This year we decided on a trip to Georgia, with an extension to Armenia. It had been several years since Georgia had left the USSR. Tourism was in its infancy, so we hoped to see the country in its unspoilt way. The trip was organised by the travel company Explore worldwide, who specialise in small group adventure holidays.

The trip started on Friday 31st August 2001 at Heathrow airport.

We rushed down to Heathrow for 7.00 pm for our 9.30 pm flight. Checked in, looking at all the other passengers, wondering who was another Explore client. As soon as we were through customs it became obvious the flight was delayed.

Time and time the flight was delayed. Eventually, the only passengers left at Heathrow were for our flight. All the ground staff disappeared, and we could find no one to tell us what was happening. A nice man from the World Bank, who was flying to Armenia told us that these delays were common. Next, a loud-mouthed American was demanding (of no one), that we should be put up in a hotel, who the hell wanted to go to a dump like Georgia.

Finally, we boarded the aircraft and left on Saturday morning at 1.25 am. The reason for the delay, apparently was the aircraft door had to be replaced because a luggage handler had backed the van into the door. This was the fastest takeoff I have seen, no waiting in queues, or pausing at the top of the runway. It was straight out from the terminal, and onto the runway and off. Also surprised we could take off, flights after 11 pm is severely restricted.