Friday 13 July 2012

Etape du Tour - Day 5

Up early again to load the van, clean up the apartment, and head back to Geneva Airport. Fairly straightforward drive without any holdups, and I dropped David and Tony and their bikes off at the airport, than took the van back. Rather than pay for an overpriced taxi, I walked back to the airport navigating by holding my Sat Nav in my outstretched arm. Pedestrians enter the airport from the opposite end of the airport, so needless to say I got lost. I even impressed myself by asking directions from a Policeman (and more importantly, understanding his answer) in French, and soon found David and Tony. One thing I noticed in Geneva is that when a man and woman meet, they kiss each other three times rather than twice as in Chamonix.
Then it was through security and onto our flights to first London, then Glasgow. Once on the plane I fell asleep only wake violently when the stewardess offered me a drink as I'd been dreaming about driving the van in the dark! (David had a good laugh at that!)
We changed flights at the notorious Heathrow Terminal 5, infamous for its 'teething troubles' when it first opened. (i.e. a complete shambles!) As someone who rarely flies, I'm fascinated that Terminal 5 is just full of shops selling things nobody actually needs.
Then it was back through security again before our flight to Glasgow. This time, my hand luggage passed through the X-ray machine without comment, but both David and Tony's were searched. This was despite all the warnings about not carrying more than 100ml of liquids, and them having to be in a clear platic bag for inspection, no-one noticed the 250ml bottle of contact lens fluid in mine that I'd forgotten about!!
We got back to Glasgow Airport, where David's father gave us I lift home where I promptly fell asleep!
Looking back, it was a great experience and one that was, other than the day David and I spent in Chamonix. extremely intense. I always seemed that were were running about doing something, driving, and not sleeping enough. I was very impressed by the level of organisation of the Etape - the road closures, the marshalling of 10,000 participants, having enough food, drink and vehicles for them, and the way it all seems to work seamlessly. It really is a credit to the organisers that they manage an event like this every year. Talking of which, David has said that he is NEVER doing the Etape again! Remember to remind him of that when he starts talking about doing it next year!
Larry mentioned that he couldn't see the pictures of David that I'd published a link to in the last message. This might be due to having to be signed in to Facebook to see them, so I've published them here. These were taken by the 'official' photographers along the route, (hence the quality).

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