Out for a walk beside the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Heading to Nova Scotia around August 1st.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

We interrupt this program for a special news bulletin

We have a lot more to tell you about our hiking trip to the Peaks of the Balkans. However we're going to delay that for a day or two to tell you what we've been up to since our hike ended.

What an adventure the last 36 hours have been!

I am writing this from our Airbnb rental in Porto, Portugal where we finally arrived this morning after hopping, skipping, and jumping our way through Europe from Tirana, Albania.

Yes, we arrived this morning, the 26th. However we were supposed to arrive yesterday morning, the 25th.

Let me tell you the story...

We had arrived back in Shkodra and spent the night at the nice hotel that was the last night that was included in our trip. We had the morning to wander around, and had a ride arranged to Tirana Airport at 1:00pm. With a two hour drive, we would arrive at the airport with lots of time to spare for our 7:00pm Wizz Air flight to Rome.

The plan was to spend overnight in Rome airport, then catch our 7:00am Wizz Air flight to Porto on the 25th. Then two nights in Porto before catching our Porto to Toronto flight on the 27th.

Things would not quite go according to plan!

We got checked in, and the Albanian guy at the desk asked if we were from Ottawa. Surprised, we said "yes", and he says " I lived in Barrhaven (a bedroom community outside of Ottawa) for years, and my mother still lives there."

Too funny.

So we had a little conversation, and he says "I notice that you are not sitting together, I can move you if you wish, no charge". Of course, we agreed, thanks! The he says, he can put us in an extra legroom seat as well. Great! Wizz Air normally charges around €20 extra for that. 

Nice guy, and all because of the Ottawa connection.

While waiting for our 7:00pm Wizz Air flight, we noticed on the departure board that it was delayed to 7:30pm. No problem. Within reason, we really didn't care how much it was delayed because we planned to spend the night in Rome airport anyhow.

But as 7:30pm approached, the departure time was again changed. Now leaving at 10:00pm. This was still fine with us, and like our easyJet flight from Paris in early May, if the plane arrived more than three hours late, we would get compensation. At this point, we're hoping it's delayed a little more!

Tirana airport was a real zoo.

There were a lot of other flights being shown as delayed as well.

While we are waiting, Ruth went and spent our remaining Albanian Lek. All she could get was one of those tiny airplane bottles of brandy. We thought it would go well with the fresh cheap cherries we had bought earlier in the day!

The cherries were delicious! The brandy was awful. Yuck!

So were sitting waiting, and who walks by directly in front of us?? Our friends Casper and Demi from Netherlands who we had spent a few days hiking with! What a funny coincidence.

They came and sat with us for an hour while they waited for their flight.

At about 10:30pm, they finally called us for boarding. They put us through the gate into a sort of a holding area where the bus picks you up to take you to the plane. We stood there for ten minutes or so, and eventually they turned everybody around and sent us back into the gate area, telling us there was a "technical problem".

The next time we looked at the board, at about 11:00pm, it said that our flight was "rescheduled" to the next day at 12:55pm!

Rescheduled!

People were pissed. But we just ride with these things because there's really nothing you can do about it. Only problem was, we would  now miss our Wizz Air flight out of Rome the next morning.

Wizz Air is a discount airline. They do only point to point flights, no connecting flights. So each leg has to be booked independently, and they do not care that their own problem is what might cause you to miss your next flight, even if the next flight is also booked with them.

So, that's a problem.

They sent everybody back into the departures hall, where we had to stand in line and request a hotel room for the night. But of course with that many people, the hotels close to the airport were already full, and they brought in buses and vans to take people to hotels "between 4-7 kms away", so we were told.

I could just picture this whole procedure taking two hours or more to actually get us into a room for the night. It was already midnight by this time. So, thinking outside the box, I quickly walked to the nice hotel that's directly across from the airport to ask if they had any rooms available.

