Having to take a trip for work back to our site in Italy right after my bride and Ella came to the UK last week, I figured it would be fun for them to come along with me. After all, few places are more beautiful than Tuscany in the summer.
And it was a great trip - pictures to be inserted here as soon as I have the time. However, actually getting back to the UK was a bit of a challenge.
We flew Air France into and out of Florence. After we had checked in for the return flight, it was announced that all traffic from the Florence airport was being cancelled or diverted because of 'bad winds.' (I've had bad winds before myself, I can understand.) Would all passengers please line up at the gate and stand there for 30 minutes while we pull a bus up where the plan would normally go? We are driving you to Bologna, where your plane has now landed.
Once in Bologna (north about a 2 hours by bus), we had to sort our luggage off the bus, then stand in line to check in again. Now we know we've missed our connection flight in Paris by this time, but right next to the Air France check in desk was a British Air desk - showing a direct flight to Manchester. Hey! That's where we want to go! Unfortunately, that flight's sold out, and no, we can't tell you what connection you're actually going to catch in Paris - you have to wait until you get there.
So we get to Paris one tired 2 year old later. We find the Air France customer service desk and they book us on the 9:30pm flight to Manchester - a 4 hour layover. Could be worse - the American family right next to us wasn't able to get a flight back to Washington Dulles until 4:15pm the next day. And Air France gives us some refreshment vouchers for our trouble.
We took Ella to the food court to tide her over - our refreshment vouchers turn out to be good for exactly one can of soda apiece. Such overwhelming generosity... At any rate, by the time we get on the bus to go to our plane (oh yes, the Europeans are very fond of parking their planes about 2 miles down the runway, rather than docking them anyplace like convenient), our 2 year old had lost all patience and was shaking her finger at the bus repeating over and over "No bus, da-da - airplane!"
We did manage to get back to Manchester at about 11:30pm, relieved to at last be home. Except.
See, that 4 hour layover in Paris caused the French to be confused. Our bags didn't seem to make the plane. Oh, oui, Mr Grady, I can see in my computer that your bags will be coming in tomorrow afternoon. But not tonight. We will bring them to you, do not worry, monsieur
Update: As of now, 2 out of the 3 bags have arrived. We're not exactly sure where the last one is (actually, it's not a bag, it's Ella's stroller). They're 'working on it.'
Note to self: Do not make jokes about California eclipsing France's place in the top 5 global economies in front of French people and expect to get away with it.