Monday, 5 February 2007

Day Five

This is my last yummy coffee at the hotel, I'm packed and ready to leave. I'm debating whether to hang around Florence for a bit, go to the market and pick up some more parmasan as presents. Either that or I head to the station and Pisa which will give me an hour's worth of rest and not moving (my back is insanely painful now and no amount of Ibuprofen is helping at this point).
(Oh my god, this expresso is amazing!!)
I've really had a good trip in the end - I was soo worried on the first day, but I will be happy to be home, even if it means facing up to reality again. I have a happy occasion to look forward to, two friends are expecting their first child any time now. (She was born on the 19th Feb, very healthy and VERY cute).


I'm in the train for Pisa and I was hoping to be wowed by the Toscan countryside... this is not quite the case. Distraction is provided by an sms exchange of a somewhat naughty nature with a friend from home who's bored at the office. I think the other people in the train are wondering what all the smsing is about which is funny to watch. Moving on...


Finally found the tourist trap in Pisa, which, it turns out is the other side of town from the train station. More walking and wincing.
Lay down in the middle of the vast lawn as far away from people as possible surrounded by three amazing buildings. The weather is stunning and I have a fleeting thought for those who are stuck at the office. This is the life!!!
I'm not really in the mood for cultural visits but I have until 7pm before I have to go to the airport, so I decide to close my eyes, just for a while. I'll visit the Cathedral later on when the sun isn't soo nice.


After having walked around as much as my back will allow I decide that I would just cut my losses and head on to the airport, check in and find a good seat and relax while waiting for the plane. I am in total agony now - it's affecting my will to live. I do the obligatory postcard-just-before-leaving-the-city-thing, grab a bite to eat and then make my way to the airport where the drama is about to begin.
(The notes from my journal are very emotional and not really pertinent as they resemble more a ramble than actual facts, so I will be editing parts out this time)


It all starts when I try to check in for my flight. It turns out (and I still can't work out how I managed this) that I booked my flight not on the Monday night but on Tuesday night.
Now those who know me will attest to the fact that I'm an ok problem solver and in some cases (ok, usually), I will have a meltdown before I solve the problem. Today was no exception and I did it in style. Anyway, I make my way to the Ryanair desk in a hurry and a bit panicked, explain my situation and basically get told to suck it up and short of buying another ticket, there's nothing they can do - they didn't even try!
Not only was the new ticket going to cost me about 200 euros (yep, for those who were wondering how RA make their money... off eejits like me who need a last minute ticket.) but the plane was fully booked and I was on standby.
In itself not the end of the world, if I wasn't willing to pay for the new ticket, I could just book a hotel and stay an extra night...most would have.
But there was no way in hell I was staying another night in Pisa. My logical, reasonable mind had completely left me by this time and the idea of having to stay another 24hours in this tiny town (though very beautiful) was just inconceivable.

I proceeded to make money matters worse by calling my mum, my sis, my collegue and my best mate (that's you J). I wasn't looking for a solution to my problem - I knew what the options were, I couldn't just sit on pavement and sob - I was already doing that, so talking to sane people far away seemed like the best option at the time. The irony of it all, is that just at this precise point in time I get a call from home. A call I had been looking forward to and dreading for a while.
The "knight in shining armour" was true to form and while offering to find alternate flights or book a hotel, he also made the point of saying it served me right for trying to leave Pisa without going up the tower and buying a tasteless t-shirt!!!!

Anyway, the story ends by me getting on the plane that night (Thank god for Visa) and sobbing most of the flight home. Only once I got in the car at Charleroi was I able to pull it together. Now I know I'll see the funny side of this one day - I already do to a certain extent, but the airport ordeal was just the last straw. I had spent 4 days alone trying things I had never tried before. I was exhausted and in a great deal of pain.


I acheived many of my personal goals in Florence and I think I'm a better person for it. It has been an enormously rich experience. (I don't know if I'll be doing it again in a hurry though!)


Anonymous said...

In the interests of humour, I feel I have to add the following pieces of information.

1) While on the outgoing trip, en route to the airport, I happened to mention that RyanAir screw you on the last minute flights. Indeed, I quoted a typical 200 Euros price for a flight.

2) I did say over SMS that you were coming back on the Tuesday. (since that's what you had said over MSN). And you just corrected me to Monday, and never double checked the ticket.

The moral of the story? Always double check the ticket.

(Or in my case, always check the expiry date on the passport. But that's another story)

AMC said...

There it is ... "I told you so"
A mighty friend you are! :)

Unknown said...

Amazing how recognisable a post from, err, “J” can be… OH sorry, “Anonymous”… :)