Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Brussels weather is NOT Corfu weather

Brrrrr! For some reason, it feels much colder here than it does in Corfu! (possibly because it was 6C/43F degrees last night...) Autumn has arrived here.

Looking out the windows to the back yard of my cousin's home in Alsemberg, it's obvious that it's fall.

In Corfu we can still pretend we're having a bit of Indian summer weather, but in Belgium winter is just around the corner and waiting to pounce.

My cousin will finish with work early this afternoon to swoop us off to have some lunch in Beersel (near the castle!) Then we'll go and visit with my aunt.

Meanwhile: a little FYI update on flying to Brussels...

The trip was mostly uneventful, once ON the airplane, but the "new" Olympic Air is not all that much different from the "old" Olympic Airlines.

The handicapped riser (to get a wheelchair-bound person onto the airplane, didn't work in Corfu, so my poor arthritic mother had to climb the stairs into the airplane. (They offered - to her embarrassment, to carry her!)

On arrival in Athens the lift/riser DID work so she got out of the plane without having to negotiate the stairs (thankfully). And yay!, the wheelchair was there and available for her for our six hour wait between flights.

[We opted for the slightly more upscale, but MUCH nicer option of leaving the airport proper and crossed the street to the Athens Sofitel Hotel, where we had a delicious lunch in comfortable chairs - served by helpful waiters- in the bar with suitable beverages, and complimentary newspapers. Yes it was more expensive than McDonalds, but it was EVER so much more civilized...]

The next leg- to Brussels was again on Olympic Air. (or as T now refers to them, Olympic Air"heads") We left late- it "wasn't their fault!". (Just like old times!)

Also, sadly, the food was still mediocre (cleverly I chose NOT to take a tray of "pastistio or moussaka" - the crew wasn't sure either...). Frustratingly the trays remained in front of everyone for almost half of the 4 hour trip.

When we arrive in Brussels- and whether it was the fault of Olympic Air, or the Brussels handicapped services- we were again "let down", as my mother -now less flexible after a full day of travel- had to haul herself the length of the gantry to the motorized car that would supposedly take her to the baggage area. (After she reached the car the young man explained she could have taken the wheelchair, only he clearly had told her to walk to the car at the end of the gantry, while he loaded the two other ladies onto the wheelchairs.)

This young man, who was 'in charge' of the wheelchairs/automatic cart, was apparently just a poor communicator still, we noted on top of that slight problem, he managed to be singularly officious as well. (as was the Olympic Air staff at the gate).

After the Olympic Staff woman in charge at the gate came to "inform" me that I was wrong in my expectations of handicapped services for my mother, the word helpful, never again came to mind in conjunction with Olympic Air. It died a solid death with her firm words as it came right exactly at the end of our journey. Sadly, it will remain as the last "taste" in my mouth of their "new" persona.

The new Olympic Air motto expressed to me as I heard it from her, now appears to be "No Apologies. We're never wrong, you are."

Fortunately we'll be returning via Aegean Airlines. Perhaps we'll have better stories to tell...

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  1. Oh, that´s awful, your poor mother, it would have made the journey so much more tiring. I have flown Aegean Airlines a few times to Rhodos and found them ok, though I didn´t have any special requirements :)

  2. I hope you sent Olympic Air a complaint with a link to your post!

  3. Dear RML,

    It was awful for her. Ironically when T and I travel we accept a lot of "bad" service, and take it mostly with a grain of salt.

    This was the first time traveling with a "handicapped" person and it was very disconcerting. (It makes me wonder if there is a rating service for traveling handicapped people??? If not, there should be.

    Dear Miss Footloose,

    I am not certain what I am going to do about it as we were MADE to fill out questionnaire forms re: new Olympic Air service... we answered honestly about everything but the final debacle.

    I figure I have wasted enough time on it, and of course, my future bookings will most likely avoid Olympic Air. (NO one likes to be made to feel they are wrong, after a tiring day, particularly after paying a hefty amount to fly their airline.)

  4. Oh, your poor mother and poor you for having to deal with it. We haven't taken Olympic for over 12 yrs and unless we absolutely have to, we won't even with its supposed makeover. It's unfortunate, really. I have to say, as a sister traveler I've never, ever had worse experiences than Olympic. Alitalia comes next but, I think that's a given!
    I think it's pathetic that they couldn't identify the food being served, what?-they don't have a menu? So much for organization.
    I like Aegean, but after flying Luftansa last time, with a courteous and kind staff, the moment I stepped on my Aegean flight I knew I was on my way back to Greece by the way the flight attendant snapped at me and I proclaimed out loud, "well it's clear I'm headed back to Greece!!!" I hadn't experienced a customer service sneer until I was back on Greek airlines. It's unfortunate because I love Greece.
    Oh, and the Sofitel is the best!!! LOVE the Sofitel!! Nice choice.



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