A number of my later experiences having already been written about and published, with this one, it being as recent as June 2022, I don’t even need to dig.
Regardless of when or where, should I ever be heading to anywhere in Europe, a two-day sojourn in Carcaixent to meet and interact with Alberto is de rigueur. The only way to get to him being a flight from anywhere to Valencia and then a one-hour cab ride to Carcaixent. It being way beyond the ‘call of duty’, my good friend always very kindly insists on personally driving the distance to drop me off at the airport.
On this particular occasion following the standard 2 days in Carcaixent, I was to head onward to Hamburg and had booked myself on a Eurowings flight departing at 1545 Hrs from Valencia. It being a working day and with it being a two hour back & forth run for him, I suggested to Alberto that on this occasion I would take a cab get to the airport just 2 hours ahead of my flight. He would hear none of that and since he had to be in his office latest by 10, his counter suggestion was that he would drop me off to the airport by 9.
Which is where the luck angle kicks in. Had I not got to the airport with all the time in the world on my hands, I would have ended up spending that night in Valencia, messing up all my very tight onward travel schedule. Walking into the departure hall I noticed that the flight schedule departure board had no mention of my flight and listed only one, a Swissair, flight to Hamburg departing in the next 15 minutes. There being no Eurowings agent available at the airport, I called their helpline number and then spent a most frustrating hour listening to disembodied automated voices at the other end before finally getting through to some flesh & blood person to be to be given the perfunctory and disinterested message that the flight had been cancelled due to ‘technical reasons’ (is it ever anything else?). What followed was a long and very heated (from my side) session with me being offered all sorts of bizarre options, any of which would have messed me up totally. All of them being rejected outright, I was finally offered a KL flight to Amsterdam departing at 5 O’clock which I was told would connect me to a flight to Hamburg after a short one-hour layover which would get me to my destination late at night. There being no other option, I accepted and then spent the whole day twiddling my thumbs.
It never rains – it pours! A delayed incoming flight so that, arriving in Amsterdam with only 15 minutes to spare to my connection, I had to run from the arrival gate to the departure one which obviously meant that my checked in bag did not make the flight. Just short of 11 O’clock, I finally arrived in an almost deserted Hamburg airport to be accosted by thousands of bags (all presumably lost baggage) strewn all over the arrival hall. Wasting no time and weaving my way though the piles of bags, I headed straight to the lost baggage counter manned by a solitary soul who, despite the late hour, very patiently took down my compliant feeding me the usual platitudes that they would try and locate my bag by the next day and would have it delivered to my hotel. Looking around at the chaotic conditions in that arrival hall, it was obvious that what the gentleman was claiming he’d do, was never going to happen. The fact that the day after I was to take a train to Slusovice in the Czech Republic and that all the tea samples I was carrying for the meeting there were in my checked in baggage was weighing heavily on my mind meant that I spent a rather fitful night in the hotel.
Come the morning, in my more than usual crumbled clothes (not that I would ever win any awards for being a natty dresser) I made it to my appointment. Having explained my appearance and the situation to my counterpart, we hurried through our discussions. Having declined the lunch offer, I was on a mid-day train which took me directly to Hamburg airport. Making a beeline to the lost baggage counter, I found that I was at the end of a not very long queue of about 15 people. The counter was ‘manned’ by a bored looking lady who had this glazed expression on her face. With each person having umpteen questions to ask and issues to resolve, the speed at which the queue was shortening would have had a snail rubbing its hands (if it had any) with glee.
What followed were two very frustrating hours, with everyone in what was now a very long queue behind me, cribbing and complaining. Having finally reached the point where there with only one person ahead of me, I was rather rudely jostled from behind. Being hot under the collar after that long wait, I swirled around ready to let the ‘jostler’ have a piece of my mind, to find that much as Moses had done with the Red Sea, the queue behind me had parted to allow a baggage handler through and that it was his fully laden trolley which had been the culprit. And there in the middle of the piled-up bags was the reason for my standing in that queue staring me in the face.
Shouting over the head of the person ahead of me who was busy arguing with the lady behind the counter and at the same time grabbing the arm of the baggage handler to keep him from disappearing into the unknown, I hollered out that my bag ‘is on this trolley’. Probably because this would save her from having to write another report, the lady perked and in a trice was out of her cabin. Asking me to point out my bag and checking the tag against my passport and the stub, she had me pull it out. Bingo! I was out of the queue.
Rolling my bag out of the arrival hall and once again looking back at all the chaos with the zillions of bags scattered all over, I could only thank my luck stars knowing fully well that, but for this crazy coincidence, it would have been weeks before I could have been reunited with my bag!
Who says that the devil does not look after his own!