Thursday 6 July 2017
Having spent Wednesday and part of Thursday catching up on some work and a bit of writing while Sylvia has been hard at work, we felt relaxed as we headed to Marseilles at 3pm to catch our flight via Frankfurt to Johannesburg and then on to Antananarivo in Madagascar. Prior to boarding there was a delay due to thunderstorms in Frankfurt. We had experienced this a couple of weeks ago and had plenty of time to catch our connecting flight. Boarding half an hour late, we were then told we would have to wait up to an hour to take off as the storms had come back. Eventually airborne and not far from Frankfurt we were put in a holding pattern as the storm was still going on. Eventually we got diverted to Düsseldorf.
The crew were great, apologising and telling us how when we got off the plane there would be people there to sort out accommodation for the night and our new flights. The load of 150 happy passengers disembarked to be told pick up your bags and head to check-in where they will sort you out. Did the crew know? Were they just avoiding the problem!?
At the check-in no-one was there. Sylvia intercepted a Lufthansa staff member who was walking past. “Sorry, we are all off. You will need to get a train to Frankfurt and sort it out there, it’s not my problem – we are all off!” I went in search of our bag, which appeared on a conveyor an hour later. I think someone has stolen the wheels of efficiency here.
Back at the check out Sylvia is on hold with Lufthansa. She suggested I find us a hotel. After ringing a couple of local ones and getting no reply I got on the net and found Schlosshotel Hugenpoet, a castle hotel only 14kms away. Apparently under EU rules if your flight is diverted due to bad weather the airline is supposed to provide you accommodation and refund 50% of the fare. We will have to wait and see.
At around midnight the taxi dropped us at the hotel. The receptionist directed us to a tiny lift, which we squeezed into. Ending up somehow in the basement, surrounded by steam pipes in the bowels of the building and in fits of laughter, we eventually worked it out and got to the second floor in the very old, well-preserved castle.
This place as been around in one form or another for over a thousand years. It has been in its present form with a few alterations since 1696. It has been in the hands of its present owners since 1831 and was turned into a hotel in 1955. With only 36 rooms, a moat and a number of out buildings, and set in a forest, it’s a magnificent place.
A huge marble staircase led us down to breakfast on the balcony. Wedding preparations were underway with a large pink function tent set up in the grounds.
As Sylvia caught up on some work I explored the grounds.
Around midday the wedding got under way and we observed and listened to a woman with an operatic voice squawk out some songs.
After a bit of a look around inside it was time for us to head back to the airport to try our luck again.
As we publish this we are pushing back from the terminal about to head to Johannesburg.