Trapped in Italy! Or, How Fixing my Mistake Cost me €200

Only I could turn what should have been a 12-hour trip into a 27-hours of sleep deprived chaos.
Wait, what? Are you confused?
Okay, it has been a while. So sorry. Between the soon-to-be-recounted adventures and my attempts to return to the responsibilities of daily life, blogging has sort of fallen by the wayside. Anyhow, I have a lot to recap, so in true Jeannette fashion I’m going to go in reverse and start at the end of my Semana Santa/Spring Break trip…
Continue reading

Surviving Ryanair

Ryanair

Ryanair and I have a complicated relationship. Specifically, I simultaneously despise and love the cheapest airline in Europe. I love it because it enables my travel addition. See my Semana Santa plans, roundtrip airfare to Eastern(ish) Europe for 140€. However, Ryanair takes “you get what you pay for” to a whole new level. Yet for all the headaches inherent in Ryanair, if you know what you’re getting into, you can avoid needless pain and suffering, or unexpected 50€ surcharges. Because, yeah, Ryanair is staffed by sneaky jerks. Continue reading

Airport Difficulties AGAIN!

Yeah, sure I’m an international traveler. I regularly hop flights across the continent when I’ve got a long weekend. You would assume that I know what the f**k I’m doing, right? That after taking 14 flights in the course of a 6 month period, I have everything figured out, have European flying down to an (almost) exact science, right?

HA. HA. HA.

So, last weekend (that would be exactly 5 days after my London trip with the 14 brats) I decided that staying home and relaxing is overrated and went to Germany to visit my friend.
Now, the only way to get to Bavaria from Santiago is to connect in Barcelona. Which would be easy, except for the fact that Ryanair doesn’t DO connections. Really they are are the cheapest airline ever  and (I suspect) are always looking for ways to mess with me. So I had to buy two separate flights. One to and from Barcelona and one from Barcelona to Munich.

Okay, so here’s a little backstory. As a non-EU citizen, I have to get my passport checked and boarding pass stamped before I go through security. This is very simple and takes place at the first Ryanair desk at the airport entrance.

I got my pass stamped, got through security and boarded my plane in Santiago all in about 15 minutes after arriving at the airport. I was a little nervous about delays, because I only had an hour between my two Ryanair flights. And because they weren’t connected flights, if I missed one due to a delay I was SOL and spending the weekend in Barcelona, not Germany. Luckily,  it wasn’t a problem; I was even a couple minutes early into BCN.

Now comes the fun part. So I had an hour to kill in the M3 terminal of Barcelona before my flight to Munich began boarding. I screwed around, ate muffins and did nothing until boarding was announced. And then, as is my habit, I dinked around and didn’t get in line until almost all the people were on the plane (it’s annoying to hurry on the plane just for the privilege of being cooped up in a kennel-sized space for an extra 20 minutes). So, as I was waiting for my turn to board, I realized that my pass for this flight didn’t have a stamp (you starting to see the problem?) Of course it didn’t, because I had already been through security and didn’t need another stamp. I decided that it shouldn’t be a problem, right?

HA. HA. HA.

The girl looked at my pass and shook her head. I protested, explained myself in two languages, said I’d just come in from Santiago and they hadn’t stamped it, but she wasn’t budging. Okay fine, nothing is more useless than arguing with an airline employee, so I asked where I needed to go to get the stamp. “Back through security,” she said.

Oh fuck. Did I mention that most of the people were already on the plane? And that it was about 20 minutes until TAKE OFF? I looked at the unhelpful girl and asked one question, “Can I make it?”

“I don’t know,” was her oh-so-helpful answer.

