Friday, 27 December 2013

Day 69 - Flying from Casablanca to Accra (via Madrid)

Our flight was early afternoon so we agreed that we would pack up everything from tramp corner and start walking over to check-in at 11am. When we got there we were told that it would cost us €60 extra to take the bikes. We were not happy about this as there was nothing stated about a €60 charge for additional/oversized luggage when we booked the tickets, and given the fact that we didn't have to pay anything to get the bikes from Dakhla to Casablanca with Air Maroc we were surprised at the amount we were being charged. Chris asked to speak to the manager of the airline (Iberia). We were told that he would be along in the next 20-30 minutes. He never showed up. We were running out of time so had no option to make our way over to the Iberia ticket/office area and pay the €60 each. To make matters worse the card machine they had didn't work so we had to go and find a cashpoint in the airport and withdraw an extra 20 or 30 Dirhams than we needed to as the cashpoint would only give out cash to the nearest 100. We went back, finally paid for the bikes and checked all the bags in/collected our boarding passes. We didn't have much time until our flight left so quickly went into the departure lounge shops to get some food with our 20 or 30 leftover Dirhams. There was a very limited choice (despite being in Morocco most items could only be purchased with Euros) and everything was overpriced. I think I managed to only buy a bag or crisps (I was expecting to have enough for 2 or 3 items). Chris was especially annoyed about this as he had taken extra money out to get food/coffee. Anyway we boarded the flight OK and took off on time (we needed to as we had just 1 hour between landing in Madrid from this flight and taking our second flight from Madrid to Accra). The flight was good with TVs and earphones allowing us to watch from a choice of programmes or listen to music. We got to Madrid on time and there was just enough time for a quick coffee and snack (Tom) before boarding the next flight. This second flight also took off on time with no issues. This flight was really good - we each had complimentary flight pillows and blankets, had the TV setup like before but best of all we were given a free pasta meal with desert mid flight!!! I have never been a fan of in-flight meals but given the fact that we hadn't had any pasta since Pizza Hut in Gibraltar and the fact we were all very hungry this was amazing. It was a long flight and after watching and listening what I wanted to on my TV and meal I fell asleep for a few hours. I woke up towards the end of the flight and we spent the remainder of the flight playing 20 questions.This was highly amusing. I decided that I would take 4 of the complimentary blankets and 4 pillows as both would come in useful for us in Ghana. So I spent the last part of the flight emptying various items from Tom's backpack, putting these smaller items in a carrier bag so I could cram the blankets and pillows in the backpack. This was all done on the sly. We landed fine and went through passport control. Whilst queueing we got talking to a woman named Mary who worked in the airport. She was very friendly and was very interested in the ride. Chris ended up giving her his phone number and email. We got through without any real issues (we just had to fill out a customs form stating what we were doing in Ghana, how long we would be there etc.). We then went to collect our bags and bikes. The bikes just about made it (the boxes were in bits and I would have definitely lost some of the bike parts had I not cable-tied them together). I did lose a cheap roll mat but wasn't really bothered about this. However one of Chris's pannier bags had got lost (his attempt to stick a bungee around both bags had failed and only the bag with the label had made it). So we made our way to the lost bags area hoping it would be there. It wasn't. In the bag was Chris's helmet, tools and clothes. He filled in a form describing the lost bag and its contents in case it showed up. We had been in touch with Kinza and she had arranged a taxi to pick us up and take us to the hostel where she was. So we walked towards the exit. We were immediately bombarded with men wanting to carry our stuff - this was an unnerving experience and certainly not what we needed at the time. We found our driver who was holding an 'Arctic to Africa' banner, and followed him to his car. We were then faced with the tricky task of trying to fit the 3 bikes, 2 bike trailers, pannier bags and ourselves into a small people carrier. The task was made harder by the swarms of men surrounding us insistent on helping. I told them to go away on a few occasions but they wouldn't listen. There was no way it was all gonna fit in as it was so we had to rip the bike boxes apart and squeeze each frame, wheel and bag in carefully. We just about managed to get it all in, leaving Chris the front seat and me sitting on Tom's lap in the one empty back seat. The swarm of men wanted money having 'helped' us. I refused to give them anything, I think Chris may have given them a few left-over euros. We then drove out of the car park headed to the hotel. The drive gave us our first opportunity to see Accra. There was lots of traffic and people everywhere. When we stopped at traffic lights there were several people walking around with various stuff balanced on their heads that they were selling. It must have been at least 8pm and dark at this time so I was surprised that it was still this busy everywhere. After probably 45 minutes or so we got to the hostel and were reunited with Kinza. It was great to see her again and tell her about the trip, and her tell us about what she had been doing/what the plan was for the next 4 days whilst enjoying a pizza. She then showed us our room. It was basic with 2 bunk beds and another bed in the middle that Kinza had already claimed. The highlight though was using Kinza's shower gel. It was a real treat to not to have to lather-up a bar of soap for once and actually come out of the shower smelling nice. We went to bed pretty early as knew that we would have to get up to pack up/get out of the room and get cycling by a reasonable time in the morning. The talking continued in bed for maybe an hour or so before we finally went to sleep.

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