Thursday, June 6, 2013

Suitcases Packed and Nowhere to Go

For once we are totally prepared for a trip I have been planning for months; a month in Europe visiting several countries including a river cruise on the Danube through Austria. My husband and I are so proud of our efficient, compact packing job, with one small suitcase each for the entire month. It is the day before our early morning departure and I have just printed our boarding passes securing them in my new lightweight travel purse next to our passports. Just a few last minute details and we are ready!

Looking in my email inbox I see the confirmation for the city tour I have booked in Prague has arrived just in time. I quickly open the email relieved that I can add this last document to my now complete and organized voucher file. The email begins as expected:

‘Your tour for June 6th is confirmed, however, I must advice you that our tours for today and tomorrow have been canceled due to the severe flooding in Prague.’

I am perplexed, as I have been checking the weather almost daily. I have not heard anything about flooding. I quickly begin a Google search for news. The first story I see reports serious flooding, evacuations, power outages, and sewer closures in parts of Prague. The next article reads, ‘Worst Flooding in Five Centuries in Passau, Germany.’ The article is complete with a German man standing in front of his house in thigh high water. Passau is where our river cruise begins! Panic sets in. Our flight is 12 hours away. Will we be flying into a flood zone?

While Mark, my husband, is out doing last minute errands, I can’t think what to do. I assumed my travel agent had gone home for the day but I tried her number just in case. I breathed a sigh of relief when she picked up. “Sonja, what is going on with our trip?”

“What do you mean?” she calmly asked.

“The flooding in Prague and Passau, it sounds really bad!”

“Flooding, what flooding? I haven’t heard about any flooding.”

I proceeded to explain about the email and what I had read online, and now she begins to panic. “I will try to reach the cruise-company and call you right back.”

As I am pacing back and forth in front of our suitcases, Mark returns.

“What is going on?” He asked. “I thought you were all ready.”

“The whole trip may be falling apart! I am waiting for Sonja to call back.” I explained the situation as the phone rang.

 “Your entire trip is cancelled, the cruise, the ground portion in Prague as well as at the end of the cruise in Budapest. I am stunned and so sorry. I don’t even know what to tell you to do.”

We had booked our flights separately (non-refundable of course) and were already checked in. However, we no longer had reservations or a plan of any sort, once we arrived in flood ravaged Prague.

After much fretting and deliberation, we decided to cancel our flights and hoped that our travel insurance would cover our losses. What a let down.

The next morning we debated about changing our plans and going somewhere totaling different, or just postponing our vacation for another time. But to waste all the planning, preparation, and those meticulously packed suitcases! We spent a day and a half trying to put another trip together, but it is just not happening. Oh well, such is life.

Putting a positive note on our lost trip, we can begin planning and looking forward to the replacement trip. Instead of being sad because vacation is over, we still have it ahead of us. I might even keep that suitcase packed.

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