And the nearest park bench is where??

Once again, full-blown panic had settled on in, with Miss Kid and Grocery Gal literally locked out, frantically ringing the bell at the front door of their Lisbon hotel.  Like, seriously, how many unwelcome calamities can two teenage girls have to endure in the course of one day??  It was now past 1:00am and the duo were no where closer to being curled up snug as a bug in a rug, safe and sound, sequestered from both the elements and the advances of undesirable vagrants lurking about the nooks and crannies of deserted corners.  Non.  Instead, the pair were outside in the pouring rain, miserable, drenched and freezing, pounding relentlessly on the door of their conveniently located hotel, caught in a torrential downpour of the totally unexpected kind. 

In hindsight, perhaps they should have paid a tad more attention to the fine print, which clearly stated, that if one arrives past a certain hour, one must advise the hotel in advance, of one’s expected arrival time, or risk being locked out.  It’s quite the pity then, that a series of unforeseen events collectively conspired against the gals, from the antics of those mischievous gremlins of baggage gone missing to the unwelcome catcalls of a World Cup victorious crowd gone wild.  It’s not their fault that they had to traipse for what seemed like hours on end in search of a hotel that just did not want to be found.  And then there was the meltdown of the century on a deserted Lisbon avenue, most likely You Tubed, now vaulted in the internet archives for all of posterity to see.  Yikes!!

Resigning themselves to being homeless on the very first night of their long-anticipated overseas sojourn sans cuckoo ol’ Auntie Nora and parents, Le Niece and pal were despondent beyond dejected, confronted with the reality of possibly having to spend the remainder of the night shivering on the nearest park bench.  That, and having to scrap with the birds for droplets of premium bath water, added just an extra element of misery to their oh so unfortunate predicament. 

As luck would have it, the incessant buzzing and clamouring eventually paid off, with the front door of the hotel clicking open at just the right time, a welcoming haven of warmth ushering the gals on in.  Ecstatic beyond belief that their fate had just taken a drastic turn for the better, Miss Kid and side-kick were in their glory, jubilant with the anticipation of catching up on their zees on pillow-top mattresses of the oh so comfortable kind.  Or so they foolishly thought.  For you see, an encounter with a finicky and rickety old elevator of the oh so claustrophobic kind was waiting in the wings, eager to throw yet another wrench into their not so well laid travel plans. 

It’s a good thing that Miss Kid and Bestie had arrived at the hotel luggage-less, as having to stuff their over-sized bags into the teensiest of tiniest of closet like elevators would have been a task of insurmountable proportions.  Cuckoo ol’ Auntie Nora would have freaked and gone insane and would have had quite the undignified middle-aged breakdown, adamantly refusing to place a pink-sneakered tootsie into the smaller than small confining lift, choosing instead to spend the remainder of her holiday camped out in the hotel lobby.  Sad.  But true.

The saga continues.  And like seriously, will it never end?  They say that truth is stranger than fiction and in this case, it’s more like a movie trailer gone bad…very, very, very bad.

What else could possibly go wrong?  You think there’s more??

Come traipse the world with Miss Kid and Grocery Gal, and navigate the murky waters of travel glitches gone bad, with planes delayed, baggage gone missing and hotel nowhere to be found.  And, that’s just on Day One of circumventing the globe!! 

As “luck” would have it, the gals’ luggage was ever so promptly and efficiently delivered to their Lisbon hotel the morning that they were scheduled to depart for home.  Like, seriously?  Yep.   Nothing like having to schlepp your baggage back to the airport, especially when you’ve by now grown accustomed to travelling with just the shirt on your back.  And, in case you're wondering, the remainder of the trip went off without a hitch, with Day One in Lisbon a mere hiccup in the grand scheme of travel.

And to think, had Miss Niece not been the unfortunate recipient of the antics of those mischievous gremlins of travel upheaval, what, pray tell, would her cuckoo ol’ Auntie Nora have to scribble about?

