December 07, 2007
Unbelievable Trip (Venice in under 24 hours)
David and I decided to get away for two days alone, as he had a couple of days of vacation he would otherwise lose come January, plus our 15th anniversary is coming up in January. My kind husband decided to take me to Venice! One can do that sort of thing for such a short time when one already lives in Europe.
We were scheduled to fly from London Heathrow to Frankfurt, Germany, in the late afternoon on Wednesday, and on to Venice that evening, arriving arond 10:30pm. Except our first flight was delayed three times (late arriving craft, then emergency landing of another plane, then clogged air traffic at destination), long enough to make us miss our connection to Venice. Unfortunately, it was the last flight of the evening: the flight crew informed us over the PA system (before we even landed in Germany) of our new flight they had rebooked us on THE NEXT MORNING. To Lufthansa's credit, they put us up in a Sheraton Hotel 10 minutes from the airport, and paid for our taxi both directions, a nice, simple, dinner buffet, and a luxurious buffet breakfast.
Unexpected blessings that came out of this, despite our nights in Venice being suddenly chopped in HALF and reduced to ONE SOLITARY NIGHT:
- we saw a really impressive gingerbread house in the Frankfurt Sheraton's restaurant
- David got to try some Schwarze Johannisbeere jam at breakfast (where else can you do that? Actually, anywhere you can find black currants, but we didn't know what it was at the time and it sounded exotic)
- we were able to see the gorgeously snowy Alps in the morning light as we flew on our rescheduled flight (it would have been dark the night before)
- we were able to see Venice from the air in the morning sun as we flew in
So we arrived in Venice (did you know it's called "Venedig" in German?) by taxi boat on Thursday morning about 10:30am, stayed one day and night, and woke up at 6:15am Friday morning to go home! Wild stuff, but very worthwhile. More posts later I hope on the wonders of the Palazzo Ducale (the Doge's Palace), the pigeons of Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), the mosaics of St. Mark's Basilica, the Rialto Bridge, the canals, fresh Venetian pasta and Murano colored glass. We covered it all in a dedicated whirlwind of wandering pleasure.
But then the return trip was almost as impressively unexpected as the journey there!
We took the taxi boat back to the mainland (more later on how my misconceptions about the nature of Venice were shattered - only attached to mainland by a causeway, and not even an island, but rather on stilts in the water, and sinking). Then we walked the 7 minutes with our wheeling suitcases to the terminal, boarded the plane and took off...only to have the pilot turn the plane around and land again in Venice! The de-icers were not working to keep the wings clear, and we could not fly over the wintery Alps in such a condition. They took us off the plane and had us stand in a bus for about 20 minutes while they performed some tests, and then decided that no one was going anywhere in that particular aircraft and dropped us off back at the terminal. A lot of standing around, and then we had to go collect our luggage again. It took so long that I got out my book to read while waiting, since David had gone off to procure a new itinerary for us to get home somehow. Eventually we had rechecked our luggage and had new boarding passes for a later flight to Munich and London again. We texted the babysitter to have her pick up the kids after school (please!). Lufthansa this time gave us vouchers for some free drinks and snacks in the terminal. So, four hours after our original arrival at the Marco Polo airport that morning, we went through security to start all over again. I kind of wished I could have slept in a little later. We had lunch and boarded to try again.
This time we made it to Munich (on Air Dolomiti, a first for me, I think - it seems to be Lufthansa's Italian arm; we discovered that Munich is said "Monaco" in Italian!). Progress! We took a bus to board our connecting flight to London. As soon as we were all seated in the plane, the pilot came on the PA system to announce that the flight was delayed 2 hours and 20 minutes due to bad weather. What??? How can this be happening? After we told our British seatmate about our other travel delays of the trip, he said, "Oh, so YOU'RE the reason this is happening..."
The storms clouds descended and the rain started pelting the windows. Meanwhile, the pilot added another reason for delay: Heathrow's computers controlling gate assignments crashed. However, the delay actually lessened, we eventually took off, and arrived in London ON THE SAME DAY AS SCHEDULED! This was exciting. David used the Iris Immigration System for the first time (my second time), and we got home to our kids (and to relieve the sitter at last!), at 7pm (we were supposed to pick the kids up at school at 3:15pm and take them to our first real British pantomime at 4:30pm).
It was practically unbelievable to me that so many mishaps could happen on the same short trip. But we were together, we were on our own, and the babysitter was both text-messageable and flexible enough to care for the kids until we finally arrived home. They rated the sitter a 9-10 out of 10, on her first time with them! :-) That was the best thing to hear!
Thank you, God, for cell phones, a safe trip, time away together, incredible Venice, a reliable, wonderful sitter and happy, healthy kids. You are an amazing God.
December 7, 2007 | Permalink
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You know my dream someday is to travel. Reading your posts is always a great reminder of the DOWN SIDES to travelling. Whew, they really try patience, eh? I'm glad you got to go and everything worked out in the end. Yay!
Posted by: Helen | Dec 8, 2007 5:38:15 AM
Handsome and I were just in Italy in October. Two days in Venice, 5 days in the Dolomites (north of Vicenza/Verona), and 2 days in Milan, with our return flight leaving from Venice. We didn't have as many travel challenges as you did, but our return flight was delayed in Paris due to the Air France strike.
Not that we would have minded being stranded in Paris (!), but we were bringing Handsome's octogenarian grandmother back to the states. She was having major anxiety about the two-hour delay. I can't imagine how she would have reacted to a cancellation.
All that said, I was surprised to find that I favored Milan over Venice. Can't really explain it, but I just loved Milan - though I wouldn't have missed Venice.
Posted by: Jennifer | Dec 8, 2007 6:01:15 AM
Sounds like a fun trip!!
Merry Christmas. Or as they say where you are, 'Happy Christmas.'
Posted by: paul merrill | Dec 8, 2007 8:09:38 PM
I loved the pic of you flying into Venice....that's always been my favorite place I got to visit with Reine and Ken and David :-) Even though it has it's downsides, I sure hope I get to see it again, now I'll hope that we get to see it without the delays that can happen :-)
Glad you're safe and had a fun adventure as a couple!
Posted by: Angie | Dec 9, 2007 3:57:19 AM
William and I were praying for your safety the whole time you were gone, but had no idea how much that might have been needed! We are all going to be "up in the air" soon, and may our travels be safe ones, leading to serious hugging in CO! Welcome home, dear ones!
Posted by: Patricia Taylor | Dec 9, 2007 3:53:40 PM
Cool, glad to hear you made it, eventually, safe and sound and more stories the richer!
Posted by: randall | Dec 9, 2007 3:59:14 PM
With all of your traveling mishaps, you all should be the poster family for "Traveler's Aid". Glad to see you made it back safely and had a wonderful trip though. Also, got your Christmas card yesterday, and the picture on the front was great of you all. Our card is now on it's way as it was taken to the post office today. Have a very Merry Christmas.
Posted by: Amy | Dec 12, 2007 5:21:37 AM
Ah, the joys of travel ... Funny aside: my initial reaction opening this page was "Oh, the Fedors' gingerbread house makes our Costco version look so amateur-ish!" :-P
Posted by: Skeller | Dec 19, 2007 11:48:33 PM