Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where She Goes, Nobody Knows

Day 259
My heart was beating quickly and I was out of breath when I took my seat on the plane. Instead of heading back to Bratislava as I had thought I would be doing this morning I was headed to Bangkok via Doha, Qatar. Even though I was the one who had made all of the choices I was still amazed and a bit confused about how it had all happened.

The night before I had mentioned to Katherine that I wanted to do something typical to London on my last morning. She suggested that we head out to an area called Highgate. There was a traditional pub there and a splendid view of London from a park.

We were there early and had to wait for the pub to open. We killed the time by popping into used bookstores and looking at the several small churches in the area. We both drooled over pastries we knew that we wouldn’t buy.

Lunch was fabulous, as we expected. We both got the fish and chips and had a pudding (dessert) to top it all off. Afterwards we walked around the small park and admired a wonderful view of London.

On the tube ride back to the flat I began to worry about getting back into the Schengen area. The Schengen visa zone incorporates pretty much all of Europe. Americans are allowed only 90 days in every 180 day period. I had clearly overstayed my welcome. Things like this aren’t typically noticed and it wouldn’t have been a concern at all if I was exiting Slovakia by train to the Ukraine as I had originally planned. Have the odd exit stamp from the airport though would probably raise suspicions, especially because they had problems with my passport on the way out. If I went there and there was a problem I would at best be put back on a plane out of there and at worst I would be banned from the Schengen area. I really didn’t want either to happen.

A few days ago, just for fun, I had looked up flights to Thailand. They were surprisingly cheap for last minute flights. When I got back to the flat I checked the visa info and bought the ticket. I had about an hour and a half to get a guidebook and snacks for the plane. I also had to repack my bag, Katherine was very kindly letting me keep my winter gear in London.

I said goodbye to everyone and basically ran for the tube. I was a bit shorter on time than I would have liked. Once I got to the airport I was informed that I needed to buy an exit ticket to go to Thailand. I was kinda expecting this. What I wasn’t expecting was having to pay cash for a ticket that could only be refunded in London.I know that I will be back here, I just wish I could have charged it and gotten my money back sooner. Plus, it’s a paper ticket. If it gets lost I’m screwed.

By the time I had the ticket and had checked in I knew I had to move fast. First though I had to change some money. There was no use carrying around Czech and Slovak money for the next several months. After security I looked at the flight board and saw that mine was on its last call. I ran all the way to the gate, I think it was as far away as possible. I just made it and collapsed into my seat. I was headed to Thailand!

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