Che incubo! (what a nightmare)

Che incubo! (what a nightmare)

Monday, March 31st, 2014

I got up this morning ready to go to the gym and took a quick look at my email. There was an email from Lufthansa. The title said it was something important about my flight. Well, it was certainly important, my flight was canceled. What?! I tried calling their 800 number and couldn’t even connect. I did a quick web search and found that their pilots were striking from April 2nd to 4th and a huge number of flights are canceled. That certainly throws a monkey wrench into the works. So, what to do, what to do? Of course booking an international flight 3 days before the planned departure date is, to say the least, a nightmare. Fares are up and options are slim. I found a flight on Iberia (the Spanish airline) with two stops arriving in Bologna at 11:00 PM and costing only about $270 more than my existing flight. God knows what seating I’ll get but I grabbed it fast figuring that any available seats are going to be snapped up by other desperate travelers. I’m still trying to reach Lufthansa to see what, if anything, they are willing to do for me considering that I am being really screwed by this sudden change of plans. Who knows what they will do?

As long as I’m writing this post (after another long haitus) I may as well mention some plans for my trip. I’m (still) planning to arrive in Bologna on the 4th of April and return on the 10th of June. This time around I’ve decided to do something decidedly different. I’m not going to go to language school. This presents some interesting challenges and opportunities. The biggest challenge is having a purpose in life. I can’t just live there as a constant tourist so I’ve decided to try doing what I do here, which is do some volunteer work. Thanks to a woman with whom I have regular Skype conversations (thanks Renata!) I’ve found two things so far. They are both related to on undeniable skill that I possess, speaking English as my native language. So the first of these is at a major library in the center of Bologna, the Biblioteca Salaborsa. It seems that libraries are a center of community activities there and one of those in this case will be me playing a tutor for English for 3 people (roughly an hour each) on Tuesday afternoons. The second is at another library where I will be the native speaker for an after school program for middle school students who take English classes in school and want to improve their progress. There will be perhaps 20-30 students so this could be, well, challenging and I will do this two afternoons a week. I have some other places that I will visit looking for opportunities for volunteerism after I get there. In addition I will use some of the free time to play tourist, seeing some major churches and museums and visiting the oldest university in the world, Bologna U. I may also try taking some courses in Italian. By that I mean course about various subjects like maybe the history of Bologna but given in Italian.

I have met a number of people on-line through the website for those that would like to practice another language. I did a search for native Italian speakers who wanted to have english/italian conversations and live in Bologna and there were 503! You can also narrow it down by age to find those reasonably close to my age and still get an impossibly large number with whom you can talk. I currently have had regular conversations with 3 people and occasional ones with 3 other via Skype so I should be able to have a lot of language practice and meet new friends while in Bologna.

So the bottom line is I look forward to the trip but also have a little bit of anxiety about actually just kind of living there rather than just being a student. It should be an interesting adventure.

And now back to the flight disaster story. I now am booked on Iberia, first to London, then to Madrid and finally to Bologna arriving at about 11:00 PM. Uggh! So it is what it is but now for the seat assignment. I do not want to be stuck in the middle or window seat on a 747 for 10 or 11 hours. Unlike Lufthansa some other airlines charge you to get an advanced seat assignment. I think coin operated restrooms are the next step in their “revenue enhancement”. So I had to wait until I received an email with a ticket number assignment which finally arrived after about 3 hours. So I went to Iberia which redirected me to British airways which is actually operating the flight to London. I selected a seat put in the credit card number to buy the $45 seat and then they said, no way Jose’. Now I’m grinding my teeth through a projected 30 minute wait on the phone to BA to buy the f***ing seat. I hate BA and would never fly them other than the current gun to my head situation. Right now I’m really getting tired of those plummy accents telling me how much they are delighted that I’ve selected them for my flight while I am on hold.

Final update: I was on hold with BA for about 50 minutes but the customer service representative was very nice and I have my seat. It’s going to be a tough flight but at least I’m getting there.



2 Responses to “Che incubo! (what a nightmare)”

  1. Joy O'Neal Says:

    I hope it all goes smoothly without blood-pressure raising episodes of interactions with a category of people I call “fools and droolers”—-those folk who reflect no ability to have personal thoughts and parrot company policy…rather than finding a humane solution. I remember the days when “ladies” had to always carry a dime to get into a restaurant toilet. Have a beautiful adventure!

  2. Joe Says:

    Well, I do fault Lufthansa and in a just world they’d offer something to ease the pain but that doesn’t seem to be likely. In any case I’m getting to my destination and it will be forgotten at some point.


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