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ReportsSaturday, 16 June 2001
Heath Hayes --> Birmingham Airport (UK) Something else for today! How about the report about me being stuck at the Birmingham International Airport with no place to go. How did I survive? Thanks to the heavily armed forces...
In the peaceful old mining city Heath Hayes Les treated me on his English Breakfast Deluxe. I am getting used to it right now, in the beginning it just was too much for my little Dutch belly.
As The Gift from Nick Williams in Hanbury, my previous host, Andy got himself this leather horse-riding thing (what is it?) as a real Letmestayforaday-souvenir.
I packed my bag and because I was supposed to meet my next host at 3.30, the Bullock family took me with them to show me Birmingham.
Perhaps the reason that Birmingham is so easily overlooked by tourists is its strong association with industrialisation, which gives the tourist mental images of roads, tower blocks and factories belching out smoke. But most factories are closing their doors, as the economy is getting depressed and most things can be produced in another country much cheaper.
In Birmingham I just had to see the Aston Villa Stadium, Andy’s favorite football club. And we had a walk through the old center, that even inspired the wellknown author J.R.R. Tolkien - you can actually see the inspiration for Tolkien's characters and locations.
Big malls alternate with wide squares, which are decorated with historical or artistic statues. Les also taught me that Birmingham even has more canals than Venice does! Well, that was an eye opener!
I now also understand why the English have so many big indoor malls here: it always rains in England! (Will it ever stop?) It had been raining all day now, not that hard, but enough for me to put my cap on.
Around 3pm we got back to the car and we drove up to the Birmingham International Airport. At this place a plane would bring my hostess for tonight home from her holiday on a British Isle. I would wait for her arrival and than drive up to her home close by to stay-for-a-day.
So after I said goodbye to the Bullocks’ I waited for her plane to arrive, which was also delayed for 2 hours. So until 5.30 I just walked around the airport, contacted future hosts and waited…
After the arrival of the plan I hold up a sign with her surname on it, waving it to all the passengers coming out of the arrivals door.
But after 30 minutes I noticed I was the only one left waiting for an arrival. And that just didn’t feel right.
I called to her phone number and got her answeringmachine. I called her mobile phone, but that one was switched off.
Wow! I had a problem.
It was just too easy to call the Bullock’s and try if they would pick me up again. I knew they’d easily do that – they are very friendly people. But I kind of liked the excitement of me being stuck.
Everything has been going great since the last 48 days of my journey, so why not go and handle my first defeat?
The only possible cause or this error must probably be miscommunication between her and me about the correct date...
So around 6.30pm I got to the Information Desk, saying that I could need all the help possible. They looked very surprised and even laughed a bit, but when they heard about my project and my first frustration within 48 days, they gave me all sorts of advice.
I got to a restaurant at the airport, called the Food Village, where I spoke with me manager. After some sweet-talking with him he welcomed me to have a free meal from the kitchen!
And the ladies at the Information Desk had arranged that I could stay in the Blues Bar, which would close at 11pm – but I could just crash on one of the soft couches for the night. Surveillance agents would keep an eye on me for the safety.
This was fun! And I really enjoyed it.
So I had a rice with curry meal at the Food Village and after some wandering around I got to the Blues Bar. After 11pm the place didn’t really got closed, but the lights went off and it wouldn’t be a fancy place to just sit down and look around.
After midnight almost no flight arrived or departed, until 6.25 in the morning. So the number intercom announcements (Attention: All passengers for flight PY 1593 please…) really decreased.
The only bothering thing (but who am I to complain about that) was the music played at the closed Burger King. It was the same music every two hours. That kept me keeping track of the time, because there was Michael ‘Rock with you, all night’ Jackson, Bakerstreet and Celine would always love me…
And at night when I went to the toilets – and I had to make a little walk for that – two heavily armed police forces joined me. A third one stayed at the pub and watched my stuff. They just got that order. I don’t know if it was for my safety or for the safety of other passengers against me, but they were fun.
And as it is not allowed to smoke in the airport, I had to go out the arrivals’ front door in order to smoke a cigarette. And the agents with their automatic assault rifle happily joined me, because they had been inside all day. I mean, this was all around 3am in the morning!
Good night Birmingham Airport!
Letmestayforaday.com in the media today:
HogeSchoolKrant (in Dutch):
"Ramon kan overal blijven slapen" (Ramon can sleep everywhere - see picture at right).
Ludo's map Where is Ramon? is now in English! Go check that out!