Chester Zoo

More travel related hijinks. If you get bored with me whinging about the travails of travel, then you can probably skip this one.

A lengthy trip to the airport. I'm looking forward to the light rail connection between Newark Broad Street and Newark Penn, but in the mean time it means that there is no room for taxis outside Broadstreet so I have to schlepp it crosstown to Penn, at which point I get fed up with public transport and take a cab the rest of the way. It occurs to me that I might be much better off just getting the bus that goes from outside my house direct to Penn.

Checking in from home meant I thought I could avoid lines, but for some reason they make us re-check in at the departure gate, which means a half hour wait for no obvious reason -- all they do is take my I-94.

Wandering onto the plane, there's no room for my bag, so again it is snatched from me at the last minute and checked in. It does emerge at the other end, even more ragged than last time (someone seems to be aggressively cutting off the straps). I will have to get a new one sometime soon, before this dies the death of a thousand cuts.

For all Manchester's delights as an international airport, they still do that thing where you get off the plane and have to take a bus to the terminal. This always makes it feel like some crappy little back-water country. Surely they can manage the direct connection into the terminal by now?

I get to the train station, which is located conveniently half an hour's walk through the airport, and try to buy a ticket. The machine swallows my credit card, but doesn't acknowledge that it has seen it, and refuses to give it back. I shout to the bloke at the ticket counter, who phones up to senior management, who comes to my aid with gratifying haste. He manages to retrieve my card by, yes, turning it off and on again. That shouldn't work. The terminal is some kind of IBM box running some version of XP, you'll be terrified to learn. I try to get a ticket again, this time with cash. Cash works.

I get a nearly empty train headed for Liverpool, and get off as instructed at some no name station in the middle of nowhere. Finding the near mythical platform 5 (it's a quarter mile jog down a footpath from platform 2), the train turns up on time, but is one of those crappy two-carriage affairs that is packed to the rafters with people (the previous service having been cancelled for no apparent reason). I stand for the 40 minute journey, although it seems an awful lot longer. For reasons best known to itself, British weather seems to be doing its best impression of continental summer, and is actually quite warm. I'd forgotten that it could be warm in Britain.

I emerge at my destination, and rather than take the five quid taxi, I elect to walk. Partly to stretch my legs, and partly because it's only 12.30 and the keys aren't supposed to be given out till two, so I need to kill some time. At my slowest pace, I still make it to reception by 1.10 BST (something 8am EST), and much to my surprise find that the desk is open, and I can get into my room. Also, I find that the room was unlocked anyway.

After a brisk 90 minute nap, I feel slightly less like death, and am able to discover a hidden computer room from which I can disperse this missive.

All in all, a pretty standard trip. Still need to sleep for about twelve hours tonight, after which I may be roughly back on schedule just in time to head back on Thursday. This is why you should never leave your home.

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