Next post – Wed Jan 7th – Stay tuned for the hilarious escapades of cuckoo ol’ Auntie Nora in the Netherlands and Belgium – not soaking up the sun but drenched by torrential downpours for days on end, with a golf-ball sized hail storm thrown in for good measure…oh, and dodging the bicycles in Amsterdam.  The adventures continue....

Pink Sneakers on the Go will be taking a bit of an extended holiday break and will be back to regular bi-weekly blogging on Wednesday, January 7th.

Wishing you, my dear readers, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!!  A very heartfelt thanks to all for reading and laughing with the Kid and I on our crazy ol' sojourns, on our clueless journey of continual learning and discovering....and then learning some more....

How not to spend the first leg of holiday searching for hours on end for hotel gone missing.

Day one of Miss Kid and Grocery Gal’s long anticipated overseas sojourn was a far cry from merrily frolicking on the beach, squishing sand between their toes and splashing in the turquoise hued waters of the Atlantic.  Non.  Instead, the duo was subjected to a comedy of errors, enduring setback after setback, as they struggled to navigate the now pitch-black cobblestone avenues in search of their Lisbon hotel. 

Where is the beach??

It was well past the witching hour and vagrants and other highly questionable characters were the only creatures out and about, lurking dangerously about the darkened passageways, on the lookout for unsuspecting victims of the confused and clueless kind.  So, it was with a dreaded sense of trepidation that Le Niece and pal placed one hesitant step in front of the other, on a now desperate quest to locate their perhaps non-existent accommodations.  Perhaps they should have paid a bit more attention to reading the fine print when hastily booking their digs, as it had clearly stated that the hotel was a tad challenging to find, tucked discretely on a side street away from the main drag.  The signage itself was somewhat sketchy and completely undecipherable in the dead of night, which was not so much of an issue in broad daylight, but quite the daunting task when searching with only the starry eyed heavens to guide you.  Yikes!!

Yikes!!  It's pitch black!!  Where is the road??

On the verge of tears and a zillion miles away from home, Miss Kid lamented her luckless fate, stranded in the middle of nowhere on a deserted street, with not even a signpost to guide her way, clue-less as what to do next.  Her slightly older best pal was now bawling hysterically alongside the curb, an undignified mess spilling a tsunami of lakes and puddles, in the throws of a crying fit of the century.  Gulping and gasping for air, her only words a gibbering mishmash of the completely undecipherable kind. 

Perhaps it was the echo of wailing loud enough to wake the dead, startling even those residing across the Atlantic or perhaps it was the onslaught of complaints from disgruntled locals rudely awakened from their slumber, that had garnered the curious attention of a cruising police vehicle; nonetheless, salvation had miraculously arrived in the form of ever so helpful officers of the law abiding kind.

The kinder than kind knights in shining armour took pity upon the dishevelled gals and escorted them, as if royalty, to their Lisbon hotel, which incidentally, was just around the corner.  Somehow, the duo had ended up traipsing endlessly in circles, with their hotel located just a convenient hop, skip and a jump away.  Who knew??  Not les clued-out Gals, obviously.  One, incidentally, can get quite disoriented whilst meandering along age-old passageways without a map in the dead of night, in a foreign locale, an especially problematic task when jet-lagged and bleary-eyed.

Pleased as punch that their meltdown of the hopelessly lost kind had resulted in the unexpected outcome of being chauffeured, movie-star style, in a pretend limo of the blaring lights and screeching siren kind, Miss Niece and best pal were beside themselves with glee at the vision of snuggly snoozing in their beds, or so, they foolishly dreamt.

It’s too bad though, that their trials and tribulations were far from over, for you see, just because the gals were safely deposited at their hotel, didn’t quite mean that they were actually inside their hotel. 

And you actually thought that this story was over? 

