WARNING: UGLY TRUTHS AND DEPRESSING EVENTS BELOW
I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to see the world – however, without sounding like the biggest entitled little brat that ever was – I want to talk about the ugly side of traveling for a minute. This is a bit of a rant, so bear with me.
I am currently sitting in my hostel in Shoreditch, London, sipping on a peppermint tea. I am wearing the same clothes I wore on the plane on Monday (5 days ago), my hair might as well be a birds nest on the top of my head since I haven’t had a brush to brush it out in days. I have ran out of daily contacts so I am living with glasses (thank god I brought those on the plane with me!) and to put the nail in the coffin – I woke up with a nasty head cold. Sore, swollen, itchy throat, runny nose, stuffy sinuses, body aches – the works!
Let me rewind a bit to explain how I have ended up in such a sorry state.
I flew from LAX to Manchester on Monday, June 19th – due to land on the morning of Tuesday, June 20th. I was then scheduled to fly from Manchester to Malaga, Spain to meet my friends Kristen and Ed Kelley. Thomas Cook Airlines (Condor) allegedly did not put my bag on the plane from my original flight from LAX to my layover city of Manchester. Due to their massive fuck up – the airline was supposed to hand deliver my backpack to my hotel in Marbella, Spain the next day (at least this is what they told me the day I filed my lost baggage claim). Then…. They took so long to locate my bag that I had to request they deliver it to my hostel in London since I would not be in Spain by the time they would get my bag to Europe. All the while I am borrowing Kristens clothes, using her toiletries, and washing my one pair of underwear every night in the hotel, etc. I did not want to purchase new things because then I would have to add them to my already full backpack once I received it.
I have now been in London for 2 days (alone) and there is still no sign of my bag. I filed a claim with my travel insurance company (boy did THAT turn out to be a good investment!) and they are on the case of trying to locate it. As of this morning the airlines claim they have delivered the bag to my hostel…. And the staff at the hostel swear they never received it….So it seems poor Nellie the backpack has just vanished into thin air.
There are no shops close to the hostel I can walk to to purchase clothing, underwear, a brush, etc. The hostel itself is less than desirable. The room is stuffy, humid, uncomfortably hot with a bathroom that has black mold on the ceiling, water all over the floor (that would explain the mold) and it is so cramped I cannot open my luggage basket under my bunk without blocking everyone’s path to the door.
Since I woke up with such a horrid cold I decided to book a real hotel for 2 nights so I can have my own room, bathroom and hopefully get some rest and feel better so I might enjoy the rest of my trip. It couldn’t be 15:00 (check-in time) soon enough. I need a nap and a good shower with hotel shampoo and conditioner – STAT!
Needless to say I am feeling quite defeated and I am not my happy-go-lucky bubbly self today.
Looking back on the past few days, the only positive I can think of is that I have lived through yet another experience I like to call “an unwritten right of passage for the modern day traveler.”
The first “right of passage” I fell victim to were the dreaded BED BUGS.
*DUN, DUN, DUN*
As I have mentioned before, I brought them back from a girls trip to France, Germany & Czech Republic back in 2015. It was horrendous. Probably the most vile thing I have ever dealt with in my life. I had to throw away a brand new mattress, box spring and couch along with a ton of picture frames and pillows. It was so bad that I moved out of the apartment because I always felt like something was crawling on me (even though it was treated a few times). My mother – bless her soul – and I had to put hap-hazard suits on and take flashlights to all my vinyl, frames, trinkets (and if you know me you know I love my trinkets) and threw out most of my belongings.
The true optimist in me decided that the “BED BUG INFILTRATION” was nothing but a mere “right of passage” in the traveler world. Most friends I have met on the road have encountered them in one way or another. My situation just got to the point it was because I was not allergic to the bastards so by the time I noticed them it was too late. I decided that I would not be angry about this experience – but I would file it as exactly that – a traveler’s EXPERIENCE. I could consider myself a true nomad now that I have battled the big bitch that the BBs are.
