#936612 by honey lamb
12 Jul 2017, 18:02
Our last couple of days in Chile were spent in a quieter part of the city away from the hustle and bustle the surroundings of our former hotel. It was where the major hotels were sited and the area was peaceful, beautifully landscaped - and a tad boring. While we were there we used public transport for the first time and found the Metro very cheap and easy to use. One thing we had noticed when we arrived in Santiago first was the amount of graffiti and we fully expected the same on the Metro, but no! The stations and indeed the trains were spotless - no graffiti, no litter, nothing! Even when the trains were busy they were treated with respect by the passengers. A common experience though was people passing through the carriages selling water (and they did a brisk trade!) or busking and then going round with a bag (and were studiously ignored by most people) or selling other goods - mostly sweets.

We hadn’t long checked into our hotel when we received notification of the wildfires raging not too far away from us. We weren’t in any immediate danger and couldn’t see them but we were aware of them. This photo shows the haze created by the smoke when we were going out to dinner.
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On one occasion Chris went up to the rooftop pool but was back within minutes because it was crowded and as he passed me there was a definite smell of woodsmoke from his clothes. :eek:

There wasn’t much we wanted to do on for the couple of days left to us but we did want to go to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. We headed there immediately after lunch the following day but when we got there, it was closing even though it was advertised as being open till much later. Turns out that Francois Hollande had dropped in on the French official jet we had seen the day before in the airport and he wanted to visit as well. So we had to trudge back to our hotel in the blistering heat and return the next day. I bet he didn’t have to pay to get in! We returned the next day and, if you ever go to Chile, it is well worth a visit. While it does refer to human rights on a worldwide basis, and there is a wall with the map of the world with areas where human rights are being infringed (which seems to be most of the planet) the main emphasis of the museum is the Dictatorship under General Pinochet. Because it is fairly recent history there was much visual and televisual information and it was totally absorbing. The most moving part was a floor to ceiling wall extending over 4 floors with photographs of those who had been murdered and the Disappeared. There were several empty frames and we were told that it was constantly being updated as more and more information was being discovered. When we left we were absolutely emotionally drained but also surprised that we had been there for over four hours. It seemed to go in the blink of an eye.

That essentially was the end of our trip as Chris left that evening but I was staying on another night as there was no direct flight to LHR on Sundays. My flight left early evening and I elected to stay in the hotel until it was time to leave for the airport. When I was checking out there was a surreal moment. We had taken it in turns to book and pay for the hotels with a general reckoning taking place after the holidays to make sure neither us had been short-changed and this one was mine. I had booked it via Expedia and I was unsure as to whether or not it had been pre-paid as some hotels in Chile have that facility and others, one paid at the hotel. The good lady checking me out (whose English was not the best) presented me with a bill and I presented my credit card. She gave me a total which seemed to be right but when she presented me with a receipt it was a totally different amount. At this stage I felt I needed to do some checking but as the crowds behind me were growing as some wanted to check out and others wanted to check-in, I needed a quiet corner. A quick perusal of my emails confirmed that I had paid in full when booking but there were incidentals such as a lunch and some drinks but certainly not to the extent that was marked on the bill. Totally puzzled I scanned the bill. Yes my name was there but my address was Manchester but not the Manchester I know and love but Manchester, New Hampshire and the currency was USD. Once the crowds had dissipated I headed back to the desk and this time got someone in the know. I explained what had happened and that I was not from nor ever had been in Manchester, New Hampshire. This good lady asked my room number and I told her I was in XXX. She looked at her computer and then at the receipt I had given her. “So, you’re not in room YYY?” she asks. I confirmed I was in XXX. Ooops! Someone of the same name was in the hotel and I had just inadvertently paid her hotel bill! :-? Immediately a supervisor was summoned and having been apprised of the facts, cancelled the payment I had made and as a gesture of goodwill, cancelled the incidentals we had incurred which was probably a couple of glasses of wine, a snack for both of us and my lunch that day. Result!! :grin:

