In general when I say I have got up at the crack of dawn what I really mean is that I have got up at about 8.00. Today it was really before the crack of dawn. Just before the alarm rang at 3.00am - yes, 3.00am!! - I woke up for the umpteenth time, having slept fitfully.
And then I found myself reflecting on where the word fitfully, and the related expression “fits and starts” came from. Googling it was not a lot of use. I found lots of definitions - spasmodic, irregular, etc - and I learnt that the first recorded use was in 1595–1605 and that Shakespeare talks about “Life's fitful fever” in Macbeth. But beyond that, no explanation or real etymology was available.
So anyway, there we were, up and about just after 3.00am in order to go and catch the 4.30am bus from Vigo bus station to Porto airport. Our plane leaves at 9.30am Portuguese time. The next bus from Vigo would have us arriving just after the plane took off. No use at all!
Had it not been the middle of the night, we might have walked to the bus station, on the grounds that we would be spending a good deal of time sitting down. But it was still dark and so we opted for a taxi.
I was very careful to give our address clearly as I have had problems with this taxi company getting confused in the past. Explaining that you want to book a taxi in advance for some time early in the morning leads them to wonder which day you mean!! So I had the booking clerk person repeat the address back to me and then we waited.
After a short while we saw a taxi on the other side of the road and assumed he was heading for the roundabout a few hundred yards away in order to turn round and come back for us. And we waited and waited. No sign of a taxi. Just as I was about to call the taxi firm back and ask what was going on, my phone rang. It was the taxi driver. Our block of flats in number 150. He was phoning because he was waiting outside number 50 and wondering where we were.
I put him right and he soon turned up, very apologetic and declaring that the firm had told him number 50. Now, his accent was a bit odd, not quite Spanish. Maybe he was not a native speaker and had simply misheard the number. If so, it’s the first time that has happened to us in Vigo. It happens all the time in Oldham where almost all the taxi drivers are Asians.
And now here we sit, in the airport cafe, waiting for our flight to appear on the board and be given a gate number. We have had our breakfast, all ordered in Portuguese. What’s more, this time the waitress did not switch into English as she served me.
My accent must be improving!
The airport has been fun (ironic, of course!). When we arrived there were people asleep in the main arrivals lounge, presumably waiting for an early flight and saving the cost of a hotel room by kipping in the seats of the closed cafe. Someone, or several someones, among the sleepers had extremely smelly feet. Consequently, we moved on to departures as fast as we could.
Because we are making a very short trip back to the UK we have next to no luggage, just a small carry-on bag each. It feels very odd not to have a wheelie suitcase trundling along behind us. The queue to go through security was quite immense. Who would have thought that so many people would be travelling early on a Friday morning? Some last-minute arrivers with imminent departures were frantically trying to queue-jump. We were not impressed!
Looking for a place selling water and chocolate (you simply cannot travel without emergency chocolate) I was astounded again at the amount of stuff you can buy in the shopping malls that call themselves departures lounges. Not just small souvenirs or the usual duty-free goods but whole outfits, including shoes.
Best of all was the soft toy unicorn big enough for a four year old to sit on. Do people really buy such things? How do they get them on the plane?
Such airport shoppers clearly do not travel on budget airlines like we do!
And finally, what about the shop called “Ale Hop”, selling all sorts of novelty trash? For years I read this English fashion: Ale, as in beer, and Hop, as is jumping around on one leg. Finally I realised you have to pronounce it Spanish fashion: allay (stress on the first syllable) opp! It has to be said with an exclamation mark, suggesting, “here we go!”
Ale hop! That’s all folks!