However, I knew that there were other frequent struggles that the seasoned adventurer ran into that would be listed under the common causes of “traveler woes.” Besides tolerating the all too familiar screaming child for the duration of a 10 hour flight – the biggest one being the dreaded AIRLINES LOST MY LUGGAGE bit.
I can now add that to my list.
Here was how I ANTICIPATED my day of travel would go:
- Flight from LAX to Manchester, England – sleep for majority of the flight.
- Arrive in Manchester “refreshed”
- Go through customs in Manchester.
- Gather checked bag (Nellie the oversized backpack)
- Walk to the other end of the Manchester airport to check-in with a different airline (Monarch Airlines)
- Saunter through security once more (no rush since there are 4 hours of layover time!)
- Enjoy a glass of wine while reading a book and waiting for my flight to Malaga, Spain.
- Arrive in Malaga, Spain and meet friends and enjoy beautiful things.
Here is how it ACTUALLY played out:
- Flight from LAX to Manchester was delayed an hour (4 year old adjacent to me screamed 6 out of the 10 hours of said delayed flight – therefore… No sleep.)
- Arrived in Manchester exhausted and feeling like I am on drugs from lack of sleep.
- Stood in Customs line for 55 minutes surrounded by imbeciles.
- Stared at baggage carousel for 20 minutes before realizing Nellie the oversized backpack was not, in fact, going to magically appear on the luggage belt.
- Filed a missing bag claim at the Thomas Cook counter – lady informs me my bag is still sitting in Los Angeles.
- Rushed to the other end of Manchester airport to check-in for Monarch flight.
- Rushed through security – upsetting security officers in the process.
- Forced food down my throat before heading to my gate.
- Arrived in Malaga, Spain, met friends and enjoyed beautiful things.
Let’s go back to the late arrival to Manchester.
Well… You can imagine how thrilled I was at this point. There I stand – delirious from exhaustion, ears ringing from child screams, stinky from the flight, and feeling rushed to make it to my next flight. And now – filling out a lost baggage form. I have to write down the address of where I am staying in Spain (for 2.5 days mind you) and a phone number. The airline promises to hand deliver my bag to the hotel in Marbella the next day.
The lost baggage claim took up another 20 minutes, so I start sprinting to the other side of the airport to check in and see if I can get a decent seat and get refunded for the $30 bag fee I already paid online. The answer to both of these questions is NO. I got a middle seat and the airline customer service chick gave zero fucks Nellie would not be joining me.
I now have it in my head that I have to rush through security to make it to my gate in time. I, naturally, choose the slowest line. You would have thought Mr. Beans was in front of me the way these people were slow and clueless. I FINALLY get to the front and the girl who works security who had the task of “frisking” me literally had the look of pure disgust on her face (even though I warned her that I had ran there from the other side of the airport) and looked at her colleague and said “SOPPING WET AND RANCID, THIS ONE”
At this point I was ready to cry but decided to internally laugh instead. That will make a great blog title I said to myself. Then, my carry on bag was scanned and torn apart for the first time EVER because I forgot to take my iPod out… That added an additional 13 minutes to my security chapter.
Once freed from the clutches of Manchester security assholes I run through the duty free hell maze and find the first departures screen I could. It is at this moment that I realize I was, in fact, NOT that late…. And had another 55 minutes before boarding. I was relieved but also felt stupid. I was so tired and stressed I misread the military time for my boarding. The last hour of my life was insanely stressful for no reason. DERP.
So… After all of this I found a little restaurant, grabbed a quick bite and made it to my flight. I slept a little bit on the 2.5 hour flight and chatted with a lovely older English couple In my row. Thankfully, my wonderful friends – The Kelley’s – had rented a car and picked me up at the airport and we found each other with no problems. I am so thankful for this because I do not think I could have navigated public transit or a taxi after the ordeal I had been through.
Now that we are up to date – I will be hibernating in my somewhat expensive inn around the corner from the hostel to get some rest and hopefully shake this sinus cold before I meet up with my friend Craig on Monday.
Send me all the positive vibes you can, folks! It’s been a tough one 😦
ALSO – NEVER FLY WITH THOMAS COOK/CONDOR AIRLINES.
AND BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE – FOR REALS.