Sometimes, extraordinarily rarely, the van is required to change into a taxi and chauffeur passengers to their desired destination. It always seems an incredibly strange choice to pick a forty-year old bus as the vehicle to trust to get someone from A to B but in some strange circumstances it is the only way. This is a situation that usually occurs in foreign countries, normally on the way to an airport. A seemingly peculiar position as a journey to an airport is usually one in which the passenger is particularly keen to arrive punctually, which questions why they would choose a notoriously unreliable van which struggles up hills and regularly is overtaken by articulated lorries as it jiggles along the slow lane of the motorway.
Fortunately for Bani, it was the only choice as in the wilderness of Sweden public transport was unavailable and taxis expensive so he was able to enjoy one last scenic drive before flying home. It also happened that whilst dropping him off at the airport I would be picking up his replacement for the passenger seat, Georgie, as well as my parents, who had flown out to pamper me for my birthday. Acting as the airport shuttle for Stockholm Vasteras airport, Fanny started up for one last drive with Bani accompanying me.
Nowadays, you have to be wary of budget airlines and the differences between the item they are selling and the one you desire. A flight advertised for a tenner that accumulates fees for baggage, checking in and the air on the plane can round-up to a figure with an extra zero on the end. Some airlines resell your seat if you do not check in online quick enough and others charge more for the in-flight meals than for the journey itself. Ryan Air’s flight to STOCKHOLM Vasteras airport has the magical misleading power of strongly insinuating that the airport is close to the city in its name but instead it has placed the desired destinations name in-front of the real one. The small town of Vasteras sits happily in the middle of Sweden, an hour and a half away from the capital city. If you had the blissful arrogance that all members of this transfer had and arrived without the handy delivery service of a camper van you would find yourself a long way from Stockholm with the option of only an expensive taxi journey to complete your journey.
The term ‘airport’ is even a stretch. The approach to the so-called ‘airport’ is absolutely devoid of any common aspects you would find near the average international terminals. If it wasn’t for one small sign at a roundabout carrying the symbol of a plane we could easily have missed it all together. After a slightly bewildering motor along a quiet, small road more suited to a peaceful industrial estate we arrived at a small cafe protruding from a grey shed and pulled up into the lay-by for Stockholm Vasteras Airport. Jumping out to check out the glorified barn we crossed the road and entered the tiny airport. All that made up Ryan air’s gateway to Sweden was a small cafe, three check in counters, one security check and a lounge for the gate. There was an upstairs with another lounge to watch the thrilling workings of the worlds quietest airport. It was an airport that would seem more at home in the Himalaya’s or at a desert airfield rather than servicing flights for a powerful European city. I was honesty taken back by the simple, modest structure, until I noticed the flight itinerary board. The only plane visiting that day was the Ryan Air flight carrying Georgie and my parents, which would then fly back to Stansted, taking Bani with it.
Having arrived the standard two hours early it was a surprise that even this bare airport was so empty. No check-in counters were open, no Ryan Air staff were in sight, even the security channel was fenced off. There was one couple vacantly staring at coffees in the shop but other than that it was a ghost town, well, ghost airport. Unwilling to stay there until the lone plane landed in a few hours we jumped back in the van, drove a minute back up the road to the retail area, and sat in a different cafe staring vacantly at different cups in the hope the more stimulating environment of a McDonald’s would provide a more entertaining way to kill the time. It did not. No matter where you are waiting for a flight, it’s a boring purgatory awaiting to finally board the plane, where you can resume the boredom in the air.
When we arrived back at the airport there were more signs of life, and even a small queue for Bani to get his bag on board before taking a seat in the small cafe. It only took him a few minutes to make his way to the gate, which was only separated from the desks by a glass door if you didn’t have to venture through security. The cosy proximity of the tiny airport meant that when the inbound flight landed and rolled to a stop a small walk from the gate doors the passengers about to jump into the warmed up seats had to make a guard of honour for the freshly landed ones. Bani eagerly awaited a quick chat with my disembarking parents as he rarely misses an opportunity to have a quick natter, but was left sadly disappointed once they mindlessly wandered past, completely ignoring him. He got a wave from Georgie as they crossed paths and then he vanished up the stairs onto the plane that was still running. Even as people joined Bani inside the aircraft someone arrived late to check in and taking advanatge of the mirco airport they were hurried through security and joined the back of the queue.
Back at the van everyone bundled in as we prepared to head to Stockholm. The taxi service was ready to resume and then that wonderful habit of not starting that old Volkswagen’s have reared its head and the key turned in the ignition only to be greeted by a dreadful silence.
Who’d pick a campervan as a taxi.