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Saturday, January 3, 2009

fall from travel grace...

Well, for all of the good luck we had traveling up to Edinburgh for New Years, we are now paying the price. Granted, we did NO advance planning to get us to Edinburgh, and even less for accomodations, which were running about 65 pounds a night with a minimum stay required of three to four nights. So when we got a last minute couch through couchsurfing we were more than grateful. We stayed with a few Polish guys and one Argentine gal and really enjoyed ourselves, until we realized that we somehow needed to get from Edinburgh all the way down to Barcelona, and we fly out of Madrid on the 7th to meet a friend of Rahima's in Egypt.

So we began to look for flights, but being last minute we weren't coming up with the deals we had hoped for. The cheapest option was a day bus (9 hrs) from Edinburgh to London, then keep ourselves awake there from about 8pm until 4am, head to the airpot for a 7:30am flight and be in Barcelona by 11am the 3rd. Well, this is where it begins to go amok.

After arriving in London, we find out they only check bags (storage) until 11pm and don't reopen until the next day at 7am.
Problem 1: we are stuck with all of our bags

We called the Australians who we met in Dublin to possibly leave our bags at their place for a few hours, (E5, laugh here) but they live a bit outside of the city, and the tube closes at midnight, so getting back would be an expensive ordeal.

Problem 2: we still have our bags, and a lot of time to kill.

We go to a pub, get some food and decide to go to a movie to pass the time. We take a cab to the theatre only to realize we read the times wrong and there are no more movies that night.

Problem 3: it is another 8 pounds just to return to our starting point. And it is cold.

So. We decide our best option is to just go to the airport. We pay 10 pounds for the hour and a half ride, to get there and be denied entrance because the fire alarm is sounding. It is freezing outside, and I secretly hope for a fire inside. My basic instincts tell me fire=warmth. Sadly, there is no fire.

Problem 4: pretty sure that one was obvious

When we finally get inside it is about 1am. I find a freezing spot of floor (reminiscent of the Madrid airport exactly one month prior) and sleep for two hours. Those floors literally suck any and all body heat right out of you. I countered my impending hypothermia with a few cups of tea and sudoku.

Problem 5: I am now cold and tired. I am no longer a fun travel buddy.

At 5:45am we go to check in, only to find out that the airline saw a possible fraud alert from my credit card company (with whom I had spoken and they had authorized the transaction after verifying my identity two days earlier) and cancelled the ticket. Easy jet shows they have refunded the money, visa shows they haven't. Welcome to my hell. It froze over, and it's called London.

So, instead of getting the next flight for about 175 usd each, we began the budget travel option instead.

Problem 6: this takes WAY more time.

So we went from the airport back to the city (1.5hrs), then to the coast of England (3hrs), then on a ferry to France (1.5hrs), then a train to Paris (3.5hrs) and are most likely going to miss the connecting train to Barcelona tonight.

So, lessons learned? We should not be in airports on the 2nd of the month. (Our first flight leaving LA was also on the 2nd, and was delayed over 8hrs). Shower and sleep well when possible...you never really know when the next chance you will have to do either will be! Be grateful for a travel partner who manages to make all of this "fun". As she pointed out, at least this way we get a France stamp in our passports. I'll be tearing out that page and framing it.

1 comment:

maria rosa said...

Oh you poor things. This trip of yours is sounding more like work than what you used to do. Do you think that the god of teachers spoke to the god of travelers? Well dears, hang in, it could be Monday and the first day back at school. AUUGHH. You'll have a blast in Barcelona.