One of the stops on our Mediterranean cruise in 2012 was Malta, and we enjoyed it so much that we vowed to return there one day.
When we learned that relatives shared our hankering to visit Malta, it made perfect sense to organise a joint trip. The opportunity came sooner rather than later when we secured a week of timeshare and super-cheap France-Malta airfares (via Rome).
These particular flights departed from Toulouse airport – 380km or 3 1/2 hours drive directly south of Argenton-sur-Creuse – a lengthy but easy drive on the A20 Autoroute(highway).
My original thought was that we could spend a night or two in the area before flying out. This was a good idea which unfortunately never eventuated. (Mistake No. 1)
Departure day dawned and it was up-and-at-’em bright and early for the 4 of us. We thought we were doing well, but somehow we were already running 20 minutes behind schedule when we drove off. (Mistake No. 2)
Nevertheless, the drive was going so well that we stopped en route for a coffee, croissant and a stretch, confident that we had plenty of time up our sleeves. (Mistake No. 3)
But you never know what’s around the corner do you, and as we neared the turn-off to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, the exiting traffic ground to a halt – courtesy of a car accident up ahead. What we didn’t know (along with many other tourists it seems), was that we were (im-)patiently waiting in the truck lane, and could have easily by-passed a huge amount of vehicles, saving precious time. (Mistake No. 4)
Finally at Blagnac Airport we found the long-term car park – but oh dear, the shuttle bus had just passed by! As we only had 3 bags to check in between the 4 of us, we thought we could still just make it if Tony dropped us off to check in the luggage while he double-backed to the long-term car park (passing the much more conveniently located short-term parking… sure, rather more expensive, but in the circumstances would have been well worth the price), and caught the shuttle back. (Mistake No. 5)
I refused to go to the gate without Tony, telling the others not to wait for us (the check-in clerk had told us to hurry), thinking I could wait and escort Tony to save him time – besides, I had his passport! (Mistakes No. 6 and 7!)
Eventually he arrived, but security took “forever,” despite my efforts to communicate that they were paging us over the loudspeaker.
Too late, we stood at the gate, forlornly looking at the plane, still on the ground, but inexplicably inaccessible to us. What we didn’t know (and now will never forget) is that if you don’t board the plane, they retrieve your luggage, and once your luggage is removed from the plane, they won’t let you board (really – do I look like a terrorist?)
Replacement flights the same day were exorbitant, however we were able to secure more reasonably priced fares departing the next day on the internet. (Seats which they couldn’t sell us over the counter! But at least at Blagnac wi-fi is gratuit – free – as it should be at all airports don’t you think?).
This necessitated a night in a cheap (but clean and comfortable) motel nearby – secured by another internet booking.
Life is all about the choices we make, isn’t it? So many things we could have done differently… ah well, c’est la vie.
It certainly made a dent in our budget (our travel insurance would have only covered the cost of the original fares, which were not worth claiming), so, with many lessons learned, we put it behind us to enjoy the rest of our holiday.