Come trudge along the cobblestone rues and avenues with Miss Niece and Grocery Gal on a holy-grail quest of the century, on a mission to locate their now missing hotel.  Hotel eventually located, but the gals’ tribulations are far from over.  Like, seriously?  There’s more?  Does it ever end?  Yep, stay tuned for the wrap up of Day One of Miss Kid’s miss-adventures in Portugal.

Next post – in two weeks!!  Wednesday, December 10th.  Stay tuned!!

Day One of Miss Kid's Portugal adventure: Luggage lost. Hopelessly lost. Hotel gone missing.

You know that you’re in a bit of a conundrum when your respective airline sends your bags packing on an adventure of their own to explore yet another part of the globe without you.  You, meanwhile, are stuck with just the clothes on your back, in the midst of a torrential downpour that has no intention of letting up anytime soon.  Needless to say, your umbrella is buried at the bottom of your suitcase, and is merrily jetting around the globe, soaking up the sights and sounds of more exotic locales.  To make matters even worse, you are now hopelessly lost amongst a maze of cobblestone rues and avenues, a zillion miles away from home, with your “conveniently” situated hotel nowhere to be located.  Welcome to Day One of Miss Kid and Grocery Gal’s long anticipated overseas sojourn on what can only be described as the vacation from hell.

Umbrella off on an adventure of its own

Lost amongst the cobblestones somewhere 

And, to think, it had all started out so swimmingly well.  Their last minute booking was that rare combination of dirt-cheap price (Clue #01) for a four star hotel (Clue #02) at peak high season (Clue #03).  So what if their across the pond holiday included 3 layovers over a 24 hour time frame?  Why go the direct route when you can instead save a couple of bucks and languish in foreign airports for hours on end waiting for a connecting flight?  After all, when one is 18, young and carefree, time is on your side and jetting there is just half the fun, stumbling across an avalanche of roadblocks and diversions along the way.  Just for fun, of course.  Yeah.  Right.  Whatever.

Which layover was this one??????

And so, a mere 24 hours later, Miss Niece and best friend found themselves sans luggage in Lisbon, map-less and clue-less as how to high-tail it to their economy priced luxury accommodation, all without getting drenched, in a mad-dash across town.  It’s quite unfortunate that their decision to forgo a five minute cab ride so as to conserve a couple of Euros and opt instead to hop on the metro on the night of the World Cup was not the wisest move of all, with the train jammed to capacity with the rowdy of the rowdiest bunch of revellers out to paint the town red. 

Not one to be easily spooked, World Traveller Kid Extraordinaire felt a slight tinge of apprehension as she boarded the over-crowded train, the hooting and hollering of young lads and lecherous old geezers adding a sense of unease to the journey ahead.  The fair-haired duo were perhaps in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught in a frenzy of over-zealous sports fanatics celebrating the victory of a century.

Bull-dozed with non-stop catcall after catcall of hollering gone wild and up to their eye-balls with the lewd and crude antics of partygoers gone mad, Le Niece and pal cleverly executed one of the wisest moves of the century by electing to hop off the train at the next station, several stops earlier than their scheduled exit.  Better safe than sorry, the motto goes, even though the trek across town would now get them to their digs even later than originally anticipated.  Yikes!!  Another sleepless night involving trekking for hours on end but heck, look at the bright side, there’s no miserable schlepping of luggage this time round!!

As darkness had descended some hours on in and with the witching hour drawing near, a sense of unease permeated the creepiness of the shadows lurking about, unhinging even the most resilient of globe-trotters, let alone two lost and forlorn teenage girls.

Yikes, it's dark!!  Where are we????????

And then the clock struck twelve.

Come jet around the globe with Miss Kid, on a journey like none other, where luggage is lost, maps are undecipherable and hotels are nowhere to be found.  Come stumble along on a quest to somewhere or anywhere, far away across the pond, frantically searching for your home away from home.

