Right now, as I write this, we should be arriving at the Cape Town International Airport. But we’re not. We are happy and comfortably in our hotel in Amsterdam, about ready to go to sleep.
Our third trip back to Cape Town started off great. For the past week or so Sue has been cleaning and culling clothes, getting our house ready for our children to move in while they do renovations to their own home. We should have house guests more often — we’d have a lot less ‘stuff’ in our closets.
Our last week at home seemed to be a flurry of socializing and dinners, trying to ‘say goodbye’ to all our friends and family. You’d think we were off on a 3-year mission stint, and not a mere 2.5 month ‘holiday’!
So yesterday (Monday) morning, Brian was on our driveway by 8:45, and we loaded our luggage (golf clubs, 1 large suitcase to check-in, 1 small suitcase and a backpack to carry-on) into his truck. It was (another) bitterly cold day in Manitoba — we left our parkas in his truck after he dropped us off at the airport. Plenty of time to check-in. Our luggage was checked right through to Cape Town. I’d arranged for a taxi to meet us there Tuesday night at 11pm to take us to the apartment in Green Point that we were renting from Peter for our first month.
Plenty of time to sit in the departure lounge and have one last Tim Horton’s coffee. The Delta flight to Minneapolis was SUPPOSED to be here early, according to the text messages (and voice mails!) I was getting on my phone. So when we first got a notice that it would be delayed we were not concerned. We had lots of time to make our connection in Minneapolis for the flight to Amsterdam. But when they rolled out the urns of coffee and tables of doughnuts, things were looking a little more serious. The flight desk announced regular status updates, and then ordered SANDWICHES for us all. And just when we thought we might actually spend our first night in Winnipeg, they announced that the plane from Minneapolis was now in the air and we would be boarding — 2.5 hours after schedule!
We more or less knew we’d miss our connection to Amsterdam. And we did. And the airline folks quickly had us re-booked on a later flight, leaving Minneapolis at around 7pm. Well, that wouldn’t really get us to Amsterdam in time to make our 10am connection to Cape Town. And especially not once our evening take-off was further delayed due to de-icing and snow-ploughs on the runway, etc, etc.
Oh well, no point in getting stressed or upset. Would it help? There were quite a few others on our flight who too would be either scrambling to make a connection or desperately trying to find alternative options. (Even the German guy who was trying to connect to Berlin, whom we tried to help. We directed him to the next departure lounge and after a bit of visiting found out that he was from Mitchell!)
We arrived in Amsterdam shortly after noon — 2 hours after our flight to Cape Town had departed. But KLM was VERY organized and efficient and looked after us better than we could have expected. We were immediately re-booked for tomorrow’s flight to Cape Town, same flight number, same departure time. Then we got vouchers for food and stuff at the airport and were directed to the ‘KLM Travel Services’ desk. There we got a couple of ‘overnight kits’ (tooth brush, shampoo, hair brush, even a large white t-shirt) and vouchers for hotel and meals and shuttle. Easy!
The free shuttle took us to our huge conference-center hotel. We checked in and were quickly seated in the restaurant so we could get our free lunch before the 2 o’clock closing time. Nice meal! Then up to our room to have a bit of a snooze and clean up. Email our waiting taxi in Cape Town and re-book for tomorrow, let Peter (our landlord) and Marina (our Cape Town friend and ‘almost-sailing companion’ from 15 years ago) know that we’d not be checking in and contacting them on Wednesday as we’d arranged.
At around 7:30 we headed back down to the restaurant and had a delicious supper — even beer and wine included in our voucher! Back in the room we watched a bit of BBC and then Sue went to sleep while I started my journal. Gotta get back into the routine…
Tomorrow we’ll have a wake-up call at 7, be on the shuttle to the airport by 8:15, and hopefully on our way again at 10:10am.
So what could have so easily been a day of ‘lemons’ turned out to be just fine. We’re ‘on holidays’!
In the news: David Bowie died yesterday. A suicide bomber killed at least 8 German tourists in Istanbul (two passengers on our Minneapolis-Amsterdam flight and our shuttle to this hotel were on their way to Istanbul; they too missed their connecting flight and will try again tomorrow).