Monday, April 26, 2010

Venezia, day 4 – arrivederci Venezia – or not

The motoscafo (water taxi) picked us up and took us to the airport. We waved goodbye to our hotel.




We waved goodbye to San Marco.
At this point I was close to tears because we'd had a fabulous time and I really wasn’t ready to go. I said as much.

Hmm, what do they say about being careful what you wish for?

Got to the airport in plenty of time. The plan was to see where our check-in gate was; get some spremulata and/or gelati; then check in, have something to eat at the airport, get on a plane and go home.

So we walked up to the airport, checked the departures board, and…

Flight cancelled.

What?

Announcement: all flights today are cancelled due to a strike by ground staff at Venice. More announcements will be made later. (There were indeed more announcements. And they were all a repeat of that one. Though in hindsight we were incredibly lucky that we went the week we did, because the following week would've been much worse: I do feel for the stranded travellers, and think we had it easy.)

OK. So how do we get home? The clerk at the Easyjet check-in gave us a piece of paper telling us our rights (which basically said ‘a strike is outside our control so we reserve the right to do nothing’) and wrote two phone numbers down, saying, ‘Ring these numbers and they will advise you. Don’t ring from your mobile.’ Why not? ‘You have to use the public phone. It’s free.’ Except… both numbers were unobtainable. So then I tried the operator. ‘It’s £17 for a connection and £2 a minute after.’ OK, but if you can’t put me through, do I still have to pay that charge? ‘No, Madam.’ He couldn’t put me through on either number. Please can you confirm that you are NOT charging my credit card? ‘We will NOT charge you.’ (Actually, they did – I rang to check when I got home, and explained the situation – as well as sticking a block on that card and ordering a new one in case it had been compromised.)

So back I went to Easyjet, along with several people I talked to in the queue; the idea was to go back en masse and explain politely that the numbers were unobtainable and ask what our options were. A different clerk directed us to the Alitalia desk, where they could reschedule the flight. Next one was – wait for it – Tuesday 13 April. Four days later. And who was to say that the baggage strike wouldn’t happen again? We had nowhere to stay and no clean clothes. Although I would've liked longer in Venice, I didn't want it to be this way! Beckoned DH over, told him to make the kids stay put, then put him in the picture.

Alternatives? According to the lovely people who were in the queue with us, we could go to Milan, take the train to Paris overnight, then get the Eurostar to London and then to Gatwick. Or maybe get a flight from Milan.

When we got to the desk, the absolutely lovely clerk told us that she could get us four seats on a plane at 7.30am from Milan to London. It would take us a few hours to get to Milan (175 miles away), but it was doable: bus, train, then shuttle. Quick confab with DH: we’ll go via Milan and sell it to the kids as a huge adventure and great fun…

8 comments:

Jan Jones said...

Eeek!

Lacey Devlin said...

Sometimes you really have to work hard for your holiday!

Michelle Styles said...

Oh just hugs!!!

I am just pleased you made it home before the ash cloud or it would have been even worse!

Caroline Hartin said...

Hugs. Disruptions to a fab holiday suck IMHO. Caroline x

Kate Hardy said...

Jan - it was a bit of an eek moment :o)

Kate Hardy said...

Lacey - yeah, had to work a teensy bit harder after that (see tomorrow...) - and ended up with a mix of French, Italian and English!

Kate Hardy said...

Michelle - exactly, and had we left it until the Tuesday... eep.

Kate Hardy said...

Caroline - once we had a plan, it wasn't so bad. Just a bit of a long haul. (And I LOVE Italian trains. And the ticket clerk at Mestre, who was a total sweetheart.)