I knew that I did not have to go with the rest of the people being herded onto buses. They would get their hotel room for free, but I would have to pay for mine out of pocket, and submit receipts after the fact. They will reimburse "for reasonable out of pocket expenses for hotel and food".

The question of course is what is reasonable?

The nice hotel didn't have any standard rooms left. Only a "deluxe" room... at €150 a night!

We made a corporate decision, and decided to take it. I'm guessing that's a bit expensive to get paid back for, but who knows. We will at least get whatever they think is reasonable, perhaps €80. At least we would get a good night's sleep, and it included a very nice buffet breakfast the next morning.

Our deluxe room was huge!

The bathroom was bigger than our entire last motorhome, Max!

Nice to see how the other 5% live for a change!

We slept really well. And, we didn't have to wait to be bussed back to the airport at any specific time the next morning... just walk back across the road.

The included breakfast buffet was fantastic!

My first plate!

We had a leisurely breakfast, and then went back to the room to figure out how to get us to Porto. Unfortunately, there were no suitable discount airline flights. Our main concern at this point was to get us from Rome to Porto by the morning of the 27th, so that we didn't forfeit our Air Transat flight from Porto to Toronto.

The best thing I could find was an Air France flight that connect through Paris with a 10 hour overnight connection. I booked it, at a cost of about €412. It is yet to be seen how much compensation we will receive back from Wizz Air, but I sincerely doubt that we will come out ahead of the game. 

Back at the departure area, we were called for boarding at about 1:30pm... again later than planned, but we would still easily make our Air France flight to Paris.

And, we still got our free extra legroom seats!

Rome airport was a nightmare. Rome is a heavily touristed city, and especially during the summer months. It reminds me of why we've never been to Rome!

We had to go outside to change terminals.

Our Air France flight departed right on schedule.

Leaving Italy from Rome's FCO Airport.

The city of Paris a couple of hours later.

Can you see the Eiffel Tower? (It's on the left)

Here, I'll zoom in for you.

We were only in Paris at the beginning of May, and we sure didn't expect to be back so soon. But, we would never leave the departure lounge. We spent the entire ten hours overnight, and met some interesting people who were also waiting in the same area. Mara, from Hawaii (but originally from Peru), Angel, a young guy from Catalonia who was coincidentally on his way to Peru, and a couple from Colombia.

Where we hung out for ten hours! With an occasional nap!
Mara, Kevin, Angel, and the Colombian's wife, we can't remember their names.

Our Air France flight this morning was pretty much on time. Two hours and twenty minutes later we arrived in Porto, Portugal.

The coast at Porto.

Took the metro overland train from the Airport to the center and walked to our Airbnb. We were already paying for last night because it was non refundable, so were able to get the keys right away.

It's a really nice little apartment for about €68 ($73 USD, $100 CAD) a night.

Fully equipped kitchen.

And a nice modern bathroom.

So, when all is said and done, we made it to where we wanted to be, but missed out on a day and a night in Porto. And, about $800 CAD worth of added expenses when you include some overpriced airport food.

How we got from Tirana to Porto!

We're pretty tired, but we're feeling a second wind coming on, and we've never been to Porto... we're heading out to explore!

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And in Canada...

4 comments:

  1. Whew, glad you made it! Love the looks of your apartment in Porto. Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, we were too, it was definitely a frustrating time but we just dealt with it.

      Our apartment in Porto was great, it's a shame that we only got to enjoy it for the one night rather than the original two. We really slept well that night though!

      Delete
  2. Like you say, what can you do about it? Enjoy the ride. It adds to the journey and the story. You got a deal on the hotel/buffet with a lux room. Better to br delayed in a European airport than cleaning up after a hurricane :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope nothing we could do at all. It is good though that we went over to the other hotel, at least we got a decent night's sleep and we didn't have to wait to get shuttled back and forth, plus the waiting to get checked in. If we had done it the way the airline wanted us too, we would have had very little sleep that night.

      We hope that you don't have too much debris to clean up and that you didn't have too much damage from the hurricane.

      Delete

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