Wednesday, May 15, 2019

May 12-14, 2019 Vancouver to Marseille

May 12-14, 2019 Vancouver to Marseille

Traveling to Marseille has been quite an experience. Maybe not an experience I am in any hurry to repeat though.   We left Kelowna on May 13 at about 10:30 am headed for Vancouver.  It is nominally a four hour drive into the Vancouver airport so we were in no real hurray as there was no point in getting there much before an early check in time of 2:00 Pm.   We like to drive down to Vancouver the night before as the way flights work out is you have a seven hour layover in Vancouver if you fly out of Kelowna. If you fly out in the morning you spend the day in the airport. If you fly out in the evening to catch a morning flight the you spend the night in the airport. 

We got to within about 70 kms of the hotel which was next to the airport and the freeway turned into a parking lot.  Agnes got her phone out and found a side road off of a side road which wound us down to the Canadian/US boarder which we followed for a long way.  The detour and the traffic delay caused us to arrive at 4:00 Pm or an hour and a half later than plan. 

The hotel check in proved to be the second experience not worth repeating. I was informed that my reservation was cancelled.  I had booked the hotel through Trivago which had laid the reservation off to a secondary agency which was bankrupt and they cancelled the reservation. The hotel manager was right there and he stepped in and found me a room. However the question was how many of the 20 some nights for the tour had been cancelled?  This could prove to be a total disaster. The tour could be in total ruins. Bike routes useless, maps useless, etc. I felt just sick.   It took me the best part of two hours to phone the travel agencies to confirm the reservations.  Luckily only the Vancouver reservation was effected and everything was in place. 

The next morning we were off to the airport and onto our flight. The first leg was from Vancouver to Montreal.  I checked my bike and one bag, and Agnes checked her bag.  At the gate I decided gate check my carry on. The constant announcements that the plane was full and they needed volunteers to gate check their bags. Ok I understand and I didn’t need my carry on. We were on Airtransat which in the past has proven to be an excellent carrier.  However we were put onto an ancient old bird.  Burn marks on the wings from engine fires, hastily painted over mission markers on the nose, scabbed on patches from flak.  In Montreal we had a 2.5 hour layover so lots of time.  A second old plane awaited us with no entertainment system and terrible seats. 

The next surprise awaited us at the luggage carousel when not one of our bags showed up.  Four bags including my bike and the gate checked bag.  So ok call me paranoid but how do four bags from us go missing. The two travel bags went down the main luggage chute, the bike down the oversize chute, and the gate check bag was put on the plane at the gate.  Ok I can understand how one bag gets miss scanned, falls off the conveyer or any of a thousand things.  But all four bags?  Ken put it down to no good deed goes unpunished and my gate checking my carry on so someone else could bring theirs on the plane was my good deed.  The airline staff was very helpful and assured me my bag would arrive on May 16 and transported to the hotel.  Great four days with one set of underwear.  Here’s your free disposable razor and thanks for flying with Air Transat.

The 1.5 hour line up at Sixt car rental was a wonderful treat and just what we needed after a  9 hour flight from Vancouver.  It’s a nice car though.

We needed sim cards so we headed off to the nearest Orange store (which I had scoped out earlier). A big sign on the door indicated that the store was closed on May 14.  ???  Ok off to the second pre scoped Orange store. There we were told that the store was out of sim cards and I would have to go downtown to the main store. What a cell phone store with no sim cards???  Downtown the store is lined up out the door and it is 2 hours just to get an appointment to see a sales rep.  Ok no phone.

We were met at the Airbnb apartment by the owner’s friend’s daughter (7 hours after touch down).  She helped us get checked in.  This was my second choose of places as the first place canceled me three weeks out so instead of being right on the inner harbour in a penthouse we are in a place in predominantly Muslim neighborhood.  It is still a very nice place and we were glad to be here.

Tomorrow find sim card and see some of Marseille.  I don’t have to put my bike together.

No I didn’t take any pictures.



Anonymous said...

Wow Terry, just Wow. As Canada Ken said to me, it would be nice to have a bike tour without drama, but it is not to be. Hopefully all the drama will soon be in your rear view mirror. Ride safe, when you get your bike that is.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh, the joys of air travel!!! It's unreal how the airlines can delay all one's luggage, not just a single piece. Same as us in Ireland 2016, both bags spent an extra overnight in Toronto.

Thanks for doing the blog.

Calgary Ken C.

Cynthia Owen-Bergland said...

Earnie said, Wow, just, wow but I say well, just well......we have all had those type of frustrating experiences but maybe not rolled into one package. We had a barge/golf tour in
Scotland that upon our landing in Heathrow, we learned that the liquid bomber had caused Heathrow to be closed for the first time ever and please make your way to your destination as no flights would be going out of Heathrow. And, BTW, no luggage for 5-7 days and, oh yes, Edinburgh is a long way from London....
hopefully things get better..!

Howard Brown said...

Tery, more good news to compliment your string of problems....I understand that Air Canada purchased Air Transat , so service will only deteriorate further. Once you get on your bike, all will be well.

wendeth1 said...

rough start