Next blog – Wednesday November 26th (in two weeks, every other Wednesday)   

Do the gals eventually end up at their hotel or are there a few roadblocks tripping them up along the way?  Stay tuned for the continuation of the adventures of Miss Kid and Grocery Gal’s mis-adventures in Lisbon!!

Have baggage, will travel (with or without owner). Miss Kid's escapades in Portugal - Part 2

You know that your highly anticipated vay-cay just got down-graded to one tad short of miserable, as you spend what seems to be hours glued to your spot by the emptier than empty luggage carousel, desperately imploring the gods of Baggage for the safe return of your now AWOL bags.

Bug-eyed and bleary-eyed, Miss Kid and Grocery Gal were in quite the predicament indeed, as they were literally the last man standing, helplessly stranded in a Portuguese airport without a clue as to what to do next.  For you see, the mischievous gremlins of Luggage Gone Missing were in their heyday and had thrown a wrench into the girls’ first grown-up over-seas adventure by executing a brilliant move of grab, snatch and hide.  A game of hide and seek of the wickedly disruptive kind.  Tee hee.  Tee hee.  Tee hee.  And the laugh is on whom??

Why sprint out of the airport lickety-split, when you can instead spend the first leg of the journey dejectedly hanging out in said location whilst anxiously darting up and down the stairs and corridors on a desperate quest to retrieve your now missing belongings?  Not exactly the most ideal scenario and not quite what the gals had initially envisioned for the start of their holiday.  Looks like languishing on a sun drenched beach and splish splashing in the turquoise waters will have to wait, to be replaced instead with a tsunami of waterworks of another kind.

It goes without saying that full blown-out pandemonium had by now erupted at baggage claim, with full-out wailing, screeching, bawling and cursing the new order of the day.  Marching en masse, a small army of irate travellers had by now descended upon the respective airline counter, throwing daggers of hatred at the hapless staff, who were clearly at a loss as how to pacify the disgruntled herd.  Expletives, spewed in a melange of dialects and tongues, could be heard far and wide, as a war of words was brewing in a volcanic eruption of the not so pleasant kind. 

It’s quite the misfortune then, that Miss Kid and Grocery Gal’s Portuguese vocabulary was limited to just five words in total:  Hello, Beach, Sunblock, Mall and Shopping.  Sad.  But true. 

So what’s a pair of Canadian teenyboppers to do, but resort to what they know best, and that, my dear reader, would be snivelling.  Yes.  Snivelling.  Spilling one crocodile tear after the other, in hope of garnering a wee bit of attention to their cause, the forlorn gals from across the pond pulled out all stops and went for the gold.  Those poor suckers at the Lisbon airport had no idea what they were in store for, bombarded by an onslaught of drama that could only be perfected by calculating teenagers of the deviously conniving kind.

The gals’ Academy Award winning performance of a lifetime was a resounding success, reaping each the reward of a 75 Euro voucher, enough to pay for overnight essentials such as PJs, toothpaste and a change of clothes.

It’s too bad, though, as they didn’t actually have to resort to such dramatic measures, as the policy of their respective airline was to issue these types of vouchers to all such passengers whose luggage had gone temporarily missing. 

Just don’t anyone tell the girls.

Did I mention that a full-fledged downpour was waiting in the wings?

Come hang out in the baggage claim centre of some foreign airport on the very first day of your beach holiday, clue-less and luggage-less, struggling to converse in a language that is as clear as mud.  To add misery to the mix, the forecast was calling for non-stop rain, wind and hail.  And just where was that umbrella??

Stay tuned for more on Miss Kid and Grocery Gal’s escapades in “sunny” Portugal.  Are they eventually reunited with their long-lost luggage?  And, pray tell, what about that incessant rain?

Next post - In two weeks!!  Catch up with the fabulous adventures of cuckoo ol' Auntie Nora's slightly smarter niece on Wed November 12th.

