{February 11, 2009}   porto

Well, tokamak is over, but i’m still in portugal. Somehow i accidentally booked the return flight for 3/10 instead of 2/10. One little digit makes such a difference… And none of the three other people who have copies of my itinerary noticed either. :/ The people at the airport won’t lift a finger until someone in vancouver tells them how much to charge me, and it’s the middle of the night there, so… Well, by the time people arrive at work in vancouver, i fear the people in porto will have gone home. The earliest flight i have a chance at is on thursday anyways, though.
The good news is, nuno’s taking care of me. I’m staying at his sister’s place, he loaned me a phone so i can call him, and i even got his internet password so i can go to the mall and get online there. Sadly there’s no internet in this apartment. He hacked my power adaptor so that my laptop’s plug would fit, too- the hole for ground was slightly too small. So even though i don’t have internet, i at least have my computer. :)

And now that all that is sorted and i’m just waiting for the airport, it’s safe to panic. :P i wanna go hooome :(
Maybe later i’ll wander out and explore the town. Right now i need a nap.

…So i napped right through the day, to 5:30. Nobody was answering the phone at the airport- turns out this is exactly when they close. I tried calling travelocity too but got nowhere. Might as well have another nap…
Later tuesday evening, nuno’s sister got home. We went to the mall for dinner and she taught me about the buses. :) I was so stressed out i couldn’t eat the sandwich i bought until we got back to the apartment… And then i was going to have a shower, but suddenly i woke up and it was 4am ;)
I woke up again at 9, showered, and started the day by calling the airport. Ohhh, what a long day. They’d been told only travelocity could change the ticket, but travelocity had said the same about them, so they sent another telegram (or something similarly ancient) to vancouver, and i called travelocity again, who still insisted they weren’t the ones to talk to.

I don’t want to think about the phone bill at this point.

I packed up and headed out, intent on staying at the airport until someone took responsibility. I had to take the bus back to s. Joao to get the metro, so i stopped at the mall under the hotel for internet and lunch (in that order) where i found out my debit card wouldn’t even let me buy a 4 euro lunch, despite having $24CAD – and i was getting low on cash – so i talked pete into going to the bank in the middle of the night to shuffle money around. <3

[update: here’s the full notes now]

next stop, airport. The people at the counter had it in writing that they couldn’t do anything, so i got travelocity on the phone again, andmade them talk to each other, andthen ravelocity was going to at least try. After waiting half an hour for them to call back i find out the cellphone isn’t accepting calls… Odd, it worked fine in the morning when they had to call back. Anyways, i then realised the airport had internet, and switched to skype. Many dropped calls and much waiting on hold later, i was told the flight wasn’t changeable. Several more dropped calls later, i got through to a supervisor, gave him the # of the counter as well as my #, and he said he’d call vancouver and get back to me.
While i was waiting i tried some vancouver numbers- one was an answering machine, the other directed me to a toll-free number that didn’t work.

5:30 came and no reply. The counter closed, so i finally had a chance to find a toilet, then sit down in an actual chair. After going on irc and feeling hopeless for a few minutes, I phoned the second vancouver number, explained that the tollfree number didn’t work- and found i was speaking to someone who had been trying to solve my problem for the last 45 minutes :) she sounded very sympathetic – the first person who wasn’t hiding behind policy! Yay! – and had just figured out that it would cost $150 to change the ticket, and was trying to find the fare difference to upgrade me (no tickets in my class were left- turns out there are lots of different economy classes). She urged me to call the lufthansa sales number in portugal, to get tickets before they got more expensive, because the class that was available yesterday was full too now. So i went to the lufthansa website to find that number… And the net dropped out.

I called nuno and he said there ws a free computer in the airport, but the only one i found was offline too. I got pointed to the information counter, where someone showed me the number i needed in an information booklet. So i used my phone to call, and prayed that the battery would last.

The guy who answered there had to put me on hold for a looong time, and was then rather confused, because vancouver had alredy changed my ticket- but hadn’t told him how much to charge. His advice was to show up in the morning and pray that the lufthansa counter had the numbers. I got off the phone and discovered my internet had mystriously come back without even logging in… And just before i call vancouver again, my phone rings (looks like it decided to work again) and it’s the lufthansa guy in porto, who just got the price of my flight. $433 in total, not cheap, but it’s a flight. I can go home. I got himto send the info to the counter again, just to make really really sure that when I show up in the morning they know they’re allowed to take my money.

so now it’s quarter to 9, I’m back at the mall under the ibis, I’ve had dinner (yummy pasta – now that I’m not so stressed I can eat something other than fruit) and got a number for the taxi… I just have to go back to the apartment, get nuno’s sister to call me a taxi, and set an alarm for 4am again. and then, hopefully, I may actually get to go home. I never did get to see the city ’cause I was in the airport all day, but the view from the apartment is quite nice.

I am really, really really grateful to everyone who’s helped me out so much over the last couple of days. especiallly nuno and his sister. I may well have been completely screwed if I was on my own. *big hugs*

wish me luck.

dipesh says:

> flight for 3/10 instead of 2/10

Sorry but LOL. That’s the most clever way to increase holiday-time a bit :)
To bad that did result in stress for you :-/ Anyway, I am sure it was a great experience at the end. Possible conclusion: take care of the digits, they can have a big impact even outside of your bank-account!

4k3nd0 says:

Good Luck :D

Tomaz says:

this looks like that movie with tom hanks… but in a sad way.
take care chani.

anon says:

> flight for 3/10 instead of 2/10

with my European eyes this first looked like only one days different and wondered what’s the big deal, then I noticed something’s fishy with the month…

best luck and wishes to you!

Jucato says:

That’s quite the ordeal. Which all the more makes me nervous about the first international trip I would ever make (hopefully next year’s Akademy). Luckily you had good people to be with you.

Hope you arrive safe and sound. You deserve a big, big rest. :)

Jeffery says:

Off-by-one error? ;)
No, but seriously, that stinks… hopefully everything works out.

Andre says:

I hope you’ll get everything sorted out, but in the meantime Porto isn’t the worst city to hang out, right? I love it. You should take a port wine tasting in one of the small shops in the old city and enjoy the old town at night. And be sure to bring some “Delta Diamond” Espresso, it’s imho one of the best i’ve ever tasted.

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