Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A tale of no baggies

The spousal unit and I are having doubts about taking our golf clubs to Aruba.

We went on our first trip to Europe in 1999. 5 days in Paris, 3 in Amsterdam, 5 in London, 3 in Glasgow, and 2 in Edinburgh (the father-in-law unit is Scottish).

We spent many hours deciding on just the right choices and amount of clothing to bring. We borrowed an extra suitcase from a girlfriend as we were still very young and underattache'd.

When we touched down in Paris, out of habit the spousal unit went to hunt down an appropriate place to smoke. This was before we realized that the French smoke everywhere. After this we faced a daunting Customs line. Finally, we arrived at the baggage carousel, but the spousal unit's borrowed suitcase was nowhere to be found.

You know what a pain in the tuckus it is to fill out a missing bag claim? Well, try doing it in French when you don't speak French. United Airlines gave us a weak excuse for an overnight kit and sent us on our way, telling us to call in periodically to check on the bag. Neither of us had a cell phone yet.

Exhausted from the long flight, we found our way to our Parisian hotel. Our bodies wanted to wilt into the small, bowed mattress in our room, but our minds told us that was a bad idea at 2 PM Paris time. So we went out and explored the area surrounding the hotel for a few hours. The spousal unit didn't have a single change of clothes, so we were hoping to encounter a boutique but were disappointed. After dining at one of the many Tex-Mex (that's right, Tex-Mex) restaurants in the area, we retired.

First thing the next morning I called the airline. After some lost-in-translation confusion, it was determined that the bag had not yet been found. So we decided to again make an effort to find some fresh garments for the spousal unit. This was Sunday.

I do not recommend trying to shop for anything in Europe on a Sunday. That famous Euro work-ethic (which in actuality I'm extremely envious of) extends to retail.

In a brief moment of ingenuity, we looked for a Gap in a local phone book. If there's any place that would cater to Americans needing to get their clotheshound fix while the French are cherishing their precious personal time, it's The Gap. We were not disappointed.

And so it went each day in Paris. Morning unfruitful conversations with United. But on the day we were scheduled to leave, we received a ray of hope: they had found our bag! It was being sent over to the hotel ASAP! After breakfast, we rushed back to the welcoming arms of our hotel desk clerk, who had a gift for us.

A bag. Not our bag. This was initially just a suspicion but was confirmed when we pulled out a rather large pair of underpants and a gossip rag printed in Russian.

Running dangerously late for catching our train to Amsterdam, we hurriedly called United back and left the bag with the bewildered clerk.

United never found our bag. We shopped again in Amsterdam (MUCH easier, I think the Dutch speak better English than most Americans) and did some laundry. Somehow we still managed to enjoy ourselves immensely.

OUr state of elation was quickly eliminated when we arrived home to a $250 phone bill for calls to United's American lost bags number, and the discovery that we were only eligible by law to $600 per lost bag (this law has since been amended. That paltry amount didn't even begin to cover 3 weeks worth of European Vacation clothes and shoes.

And now, we both have expensive new golf clubs. So you can understand our reluctance. Does anybody know if you can pay to up the liability for items lost internationally by an airline? If not, will my homeowner's insurance cover it?


Tanya Espanya said...

As a complete Europhile, I love hearing about people losing their virginity.

Also, any time you want to tag along on our trips, you are welcome to join us.

Now, your golf clubs thing (we brought bicycles once to Spain, via 4 flights, and were surprised they showed up). Are you going on a direct non-stop flight? If yes, your clubs will show up with you. My personal guarantee to you.

If you have to do plane changes, it might be a bit tricky. I'm including an article from the latest issue of Budget Travel magazine (I subscribe to the paper version). They suggest shipping ahead of time, but you have to figure out if the costs are worth it. (they might be?)

Phone up your home insurance people and ask them too. For example, we are covered for our rental car through our home and car insurance.

Also, you had mentioned something a while back and I don't want to pry or anything, but did you pee on the stick and did it turn out like you wanted?

Slave to the dogs said...

Tanya - you're such a sweetie!

We've been back to Europe twice since then (Germany, Austria, Italy) but are due for another trip. Hoping to hit Belgium and the Normandy coast in September. And then there's still Spain, Greece, Prague, Ireland....I really need to find a job as a European travel writer!

Thanks for the tips on the clubs - we do stop in Chicago, but it's an overnight stop, so maybe it's enough like a nonstop to be OK. I'll have to look into that.

Ah, the little stick. We've been trying for 3 years. Just got some more info but not quite ready to blog about it yet.

Tanya Espanya said...

Our favourite place that we keep going back to is France. Having lived in Spain, we've pretty much seen everything we needed to. Next time we go to Spain it will be to visit my brother who moved there from Brazil (with his Brazilian wife and son).

I'll post some pictures of our trip to Normandy, on my Flickr. And I'll check my files to see if I have any links from places we stayed on that trip.

I LOVE traveling and hope the baby enjoys it like we do. We're already talking about going away in November, with him; I know, we're mental.

P.S. I hear you Re the stick.

Tanya Espanya said...

OHMYGOD, how much do I obviously love you?!

First, forget about my flickr site for looking at pictures, they have a limit as to how many sets I can have and I'm too cheap to pay the $25 per year.

Second, do you want a Gmail account? I can invite you and you can then make yourself a slave@gmail or kerpupples@gmail that you can leave on your website so people (like me) can write to you instead of using up all your comments section. (once you set up your gmail account, you have it forward to your regular mail, so you don't have to be checking the gmail all the time).

Third, because of you, now I'm getting more organized and putting all the Normandy pictures on my other website, forgoing a lunch of cheese and crackers that I guess I could bring to the computer to eat...

Anyway, this is good because it's on my list of projects to do before the babby arrives.

Here's the link


Slave to the dogs said...

OK....I have a gmail account. Just need to put up a link....stay tuned for that shortly as well as comments on your pictures (yippee!!!!)

Slave to the dogs said...

And now...because I'm ignorant and lazy....what's an easy way to add an email link to my blog?

Slave to the dogs said...

Never mind...I figgered it out.

Tanya Espanya said...

Lazy, maybe...ignorant? nah!

Malnurtured Snay said...

Gah - this is why I drive almost everywhere! I hate flying, hate traveling, and I really dislike taking bags.

justacoolcat said...

I wouldn't take the clubs. They must have rentals at their courses. Not optimal, but I'm guessing being in Aruba will totally make up for it. Besides, with any luck you'll be too tipsy to notice your not making your handicap.

Slave to the dogs said...

Snay - not a problem for me. I've done a ton of flying for work, and I couldn't get to half the places I want to visit if I didn't fly.

Cat - I imagine you're right. It's not the handicap we're worried about....renting clubs is damn expensive on top of an already extortionate green fee. But I think saving the expense may not be worth the risk of losing our clubs.