Testing the Azores

24-25 Sept

With some trepidation, I met Jamie at the ‘Test to Fly’ office in Syston (24th). In my opinion, he had booked the RT-PCR test too late to arrange any alternatives, if for any reason things went awry. However, as events turned out I needn’t have worried, we were tested, supplied with the necessary virtual test and left with a promise that the 2nd day of return test would be arranged. Later that evening (9 pm), after he, Ruth and Joey had a meal at a Mexican restaurant in Harborough I picked him up in Desborough and we drove down to our hotel (Days Inn) near Stansted Airport. The Airways had been rife with news that petrol stations had been running out of fuel all day, as we arrived at our accommodation we were bemused to pass a mile-long queue of cars waiting patiently at the motorway services next door.

A quiet night led to a nervous morning while we waited for the results of our test and the emailed proof necessary for our RyanAir flight and the Azorean immigration authorities. It arrived at 8.30 am, giving us time to complete the online forms and print out the proof on the printer I had thoughtfully brought. Mobile phones can be unreliable when events are at their most inconvenient, but a piece of paper never is. After checking out of the hotel we were parked up in the Mid-stay carpark by 10 am and were soon whizzing our way to departures on the courtesy bus, passing yet another queue of frustrated drivers at a nearby airport fuel station.

Departure side, we had our usual ‘large’ full English breakfast in Weatherspoon’s, before hunkering down for a 4-hour wait for a flight that left on time and arrived half an hour early in rain.

We breezed through immigration and Covid checks and were soon outside hunting for the ANC Car Rental office. It was shut, but a phone call by Jamie called up a shuttle bus to transfer us to the main office, some paperwork and the keys to the little runabout. It took a mere 15 minutes to find our accommodation at the VIP Executive Hotel (4*).

Checked in and a few home calls made, we set off into the town for some food. As we neared the harbour the heavens opened up and we were forced to shelter awhile under a canopy until the worst had passed, before making a dash for the nearest restaurant. Here we satisfied both hunger and thirst until the deluge finally gave up and we moved on to view the very pretty centre of town, even more so under evening floodlights. As it was getting late we soon headed back to the hotel, stopping just once at another bar for more necessary refreshments.

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