I recently travelled across from Paraguay and England. It is always a long journey both in terms of time and distance. A journey however that I have made several times.
The trip as it is coming in a number of different parts is best broken down. Its individual parts spread over a few days.
First I need to get from my home outside Piribebuy into Asuncion in order to get to the airport.
From my home there are only early morning buses heading into the local towns. These once a day buses are in reality timed to enable people to get to town for the shops and markets and then return home for lunch. They leave a little earlier than would be ideal for me. However they serve to start my journey.
As such I left home 6.30 AM Monday morning to begin my travels. After a short wait the local bus heading towards Paraguari came along the road and my journey could begin.
From outside my front gate the bus slowly bounced its way along the dirt track and out onto the tarmac. Then it was simply a drive through the Paraguayan countryside and down to Paraguari.
Travelling along the bus slowly picked up passengers. Many of whom were required to stand long before we reached Paraguari. That first part of my journey took a little over an hour pulling into Paraguari a little before 8 AM.
A left the bus in front of the central plaza. A short walk with my bags across the plaza took me to the town market. In front of that waited an Asuncion bound bus. The next stage of my travels.
That bus was not overly crowded. There was plenty of space on board for me and my suitcase.
The journey into Asuncion took a little over 2 hours and it was 10.30 by the time we pulled into the central bus terminal.
From there my next vehicle. A taxi to a hotel.
The streets of Asuncion were at a standstill and the drive to the hotel I had booked took 30 minutes rather than the 5 it would have taken had the roads been clear.
And so after leaving home at 6.30 I checked into a hotel for the night at 11. The lengthy journey from home to Asuncion is my principal reason for unwinding for a day in the capital before taking my flights.
Once settled into the hotel I headed out for a relaxing afternoon of a slow lunch and looking around shops picking up a couple of gifts to take with me.
Then in the evening just some over priced beer in the hotel bar before heading to bed.
Tuesday then began with a large breakfast in the hotel. Bags were then rechecked and at 1 PM I checked out of the hotel. It was still a little early to head to the airport so I had some lunch. I found a nice Japanese restaurant for that. Then having filled a little time I took a taxi over to the airport.
Asuncion airport was as ever not too busy. There were people there waiting for a couple of flights, but nothing more.
Shortly after I arrived check in for my flight opened at 3 PM. Tickets and baggage labels were needing printing but rather than leaving the passengers to work out the machines there were check in staff on hand to do all that was necessary.
I did not have any paperwork or the like just my passport. With that my name was found on the passenger list and the required documents printed.
Then through customs to take a seat and wait a couple of hours for boarding. The time for that came along soon enough and I found myself seated in my first plane.
Everyone aboard and that took off at 6.15 for Sao Paulo. The sun had set by then so outside the window all I could see were the lights of towns far below shining through the clear sky.
A very good flight. Lacking though was any in flight entertainment. Also the in flight meal was quite basic consisting of just a cereal bar and a bag of crisps.
A couple of hours later I was in Sao Paulo. Through into the departure lounge to await my overnight flight to London.
The connecting time was a little over 2 hours which made for an easy connection. Just before midnight the plane was loaded with all it’s passengers and heading down the runway and towards London.
This plane was not far short of full and once more was a good flight. Apart from the usual bits of turbulence mid Atlantic and over the Bay of Biscay.
The larger plane came with the full compliment of entertainments and food. So I could enjoy a film and a good meal. Lacking however were an in flight magazine and bag of toiletries. Just minor details and nothing to detract from the experience.
The plane made good time across Brazil and the Atlantic. The estimated arrival time varied by little more than a couple of minutes as we travelled onwards.
After the small amount of sleep I get on flights breakfast was served over Spain and we were soon descending towards London.
The plane flew past Heathrow on the way in to turn and fly back over London from the east. Landing with the wind. No need for additional circling as we came into land on the first past.
And so at 3 PM on Wednesday I had touched down in London and arrived in England.
The passengers then all filled off the plane in an orderly fashion and following the signs I headed towards passport control and baggage collection.
I was not sure what I would find having heard news reports about delays at UK airports. As such I was pleasantly surprised to find no queue at passport control. There after a couple of attempts I managed to get the machine to agree the I did indeed look like the photo on my passport and open the gate into England.
Next was baggage collection. Walking though to that the carousel started turning soon after I arrived. And for once my bag was one of the first to appear and not one of the last.
Picking it up I strolled through the exit and into the arrivals hall.
The trip trough Heathrow was the quickest I had ever had. It took just 30 minutes from touch down to the arrivals hall.
Now there was just one final part of my journey. Trains from London to Flitwick.
The first I took was the new Elizabeth line. A short walk from the arrivals hall took me to the train platform.
Soon one of the new purple trains came along. It was a smooth journey then on a comfortable train as far as Paddington. The final stages of the Elizabeth line await completion and so to Paddington was as far as it would take me.
The platform is for now to the side of the main line station giving me a little walk up the street and over to the under ground station.
There I had a little wait on a crowded platform but all the same was soon on my way to St Pancras.
Arriving there I had another walk. This time through the station and on to the Thameslink platform. Here my timing was perfect as moments after I stepped onto the platform a train pulled up.
Being just ahead of the rush hour I had a seat to relax into the entire journey.
A warm sun was still shining when at 5.30 I stepped out at Flitwick just two and a half hours after landing at Heathrow.
A long but uncomplicated trip after which I arrived feeling almost refreshed.