Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Lost and Found; Italian style

I shortly told you about the beginning of my Italian adventure and about loosing my bag in transit in this post: AMS-ROMA-MILAN BRINDISI BARI >>Brindisi
That was a short post written on Saturday-afternoon after racing, just before we went out to dinner. The story below is what happened that day and goes on after that....

After a short night - I arrived at four in the morning - I met Chief Umpire Marek at the breakfast table and we talked about the coming day. Nice guy with all preparations ready and a positive attitude. Actually, the whole atmosphere of the event was positive; meeting organizers, sailors and the rest of the team, at the beautiful located club facilities of 'Circolo della Vela Brindisi'. The day went without any hiccups and we sailed 11 flights with 22 matches below the massive stone fortress in the harbor.

After sailing and debrief, Livio (the guy in charge of this event) took as to a very nice place for the evening meal, I guess it was his favorite place called: "trattoria Pantagruele" because he knew the owner and all the waiters and was invited to the kitchen to choose our meal.

An entrée of different very tasty bits of fish, shell food, shrimps and sunder. After that we had as a main course a gigantic local fish called 'Orata'. Very tasty! And dark on dark chocalate as dessert... THAT they can do, those Italians, they can cook!

We talked about live and sailing and I learned some Italian customs and peculiarities; For instance, asking about the difference between 'trattoria' and 'restaurante', is asking about taxes. Who serves what, at what price? Don't ask, even Italians don't know. And, you don't drink cappuccino during the day, only for breakfast. The rest of the day you drink coffee, which to any non-Italian means: very strong Espresso!

With some local red 'Brindisi' wine and with this relaxed atmosphere, all in all a very nice conclusion of the day. Due to my late arrival the night before and that 4th glass, I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow....

Oh, before you ask; not a word from the airport about my missing luggage, even thought flights were resumed in the afternoon, including incoming flights from Milan, Rome and Bari, which could have brought it.... if anybody had an idea where it was....

Next morning we - yes I'm talking multiple persons here - Antonio, the Portuguese umpire and I visited the 'Lost and Found' desk at the airport again. Antonio arrived on Saturday end of the morning due to getting stuck in Milan and, yes you've guessed it, also without his luggage!
My bag was - according to the information - in Rome, Antonio's was still not located...
What to do? Leave it in Rome and pick it upon the way back? I had two hours transfer time, might be able to do it.... Or get it to Brindisi, so I could change a shirt and underwear at least, before going home....

The girl behind the counter, pulled out a much used book with handwritten pages of telephone numbers and starting dialing numbers - it seemed at random - to try to get someone of baggage handling in Romo Fuimicino airport..... Oh boy, this is going to go smoothly... I thought.
Five conversation later she tells me she can't reach the correct person and I will have to come back. She will phone the club about progress...... yeaa, right!@*&^%%$#....No contact would mean the bag would probably be send on to Brindisi, but on which flight, was anybody's guess.

The second day was good sailing weather..... if you wanted to do a fleet race. But the gusts where above 30 knots and after some waiting and checking of the forecasts, racing was canceled for that day. The winner could easily be declared from the results of the previous day, with the two ties for 2-3 and 6-7 decided in favor of the winner of the matches between the tied competitors.

I'm writing pieces of the draft of this story in the airplane back to Rome, so I have to interrupt for an intermezzo:

The two guys serving as cabin crew are doing a sort of show up in front. You know, the safety demonstration they HAVE to do, before take off.... These two guys have it down to an art. One is droning in the microphone at a phenomenal speed, while the other does a sort of kung-fu dance showing the exits. To top it of, the dancing purser puts on a clearly much used life-jacket, which I would not dare show anybody as being anything close to reliable and starts pulling red tabs:
"incaseofemergency thelifejacketislocated belowyourseat putitoveryourhead andtiestraps aroundyourback pullredtabstoinflate butdon'tdoinsidetheplane therearetubestotopoffifneeded and theemergencylightcomeson whenemergedintowater hopeyouenjoythisflight...." in Italian this takes twice as long, but the speed increases exponentially.

Without blinking and clearly taking the whole lack of attention of everybody in the plane in his stride, the guy now wearing a yellow bib (life jacket) started down the aisle for seatbelt inspection. I looked at my neighbor and we both chuckled at the "don't give a damn, we bloody well going to enjoy doing this" attitude, these two projected.....

Anyway, back to the story:

Due to our finishing early and not having heard anything from the girls at the airport in 'Lost and Found', I decide to go there early. I could do some translation work on my lap-top and be able to pester them about my bag at the same time. I already checked out of the hotel, anyway.

You see, I did something very stupid myself. I put my car-keys in my check-inn bag, not in my hand-luggage. Thinking "I don't need those during the flight, I might as well...." NEVER will I do that again.!!! I had all kinds of ideas running trough my head about how to get me, in my car, back home without the actual keys.
I was therefore very anxious in getting that bloody bag back... not so much as to all my gear, but due to the fact it would be very nearly impossible to get home in my car.... phone a friend, get him to drive to Schiphol with spare keys, where are those spare keys?....I might even have to stay another day in Rome, I thought..... better let my employer know if this happens..... but my phone is dead and the effing charger is in the bag... - sigh -

After talking to the lady at the desk, we come up with a two way plan:
She would check the incoming flight of Airone - the same one I was booked on to leave - and see if my bag was send with it. She would get it off the belt - I could not go there myself - hand it over and after that, I could check in. This had to take place in 55 minutes--- 25 if you count last check in time. With security check and getting to the plane, this was cutting it very close.
Or, if all that failed, I would fly to Rome and see if I could get my bag back there, hoping it wasn't send with a flight an hour later, coming to Brindise while I was going the other way...

After a - somewhat restless - afternoon, this was set in motion.... My plane was suppose arrive at 1750 and leave at 18:45:

17:50: no plane,
18:00: no plane, but the green "Now arriving" light on the boards started blinking
18:05: passengers?
18:10: with bags coming out of the baggage claim area.
18:12: boards now show that the plane landed at 17:57!
18:15: I catch a glimpse trough the sliding doors of the Lost&Found lady with a red bag.... Could it be?
18:17 YES! She comes out with two bags, one of them mine!

First thing I do, is take my car keys out and put it in my pocket... Doing that, I notice the outside is soaked... Opening it, I discover that the inside is wet as well.... I conclude it was left out on the tarmac in the rain for at least a couple of hours, bloody I-TY *(^&&*%&......
Stay calm J, you got it back!

"You will have to sign for it" and she hands me a ledger. Oke, Oke, I sign and while thanking her, start to run to the other side of the hall to get to the check-in counters. Luckily I'm not even last! I ask the persons in front of my - a family of four, two parents and a boy and a girl in there teens - if they are flying to Rome... Yes, the boy is, the others are just bringing him. At least I might be able to catch this flight!

At the check-in counter, I put my bag on the belt a whole ten minutes after I got it and thought: "oh boy, here we go again"
But I did it, I had no choice.
At least I got the keys!

So now I'm traveling home, writing this story in my notebook, with the soaked bag in the hold. The flight to Rome is short, the next one a bit longer. I walk out at Schiphol wondering if.....

When I get there, the conveyor belt at the baggage claim is running already, and YES!

The bag is on it.



  1. Now you know why i was in Hamburg with only the hand bagagge... even if it was in November!

  2. Well they say that umpires recognise each other at airports because they travel in those leather sailing wellies.



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