When it comes to flying, bad luck and I go together like Switzerland and gherkins. Earlier this year, a family holiday was cancelled after Lufthansa pilots went on strike, while upon arriving in Germany last summer, I opened my suitcase to be greeted by an explosion of lotions and potions all over my clothes. Call me a pessimist, but after all my previous disasters it was safe to say that I was sure something else would happen!
After being dropped off at the airport for my afternoon flight, bulging suitcase in tow, I checked in for my flight with a good few hours to spare and made my way to security. Brilliant, I thought, the queues are tiny and I’ll have loads of time to grab a drink and window-shop. It turned out that security had other plans. I placed my rucksack into the track, taking out anything which might trigger the alarms, and passed through the body scanners without a hitch. While waiting at the other side of the conveyor belt, however, I realised that it was my bag that the security staff were poring over on their computer.
After it went in and out of the scanner for what felt like ten minutes but was probably only thirty seconds, one of the security staff picked up my tray and put it back at the beginning of the belt so it could pass through the scanner again. At this point, they had waved another colleague over and there were now three stern-faced staffers analysing the contents of my bag. Had I secreted a firearm or hidden a bomb? I would soon find out, because my bag trundled through the scanner for the final time and down the side of the belt which meant it had to be searched.
The guard rifled through my rucksack, tentatively pulling out all the items I had stuffed inside my spare shoes as though he was about to reveal a missile. He delved into every hidden pocket and called for backup, frowning. At this point I half-expected a SWAT team to thunder into the airport and bundle me to the ground. Finally, it was decided that it was my tiny bag of fudge that was the culprit! With the offending sweets held to one side, my bag was sent back through the scanner one last time so the guards could have a final gawp at its contents. Quelle surprise! The fudge was the cause of the small-scale security alert. Luckily for my rumbling stomach, I was allowed to keep my mid-flight munchies and went on my way.
No further panic occurred in the departure lounge and I was soon safely on board the plane. After an hour or so of flying in the orange-and-white box, I arrived in Geneva. My new landlords, Catherine and Christian, were kind enough to pick me up at the airport, and it was lovely to be greeted by friendly, familiar faces. As we made our way out of arrivals, however, we spotted red tape sealing off the majority of the arrivals lounge and the front entrance. We also noticed the police – a lot of police. It transpired that there was a suspicious package and the airport was on lockdown.
Geneva has a curious mixture of architecture, ranging from pseudo-Parisian townhouses to towering concrete apartments and everything in between. The airport was approximately a twenty minute drive from my new home and it was lovely to get a night-time tour of the city. Hundreds of twinkly signs and lights lined the lake like it was Europe’s Las Vegas. After settling into my lovely new bedroom for the term and meeting my landlords’ son, Tim, and their pet cat, Sablette, we enjoyed a lovely Swiss meal of Gruyère tart and traditional salted beef before bedtime.
The best bit is that since I’ve got here, I haven’t stopped speaking French!