The Algarve, Portugal Trip Report, Arrival Day

January31

I am in the midst of making our Portuguese hotel room our home for a week. It is compact but there are convenient cupboards to hide everything away. Not that we have anything to hide since we gambled and left our baggage in Toronto. More about that later. The room was dark when we arrived but the front desk host who also arranged for our room upgrade has already been here to tighten one light bulb and show us where the switch for bedside reading is.

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D is currently reading & soaking in the tub. I have pulled down the shade that separates the tub and bathroom from the rest of the suite. But let me start back at the beginning of this adventure some 22 hours ago.

D and J, our friends who we were to travel with, were sitting in the Air Canada lounge in Winnipeg when their flight had been cancelled with no explanation. D & J were wait listed for the next flight AC to Toronto which they did not get on. BTW, there were seats on our flight available, but the West Jet agent told Doug that she was too busy to try to make it happen. (We knew it would have been a stretch because it had been a canceled AC flight, but we thought that WJ had an opportunity to really shine and failed miserably). I will get back to this in a moment.

In the mean time, we leave on our WJ flight. Upon arrival in TO though we are informed of a plane collision and could indeed see the chaos outside the plane windows.

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/planes-collide-pearson-1.4475958

We waited for at least 2 hours on the tarmac for a gate. The captain updated us occasionally, the attendants gave us a drink of water. By this time the generous window of time that we had to make our connection to Lisbon was beginning to dwindle. When we finally got a gate, there was no one to taxi us in; when we finally got assistance, there was no one to move the gate hatch over to the plane. By the time we got off the plane, we knew it would be tight but with luck we could still make the connection.

We waited for our luggage; we waited and waited and waited. The baggage area was a mess with people sleeping on the floors, abandoned luggage everywhere, no conveyor belts moving and no updates about the situation. Finally the time got so close that we made a big decision, we would desert our luggage and make do with what was in our carry-on! We still had to get through security. I pestered Doug to let me beg to the people in front of us to let us go through. Doug wouldn’t hear of it…in fact he let people catching a London flight with the same amount of time as us, go ahead of us (that’s my guy for you). Eventually we made it through security just as our flight was to take off. We were still  miles away from the gate and although I tried to keep pace with Doug, I had my knee brace on because of my chronic knee issues. Anyways, in dramatic style we run to the desk asking “Did we make it? Did the plane leave? Why is everyone still standing here?” only to find that hey had not even commenced boarding! They never did change the gate sign indicating the true departure time.

When we were on board, we were tracking our friends’ plane who by then had received boarding passes in Winnipeg. As a result, the next delay turned out to be a welcomed one. The sensors on the plane doors were frozen and they had to find a way to defrost them. This slowed us down for another 2+ hours. We were thinking we could have waited for our luggage after all but mostly were tracking D and J’s plane….they might just make it! As we were finally pulling back from the gate, an Air Canada flight from Winnipeg was pulling into the next bay. Close, but no cigar!

Our friends booked a nice hotel at the TO airport and decide to make other holiday plans. They ended up heading for New York when the Portuguese airline that we were travelling on indicated that it would cost $4,000 for the two of them to join us in Alvor, Portugal. The original package was only $899 including the flight and hotel! They said “We love you but we wouldn’t expect you to fork out $4,000 to holiday with us and we know you will understand that we cannot join you.” But in the mean time, they also went and retrieved our luggage. We had no idea how they managed it, but TAP the Portuguese airline not only accepted the bags (even though they were unaccompanied) and checked them through Lisbon to a regional airport in the Algarve. Doug and I drove to Faro (an hour away) a day later, in time to meet the plane that should hold our luggage. We went through all the red tape and were told that it was absolutely impossible that the bags would show up any time soon. The agent actually told Doug that it was a lost cause but Doug decided to wait by the luggage ramp, outside of her gaze (behind a pole).

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When the luggage started arriving, sure enough, our friends orchestrated  a miracle!  (Now why couldn’t there have also been a miracle for them).

Kath’s quote: “The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when”. -Simon Sinek

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Love never fails.

 

 

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