Just got back from the UK, my collegue Jeremiah and I were over for a meeting with Sony and also to attend the Develop Liverpool conference.
I'll be filling in my work collegues on the good stuff that happened over there and indeed some of the bad stuff but it was an interesting trip.
It started off on Tuesday morning with me falling down the stairs, not something I reccomend when you get past a certain age and are carrying a few extra kilos, I banged my backside on every step after slipping on the top one. Fortunately I didn't really hurt myself beyond a bit of carpet burn, but it was a taste of what was to come.
Got to the train station and the machine would not take any of my damn cards, 4 of the buggers, so Jeremiah had to do the honours there.
Finally get on the train, only to be told as it left Breda that it was only able to go 2 stops ahead due to some "incident" on the line which they hoped would be clear by 9pm..not much use when we had to catch a connecting train at 6-40.
"Incident" btw probably means a jumper..The Dutch train system is the preferred method of suicide here in Holland, given there are no cliffs to jump from..its rather common sadly.
So after the train stops in Lage Zwaluwe, a middle of nowhere station, which is not even a town/villiage as such, we discovered there was no connecting bus...Lucky for us, there was 1 taxi which we rushed to..despite noting as we walked/trotted down the crossing bridge, the rather congested motorway we knew we had to travel on.
No one seemed to have thought of using the taxi, everyone else being quite content to wait till 9 in the middle of nowhere for the trains to get fixed, but we had a flight to catch and so we started a stop start motorway trip to Dordrecht where the line was running again.
Though since neither of us had any cash on us, in preperation for our use of UK pounds, the trip to Dordrecht ended with me hunting down a cash machine, a mile away from the station it seemed.
Up and down several stairs later, we squeezed ourselves into the next train heading to Rotterdam, and I do mean squeezed, we were now well and truly into commuter rush hour, and despite having 1st class tickets, it was every passenger for themselves when it came to occupying a precious 6 inches square of standing room. Didn't help either that it was a stoptrein, ie one that stops...every bloody stop and has more people squeezing on.
But we made it to Rotterdam, missing our intended hi speed train, by now we were about an hour late. But we did manage to get on another hi speed and worked out that if we were very lucky, we would get there with 30 mins to spare.
We got there with about 25 mins to spare.
Checked in, machine told us bording had already started and to go to the desk, which we confirmed with the lady standing around helping people....Unfortunatly the desk was hidden behind a queue of people checking in for some holiday bound flight, so we had to try to cut in...which we did, with a few grumbles..But still we could not get to the desk so someone could help us. Eventually..bearing in mind the standing around lady was fully aware of our rush..the standing around lady, told us to go to the service desk at the end of the check in desk...grrr..who in turn told us to go to the service desk further down the lobby, grrrr...where 3 nice KLM ladies were helping a group of 4 Irishmen with their presumably also imminent flights to Dublin...I say 3 ladies who were helping, I should of course say 1 lady helping and the other 2 chatting to themselves while looking at their comptuer screens...they were'nt actually doing much helping at all...despite us turning up and looking stressed and rushed with less than 15 mins till departure.
Finaly the Dublin mob sorted, the 1 helpful lady, asked what we wanted..and we explained we'd been sent to check in urgently on the flight to Liverpool..At which point the 2 unhelpful ladies suddenly aquired a state of awareness and chipped in that it was impossible due to their being a bus to the plane which was now loading.
and another grrr for good measure.
We tried at least...but walked away dejected...We were told to go to the KLM desk to try and re-book our flight so off we went.
Needless to say on a day of repeated dissapointment, our flight was not re-bookable, since the travel agent had rejected the 7 euro fee which would allow booking. We'd have to buy another ticket, at 275euro's.....each.
Since the flight was not leaving till 1 we decided to see what Easyjet had to offer.
A trip to terminal 2 and a hunt around found the Easyjet desk where we were indeed able to order flights for a plane leaving in 40 mins for 120odd euros.
yipeee...we booked, got on, no hassles.
Finally some progress.. we jetted of to Liverpool on a totally unremarkable flight.
Taxi from the airport to the Adelphi hotel...which I just remembered is the subject of this long rambling post...but I think the headline says enough..its a dive, old, cold and well past its prime. It is in the centre of town which is handy, but its a really poor hotel and not worth its high costs...I won't be going there again anytime soon.
It was however the scene of our next dissapointment, as I get a phone call waking me early on Wednesday morning from the travel agents, noting that we did not get on the flight to Liverpool. I explained the train/missed/easyjet story, and was told, oh..ok, but you do know your flight back is now cancelled!!
No I bloody well did not know as I started to fume at the poor chap on the line, who's company had saved 7 euro's by not taking the re-bookable flight option. It seems it is standard procedure on 2 way trips that if you dont' get the outbound flight they cancel the inbound...this despite us being at the KLM desk and telling them we'd try to use another flight.
We'd need to book return flights home..and did we want them to do that......grrrrrr
So while the meeting and conference themselves were worthwhile and useful, though most of the presentations at the conference were pretty dull, the actual travel sheannigans were not fun, the hotel was not fun, and I can't say I enjoyed my trip to the Adelphi...it even had 2 guitar shops accross the street, that I never had time to look in...hmmmm maybe I will stay there again next time, so long as I can make sure I can get some time to shop ;)