Our European Trip - 2005 travel blog

No photos today, sorry!

They say that you cannot control your circumstances, but you can control your reaction to the circumstances. We had the perfect example of this this morning. We had booked on a Holland America arranged bus to take us to Piazzele Roma where we would get the airport shuttle bus. When the bus left the ship the driver took a wrong turn and ended up almost at the airport instead of at the edge of Venice. He turned as soon as he could and headed back to the correct destination. A journey which should have taken less than five minutes took twenty five. Several of the passengers were irate, especially a gentleman in front of us who threatened loudly that Holland America was going to hear from him, mostly in four-letter words. When we arrived at the airport we sat next to a couple whose luggage had gone astray due to a transportation strike in France. The husband had eventually received his luggage, but the wife had not. She had got $50 compensation and had bought a t-shirt and a few odds and ends to tide her over - for 10 days on the ship, mind you! She commented that someone had told her she should write to Air France about it, but she was not sure it was worth it, and, yes, she had thoroughly enjoyed her cruise. Ten days of major inconvenience had not spoiled her trip, but twenty minutes out of his way had absolutely ruined the first gentleman's vacation!

We were up early and enjoyed our last breakfast in the Neptune Lounge before being called to disembark before 8:00 am. We were just in time to get our tickets and were soon on the shuttle bus to the airport. We had from before 9:00 am till 3:25 pm to wait at the airport, so we settled in to wait. We talked to several people from the ship, some of whom we had met previously and others we had not.

If the circuitous route to the airport had not flagged the fact that we were back in Italy, the check-in procedure certainly left no doubt. The disorganization was exemplary. The check in desk was not displayed till two hours before the flight. We had inquired about it at the information kiosk and were given incorrect information. The board indicated a desk and we duly lined up there, to discover when it was eventually manned that that was only for business class. The adjacent two desks were for economy class (us!) We moved over, now at the back of the line and waited, and waited... Eventually, a scant half hour before take off time, we were processed and proceeded to security where we waited, and waited... Two lines, four machines, for hundreds of travelers. We eventually made it to the front as time appeared to be running out. I forgot about UK change I had in an inner pocket, then they wanted to see my computer, they appeared to swab it with a "wet-one" which they took away and entered something in a computer, then came back and said everything was OK, I could go. Meanwhile I was stuffing all my belongings back into my pockets!

We made it to the gate with less than five minutes to spare, but the plane was delayed as we were not the last passengers and the luggage was still being loaded. We eventually boarded and took off about 45 minutes late. We were sitting behind each other, not together. The flight was good, and I sat beside an Irish couple whom we had met as we were checking in and had a good discussion with them, about our travels and theirs.

We discovered Heathrow had nothing to learn from Venice when it came to disorganization. We went to claim our baggage and consulted a monitor which told us which carousel our luggage would be on. Sure enough it displayed "Milan" and "Venice", with appropriate flight numbers. We stood and waited, but Christine had recognized luggage on a carousel marked "Dusseldorf" and "Stockholm" as belonging to our fellow passengers. Sure enough, soon our cases appeared on that carousel. Somehow, I do not believe or bags had had time to make the detour to either city!

We found the bus terminal and got our tickets and were soon on our way to the Victoria Coach station. It was a good trip and we found our hotel just round the corner from the bus station, exactly as described by Rick Steves. We got our key and thought we were back in Prague. Up the ever narrowing stairs we went - only 61 this time, but still with one down before reaching our room. We dropped our luggage and went in search of food. We rejected a recommended pub due to smoke and ended up in a fish and chip restaurant and had a very satisfying meal. We had a walk round before returning to the hotel to unpack.

I searched my pockets in vain for the keys for my case - don't laugh, Nan - they weren't there! Presumably they are still sitting in the airport security in Venice. We decided that was a problem to be dealt with tomorrow and went to bed.

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