Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘Crawley

Love Travel, Hate Traveling

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The thought that we’re heading home in four weeks – we’ve been gone a little more than five weeks – not only underscores how rapidly time disappears down the black hole of time, it includes thoroughly uncomfortable images of the physical act of “getting there” and “getting home:” maneuvering the rental car through Bologna traffic back to its stall, manhandling luggage through four airports – Bologna, Gatwick, Las Vegas and San Diego (we also have to change planes in Phoenix but at least our bags get checked thru) — dressing and undressing for security checks, and scrunching in crammed tubes for several hours.

Why isn’t our luggage checked all the way through? We made our own travel arrangements online and, as a result, each leg is a separate transaction. By shopping and buying our own tickets, we saved more than one-third the total ticket cost.

As it stands, Brit Air already has cancelled and re-sked our Bologna-Gatwick leg. We’d planned leaving Bologna in the morning and spending a pleasant day re-visiting Crawley, the British village we’ve hung around about a dozen times on our European jaunts. BA canceled the morning flight and we leave Bologna at 4 p.m., get into our Crawley hotel about 6 p.m. and have time only for a quiet dinnerand fair night’s sleep before heading back to Gatwick the next morning.

It just occurred to us that we’ve never had a satisfying experience with British Air. They’re courteous and polite, but they’re also bureaucratic and unpredictable. We’ve flown them more than a half dozen times and, in each case, they’ve re-scheduled at least one leg of our flight.

When they had a direct San Diego – Gatwick, flight, they re-scheduled our flight back home to a day later. We fortunately had arranged a couple of layover days in Crawley and checked Brit Air before we left the airport for our hotel. Their only response when we complained was, “We called your travel agent to notify you.” When we told them there was no travel agent, we made our own arrangements, there was only silence. As it turned out, our plane was lightly loaded so we each had a row of three seats to ourselves. In a follow-up letter to Brit Air, I told them I understood why they have so many empty seats.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

December 18, 2009 at 8:46 am

Posted in Europe, Travel

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Train Trauma

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You should take lessons on how to debark in a train in Europe. There’s no problem when you get out with groups of passengers because someone knows how, or if you’re in a busy terminal where the train doors are opened automatically or from the outside. But when we arrived in Chiusi around midnight and were the only passengers getting off, we got a quick train-training session.

We were in the vestibule at the end of the car and the train stopped and … nothing happened. We started looking for something, anything, and then saw a little red handle that we started twisting and turning and tugging and pulling and pushing and, finally, an observant gentleman heading for Florence who had anticipated our plight – we greeted him and spoke briefly when he took a seat in our compartment and he became aware that we weren’t Italian – came to our assistance and rotated the handle, just like you used to crank old automobiles to get them started.

The door opened and the steps dropped down and the conductor outside, ready to open the door from the exterior, shouted “bravo” and said something to the affect that we had made it. We shouted a “grazie’ to the man from Florence and headed down the stairs under the “binari” (tracks), through the station, onto the street and to the parking lot to get our rented Mercedes.

A similar incident occurred in England a few years ago when we headed back to Crawley, near Gatwick, from London. When the train stopped, nothing happened. A chunky lady shouted at us to open the window. “How?” She pantomimed, so we grabbed the handy straps and pulled the window up. That wasn’t big enough for us to get out. She hollered at us to turn the handle. “What handle?” It was outside, she yelled. So we reached out and turned the handle and fell out of the train in time.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 30, 2009 at 7:25 am

Posted in Europe, Trip Tips

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