Making the connection in Munich was my one concern about my whole Sarajevo trip – I didn’t know why. So, I was very happy to go through the transfer side and see my departure gate, on my boarding pass signed. I was off. And, it wasn’t too far away. I sat down gratefully and texted Trevor to say I’d arrived at the departure gate with time to spare.
I sat for a few minutes eating some fruit and then thought “it’s too quiet here. I’ll check the boards in case they’ve changed the gate”. But there were no boards with all the flights on, at least that I could find, and there had been no announcements about anything! Have you spotted my embarrassingly foolish mistake?! I had gone to the gate before checking if they’d changed it (I also found out later that the lack of announcements may have been due to industrial action). I found an information desk. They had changed the gate! To one a long way away and the plane was boarding…
I started to run. There was a train, huge escalators and corridors. By the time I arrived I was in an awful sweat, way past glowing, and could barely breathe or speak for coughing. And, I’d missed my flight! For just one split second I did consider sitting on the floor and bawling, but decided it wouldn’t help.
I was instructed to go to the Lufthansa desk; a 5 minute walk away. Lufthansa were very helpful, but said my only alternatives were to go via Istanbul and arrive in Sarajevo in the evening, or wait overnight for a direct flight. I opted for Istanbul, though was slightly alarmed that I would have to make another connection, and then had to apologies for being a bit emotional . They then told me I had to go straight there to catch it as at was across in terminal one – a long way off and I should go left and right downstairs and along! I wanted to phone ahead and let people know that I would not be arriving as expected. But, faced with the idea of missing another flight decided it would have to wait.
I went and found myself at a train stop, fortunately a lone person was able to confirm it went to terminal 1. Off the train, then up more stairs, but at the top there were no signs in sight to direct me any further. I stopped a chap who looked like he worked at the airport. He asked to see my boarding card, I actually only had a ticket at this point, and I explained my situation. “Come with me, I’ll take you or you’ll have to go through security again, don’t worry you’ll catch your flight”. He showed me to his airport buggy, and off we went until we arrived at a lift’ “Go down to the ground floor and get on the bus there”.
There were two chaps on the ground floor, one very smart and official looking and the other more casual. I tried the door to go out and look for the bus, but it wouldn’t open. The official looking chap told me it wouldn’t open until the bus arrived in 11 minutes. Perfect time to call ahead I thought, and took out my phone. But there was no signal. Then official chap, noticing my problem, offered me his airport phone and helped me get through to Nardija, how lovely was that?!
The next bit of good luck was that ‘casual chap’ was going on the same flight to Istanbul and was a seasoned traveller, so I started to feel more comfortable about catching my flight. The bus arrived and once at the other end I was quite happy to trot along behind until we arrived at our gate.
Realising that I didn’t have a boarding card yet, my companion instructed me to go to the front of the short queue. Well I’m British, going to the front of a queue is not something I do, but time was short and I needed a boarding card. I’m not sure if the people I went past understood a word I said, but they all just smiled and moved aside!
We boarded, but not before my business class companion had said he would wait for me at the other end, and sign me in to the business lounge. He only had a short time to make his transfer, but I had a couple of hours or more, and I’d be more comfortable there he said. I spent the flight sat next to a lovely muslim man and a spare seat.
Sure enough my casual companion waited for me, it took a few minutes to sign me in. His parting shot was, have anything you like to eat and drink, it’s all free! If only I’d known, I wouldn’t have eaten on the plane, so I settled for a really good glass of homemade lemonade – well two actually. And I wish I taken more pictures, but at least you can see the ladies wash room! All orchids and mirrors.
Thankfully the departure gate in Istanbul was only half way across the airport – and no stairs! After a short delay, I had a comfortable flight with a spare seat beside me.
I finally arrived in Sarajevo sometime after 9pm – without my bag. And apart from letting Nardjia know that I wouldn’t arrive until after 8, and despite 20+ attempts, I had been unable to make my phone work to contact anyone to let them know my flight number or details. So I was mightily pleased that Salih, who transports everyone from Healing Hands Network, spotted me at the airport and came to help sort out about my missing luggage, and arranged for me to collect it the next day.
Arriving at the house, my home for the next two weeks, Dennis and Sheila were lovely. Sheila lent me a nightdress, there was olive oil from the kitchen to remove makeup.
So, I had an unexpected detour. But Lufthansa were so helpful and didn’t charge any extra, I met four lovely men who did everything they could for me, and got to visit the poshest loos ever! I was also very glad I’d packed my toothbrush, spare nickers and makeup in my hand luggage. Maybe I’ll include a spare T’shirt in future too!