Sunday, 26 July 2015

Things go in threes.

Well, there it goes, three in a row. My mother always said things run in threes. On Friday night, I travelled back to the UK to see my family. For the third time on the run, the third time in a month, the plane I was due to travel on was delayed. How can that happen? I reckon I have had enough delayed flights to last me for a good while now. Either the plane was late setting off from France to come to Oporto to pick us up or air traffic controllers caused problems for planes passing through their airspace. Whatever the cause, the outcome was that the plane which should have set off at 8.40 in the evening did not even arrive until well after 9.20! 

We finally arrived at Liverpool at well past midnight and then had to negotiate roadworks on the motorway homewards. So much for plans to be asleep not long after midnight and up bright and early on Saturday morning. 

All in all it was quite an odd journey. First the Autna bus was full to the gills. This bus which usually travels at least half empty to Oporto had no empty seats. A whole host of people had successfully booked tickets online. How did they do that? The last few times we tried to do that we had immense problems and have more or less stopped trying. In view of the crowding on Friday's bus, maybe we should pre-book in future. Foreign travelers (in other words, not Spanish) wandered up and down the bus insisting that they should have the seat their ticket indicated. Spanish travelers regarded them with bemused amazement. Clearly these people were unaware that Spanish custom says that you ignore the numbers and just sit wherever you like! 

When I arrived at the airport, I had a mission to complete before going through security. Our daughter and family will travel to Spain, via Oporto, next Sunday, arriving just in time for the 10.45 Autna bus to Vigo. Last time I travelled that way I had to race through the airport to catch the bus as the plane was slightly delayed. If the same happens next Sunday, our daughter and three kids will have to negotiate an unfamiliar airport and could well miss the bus. Because it is Sunday, there will be no more Autna buses until the evening. Very annoying. However, there is an Alsa bus at 1.00. So that's OK? Except that you HAVE to buy tickets for Alsa buses in advance. Impossible to buy on the bus as with the more user friendly Autna. 

At one time you could buy these tickets from an information desk in the arrivals hall but for the last couple of years there seems to have been no such facility. So, my mission was to find out what to do. I located a tourist information desk and explained the problem. The girl at the desk totally denied that it had EVER been possible to buy such tickets on the ground floor of the building. No, not possible at all, ever! Clearly I was suffering from false memory syndrome. What I should do was go upstairs to departures and seek out a particular travel agency there; they could sell me tickets. So up I went. 

In the aforementioned travel agency, the smiling young lady first of all told me I needed to go to the arrivals hall!!!! NO!!!! They had me sent me up to departures! So she passed me on to a colleague. This one told me she had never heard of Alsa buses. The situation was turning a little Kafkaesque! So I tried another tack. Did she sell tickets for buses to Vigo? Oh, yes, with Internauta - another name for Alsa. Jolly good! I made sure that there was a bus at 1.00pm on Sunday and that the travel agents would be open and went on my way. 

Now, I struggle see the logic in having the office that sells tickets for onward travel (I think that is the term they use in the trade) in the departures hall instead of the arrivals hall. You arrive at Oporto, coming out onto the ground floor. You need to buy a ticket for a bus that might be leaving very shortly. So you have to go back up two floors to departures to buy your bus ticket! And nothing is clearly signposted! 

(Once you have gone through the security checks and into the bit of the airport from which budget airline flights depart, on the other hand, you will find a nice little desk selling you tickets for Terravision buses for your onward journey from Liverpool to Manchester.) 

Life is full of odd contradictions.

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