The trip from hell

Our recent trip to the UK turned out truly to be the trip from hell. We were supposed to be leaving Thursday 23rd October and returned Friday 31st…….but we had to come home earlier for personal reasons.

When we left on Thursday we allowed plenty of time to get to Amsterdam for our flights……about 3.5 hours. We got on the train in Apeldoorn, but it was a few minutes late, meaning we missed the connecting train in Amersfort. This was ok though, since we allowed plenty of time so we just caught the next train. On the next train we reached some train station (not sure where it was) and the train didn’t move for some time. We had no idea what was happening, but eventually there was an announcement saying that there was a train blocking the track somewhere ahead and we couldn’t move until the rail was cleared. We still weren’t worried though, because as I mentioned earlier…….we had HEAPS of time. Eventually though the train didn’t move and we got transferred to another train going to Amsterdam. After a little while though it was announced that THAT train was delayed because of a power failure……………ugh, how many things can go wrong in the one day?

By the time we reached Amsterdam we had only 50 mins to spare. We checked in, grabbed some food quickly and scoffed it down cuz we were starving, then dashed to the gate…………which by that time they were calling our names because we were late. When we arrived we couldn’t disembark for 35 mins, because they couldn’t find a ladder to attach to the plane. The first ladder was in use, and the second ladder they found was defective……..eventually they found a third ladder so we could finally get off the plane.………then we eventually came to collecting our baggage. We had 2 bags we checked in………one small bag with Connor’s stuff and the other bag with all our stuff. The large suitcase with all our stuff didn’t turn up and we had to file a baggage request to locate our baggage. They said if it was in Amsterdam they should be able to get the bag on the next flight and return it to us that night or the next morning. Finally we hired a car and drove (with the Tom Tom directing us) to our friends place where we were staying the night.

We slept the night the at Vicki’s house who helped us out heaps with toiletries etc to get us by. The next morning we had good news that our suitcase had been found and was on a flight from Amsterdam arriving at 10am. I rang the lost baggage handling people only to get the most incompetent service I’ve ever had! They informed me that despite the luggage arriving at 10am, I probably wouldn’t get my luggage till tomorrow. I asked them what happened to my luggage being delivered asap and they kept insisting on “procedures” they had to follow etc. I asked them if I could pick my bags up instead because I didn’t want to wait………they told me to ring back at 1pm to see if my bags were available to pick up. It was absolutely ridiculous and we couldn’t wait that length of time because we needed to leave to drive to Malvern, which was 2 hours away. After a lengthy conversation talking with a women insisting that it would take 5 hours or so to complete the procedure of “identifying” our bag, I told her I was coming to the airport to pick up our bag and they’d better have it ready. After the phone call Alex and I spoke about it and changed our minds and decided that driving to Heathrow airport in a hire car would be difficult and probably waste time and so we decided to stop off at a store and buy clothes on the way to Malvern. So we rang back the lost baggage incompetent people to inform them we were no longer picking up the bag and gave them the new delivery address in Malvern. The lovely person I spoke to then informed me that BMI (the airline we flew with) had a guarantee that they would deliver our bag by 11pm that night………….a total different story, ugh.

Anyway so we drove to Malvern, had fun buying some new clothes and finally arrived in Malvern. But by 11pm that night, still no sign of our bags. We didn’t buy THAT many clothes to get us through, so it was still quite frustrating.

The next morning I rang the incompetent baggage handlers immediately only to be told that the courier had our bag but wouldn’t be able to deliver till 3pm!!!! I was mad and I explained to the lady that it was already TWO DAYS since they’d originally lost our bag……..we could have DRIVEN back to Amsterdam and picked up the bag ourselves in the time it took them to deliver to us. I asked her to give us priority delivery considering the terrible service and it seems at some point she “accidently” hung up on me………ugh. Later we get a phone call at 3pm to tell us that the courier has been delayed and we won’t get our bag before 4.30pm.

I don’t think I need to explain just how I felt at that point.

The days are a bit of a blur, but we finally got our suitcase Saturday afternoon.

My next hassle was trying to change our flight………..I tried to get compensation for them ruining our weekend with the lost baggage, but I was told I had to ring customer service. If I chose option number 5 on the phone, the number would say “we currently have a high number of calls, please call again later”. I rang later ………..they were closed. I chose option 1 and they transferred me to reservations because they weren’t able to change my flight………reservations could not give me compensation so they transferred me back to customer service…………”customer service was closed”. I rang reservations and just said I’ll pay for the flight change. They said it would cost 120 euros per person change fee, plus 90 euro upgrade for that seat. I said whatever, just change it. End up on hold for 20 mins or so. I hang up, ring reservations again, “can you PLEASE change my flight to tomorrow”………….reply: “so you’d like to change it to 9th November?”
I got pretty sarcastic with the guy at this point……….HOW HARD IS IT TO FIND TOMORROWS DATE! “Tomorrow” happened to refer to 28th October…….which isn’t even the same DAY as 9th November. You can’t begin to imagine the stupidity of the people working for that airline……..that example is only a taste of it. In the end I gave up on the phone and booked new tickets online, costing us another 200 pounds…….or maybe it was euros, I forget.

