After a short trip to the ghastly Gatwick airport and the bumpy flight over the UK and the Irish Sea, followed by the most horrendous landing ever, I feel profoundly lucky to be safely “home” in the Isle of Man. Not many people know that I almost died here, on a runway at Ronaldsway Airport just after 1pm this afternoon. But it was not to be.
I’ve seen four airports over the past few days. Four very different airports.
Cape Town is in a state of development ahead of the 2010 World Cup. And while it looks pretty spectacular and is already a huge improvement on the previously dated and rather ramshackle terminals. One slight issue is the thick dust, which is covering everything – including the cars in the long stay car park, which are well on their way to becoming fossilised. Every car park ticket comes with a free car wash. Or at least it should.
And then the much maligned Terminal Five at Heathrow. Well, I was completely impressed. Quick, clean (although I probably still had Cape Town on my mind) and very modern and stylish. We sped through in record time via the internal transit train thing and then spent all the time we’d saved watching the dancing fountains outside the terminal building.
Photo by LightReflections on flickr
From the sublime to the ridiculous: Gatwick. Aging, poorly designed, ugly, overcrowded and full of chavs. The humourless security people made me take my belt and shoes off and then laughed as my jeans fell down. So not completely humourless then. But I didn’t find it funny. Shuffling across the apron in the kerosene-stained drizzle was even less fun. And difficult with my trousers round my ankles.
And then little Ronaldsway. I’d love to tell you all about it, but I was still stunned by the utterly appalling landing by the apparently novice pilot in the blustery crosswinds.
The Isle of Man is still as pretty as I always remembered it to be. But it seems even more beautiful when you thought you were never going to see anything ever again. I’d even have settled for another afternoon in Gatwick departures lounge.