Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry Pratchett,
2015 so far has been all about travel, self discovery and of course a lot of doctors and hospitals. Since the beginning of the year we had been looking forward to our two main holidays for the year, going back home to the UK and then Sri Lanka in August.
Wednesday June 24th
The eagerly awaited date had arrived! We were all packed and ready to go, we had a driver booked to pick us up at 22:00 hrs for the 45 minute drive to the airport. Our flights were not due until 01:00 hrs, but traffic in Doha is very unpredictable, especially during Ramadan. We boarded our first flight and we were soon up in the air, heading to Frankfurt. I must admit I prefer daytime flights as I find it too uncomfortable to sleep. Katja on the other hand slept most of the way! After a relatively short wait we were on our way from Frankfurt to Manchester. We landed in Manchester in typical Manchester weather, say no more. I must admit that having been in numerous airports throughout the world, Manchester airport looked old and tired and in desperate need of modernising to bring it up to the 21st century if not on par with other airports!
As we had booked a small car we asked Cathy’s dad to meet us in Manchester to pick up our luggage as there was no way it would all fit in a small car. He met us arrivals, loaded our suitcases and off he went. In the mean time, we boarded the bus to the car hire village in Manchester airport (amazing that you still have to do this in an international airport, all other places have car hire desks in the terminal or at the very worst case, they meet you there with the car, but as it was cheap, we couldn’t really moan too much). After a 10 minute ride, we arrived at the car hire village. The company we were hiring through (a well known international brand) was packed and out of 8 desks only 4 were open. After around 30 minutes waiting and watching staff wandering about with cups of tea and food, I asked to speak with a manager as this kind of service is unacceptable. We had been traveling overnight and had a tired 4 year old wanting to go back to Qatar! I was told by the manager that it had been a busy day and her staff needed a break…… Eventually, after nearly an hour waiting, it was our turn. I handed in our booking sheet along with my UK driver’s license. After several minutes deliberating (and probably playing games on his computer), the arrogant person behind the desk told me that as they couldn’t find a footprint of me in the UK, unless I proved my address I couldn’t hire a car (even though it was prepaid!). Unfortunately, our bank statements which were in the suitcase had already arrived in Oswestry! Even with this as a proof, the car hire company said it may not be enough. We then found out we could hire the car under our Qatari driver’s licenses. 10 minutes later and after paying 1000 quid deposit we were on our way! This made no sense at all to me. Instead of accepting my UK license with a printed UK address, they accepted my Qatari license and my address in Qatar scribbled on a piece of paper.