Shortly after that I took the complimentary shuttle to the airport, which at this stage was nearly as familiar to me as my beloved Cork, and joined the line for CW check-in for BA. I had done OLCI and was delighted to find that 7A was still mine - it is one of the window seats where you don’t have to scramble over some-one’s legs to go to the loo! I was checked in and handed my boarding pass not only for that flight but for the onward flight from LGW to AMS some two days hence! Slightly panicking, I checked that my bag was tagged only as far as LHR and heaved a sigh of relief to find that this was so. It was only when I had gone through security that I realised that she had given me no lounge information but I recalled that BA had indicated at some point that it would be the AA Admiral’s Lounge and so I presented myself there and was admitted. It was spacious, well appointed with food and drink stations which were basically snacks but clad in timber so beloved of American airlines in general in the belief it looks classy. It doesn’t - it looks boring and dated. I’m convinced that the only function that US lounges serve is to get you away from the crowds in the main drag, give you some free food and snacks and a place to charge your devices. I checked in, dumped my carry-on and then went and did a last bit of shopping before heading back for a G&T and to charge the aforementioned devices. The lounge was deserted! At the maximum there were 5 people there as well as me all of whom headed for the BA flight. Obviously I was not the only one who had not been told about the lounge at check-in! The guy on reception had told me that there would be no announcements about flights and given that there were only six of us in the lounge I had to wonder what he did to pass the time - Facebook, or given the antiquated appearance of the lounge, play Minesweeper? It was a wonder he hadn’t died from boredom! In the fullness of time those of us there, by silent mutual consent gathered up our things and headed to the gate where I saw others who had been in the CW line with me but obviously had not been told about the lounge.

Once on board I settled into 7A and was quickly presented with a glass of champagne by a pleasant and friendly cabin crew although I have to say he seemed to me to be a tad “ditzy” for want of a better word. However, if you’ve just been to a country that is newly on the BA route and have enjoyed it as much as I did - well I couldn’t blame him! After all I was bursting to go home and tell of my experiences and I’m sure he was too. For the longest time the seat next to me remained vacant and I began to hope that it would remain so as I really dislike the “in-your-face” configuration in CW. Alas, at the last minute a lady appeared in a cloud of perfume and after a pleasant greeting, settled beside me while I coughed and spluttered, gasping for breath! Shortly after she was joined by a member of the flight deck who joined her in conversation before returning to his post. I surmised that she was on staff travel but who am I to begrudge her that - even if I could scarcely breathe! Actually she was lovely - both to look at and friendly and I was pleased to see that she had time to enjoy her glass of champagne but alas a second one was not forthcoming for me!

If you read my TR on the journey to Santiago you might remember that I was disappointed not to be able to take photos when flying over the Andes as my window seat had been changed to an aisle one. Now was my chance to make up for that - wrong! The captain came on with the flight details and we would be flying along the coast to Peru and crossing the Andes there where they were much lower than in Chile. D*mn! Especially as by the time we got there darkness had fallen. Ah well….. Not exactly a contender for the Honey Lamb Disaster Rating scale.

After that the flight essentially became the rather boring - almost bog standard flight I have come to expect from BA. The crew took drinks and meal orders (and for the life of me I can’t remember what the meal was - but it was probably fish or chicken because I ordered a sauvignon blanc. (What does it say about me that I can remember what I drank rather than what I ate!) BA have become quite stingy in their drinks service. I requested a G&T (well, what else did you expect?) and whereas in the past one would be given two miniatures and two cans of tonic, only one of each was provided. Well one doesn’t use a whole can of tonic and so I requested (and received) a second miniature of gin. The most notable part of the service for me was that, while serving me the crew lowered and raised the partition between me and my seat partner whereas when I was in a similar seat on a flight from JNB on BA the cabin crew came into my seat area to serve me which made it seen very private and also did not disturb my seat partner.

