What better day to write about Far from Zen (read stressful) travelling experiences than a rainy gloomy July Monday? And in case you’re reading this from a sunny terrace, that’s London for us again.
One thing plenty of friends moan about Facebook and Insta are their aspirational angle. We seem to be all happy and fulfilled judging by the posts and pictures. My blog may suffer from the same disease most of the time – a consequence of my own frailties, including selective memory, wanderlust and an unbalanced self, so easily excitable by a holiday.
But occasionally travelling goes wrong and it would be only fair to dedicate a section to such happenings and their less glorious factors.
Alitalia – the worst airline service wise
Good fares when booked in advance came with an unexpected ridiculous outcome. We flew to Milan for friends’ wedding with our nanny friend. Or more factually, that was our intention. Got to London City airport with time on our hands after a very smooth and joyous transfer to make sure our toddler has plenty of time to press buttons, ride escalators, stairs and elevators. The most ridiculous air hostess at Alitalia, shouldn’t have been in her 50s we would have said she’s on probation/ training. Half and hour after and a 25% failed check in, she redirected us to tickets office. Our nanny’s friend name on passport is different from the booking: Elena versus Ilenuta hence she cannot fly. Unless we pay her a brand new ticket. We spent a couple of hours that day arguing with Alitalia and looking into consumer European rights. Alitalia is the only company which cannot do such name changes. The low cost airlines are luxury in comparison; they would allow such change for a modest amount and Customer Service would be actually allowed to service its clients. Regardless the number of calls and discussions, our nanny friend ended up on different flights and we paid the tickets again, last minute fare kind of amounts. Never flying Alitalia again, couldn’t bear dealing again with that bunch of ‘friendly’ bureaucratic people. Such a disgrace airline to such a beautiful country.
Gold Car – Linate airport
After a glorious Alitalia flight, we found ourselves fronted with a new Italian dilemma once landed. Despite being fully paid, our rental car company does not take Visa debit cards or Amex or works with you to find a sensible solution for a deposit or anything. There’s nothing gold about Gold Car. If anything, the Customer Service is at par with Alitalia or public Italian services and couldn’t be farthest from gold. It’s all mentioned in their T& Cs that our Rentalcars broker didn’t bother stating clearly. Result on a Friday: 4 hours in the airport, with Rentalcar broker redirecting our booking to a different company – Hertz, taking a while to find a different car available. More bureaucratic ‘friendly’ /reading helpless Italian Customer Service.
Taxis, police and Lost and Found objects in Rome
Perhaps unfair to point out to all taxis out there. For fresh new parents underslept and trying to enjoy some remains of their social life, it’s very easy to misplace and leave items behind. My other half luckily delivered 5 weeks old baby to grandparents but forgot the baby bag in the taxi. A Yummy mummy bag containing all babies essential items, including changing mat, one of our favourite outfit, bottle, dummy, mum’s purse with money, cards and documents. After 24 hours, we located the driver; conveniently he claimed to have picked up another passenger right after with luggage for airport and didn’t notice anything. We spent a couple of days with the Police and Lost and Found Objects, they found our trials of looking for a v little baby bag very laughable – certainly in Rome. Very discouraged and bitter about such attitude and ‘helpful’ bunch, we’ve done our best trying to forget about the incident by figuring out practical solutions for our 5 weeks old baby and cards.
To change the geography, the last unfortunate adventure is fresh and belongs to friends travelling with 1 toddler and 1 baby. This glorious hotel refused to let them stay with the kids or get them a refund. Booking.com couldn’t help either; apparently they couldn’t even get paid. As unfortunate as it gets in July in busy stunning Santorini, where our friends paid an arm and a leg for a very average pension where they ended up last minute. Such a hotel deserves to be widely ‘advertised’! So desolate and unfortunate to spoil Fira’s charm with such lack of heart and reasoning.
Please share your Less than Zen travelling stories when you have time. Some may contain good lessons learnt and some may contain some names & providers which should be avoided.