We did have one stroke of luck, when we finally left on Tuesday we left Malvern before a storm with hail, sleet and snow hit which delayed others leaving by car. We were already on our way and got to visit Stonehenge, and I’m proud to say I also drove back to just outside Heathrow airport (where the car hire place is) and successfully drove on the freeways with up to 6 lanes………..not an easy thing to do and pretty intimidating for someone from Adelaide.

After these horrendous problems, who would’ve thought anymore could go wrong? Our flight ended up being delayed which meant that by the time we arrived in Amsterdam again it was about 11.10pm……..and the last train to Apeldoorn was leaving at 11.21pm. We had a stroke of luck meaning we did actually get our baggage quickly and we half jogged and dragged our luggage to the train, getting on it with a full 30 secs to spare. Phew.

But was it good luck or bad luck? At one point we were sitting on the train and found it was taking a long time before leaving the station. We eventually noticed that no one else was in the other carriages and after asking a security guard, we found out that the train had dropped the last carriage and continued to Apeldoorn with the other half of the train. We were still in the last carriage…………the train was gone. Not too happy we got onto the next train to Amersfort, which would bring us closer to Apeldoorn…….at which point we had no option but to catch a taxi home costing us another 100 euros. We finally arrived home at 3am………cold, tired and carrying all that luggage and a baby.

I still plan on trying to get compensation from the airline and I do have travel insurance also. I have no idea if I’ll get much back, although I do know they’ll definitely reimburse the cost of the clothes we had to buy.

I will never ever fly with BMI again…..

First time on Freeway

Since all the car troubles we ended up decided to get 2 new cars (second hand) to allow me to be more independent aswell. I’m starting to get around a little bit since the last Tom Tom experience, and I’m getting used to the right hand side of the road. I’ve got a little Hyundai Accent (I used to have an Excel years ago and I always loved that car!).

Today I had to go to an appointment regarding my staying here in The Netherlands. Before attending that appointment I needed to pick up my Temporary Residency Card plus my BSN number. The Temporary Residency Card happened to be in Zwolle, 30 mins away on the freeway.

Now Alexander was going to take me to do this, but it has become urgent to collect my card. There was absolutely no way Alexander could take the time off work, since he’s been working on the migration of his network to Virtual Servers at a school. The school kids had just returned and it was essential he fixed all the problems.

This left one other option, that I drive to Zwolle myself with the use of the Tom Tom. I had only driven on the freeway once with Alexander, and while it was just a little bit scary for me, I did ok and I felt confident.

So this morning, I went to the Town Hall in Apeldoorn and picked up my offical BSN papers (formerly known as Sofie number), drove to Zwolle (with the help of the Tom Tom) and drove back to my appointment in Apeldoorn at some place that I have no idea what it was really for.

The result of the appointment is that they are going to put me through a course to learn the dutch language. Apparently all people who stay here have to complete this course and I have 3.5 years to submit the exam. I hope to finish it much quicker than that though……hopefully within a year.

Latest Releases

So far I’ve tried the new releases for pump, balance and have done the new combat once. I definately love the new balance. The last balance release I didn’t really enjoy, but this new release is really refreshing.

The new pump is ok, but I think I need to do it a few more times before I really get an idea of how much I like it. I haven’t done pump for a few weeks because I was sick with the flu, and I’ve really lost quite a lot of strength. I find I’m really struggling now, especially in the leg tracks and I can see I’ve lost so much muscle.

Alexander doesn’t really like the new combat, but since I’ve only done it once so far it’s hard for me to judge. I certainly don’t dislike it as much as he does though. I quite like track 4, except it is taking repetitive to the extreme! I do love the music and chorrey, but I think all those knees are really repeated WAY too many times.

Car troubles

Now we’ve not only had 2 bikes stolen, but we’ve also got car troubles with Alexanders car. So This morning I dropped Alexander off at work so that I could take it to the car yard to get it looked at. When it is cold it won’t accelerate or rev high and we sometimes can’t go faster than 30km/hr. Not particularly safe driving.

So I took the Tom Tom to help me find my way home from his work. I made my first mistake by turning left instead of right (I have no idea why I did this and it’s possible that Tom Tom directed me the right way). I knew there were road works and I had to ignore the Tom Tom for a particular street, but when it kept saying “Turn right at the next street” I started to wonder if there was something wrong. At this point I pulled over and got out my trusty iPhone and looked up where I was on the map (Tom Tom does a zoom out feature aswell but I can’t for the life of me figure it out). I realised that I’d totally gone the wrong way.

I let Tom Tom take me home from there and it was a pretty easy route……..but I definately went the LONG way home…

That after noon I had to pick Alexander back up from work (and also we had news that the car issues were not good, probably not worth repairing). Again I set Tom Tom up to direct me………this time I think I turned at the wrong street again……thinking I knew the way and not really paying attention to the Tom Tom. I ended up in the centre of the city (of Apeldoorn), I ended up stuck in roadworks and turned down another street that the Tom Tom told me to. I began to be aware that the road became smaller and the signs made me very certain that I was going the wrong way down a one way street………ugh.

After ringing Alexander he wanted me to turn left, which I couldn’t cuz of road works. I eventually found my way……….ah what fun 🙂