I took off, literally sprinting down the terminal with my backpack, cursing airports, Ryanair, and my own stupidity as I dodged slow people and their rolling suitcases. I raced out of the secure area, around luggage collection, and down a pair of escalators. And there, to my disgust, I realized that I was on the complete other end of the building from the Ryanair desk. So I kept running, pretty damn sure that I was wasting my energy and wasn’t going to make it. I finally spotted the Ryanair desk, which didn’t have a line, and kind of threw my papers and passport at the guy. He stamped me, taking all of 5 seconds to look at my things, and nodded reassuringly at me. I had no idea what that meant, if he even knew where the terminal was, let alone if I’d made my flight, but I had made it this far, why the hell not? So I took off again, up another escalator, dodged a stroller and some stressed out moms on the way to security and then, cursing the stupid line-managing ropes, raced up to the front of the line. Actually the “line” was about 2 people. As I waited 30 seconds for them to go through, I realized that my water bottle was full and would set off the alarms. So I yanked it out and chugged the entire 20 oz (not so hard considering how fast and far I’d just run) right before handing my pass to the short bald security guard. And then, less than a minutes later (coat and scarf off, backpack down, watch off, liquids separated) I was through security. I scooped up my shit, and realized that the Duty Free shop was the only thing between me and my terminal. So I booked it straight through the shop, dodging the rack of vodka and possibly some irate workers, I made it to the terminal. And I saw my friend, the unhelpful girl from before. I raced up to her desk and shoved my pass at her, still having no f**king idea if I was too late, if the plane was already on the runway…

And she nodded, told her friend that number blah blah was here and apologized for the crazy inconvenience she’d put me through. Meh, whatever, I thought because she then waved me through the already closed doors to a full plane. I’d made it!

When I sat my exhausted self down, I was sweaty as hell and running on crazy adrenaline. I looked at my watch and realized that from the moment I’d booked it away from the desk until that moment, only 13 minutes had passed. That’s right, I cleared security coming and going, got stamped, and crossed the Barcelona airport in less an 15 minutes!

Chocolate, Waffles and Beer! Spring Break pt I

I had an entire week off for Spanish Spring Break and promptly decided to go traveling. Following the cheapest Ryanair flights possible, I planned a trip that circled from northern Portugal to Belgium, Germany, and back to the northeastern coast of Spain. Since I am sure you are all supremely jealous, I’ll share the adventures in 3 parts, starting with my visit to Brussels.

On Friday the 30th I finished work and, cursing the ridiculous sweat-inducing heat, scrambled around to pack for my 8 day adventure. Come 4:15, I was hiking down to the train station in my short shorts, pretty sure that I was going to have to run down the hill to make the train on time. So imagine my surprise to walk right past a bus that was going to Vigo (my first destination). I flagged it down and climbed aboard, and was on my way!

For those of you who are very confused, I flew out of the Oporto Airport in northern Portugal. To get there from Santiago, you  need to take either 2 trains or 2 buses, both with a transfer in the city of Vigo.

I arrived in the Oporto Airport a little after 8, and began the search for a good sleeping spot. Yup, I was going to sleep in the airport–because my flight was at 6 am and Oporto’s metro doesn’t open until 6. Since I have no money, I couldn’t afford a taxi from the city, or an expensive airport hotel. So I crashed on a long metal bench that was tucked away in a nook and made friends with a French guy who was debating buying duty-free alcohol. Come 6 am, I made it aboard my flight and was off to Brussels!

My first realization about Brussels is that it’s freaking cold! Especially compared to the gorgeous Spanish sun I’d just left. And then I put on more layers and discoverd that the city is full of chocolate, beer, and waffles, which definitely compensates for the freezing weather. I then spent two days devouring chocolate and waffles (some times in combination), drinking beer and Belgium hot chocolate, and going to museums.

Some Belgium highlights include the massive amount of chocolateries EVERYWHERE, the huge amount of Spanish tourists who also migrated to the city for the weekend,and the fact that I spilled Belgium beer on my poor, long-suffering camera. No worries, it still works, sort of.

I also managed to get my butt very lost in a creepy part of the city (under the train tracks, naturally) while trying to find the main station. Think a labyrinth of dark, grafittied tunnels that all vaguely smell like piss, lovely. Lucky for me, I didn’t miss the airport shuttle, and got off the ground Monday afternoon with no trouble.

To Be Continued in Munich…