John and Tilly looking out at the aircraft

After years of dreaming, weeks of prepping and days of saying our goodbyes to friends and family, we finally head to the airport.

(Lire ce billet en français)

John and Stephanie standing outside with two suitcases
All ready to go!

The day had started well: we were ready to go on time, the route to the airport was smooth, and we got the airport with plenty of time for getting through security and having lunch. Then at the boarding gate, ominous announcements: flight delayed, engineers checking the aircraft. Eventually we were sent back to the departure lounge, and we decided to try out my free pass to the priority pass lounge. John is a convert; I think we’ll be using those more often in future!

John and Tilly looking out at the aircraft
Waiting patiently for the next update…

It was bad news when we were called back to the boarding gate: the flight was cancelled and we were all to be de-controlled from the flight and sent back out to the check-in desk. There followed a very confusing time trying to parse the instructions from the Qatar Airways ground staff and waiting around for their representatives to escort us through the boarding gate to the arrivals area. They were also supposed to escort us through customs but a passably irritated customs officer had to do that, as the Qatar Airways staff were nowhere to be found at baggage claim. Two hours of queuing at the check-in desk and three phone calls to the airline later, we were rebooked on a flight from Heathrow the next day and John had assurances from the ground staff that the airline would reimburse our transport and hotel costs.
So we did it all again the next day, this time at Heathrow, and thankfully the flight departed on time. The changeover at Doha was easy, although finding out our 1am second flight was delayed was not what we wanted to hear! Thankfully Tilly fell asleep in the baby carrier minutes after we got off the first flight and slept through until we landed at Bandaranaike airport.

John and Tilly sleeping in Doha airport
Sleeping through Doha airport

When we hit the immigration counter, one last hiccup on the journey: I’d forgotten my phone on the plane! I ran all the way back to the gate and caught them just as they were closing. Luckily they found it.
I was so glad I’d arranged an airport transfer with our hotel. After a short night on a plane I was not in a state to manage a child and figuring out transport at the same time.
On the ride from the airport I was surprised to notice several shrines to the Virgin Mary and other Christian figures on street corners and churches every 500 metres or so. It turns out the region around Negombo is known as Little Rome and a lot of the people who live here are Catholic.

One of the many roadside shrines to be found in Sri Lanka’s Little Rome

The resort seemed nice when we arrived and we were looking forward to crashing in bed. We weren’t quite done, however: there was a problem with the first room we were given so we had to pack up again and move to a different one.
Finally, about 48 hours after we set off for Gatwick, we could relax and settle in to our recovery week at the resort.

Palm trees pool and beach at sunset

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