My trip to Brazil is strictly speaking not a part of my transformation into a Cantabridgian, but it is my Awayweek from packing, so it counts. Due to an extensive missunderstanding with the travel agent I was booked on a flight from Heathrow to Lisbon at 6am which was obviously absurd. I searched for hotels at Heathrow that started from 200 pounds, but managed to find one for 40. The room was not much more than a prison cell, in size and decoration, but it was just for the night. I had to get up at 3.30 which proved unnecessary since the Portugal Airlines check-in didn't open until 5, and by the time the gate was suppoed to close half of the passengers hadn't checked in yet. At Lisbon airport I hade six hours to kill and contemplated seriously to take an hour treatment at the airport spa. The flight went smoothly - well, as smoothly as a transatlantic flight can go, and I was looking forward to a good night's sleep at yet another reasonably priced aiport hotel - three cheers for the Internet! As I came out to the arrival hall, there was a man holding a board with my name on. Since my name isn't pecisely John Smith I was pretty sure it was my name, and after a transatlantic flight your brain doesn't always work properly, so I didn't think about who would send a car for me, just appreciated the service. Yet after a ten-minute drive a got worried. The driver didn't speak English, and all attempts to communicate were futile. I didn't feel too comfortable being driven in a car by a stranger at midnight in a large Brazilian city. Forty-five minutes later we came to a hotel downtown that didn't have any reservation for me, but atl least somebody spoke English at the reception and finelly disentagled me from the mistake, and the driver took me all the way back to the airport. It is still a mystery.
In the morning I flew to Rio and was delighted to fall into the arms of my friend André. For the next three days. someone else would take care of me.