Archive for January 2010

Travel Nightmare

Sunday, 31. January 2010

I left the hotel towards the airport by earliest means, although I knew that the Bucharest airport is pretty much boring. But at least it was a first step in the right direction, home. I reached the airport and got thru security so early that the earlier flight to Munich (my stopover to Jo’burg) was just about starting boarding. I asked the ground staff whether they could get me on that flight, since there was very little transfer time in Munich with my flight booked. They refused, saying if check-in was happy with transfer time there was no reason to worry.

What can you do? I stuck for more than two hours at an airport where more than half of the limited number of shops not even accepted the local currency. And converting currency (at the single counter) they rip you of: we sell at 34 €, we buy at 47 €.

Finally airborne, halfway to Munich, the captain announced we would be delayed due to heavy snowfall in Munich. But we should not worry about connecting flights since all flights were late in Munich. I told the crew that I didn’t have much trust in this announcement, which might be true for all the short distance flights coming into Munich just for a short stop-over, but not for the long haul arriving in the morning from Jo’burg, and going back the night.

What can you do other than keeping your fingers crossed while circulating in a waiting pattern, while watching the tractors pushing snow from the taxi ways, while waiting finally reaching at gate at a remote end of the airport. Of course flight to Jo’burg was gone. The next service counter was closed. The one open opposite gate H48 at the very other end of the terminal (I love Munich International! Provincial in disguise!).

Reaching the service counter they tell they have booked me on the next flight, meaning next (Saturday) night. I told them, that I was pissed because of the ground staff in Bucharest, and that I need to be back home on Saturday. So they booked me on the flight to Dubai continuing – stopover 4 hours – with Emirates to Jo’burg. While heading to the gate I did call Monique to tell her about the situation and ask her to call and inform my shuttle service in Jo’burg.

In the aircraft we got informed that we would leave Munich in delay due to the weather conditions. We had to wait for connecting flights, and for de-icing, but since our flight time that night was calculated being exceptional short we would be able to at least partially cover the delay. It took ages on the ground, and minute by minute my cold got worse. I don’t know how I survived this one, but finally arrived at Dubai.

Transfer time has shrunken to one hour. I made it to the Emirates gate towards end of boarding. Another couple hours of flight with a bad cold. Finally arriving Jo’burg. Being seated at the very back of the aircraft it took a while getting out. So I was expecting once having passed immigration it was just about picking my luggage and getting home. Guess what? I had to wait at the belt until the very end, and … my luggage was not there! You can imagine my mood after 26 hours of travel. It didn’t make it in Dubai.

By now it’s there. And I – still struggling with the cold. Happy being at home.

Caru Cu Bere

Thursday, 28. January 2010

We were invited for an ECM CEEMEA team building evening at Caru Cu Bere, a very traditional Romanian restaurant in downtown Bucharest. I was hesitating to go, because I had caught a cold.

The place has a very interesting atmosphere, especially on ground level. The Romanian music they played at the cellar was not my favorite. The biggest issue: they smoke in Romanian restaurants. This just did kill me. A cold and a smoky cellar is nothing I can recommend.

Into the Cold

Tuesday, 26. January 2010

Left Sandton on Sunday afternoon at about 30 degrees Celsius for an overnight flight to Frankfurt to continue to Bucharest. Although leaving late since the bridge could not be pulled from the aircraft we did arrive Frankfurt almost in time. The whole airport was white. Due to the snowfall that started during the night Lars-Olof was challenged to get to the airport. But he made it. So I was lucky to spent some time with him.

When he left, my flight to Bucharest seemed to be one of the few that were on time, and I had to make my way thru security. Arriving at the gate everything had changed – delay. Finally at 12:00 the our aircraft had left Heathrow towards Frankfurt, but before leaving then Frankfurt de-icing had to be done. But we finally made it. Arriving Bucharest temperature was – 14 degrees Celsius, and in the night Monday to Tuesday even -22!