Saturday, 20 July 2019

The best laid plans and all that sort of thing!

We were being really efficient with our travel plans for yesterday. The last time we travelled from Liverpool to Porto, on the same schedule flight as yesterday, we messed up our bus booking from Porto to Vigo because someone misread our arrival time and booked us onto a bus which left before we arrived. We ended up spending about 5 hours at the airport.

So, in order to avoid too long a wait in Porto, this time we booked ourselves onto an ALSA bus which should leave a couple of hours after our plane was due to arrive.

We got up bright and early, caught a bus (on which we had to buy a ticket as it was too early to use our old-biddy passes) and a tram into Manchester. That’s when the trouble started. Halfway there the tram got stuck behind the one in front of it, on which a lady had been taken ill. We all waited for an ambulance to take her away and off we went once more. To add insult to injury, it was raining. But we still had time to catch a train and then yet another bus to Liverpool airport.

As a result of that delay it was likely to be a quick turnaround at Liverpool. The plane was due to leave at 12.15 and we arrived at 11.20. But we had no luggage to check on and there were relatively few people going through security and so we sped through there. Would I have time to go to Boots in the airport before we had to rush to queue at the gate? Touch and go!

That was when I spotted the departures board:-

12.15 Oporto. Departing 15.15. Relax and enjoy.

Relax and enjoy?!? More likely sit and seethe!

So once more we sat in the airport on the internet trying to change our bus tickets.

Thank goodness we are not a family with a parcel of bored kids to entertain for several hours in a hot airport.

The airport internet was unbelievably slow and the ALSA website so little user-friendly that I ended up making a call to Spain to ALSA’s “atenciĆ³n al cliente”, where everything amazingly went like clockwork. I explained the situation, gave the young man our order number, he changed our booking, checked the email address and before you knew it we had a message complete with PDF - tickets for the bus.

We had briefly considered just abandoning our ALSA tickets, calling it lost money, and going for the AUTNA bus instead. It’s just as well we did not do so. While we waited for our bus to turn up the AUTNA bus, late, was still loading up, packed to the gills. A group of scouts was asking if there was room for 15 of them in the bus. It would have been an uncomfortable journey.

Our bus was also running late and we began to wonder if we were waiting in the wrong place. I asked a number of people. The first responded in French: “sais pas, moi!” Nobody else seemed to know either and, disturbingly, our bus did not appear on the timetable on the wall. A very helpful lady and I had a conversation in a strange mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. I am constantly amazed at the kindness of complete strangers!

Eventually the bus arrived, much more luxurious than the AUTNA bus, but slightly more expensive. 

And here we are, back in Galicia!

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