(Lisbon pictures courtesy of Maradzidra)

Those mischievous gremlins of Baggage Gone Missing have struck once again!!

Squelching to an abrupt halt mid-way through peak tourist season, the once over-burdened baggage claim carousel at Heathrow International was quite the pathetic sight indeed, devoid of any tumbling, rumbling or bumbling noises whatsoever.  No longer belching out any type of valise or carry-on, with luggage at a standstill, the once bustling treadmill of baggage had completely conked out and had gone kaput.

Luggage, oh luggage, wherefore art thou??

Every couple of minutes or so, the carousel would hiccup, spitting out randomly assigned pieces of luggage, such as that brighter than bright 70’s orange neon one, you know, the one plastered with dozens of those tackier than uncool slapped on decals, brashly bragging of umpteen continents traversed.  And even the very last piece of luggage standing, that decrepit beat up old tattered one that’s held together with reams of sticky tape, was hastily grabbed, lest, heavens forbid, the Gods of Lost Suitcases revoke their claim on newly snatched luggage.

Having quite the field day in baggage claim with all pandemonium breaking loose, the mischievous gremlins of Baggage Gone Missing were in their glory, gleeful that their crazy ol’ shenanigans to cause full-blown havoc were making quite the impact of the annoyingly disruptive kind.

Doubled over in hysterics whilst choking on fits of impish laughter, the not so nice gremlins of travel disaster were on a mission to trip up the well-laid plans of any globetrotter in sight.  With the goal of disrupting travellers far and wide looming on the horizon, their ridiculously packed agenda included a melange of twists and turns, a roadmap, or should I say, roadblock, to a highway of impending baggage hell.

The dreaded curse of Empty Baggage Carousel had struck once again and this time its target was none other than newbie world traveller extraordinaire, Miss Kid, on her first grown-up sojourn across the pond.  Surely her shiny brand spanking new lighter than light black backpack on wheels is patiently waiting in the wings, anxious to get up and go and carry on with the first leg of the journey, which, incidentally, wasn’t going quite as swimmingly as planned.  For, you see, an unexpected glitch with all things baggage had gone awry, with denizens of backpacks and suitcases now haphazardly scattered around the globe.  Ownerless and homeless, yet even worse, left to an unknown fate of spending the remainder of their long anticipated vay-cay locked up, languishing in some stuffy old foreign terminal storage hold, awaiting their marching papers.  Like, seriously, how fair is that?  Bags packed, not ready to go.

Lost luggage - please come home!!

And, to think, the initial start of the journey started off without a hitch, with Miss Kid and side-kick (better known as Miss IGA, whose nick-name, incidentally, was hatched from selling produce at her part-time gig at a local grocery store chain), scoring big time; snagging those highly coveted bulkhead seats, happier than you know what, cosily nestled in upgraded economy class comfort of the almost first class kind.

What could possibly go wrong?

It had all commenced upon landing at Heathrow, that gigantic melting pot of 747s, suits and back-packers, all scurrying about the business of jetting from Point A to B, on a race against time to high-tail it lickety-split through temporary transitory holding hub in as quick and efficient a sprint as possible.  That was the plan, a totally do-able one in theory, yet quite the far-fetched one in reality.

For you see, those devilishly wicked Gremlins of Baggage Gone Missing had set up shop and moved on in, unwelcome squatters with nothing but mischief on the mind.

Next week – Stay tuned!!  Do the temperamental mood swings of Baggage Gremlins out of Control get the better of Miss Kid and Grocery Gal, two clued-out teenagers en route to the sunny beaches of Portugal, now travelling with only the clothes on their backs?  Who will win the battle of luggage??  Are the gals eventually re-united with their knapsacks??

Due to quite the over-load of Pink Sneaker commitments, my next blog post will be posted on Wednesday, October 29th.

Stay tuned for the continuation of the adventures of Miss Kid and Grocery Gal in Portugal.

(Pictures courtesy of Maradzidra)