Speed bumps in the Journey

 

A challenging day of traveling

 

As travelers, we know there are many challenges in dealing with foreign travel.  Given the language, cultural differences, and just a lack of understanding by all parties. That’s part of the fun and excitement of traveling independently, to experience the unknown and the challenges that go along with it.

Some travelers research, plan, and try and mitigate things going wrong, but it just isn’t possible in all cases.  There are things that are simply out of your control.   We know there are going to be days when everything challenges your plans and patience with the culture and the language.

Today was one of those days!  It started out early before breakfast was served at the hotel.  We had an o’dark thirty flight from Lisbon to Seville the only one of the day.  So on our way to the airport without that important early morning cup of coffee.  The first thing wrong, certainly, not critical and easily fixed at the airport.  We had our coffee and found the gate for departure.  Things were now looking up and going according to plan.

Our flight boarding was in Portuguese and Spanish, we just followed the crowd.  We checked in and found stairs to follow, which led outside to an awaiting bus. We all squeezed in, bleary eyed.   And we waited and waited. Finally, the bus lurched towards the plane. At the plane but didn’t offload. Again, we waited and waited.

 

Waiting on the bus

 

 

As we all waited to offload, we noticed the pilots and many ground crew walking around the front of the plane.  Several were on their cells phone, looking serious. We looked at each other and thought this is not good.  We really didn’t mind because our only plan for the day was just this flight. We normally don’t plan anything else on travel days, to give us flexibility in case things don’t go according to plan. So really we had nowhere else to be.

After about 45 minutes of standing on the bus and watching the activities around the plane, the bus started up again.  Except it was driving away from the plane.  We soon arrived at the same door and stairs we had left about an hour previously.

 

Broken airplane

 

 

During all this time, no one said a word to the passengers as to what was happening. We all looked at each other with puzzled faces and shrugged shoulders. Universal conversation of confusion.  We were ushered back up the stairs to the gate area with still no word.  A few of the Portuguese and Spanish speaking passengers were trying unsuccessfully to glean some status updates. At this point, none of us had any idea of what was happening with the flight.

We heard another couple speaking English.  It is always comforting to hear your own language spoken. So we had our own little group of puzzled travelers.

After about an hour milling around, the gate agent returned and we all hopefully started lining up at the gate. The boarding procedure started again, and the bus took us out to the plane.  This time the doors opened and we offloaded and headed for the plane, doors closed and the plane took off to Seville.  Landed and that part of the adventure was behinds us.  Now we are good again.

 

The hotel is not as advertised

 

We found our hotel, which was advertised as a boutique hotel in a convenient pedestrian area. The hotel entrance was just a non-descript small door with stairs leading to a podium which served as a checking desk.  Okay, that doesn’t mean things were bad, we experienced some pretty interesting hotel set-ups.

The hotel clerk didn’t speak English, not a problem. We arrived about 3 hours before check-in, so wanted to leave our bags, do some exploring and grab a bite to eat since we had not eaten all day.

The hotel clerk communicates there is a charge to store our bags.  Really? That’s a first. Normally this is an included service. We’ve never experienced a hotel charging to store bags before check-in. But we didn’t want to deal with our bags so we paid the charge.

We returned to our hotel and were shown to our room.  OMG!  This was supposed to be a hotel with an excellent rating. The reviews glowed about the comfort and cleanliness. This room was probably the worst room we’ve ever booked.   We used booking.com and had paid in advance.  Were we going to give up the money and find another hotel?  It was about 6pm and we had a long day.

We were laying on the bed (there was no chair in the room) thinking of how we were going to be in this room for 3 long nights.  All of sudden Renee, for whatever reason, pulls up the bottom sheet of the bed and looks at the mattress.  OMG again, what the heck were the black dots around the mattress seams?

So while Don tried to communicate with the hotel clerk (remember, no English for her and no Spanish for us) as well as the manager after she called him.  Thank goodness for Google translate. While Don was trying to communicate, Renee was on her laptop looking for a new hotel. We were not staying here.  Finally, between booking.com and the hotel manager, we were given a CASH refund and off we went looking for the newly booked hotel.

Dragging our bags down the street in the dark we had to laugh. What a crazy day! Our new place was only about 15 minutes away, tucked into a scenic and quiet side alley. Our room was beautiful.

 

All ends well

 

 

At the end of the narrow walkway, steps from our hotel was a very nice outdoor cafe.  So we enjoyed a nice evening sitting outside, relaxing with a few glasses of good Spanish wine, a great dinner and a night stroll around the third largest cathedral in the world.  The day ended beautifully and we were happy to be in Seville.  The challenges of the day tested our tolerance and patience with the culture and language differences.  Not to mention our own, but we travel well together and try not to let things our of our control get in our way.

 

Just another day of traveling on our journey.