Friday 20 May 2011

Above us only sky

This post was intended to be published at the end of last week but problems with blogger prevented its' publication.

On May 2 when I switched on the radio and heard that Osama bin Laden had been killed I was pleased to hear the news, but I also had misgivings over rejoicing at he death of anyone, even if they were as evil as Osama bin Laden, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people. I did not have much time to think about this as I had a busy day ahead of me.  The following day we were flying to Amsterdam for a short break. By the evening every thing was done and we were packed and ready for an early-ish start the following day. Then the trepidation set in and I began to wonder if it was such a good idea to be flying the day after the demise of Osama bin Laden. al-Quaeda would no doubt be retaliating, unless they had been weaken to the point where they were unable to do so.

Our flying record isn't great. We had not flown since 2005. We were trying to book a holiday, abroad, in 2006 around the time that the terrorist bomb plot to blow up airlines, flying between Heathrow and the US, using liquid explosives, was discovered, which resulted in the current liquid restrictions. At the time there was so much uncertainty that we decided to holiday in the UK, avoiding the need for flying. This trip to Amsterdam was to be a practice, so that we could become familiar with the new regulations, in preparation for a trip, later in the year, to see husband's nephew, who is working in California. In the intervening years we have travelled by ferry to Ireland and France. It is a much more relaxed means of travelling.

The following day, May 3, security was tight at Liverpool's John Lennon airport. For the first time ever I set off the scanner and had to be frisked. They did not find anything. The same thing happened with the more sophisticated scanning equipment at Amsterdam's Schipol airport on our return. The culprit was the zip of my jeans.

When we went on our honeymoon our flight was delayed while the bags of passengers who had checked in, but not boarded the plane were located and taken off. That delayed us by about an hour. That is not an unusual event, but we had the misfortune to be flying on 11 September 2011. We were actually in the air when the Twin Tours in New York were attacked. We has been on holiday to Crete and by my estimation were flying over Paris around the time that the planes hit the World Trade Center. We did not know anything about the incident until we were out of Gatwick airport and in our car, on our way home. We had stopped for fuel and as husband was at the pump I heard the end of a news flash on the car radio and I remember hearing 'skyline changed forever' and 'all flights cancelled'. There had not been any problems a Gatwick. As we drove through the leafy, winding and sometimes narrow lanes of Surrey we heard another news flash, in full this time. Then husband started fiddling with the car radio trying to get more information about the disaster. I switched the radio off. He was driving. Once we were home we were able to see, on the TV, the full incident in all its' technicolour glory, several times over. Even though we had had a long day I did not sleep well on the night of 11 September. My mind was too busy thinking. Why had this disaster happened? Could it have been us? Had we had a lucky escape? Why New York? Why not London or even Paris? At that point the ins and outs and full details of the disaster were not known.

We had a very pleasant, if very chilly few days in Amsterdam. We took an open top bus tour of Amsterdam, went on a canal cruise, walked for miles, saw diamonds being polished and visited Anne Frank's house. I had read that visitors to the house commented  that the hairs on the back of their neck stood up on entering the house and truly they did!

The practice went well. We made it there and back. Nothing was confiscated at the airport, so we got he packing right. However, we have decided to postpone our planned trip to the US as we consider that travelling to and in the US during the Autumn/Fall of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is too risky, especially when the architect of it all has just come to a sticky end.


Maggie May said...

It was a bit unsavoury, wasn't it?
Of course that is what the terrorists want, isn't it? For us all to be too scared to travel.
I'm not keen on air travel anyway and now we wouldn't be able to fly. We have to stick around hospitals.

I also had a trip to Amsterdam a good few years ago and saw the places that you described..... except for Anne Frank's home, that we didn't get to see.

I suppose only time will tell if there will be repercussions because of Bib Laden's death..
Hope not.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

the fly in the web said...

I was not at all surprised that they took Bin Laden dead rather than alive....all is not black and white in the so called war on terror.

We had the Turkish builders in when the twin towers went down...the builder and two young assistants, and the two young men could not contain their delight.
Now, they were in no way Muslim fanatics...but they hated America, its policies and the effects of those policies with a fervour.
The boss called them to order, saying that most of those dying in the attack were ordinary people, cleaners, cooks, maintenance staff, typists... and that sobered them up rapidly but one still said that after all the evil America had wrought round the world it was good to see that they were not invulnerable.

I've flown a fair bit since then and passing through America is a pain in the proverbial...and as we once again risk being sent to the slammer for asking for a chair so that my handicapped husband can take off his shoes without falling over I ask myself why these restrictions don't apply to those flying by private 'plane in America.
And I don't like the answer.

Sorry for a gloomy comment, but your post brought it all back to me...those sunny tempered, kind young men rejoicing in the attack on the twin towers.

cheshire wife said...

MM - it is a pity that you missed Anne Frank's house, as it is well worth a visit.

Fly - no need to apologise and you said it. Flying in the US is a pain, that is why we have postponed our trip. It will be even worse if there are more attacks.

Jan said...

What a supewr posting! It makes me very pleased to be back blogging!

Jennyff said...

As someone who travels with Ryanair I agree that flying certainly isn't fun, but it is often the best way to get around. I don't intend to let the threat of terrorism affect my travelling or any other aspect of my life. I tolerate the restrictions, searches etc, and I do seem to get my carry on bag searched quite regularly, I must look quilty though I never am.

Akelamalu said...

We have just returned from America and I set off every scanner I passed through (my replacement knee joint being the culprit)so was 'patted down' each time! I'm not complaining though, I'd rather the security was tight.

cheshire wife said...

Jan - good to see you back.

Jenny - we have not been put off travelling or flying but we have decided not to travel to the US around the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

Akelamalu - I am all for security but we do not want our holiday spoilt by hassle, uncertainty and delays if there are attacks this Autumn.

Catharine Withenay said...

I'm sorry you feel unable to travel to the US in the autumn. While understandable, I hate the thought that the terrorists win - even just by you (and countless others) choosing not to do what they want to do, and should be able to freely do.

But you seem to have had your fair share of interesting air travel! Glad you had a lovely break in Amsterdam.

Rob-bear said...

Interesting experiences you have shared in this story. Thanks, CW.

I'm also pleased to know that your holiday in Amsterdam went well.

Flying to America? Hmmmm. . . .

cheshire wife said...

CW - the decision is made. We are planning to go to France on the ferry in the Autumn, instead of going to the US.

Rob - the trip to the US will probably be next year now and I am afraid that it will be California not Canada. Some other time maybe.

Rob-bear said...

OH, well. Not everybody can have the luxury of coming to Canada!

Next time, perhaps. And I hope you have a wonderful trip to the U.S., and that you will also be able to get the work on our home finished.

Yes, too much work; not enough time. Bears' home is the same.

Anonymous said...

I also had a trip to Amsterdam a good few years ago and saw the places that you described