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Ken Block testing

Salou, Spain > WRC, Spain

I made it to Spain, not without dramas though.

As most people know I tend to travel with a lot of gear, you can see what I managed to take with my on my last trip here, so far I haven’t really had any issues, from Argentina to Portugal to Italy and even within Australia, this however was all about to change, my perfect record was in jeopardy :).

As I left Paris for Barcelona I hit a snag, unfortunately there isn’t much I can do about the weight of camera gear, it weighs and that’s it, so I have to be as ‘creative’ as possible to get everything on board.

I have a big winter jacket which just happens to have internal pockets which give access to the entire interior of the jacket, I have successfully weighed the jacket down to about 15 kg, my camera backpack is also full as is my ThinkTankPhoto Urban Disguise Laptop shoulder bag.

I had an inkling that I might have some problems, as I checked in I advised the check-in staff that I had expensive camera equipment and needed to carry it on board, the allowance? 7kg, haha my backpack weight 15 kg and my shoulder bag about 11kg, so I was over, way over, to the eye it didn’t look like that much, anyway I was lucky enough to speak to the most friendly staff member who had no issue with me carrying it on, he even said the airline didn’t want to be responsibly for any damage, WIN or so I thought.

In Paris things work a little differently, in all the other airports I have been to, its the check-in staff who you have to be worried about who will stop you, in Paris, however its the security staff you have to be concerend about, as you move through to the scanning machines they stop you and weigh your bags, sending anyone back to the counters if you are over the weight allowance.

I tried to scurry through sticking closely to a couple without being noticed, but they stopped me, lets just say this guy was rude as hell, the stereotypical french personality, he weighed my bags and said I had to go back, I explained that the airline had approved it, he said no ‘No Pass’, so off I went back to my friend, he was very helpful, he came with me and explained to the security that it was fine, just thinking about what happened over the next 10 minutes makes me laugh, so I walked back around the security came through the proper line and he stops me and says weigh bags, I was confused, I said you just saw me, ‘No Pass, weigh bags’ by now I was getting really annoyed, and again he says ‘No Pass’ and sends me back to my friend.

This guy was patient as hell, he came back with me and little did he know he had to sign something (they never told me that), he signed it and the security guard just wouldn’t let me pass even with the approval, next step, Airline Supervisor was called, no, ‘No Pass’, now everyone was getting angry at this guy, next, Airline Airport Manager, the guy still wouldn’t budge so his boss was called, the head of airport security at Charles de Gaulle Airport, to cut a very long story short, he was pulled aside and told to take the rest of the day off, oops, everyone apologised and my check-in staff friend got on his radio and within what seemed seconds he handed me a pass to the Air France Airport Lounge, awesome, but for all that I went through they should have upgraded me to First Class 😉 hahah .

I was let through, I felt like a free man, well for a few seconds anyway, the next step, security scans.

In quite a few airports in Europe I have had to take out some of my gear to scan separately, well they didn’t want some out, they wanted it all out, by now I had had enough and was ready to cause an international incident ;), but I kept calm and laughed it off, lucky for me I was early because the entire process took well over an hour and a half from the time I checked my bag in to getting through the security scans, ohh my, and now looking back as I left Paris a month later to come home, it seems Air France is the only airline to have this process, I flew home on Cathay Pacific and had zero problems.

So that was that, the dramas continued on my way back to Paris from Barcelona, but I will explain that in another entry.

During my time away a friend of mine from home James has been backpacking across the world, and it just so happened that his plans coincided with my arrival in to Barcelona, its great seeing a familiar face, so when I arrived at the airport and I saw James it was like seeing home again, originally James was going to stay for 2 days, and ended up staying for 5 before he headed to Ibiza for a week.

Just a little selfie on our Penthouse balcony in Salou.

Mr Ken Block was back in action in the WRC in Spain, lucky for me I know his co-driver Alex (who I interviewed) well, so when I found out he was testing, I was there, little did I know that James loves Ken, so not only did I get to see Alex and shoot some rally, James got to meet one of his heroes 😉

James loved it 🙂

After our visit to Kens closed testing session we decided to explore a little bit of Salou, grab a drink and watch an amazing sunset.

Salou is on the East coast of Spain about 100km south of Barcelona, its pure tourist, so many hotels, motels, apartments its just crazy, funnily enough though, we were in town about a week after the Summer season had ended and its like a ghost town, restaurant closed, the beach at sunset empty, its very bizarre, but we didnt mind one bit ;).

The next week was spent on the rally, James left on the Thursday and I have to say it was amazing having a friend their to experience our travels together, I met up with James again a few weeks later in Paris, I cant wait to meet up with him again somewhere in the world.
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