I’ve seen too much of airports already. And I’m not done yet. I’m sitting in Schipol airport in Amsterdam waiting. Again. I should be home by now, holding my children close and trying to recuperate from jetlag.
Leaving Kenya was sad but uneventful. We flew Ethiopian airlines from Nairobi to Rome with a stopover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We flew overnight. I managed to sleep fairly well on the second flight. We arrived in Rome some time between 7:00 and 8:00. When we arrived in Rome, only one of my suitcases showed up. The one I’d bought in Nairobi and filled with souvenirs wasn’t there. We filled out the necessary paperwork and proceeded to our hotel – the Courtyard by Marriott.
The hotel is fairly high end. As much as I appreciated a clean, comfortable room, I wasn’t in the mood for complicated. Too little sleep and a vanished suitcase full of gifts for my family made me a little cranky, and not prepared to cope with a room that had to be “activated”. You have to slide your card in the slot and leave it there in order for the lights to work. Before I figured that out, I had to pee in the dark – not happily, I might add.
Dan and I had breakfast, and then I went to crash for awhile before our meeting. At lunch time, we took a cab to the WFP office. We had lunch with Brenda Barton and Philip Ward, and then had a short tour of their offices. We also had a short meeting with one of the women planning Walk the World who wants us to participate in Canada.
After our meeting, we went back to the hotel. We went for a walk to try to find a restaurant, but couldn’t find anything, so we ended up back at the hotel restaurant.
I was pretty tired, so I went to bed early. I’d been told that my missing luggage had been found and would be sent to the hotel, but nothing had arrived yet. When I woke up, it still hadn’t arrived, so I caught an early shuttle (7:15) to the airport.
When I got to the airport, I got sent to about 3 different desks, only to be told my bag had already gone to the courier. They tried to reach the courier office, but it wasn’t open until 8:00. So I sat in a baggage handling room waiting. At 8:05, they phoned and were told my bag had been dropped off at the hotel. They phoned the hotel and found out that it WAS there. It had been there all the time!! I’d asked THREE different desk clerks, and ALL three told me it hadn’t arrived.
After I lost my temper and took it out on the woman in the baggage room, it was finally arranged that the hotel shuttle would bring my bag back to the airport. I collected it and because it was badly damaged (I guess it doesn’t pay to buy cheap luggage) I had to get it wrapped in saran wrap.
That wasn’t the end of my mishaps for the day. When I got to the gate, they told us the plane would probably leave late because of snow in Amsterdam. Sure enough, it left quite late, and while we were en route, the captain announced that most of us would miss our connecting flight.
When we landed in Amsterdam, we had to sit on the tarmac for about an hour and a half because there was no gate for us, and then no staff available to hook up the gate. I have to admit, as frustrating as it was, I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic for the captain, who sounded very apologetic and frustrated each time he informed us there would be further delay.
When I finally got into the terminal, I found a transfer desk to try to book another ticket. Unfortunately, hundreds of other people were in the same predicament as me. I was number 909 when I arrived, and they were only serving #545. It took a couple of hours before I got to the desk and finally had another ticket. They were going to book me to Vancouver and then to Toronto, because that was where they were responsible to get me to, but I pushed the issue and finally they booked me to Winnipeg.
Fortunately, when I was done, I managed to find a hotel room by calling from the booking desk. I went outside to wait in the snow at what I thought was the right shuttle stop (it was hard to know since the signs were covered in wet snow). By this time, I was nearing the end of my rope, so I just stood there and cried.
The hotel turned out to be quite nice, and despite my blue mood, I tried to make the best of it. I ordered in room service, and then soaked in the luxurious tub watching a movie on TV. (There was a TV in the bathroom!) The room was on the 10th floor, so I had a rather impressive view of the snow-covered surrounding countryside.
This morning, I went down for breakfast and then caught the 8:00 shuttle for the airport. For all intents and purposes, things seemed to be on schedule when I arrived. Unfortunately, it is now more than 2 hours after we were supposed to leave and I’m STILL waiting. There’s apparently too much ice on the platform where the plan is and they have to clear that off before we can leave. AAAaaahhh!! I want to SCREAM! I just want to be home! Not sitting in a noisy crowded airport, surrounded by hundreds of people who are just as frustrated as me!