Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dance on the Vulcano - Being off-line

Finally it was there - holidays. Being ready for some relaxing holidays for quite a while, we decided to book a package tour. Nothing to organize from our side - that was the idea. As destination we selected Lanzarote - one of the beautiful Canaries islands. We had a great time there - fantastic weather, great places to visit and a good hotel - and I took quite some notes and picture which I intend to share at a later point of time.

Have you spotted the issue on the picture above?! Me neither. I decided to be really off-line during the holidays. No Internet, no TV, no news papers and rarely radio news. Worked out quite well. In the beginning I felt some time a need to check my emails and social networking pages but this was going away fast and in the end I felt superior than the guys which spent a significant time in front of their facebook pages in the Internet kiosk of the hotel. Being off-line is really relaxing - a luxury these days!

On the other hand being off-line has also some disadvantage in out on-line world. We checked our flight back in the file folder of our travel agency at the hotel the night before we wanted to fly back. Everything fine. The other day as we checked out from the hotel - there was a surprise waiting for us. We should be really happy that we can leave suggested the woman at the reception. "No - we are not " I said as I really could have stayed a little bit longer on this beautiful island. Than we figured out what the whole on-line world did know already for 24 hours at least. All airports are closed, no flights, big chaos in Europe as Eyjafjallaj√∂kull - a vulcano in Iceland erupted. 

Nice surprise  - you could imagine worse situations than being forced to stay longer on holiday. True and we also had booked package tour - no worries the travel agency will manage it. So no worries? A few phone calls later - with the travel agency in Germany, the local travel guide and the airline - the situation changed a bit. Travel agency annulled he contract because of act of nature beyond control. They would still support us but there would be nothing they could do for us. As our flights are with Ryanair, this would be special anyway - just sit and wait. 

Nice advice - we would be still there if we would have followed this. In the end we prolonged our hotel, kept luggage there and drove to the airport to speak face two face to some people from the airline and this was the key to get home. In the queue in front of the desk we got first information. Airline offers to rebook the flights to later flights but direct flight back home would be only available in 10 days time. That will be a quite expensive holidays and will create some trouble at work I thought. In the end we got some flights via Madrid in 6 days time. After prolonging the hotel for the whole time, extending the rent of the car and passing the message to home and company we tried to enjoy the time as holidays as good as possible - but now on-line.

My take away from this. Organizing holidays on my own is definitely a proven alternative. Booking a packaged tour I would next time spent more effort to select a different agency. The one we selected - - was a completed fail in this situation. Looks like that low cost airlines does not fit well into the concept of packaged tours but they are still an alternative for self-organized travels. Let's see if and what cost we could claim back from airline or travel agency.