|Thursday May 8 2008|
The Humours of Ryan Air (part 1) (…oh and The Bastards of Budget Car Hire…)
Well, we were going to go all modern and use one of the cheap airlines to get to Ireland this time. Sure enough we booked the flight with Ryan Air and it came to about €250 for two passengers all fees included…hah! We were going to need a car to get from Dublin Airport to Donegal.
Sensible people that we are, we booked a car on Budget Car Hire. They would rent out one of their wonderful machines to us for about only €70…twice hah! We were well pleased with ourselves. Less costs, less travel time…more time to work, play, drink, fall over and whatnot. We drove the measly 2 hours to Bremen Airport (thinking "hah!" to ourselves the whole way) parked in the garage-building and walked to the departure hall. Short queue ("hah" again!), gave the nice Ryan Air lady our booking number and passports…and this is where Ryan Air went "MUHAHAHAAAARGH!" (insert big cathedralesque echo here).
The plastic smile faded from the lady's face to make room for a well-practiced immovably set face. (insert foreign accent here) "You can't book a flight on your initials. It has to be the same name as in your passport." Well since we DID get a booking number online, I felt very strongly that the dear woman was sadly mistaken. So I replied in my best foreignish: "How come we were able to book the flight online then?" The woman's face became even more set as she reprimanded us for not having read the teeny-tiny letters that could have redeemed us from our fate. Furthermore she informed us that we could make name change for the small fee of what sounded like €100.
Sorely miffed as we were, we also realized that we had nothing to gain by making a big scene, other than missing our plane. So off we trudged to the Ryan Air counter, where, unlike at the first counter there was a longer queue. It wasn't really longer, but having three people in front of you of whom you know it's probably going to take half an hour each to sort out whatever con they got lured into, is somehow more frustrating. An even more foreign lady behind said counter changed the names for us and when I extended a €100 bill to her she kindly informed me the fee was €100 each!
Again we imagined booming sardonic laughter echoing through the place which looked more like limbo than any airport I've ever seen. We hadn't even left the continent and already our shoulders were weighed down under the loss of 200 euro worth of possible B&B and spending money. We shrugged as aloof as we could and made for customs. As expected Evertjan had to be padded down and his pipes instilled happiness in the officers as it looked like they had finally come upon a truly dangerous object. When I said they were bagpipes, I found the only 6 words they knew in English were: "I need to look inside" which they replied to every word I said. Unfortunately the only hazardous appliance they found was a pair of pliers for reed adjustment, which of course they simply could not allow on the aircraft.
Well, that was the end of our plans to hijack the plane to Cuba by threatening to take the pilots nose hairs out with pipers-pliers…oh well… It is a miracle we got to Dublin without going absolutely mental. Ryan Air has an amazing array of commercial weapons to brainwash anyone who dares to step into one of their psycho-planes. First of all there is a little ditty on the speakers which was an electronically deranged version of what we call "The March of the Fleas" in Holland. The single most annoying brain-burning piece of music ever written, that indeed, even a flea could play on the piano. It was looped and kept going on an on and for some strange dark purpose it was interrupted at irregular intervals by the sound of different mobile phones going off and people going "hello?" in about fifty languages.
The whole experience started to remind me of an old psychological experiment or torture method. Which one it really was, I forget…Then there were numerous announcements stuck onto the overhead compartments stating once again how amazingly wonderful (and above all CHEAP) Ryan Air is. To top it all off we had a "funny" pilot. There is nothing as unfunny as a "funny pilot". He kept making "humorous" remarks about the weather in Ireland and chuckling to himself, which was a bit scary considering we were at his mercy…
By the grace of some god we made it to Dublin in one piece and with part of our sanity still intact. When we'd found the Budget Car parking we discovered that we had rented what turned out to be a small red flea of a car that wouldn't fit my guitar in it's boot. It did have all sorts of incredibly un-useful gadgets, such as a rickety cup holder that menacingly yapped out at me when I pushed it. The little red monster also generously provided "no room for people over 5 feet tall" behind the wheel. I was not allowed to drive the car for insurance reasons, so Evertjan had to fold and scrunch himself into the driver's seat. If we hadn't been mentally as well as economically exhausted at this point we probably would have laughed…hah… As he didn't have his own car Evertjan had to learn veeery quickly to drive a lefty.
He was used to having most of the car to his right, so in some bends I had to restrain myself from yelping in fright at the local infrastructure, plant life and my own life flashing past in the corners of my eyes. The suspension on this ridiculous typewriter was so tight I lost about 5 pounds off my backside in a week, just driving around Ireland. The Irish road makers insist on using a coarse version of asphalt, the formula of which apparently hasn't changed since the song was written. We were never so happy to finally arrive back in Dunkineely where Declan McIntyre mercifully filled us with a warm welcome and a good few cool pints. (…to be continued)