Tuesday, 23 October 2007

A bit of a mission

It is difficult to describe my journey I ways that are interesting – suffice to say that I survived its rigours and the result is I am now here in Cuzco and in good shape.

I now don't believe the hype by the UK airports about arriving 3 hours early for international flights. I got there to be greeted by a sign that check-in would open at 5 am for the 6.20 flight! I had arrived at Heathrow around 11.30 pm, courtesy of my family and touched by my daughter's tearful farewell. A long wait ensued.

Barajas airport, Madrid is very new and grand in every way so I enjoyed a relaxed and watchful breakfast then joined my flight for Lima. Two no-shows meant that they had to off-load some baggage and we consequently left an hour late, but we made up most of the time in a flight of 11 hours and 20 minutes. I was sat next to a very nice non-English/Spanish speaking Russian girl

who was joining her cousin to work in Lima and surrounded by some hyper-active children who had presumably been dosed up with tartrazine for before the flight! I was not impressed with Iberia airline – the flight attendants were diffident and lazy and information from the pilot was non-existent.

Lima airport was quite organized and as I emerged customs to a sea of meet-and-greeters who raised their placards in unison at my arrival - for a moment felt like a VIP. I identified my driver José and we went to find his car for a 40 minute drive across the city to my hotel in Miraflores. José was quite chatty but I preferred not to take his mind off his driving which was less than suicidal but fast and furious among the rush traffic. My eyes began to smart against the fumes as I marveled at his expertise in negotiating the tightest spaces when undertaking and overtaking other road users. We sped along the Playa on the Pacific beach and he commented that the water wasn't too clean!

We arrived at the hotel and after registration I ordered a hamburger and my very first Pisco sour. In consequence I slept well, until around 4 am and enjoyed a relaxed breakfast followed by a quick stroll around Miraflores noticing the dog walkers and hopeful car wash boys.

Leaving Lima was a more relaxed affair and José got me to the airport with the 45 minute journey costing about £7 each way. The airport was very organized and I joined my LAN flight and was further impressed by the flight staff who were without exception attentive and helpful, making an interesting comparison with the Iberia lot who seemed flight weary to a man. It did however seem curious that the LAN staff wore a USA badge showing that they spoke good English!

Arriving at Cuzco I was met by Cesar and transported to his town house with five levels where I have a great room with a panoramic view overlooking some houses and hills. I have been given lunch by Elizabeth his wife and told to rest and drink Mate de Coca to reduce the effects of the altitude. I am in the process of meeting the rest of the family and just now planning my siesta!


Stuart said...

Iberia staff are the rudest and lazy people I have ever met. They way they look at you and talk to you, the way that they visibly look annoyed to be forced to have any interaction with you.

LAN staff are excellent, the aircraft are brand new and the service great.

Your driver José is a thoroughly decent guy whose hobby is collecting propinas in various currencies and trading them for dollars and nuevos soles later on. Did he have any £ to trade? He was so let down when I explained the coins he had with the Queens head on them were Canadian.

The people of Lima, I have concluded, are the worst drivers in the world, and because of this are by far the best drivers on the face of this planet.

Itzi said...

Stuart's statement is world-wide known and accepted: I can assure you that they are "the rudest and lazy people I have ever met".

Even traveling in Business Class, once they shouted at me when I was asking for a blanket...