Hello, I’m back
Well, I am back, but I’m not quite back up to speed. The next few posts are probably going to be about me, and my recent trip and so won’t have much to do with Symi, I’m afraid. I know many of my friends will have seen some of the photos I’m going to post over the next few days, but not everyone has. They won’t necessarily be in the right order or appropriate to the thing I’m writing about, but it will make a change from my usual balcony shots of Yialos. I’ve chosen quite a few from the trip and will try and go the events day by day, starting with the adventure which was a cancelled flight at Rhodes.
Only once before have I spent so long at Rhodes airport waiting for a flight, but that was by choice and another story. On the Saturday of my departure, I arrived in good time, as you do, and hung around waiting for the board to change to tell me a gate. It didn’t, but I went through to departures with over an hour to spare and had a wander around. There was an EasyJet plane just outside the window but nothing going on, so I sat in the café and then wandered hopefully to the gate… Where I met Christine from Symi, who was to be on the same flight. She told me there was talk of a four-hour delay. Bit of a bugger, but not to worry, I had the Hilton booked at Gatwick, and my first train journey was not until 10.00 on Sunday morning.
Then there were murmurings from the others at the gate, which I could see through the café window – I’d gone back for a glass of wine, thinking I had four hours to wait. Er, no, it’s probably not going tonight… News filtered through, and Christine found me offering me a compensation card from the airline as we were over four hours delayed by this point, around one in the morning. So, with my €9.00 credit, I bought us each a glass of wine and a packet of peanuts for €20.00… And realised that the cashier had charged me for the beer belonging to the man behind me in the queue. I became very Greek, rushed back, pushed in (politely) and babbled that she’d overcharged me. That was sorted out amicably and it wasn’t until I was back at my table that I realised I hadn’t even thought about the language, it had just come out in Greek. Mind you, I had been awake for 20 hours by then as I had been up at 4.30 in the morning, as is my wont.
The trouble with EasyJet at Rhodes is that they have no ground staff, so it was up to some poor local airport employees to break the news to a very fed up group of passengers that the flight was now cancelled. Well, you may have seen the TV programme about EasyJet, it was starting to get like that with people on the phone to… I have no idea who, threatening to sue them and eat their first born, bewildered others waiting for someone to tell them what to do, others shouting in a variety of accents to the staff who had no idea what was going on either… And a few of us, like me and Christine, who followed the calm inner voice of the seasoned traveller and discovered that the airport was arranging hotels and transport (always a bad sign). However, it was later deemed that this would be for families with children first, and everyone had to wait for the luggage to be taken off the plane, and it was now around 2.00, and the ground staff had gone home…
Luckily we only had hand luggage, and Christine knew the night porter at the Ermis hotel (Hermes). After a couple of calls, she grabbed the last two rooms there, and we set off in a taxi back to Rhodes Town. Had we waited, we discovered later, we would not have been free of the airport until 5.30, and then taken to a hotel with about 100 others to find it closed until someone was raised from their slumber to accommodate only 30 guests, and then back on the bus for the unlucky and, the last I heard, some of the passengers are still being bussed around the island looking for a bed and it’s over a week later.
The Hermes did it’s best. Christine had a pristine suite (internal rhyme there, note) while I took the last room to be had. I shan’t share the photo, but I walked in to find: the beds unmade (and dubiously stained), the towels and bathroom floor wet, the shampoo and soaps all used and a rather primal scent in the air. At least they’d flushed the loo. Kind of. I was a bit worried that the couple who had clearly just vacated after their night of passion had only stepped out for a fag and would be joining me very shortly. I slept worriedly for three hours on top of the spare cover from the wardrobe. I wasn’t going to make a fuss with the night porter whose fault it wasn’t, so I did what I could – it was after 3.30 by now, nearly 24 hours without sleep. In the morning I risked a shower and then dried off under the aircon before heading to the Plaza for some civility and to await the next stage of the journey.
Phew! More tomorrow.