and Rome.
The airport is pretty big, with at least 5 minutes needed to reach the gates, a fast transportation system between gates and good security checking. The money exchange is one of the best, especially if compared with some tricky exchange options I’ve found in town. The gates may change very often and thus, you should be very careful to check in advance where you should go. My biggest problem was that I did not find any big clock in the main lobby – or maybe it was but was too tired to notice it – and with my phone switched off because low battery, I had another important difficulty to cope with.
What you can do when you need to wait for a couple of hours in the airport? There are some nice shops, from clothing to bookstores – from where I bought an impressive number of reviews for keeping myself awake – a travel shop and some beauty corners. If thinking about the long boring hours I spent years ago in the famous Frankfurt while changing flight to Asia, Stansted was a delicious piece of cake. Restaurants – including a Japanese one – and coffees – some serving organic healthy foods – were also open and the prices are acceptable for an airport. After 8-9 am, it got more and more busy and thus, finding a place to stay was not always easy.
For one lifetime experience, it was not as bad as expected. However, I made a wish that I will never repeat this experience again. And yes, London is on my travel books for a next trip, sooner than expected.