Saturday, September 24, 2011

Geneve working, bonjour! (and airport nightmares)

The week in Geneve went rather quick. I was very busy; I was in a training and I had several meetings spread throughout the week as well. I have never really posted much about my work life in this blog which is a conscious decision by the way but while on the plane to Geneve, I thought of taking a foto of my daily work outfits, which is not as fashion forward as compared to outfits on other blogs out there. My work outfits are mainly business conservative.

And because I have been busy throughout the week I only remembered to take a foto of my outfit on Friday, the last day. A colleague took a foto of me another day so I’ll wait for that and post soon.

Last day work outfit. I go around at work, at my clients and business partners in similar business outfits. A bit boring but safe =), I try to liven up my outfits with colours sometimes.

My flight, Amsterdam - Geneva was actually at 07:00 Monday. I drove to the airport very early that morning, however, I missed my exit because it was very dark. It was misty and it was raining. I couldn’t see the road and the signs clearly. I ended up entering the private terrain of Schiphol which is only meant for employees. It was a drama because I held up tens of cars waiting for their turn to get into the premises. In order to get inside you must have the employee parking pass. Of course I do not have it. It took some time to get everyone out of the way so I can back up the car and go away. In shame =(

Which meant that I got to P3 Schiphol parking (for long parking) late. Found parking at 311 row which is a loooong walk to the bus pick-up area. Walking under the rain in my business suit, high heels, a large luggage, a hand bag and my work-laptop bag and 1 hand holding the umbrella is a challenge. I thought about P1 and P2 parking at Schiphol but cost-cutting is a priority in many companies nowadays.

When I arrived at Schiphol the queues at the security for Schengen states were a CHAOS. I began to worry about the long lines. There was as well a long line at the self-service baggage drop-off but the lines to the security gates were KILOMETRES long! In short, it took me a frustrating and agonizing 1 hour to stand on the line. I MISSED MY FLIGHT.

Schiphol Amsterdam Airport is the biggest and busiest airport hub in Europe and they only have 1 security gate for all Schengen states? Unbelievable. I thought this is supposed to be a world class airport? Schiphol is a mean jungle on its own if you are not familiar with it. Just from the security gate, it can take 15 to 20 minutes or more to reach your boarding gate. I always see people running every time I am at Schiphol. It is a massive airport.

Anyway, I went to the transfer desk to rebook my flight but since I am on a local within Europe flight I had to wait 45 minutes before being entertained. There were so many people that missed their flights that morning and the international intercontinental passengers who missed their transfer flights were their priority. I did small chat with a man who missed his flight to Helsinki. He said the last time he missed his flight was to Croatia and there was only 1 flight each day so he had to go home.

Now, the nice thing about flying with KLM is they have several flights to Geneve in a day so I was booked for the next flight at 09:30.

Flight was uneventful, an hour and a half. I finally arrived in Geneve and waiting for my luggage to appear at the baggage carousel. There were still more than 30 people waiting for their bags to come out when suddenly the baggage carousel stopped moving. Huh? What is happening?

An airport personnel who speaks little English motioned all of us to go to an office. By this time we knew our bags were missing, they did not make it to the flight. Apparently, there was something wrong with the baggage belts at Schiphol. But I could hardly believe that more than 30 people in the same flight were missing their bags?! It was definitely a WTF moment.

Then a group from a local TV network carrying lights and a camera rushed to the scene to interview people. I hate to be on TV so I avoided them. They eventually came to our line and asked me if I speak French. I said no in an unfriendly way and quickly turned away. Glad I did that because they further interviewed the woman behind me, in English. Geez, I do not want to appear on Geneva TV. Yikes.

For the record, this is my second time that KLM lost my bag. The first time was a flight from Manchester to Amsterdam several years back. I received my bag 2 days later.

After filing a lost luggage report at Geneva Airport, I happen to meet a colleague who was travelling from Cairo via Amsterdam. He was on the same flight and lost his bag as well. He overheard the name of my hotel which is the same hotel he was staying and saw my calling card when I gave it to the airport personnel. Luckily, I got my bag that night, delivered to my hotel. He got his the next day.

Sigh. What a great way to start a work week in a different country.

Although the beds were comfortable, I did not like them because they have rollers underneath and because they are 2 separate beds they slide easily away from each other. I prefer a 1 big bed!

My hotel is located near the airport which is also near to our headquarters. It’s a business hotel and for this price I could have stayed in an upscale lavish boutique hotel. Everything is expensive in Switzerland. To give you an idea, a 2-star hotel for example will cost you 120+ Euros. A 4-star or business hotel would be double the price.

I took the tram every day. It’s just 1-stop to our office. I could have walked but not in my high heels. Geneve Tourism is giving away free public transport cards to tourists and business visitors. You get the card at the hotel during check-in. And recycling is very much alive in Geneva.

The trams are also equipped with video screens showing the route and what the next stop is. Very handy.

I didn’t really took many fotos of Geneve but there will definitely be more stories soon!

Travel Period: September 2011
Destination: Geneva, Switzerland

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