Thursday, January 12, 2006

Heading Home Again

Heading Home Again Our flight leaving Jo'burg was not until 8:40 pm, but I had misread the ticket and thought it was for 7:00 pm. Ron wanted to see if the crafts in Pretoria were different, so we traveled on by foot looking for the places they told us about at the hostel. We walked quite a distance, but could not find the place since there are few street signs. We finally found the government building where there were supposed to be craft booths, but as we approached the stepped gardens to climb to the top, all hell broke loose in the sky again and the rain came flooding. We had umbrellas, but the heaviness of the water soaked right on through. Even our waterproof boots that have been in seemingly worse situations were leaking. As we went from one level of the garden to the next, we asked guards about the craft sales. Yes, yes, at the top was what we were told. When we reached the pinnacle, there was nothing, not even a trace of vendors who may have come and gone. The police officer in the buidling could not understand our English, so we had to repeat ourselves three different ways. He kept trying to send us off to the downtown area, but finally he had an epiphany realizing what we were after. The booths that are normally there have not been due to the rain. Since we were soaked anyway, we went downtown fighting the rain with our umbrellas like Don Quixote fought the windmills. We wanted to leave for the airport at 3:00 pm to maximize our time at the Diners Club Lounge again. The Domestic terminal had a luxurious lounge with Internet connections. We had not checked mail since Jan. 5th, so this was opportune. I had convinced the woman at the DC Lounge at Cape Town Domestic and Jo'burg Domestic to let me in without my card, but Jo'burg International was a hard sell. I offered to call Diners Club for her, but she did not know how to make a collect call. I was getting testy and said, I pay my membership dues for this privilege and I am not paying for an international call in addition to it. She finally realized that she was not going to win this fight and waved me in. They only had 2 computers with the slowest Internet connection I have used in 20 years. The Domestic Lounge must have clout. Their Internet was fast as a cheetah. The little voice in the back of my head told me to check our flight from Paris to Budapest. I waited 10 minutes for the page to load and then it would not do a thing after that. I went for a smoke and thought about trying again later. I did an hour later to realize that our flight did not exist any longer. In a minor panic, I called Wizz Airlines in Hungary. Wizz - "Oh yes, we cancelled your flight last week. We could not reach you, but we did send you an e-mail" Disgruntled consumer - "Really, when was this sent? I have been checking my e-mails up to Jan. 5th and there has been nothing from Wizz." Wizz - "Let me see, it was sent out on Jan. 2nd" Hot tempered consumer - "It seems to me that if you sent it on the 2nd and I checked my mail on the 5th, I should have received it unless your Internet system is as inept as the Magyar Postal system." Wizz - "Yes, well all we can do is rebook you. The 15th is the soonest available flight." Raging consumer - "The 15th is two more nights in Paris. We need to be home tonight." Wizz - "That is the best we can do." On the verge of a stroke consumer - "Fine book us for that flight, but we will see if there are alternatives." Options, well we could stay the two nights with the B and B guy we stayed with prior leaving for S. A. Problem, we no longer have his phone number. Possible solution - go through the booking service and then apoligize that he has to pay the commission again. No solution - His place is not showing as available. Step 2 - Try the other places were we ourselves advertise. Problem - The ones available either do not answer the phone or are over 100 Euros a night. Step 2 additional problem - Our flight starts to board in 45 minutes. Alternate possible solution - Change airlines. SkyEurope has a flight tomorrow night from Orly to Budapest. Cost 252 Euros for both of us. Pondering, pondering, pondering... two nights accommodations in Paris, add in meals, add in transportation, add in museum entrance fees for whiling away the time, add in any extra shopping that we may be too impulsive to resist = a hell of a lot more than 252 Euros. Book that flight!!! Step 3 - Run for the plane. Opps! Ron was sucked into the souvenir store like light in a black hole. Try to retrieve him before we spend more nights in Jo'Burg. Okay, great...slept a couple of hours on the plane and we made it to Paris De Gaulle Airport at 7:00 am; however, our flight for Budapest does not leave until 8:10 PM.

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