Posted by: tim ellis | September 28, 2013

Azores – Monday 12th August 2013

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The journey to Heathrow yesterday was slower than expected. For no reason that ever became clear to me, we crawled along for about half an hour on either side of the Oxford services, past temporary speed restriction signs that were optimistically flashing “50mph”. Still I didn’t have long to wait for the Hoppa service to the hotel, so all in all, not too bad.

Up early this morning to get to the airport for an 8:15 flight only to be told at check-in that it is delayed until 10:30 which means we will miss the 12:00 connection. Since there is no alternative route to Horta, I am to report to the flight connections desk in Lisbon, who will arrange the next available flight. Regardless, my bag is checked through. While I am thankful I don’t need to do the whole reclaim and re-check in routine, I am slightly concerned how my bag will make it when they can’t tell me which flight I will be on! Nothing I can do though, so it’s off to Giraffe for breakfast. (If I’d known I wasn’t flying until 10:30, I could have stayed at the hotel long enough for them to be serving breakfast and paid twice as much…) And then the long wait for boarding to start.

The flight leaves promptly, and the captain explains the reason for the delay. Apparently the inward flight yesterday was heavily delayed due to a plane failure, and awaiting a replacement, which meant that the crew were not legal to fly again before 10:30.

On arrival at Lisbon, I report, as instructed, to the transfer desk with the boarding card they gave me in London.

“Yes?” they say.

I explain that London told me to reconfirm the onward flight as they were not able to.

“You are booked in on this (15:55) flight” they say. “Sometimes London tell people to come here, but there is no need”

This flight does not board until 15:15, so there is plenty of time to get something to eat and to (try to) take advantage of Boingo.Net’s advertised free 30 minutes of WiFi. 45 minutes later, I am still unable to get beyond the “Sign Up” page. This would not encourage me to pay for a longer session!

The plane is not at the gate at 15:15 – in fact at 15:45 passengers are still disembarking, so hardly surprisingly, we are late taking off. Not only that but due to the shortage of crew there will be no meal or drinks service. I didn’t know British Rail were running the Portuguese airlines.

On arrival in Horta there are four others on the trip (none of whom booked through Wildlife Worldwide), Dennis and Veronica, who are on the same long trip as me, and Anne and Kay who are on a shorter trip.

My room at the Hotel do Canal overlooks the harbour, and has a kiwi fruit and a glass of grapes as a welcome gift. So much healthier than the cookie at the Doubletree last night.

Welcome gift

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