Gran Canaria wrap-up 2: Day 0July 16, 2009 11:21 am community, guadec, maemo
Note: I actually wrote something like this already in GNOME Blog, and a combination of the Intel graphics freezes in Jaunty and GNOME Blog not creating a local copy of in-progress entries cost me the lot. Funny that WordPress, a web-app, offers better transparent data retention across unexpected events than a local client. I have resolved to use Tomboy for drafting blog entries off-line now, and to figure out how to patch GNOME Blog to save drafts.
My Gran Canaria adventure started in a funny ha ha way when I got the airport and I was told I wasn’t on the plane which I had a ticket for. I checked my email to ensure I hadn’t received any schedule change emails, and found the last mail I received from Expedia, indicating I was booked on the 15h flight from Lyon to Madrid. But the friendly & helpful people at the Air France desk eventually figured it out, the airline had bumped me to an 8am flight, with a transfer to Gran Canaria arriving in the early afternoon. The travel agent wasn’t aware of it (I checked later when I got some internet access). So the Air France people asked if I minded flying through Bilbao, I said no (imagining they meant that I’d be flying from Lyon to Bilbao), and they checked in my bags, and gave me a boarding pass. For the plane to Madrid.
“I don’t understand”, I said. “We can’t issue you a boarding pass for the Madrid-Bilbao or Bilbao-Las Palmas legs now”, they explained. Ah. When I looked at the transfer times, and realised that (if we were on time) I would have 30 minutes to transfer in Bilbao, I was told that I would probably be able to get a boarding pass for the Bilbao-Las Palmas in Madrid.
When I got to Madrid, I queued behind some Swedes who were on their way to some holiday destination and had just been told that their flights were over-booked, and that they’d be staying in Madrid for the night. Happy happy joy joy. I also surprisingly ran into Alex Larsson, who was looking for a boarding card for his flight to Gran Canaria, which was delayed. I debated asking to get on the flight with him for a second, but figured that my bags wouldn’t make it even if I did, so I decided to play it safe.
The transfer desk in Madrid couldn’t issue me a boarding card for Las Palmas, so with 35 minutes transfer time, I would have to find the transfer desk, get a boarding pass, and hope that both my bags and I made it to the plane on time. I was not optimistic. After checking in, I bought a nice bottle for the SMASHED meeting, a Yamazaki 10yo.
Landed in Bilbao (the approach looks beautiful, I really want to visit the Basque country now), and found that there was no transfer desk. I had to go past security, with my newly purchased bottle of Yamazaki, check in, go back through security, and have my bags and I both make the plane. I have learned over time that the quality of hustle is important in airports. Relax when things are beyond your control, and when you can do something about it, run. So I ran. Headless chicken style.
An airport attendant who took pity on my cause very kindly brought me out through the security check-point, and I left my whiskey with the security guard. Ran to the first check-in counter I found to ask where I could check in for my flight. And by complete coincidence, the girl who was supposed to be manning the check-in desk had stepped away, since the flight was almost closed, to chat with her friend, who was minding the check-in desk I ran to.
Checked in, registered baggage tags to get the bags on the plane, back through security, got my whiskey back, ran to the plane, and (with take-of delayed a few minutes) felt much more confident about making it to the islands that night, with baggage in tow. Be thankful for the kindness of strangers. And it’s better to be born lucky than rich. All in all, a day made much better by the desire of everyone I met to be nice & helpful, in spite of the bureaucracy they work under.
Landed, picked up my bags, got a taxi to the hotel, and dropped them off. Said hello to someone with a laptop in the lobby (Hi mpt!), and ran to the welcome party to see if anyone was left, as it was now almost midnight local time.
I forgot this was Spain.
I met lots of people on the way. Lots of people (but no free beer) were still at the party. Talked briefly with Stormy, Lefty and family, Quim, Oskari, Henri, Sebas, Richard Dale, Rob Taylor and many more over a couple of nice beers. Thanks Canonical for the t-shirt and for the party, a great time was had. Home & to bed by 3. So endeth day 0.