Lufthansa Strike and Hotel cancellation

This Dutch proverb really sums up my latest travel experience, He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him.

Due to Lufthansa’s pilots’ strike on 24 and 25 November, I did not even get to set my foot outside the front door.

I usually book my trips online, but this time I wanted to give a travel agent friend my business. This cost me dearly. Where one can usually cancel online hotel bookings within a certain time frame without a charge, or a reduced charge, going through a travel agency is very different.

The travel agency uses a tour operator to do the hotel booking. We paid € 452 for three nights. We were informed of a refund of € 46 for the prepaid € 452 (billed in February). Hence, a letter had been sent to TUI, the tour operator. We lost € 406 on the hotel booking.

TUI’s response was predictable. There is no additional reimbursement.

The travel agent also neglected to tell me she would process our flight ticket refund. Only after some prompting, and so-called miscommunication, I was informed that the ticket seller would be sending her our refund. Of the initial € 564 for two tickets, we got € 452,32 refunded.

I also rechecked on our ferry tickets we had purchased for the route Tallinn – Helsinki. These were non-refundable tickets at € 52.

Needless to say, we not only lost this travel opportunity, but I also have to spend a considerable amount of time on research of how to get any money back. In money value alone, my travel companion and I have lost € 599, 68.

My letter to Lufthansa, with a detailed explanation of losses incurred, was sent off today.

I had also booked ‘additional services’ with Lufthansa online, such as a checked-in suitcase. This is another item I have to see when I get my money back. My letter to Lufthansa, requesting a refund for this separate online booking, was sent off on 12 December and to date, 6 January, I have had no reply.

Frankfurt Airport

On a more pleasant note, I was home alone for four days and did not get into trouble. My husband was in Paris with his brother during that time, and both children are away at university in Shanghai and the U.K.

Of Churches, the George Cross, and WW II Bombs on Malta

Malta is home to more than 360 churches on just 122 square miles of land. We passed by quite a few churches and domes, too many to even list any names.

During World War II, Malta was heavily bombed, having been a strategic outpost for the Allies. The bombing was so extensive that by the end of the war, Malta was considered the most-bombed nation on the planet. Later on, this title went to Laos, because of its bombing during the Vietnam War.

Quoted from Wikipedia:

The George Cross was awarded to the island of Malta by King George VI of the United Kingdom in a letter dated 15 April 1942[1] to the island’s Governor Lieutenant-General Sir William Dobbie, so as to “bear witness to the heroism and devotion of its people”[2] during the great siege it underwent in the early parts of World War II. The George Cross is woven into the Flag of Malta and can be seen wherever the flag is flown.

Dome in Mosta, Malta

Dome in Mosta

The best way to travel around the main island is by tour bus. We took the North tour one day, and the South tour the following day by double-deck buses.

Malta by bus

Touring Valetta. We had head phones to listen to the recording, but sitting on the deck of the bus, made listening very difficult during traffic.

Valetta, Malta

We got off in Birgu to take a look around for half an hour. More churches.

Birgu church

Sign in Birgu

The next bus for Birgu was supposed to come by 30 minutes later, but some Maltese have a very different attitude towards time and timing, especially compared to us Germans. Be prepared that buses sometimes are late or do not even show up, which was the case in the town of Birgu.

The bus stops are usually located in very nice areas, so waiting another 30 minutes was no problem. We were waiting in the sunshine! We watched this man throw out his fishing rod for about 40 minutes. The fish were so quickly off with his bait, it looked like he had come to feed them.

In the end, he dumped the remainder of his bait straight into the water. It was fun watching him.

fisher & bait

Touring the island by bus is great. Hotels usually sell tickets, and you also find ticket sellers at the bus stop. They are working on commission, and we overheard a feisty female Irish ticker seller arguing over customers with an elderly male Maltese. Be prepared for entertainment.

North tour: 15 euro p.p.

South tour: 17 euro p.p.