My meal was served and I was halfway through it when I reached out for my glass and realised I hadn’t been served anything to drink - no sauvignon blanc, no water - nothing. So I rang the bell. And I rang it a second time! And a third time as I really needed water at this stage - or sauvignon blanc - or both! Still no reply. I rang it a fourth time feeling I was ringing a carillon worthy of a cathedral and I was a distant relative of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame - “The Bells, The Bells!” Obviously the crew were thinking of me in similar terms - or at least “That nutter in 7A” and wishing I would leave them alone to get their meal. :roll: Just as I was about to ring for a fifth time (and I really wouldn’t mind but 7A is near the galley) when yer man arrived. “Did you ring your bell?” he asked. Did I ring my bell? For Heaven’s sake, the call button isn’t one of those that you can accidentally activate by breathing on it! :-x At this stage I was in narky mood. “Yes”, sez I. “Four times” “Oh and what seems to be the problem?” he asked in equally narky mood. After all I have disrupted his meal. “I have nothing to drink”, sez I. “Nothing?” sez he. “No”, sez I. “Not water, nor wine. Nothing!” At that moment a look of pure panic flashed across his face as he realised that this is a major lapse in service. It’s one thing to miss on one of them but to pass on both! All of a sudden his narkiness disappeared and he fetched some water. Fine, I needed it and I was grateful but I had also ordered wine and I told him so (while slaking my thirst with the water) He then asked me what wine I ordered and when I told him it was sauvignon blanc, he arrived back with a glass of sauvignon blanc which was warmer than any red wine I have ever had on a BA flight. At this stage I was glad that I was on a night flight as I really was fed up with what was happening. Now for any newbies coming to this post, the long-timers here will tell you that disasters and I go hand in hand. Some are totally unrelated to the airline but more to the trip - like getting mugged in Buenos Aires! I’m fairly philosophical about them all but I do get cross when they are in the airlines’ remit and this was really a sloppy service. Every time I get on a BA flight, I really want to love it and nearly every time, I am disappointed.

Shortly after that I bedded down for the night and slept fitfully, waking just as we were nearing Land’s End. Breakfast was just fruit and cereal for me and soon after we landed in LHR at noon. We trundled along to T3, passing the Aer Lingus planes in T2. I was booked onto a flight leaving at 6pm, feeling it was too risky to chance an earlier flight given that it was on a separate booking and so my plan was to use BA’s Arrivals lounge in T5 before heading off to T2 where I had booked myself into the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge (or whatever it calls itself nowadays.) Border Control was relatively quiet and I used the gates with ease. My bag was on the carousel when I arrived in the baggage hall and soon I was welcomed into the Arrivals lounge. I use the term “welcomed” loosely as when I presented myself, I was told that the lounge would be closing in an hour’s time. Well, there’s plenty you can do in an hour and so I told the good lady that I was aware of it but I wanted a shower before travelling on. I was duly admitted and after a refreshing shower, went in search of a second breakfast. When I was entering the lounge I had been aware that some of the staff were milling around the service area - they had been clearing away the hot dishes! Bummer! Still there was cereal and the toaster was there so I was happy enough as I caught up with what had been happening in the world during the past 17+ hours. Nicely replete, I made my way over to T2 where I was checked in swiftly and was nicely welcomed into the Aer Lingus lounge there. I later discovered I could have had a shower there and there was a nice pot of vegetable soup as well a sundry snacks - and of course G&Ts!! While no Clubhouse, it was a pleasant enough place to wait, away from the clamour of the airport. Some three hours later I left for my flight home on what was a bog-standard flight to end my Chilean adventure.

Oh and I “missed” my flight to AMS two days later.
#936613 by hiljil
12 Jul 2017, 19:37
Thank you for your concluding TR. What a wonderful holiday you can look back on and I suppose ending on an uneventful BA flight ( except for the bells ) wasn't such a bad thing overall !

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