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June 17, 2006

I've got my World Cup tickets

Courierpackage One of the longest sagas of recent times drew to a close yesterday, when just 46 hours before I was due to fly, and a mere 993 hours (or 41+ days) after I purchased them, I finally got my Lufthansa air tickets to Germany into my grubby hands.

You may recall the initial flurry of calls from the courier where they mostly hung up once they established I couldn't speak Greek, and me missing the best bit of two days of J & V's visit waiting in because we had been promised the tickets would arrive that day or the next.

In the end I emailed Lufthansa in Athens, and they said they couldn't help, but I should phone their agents in Crete and gave me the number. That entailed spending a fortune on our pay-as-you-are-kept-on-hold Greek mobile trying to use a menu system in German and Greek to get through to someone, anyone.

After about seven tries calling "Miles and Smiles" over the space of a week, I finally spoke to someone, who was very helpful, but informed me I needed to call a different number.

It took a few more attempts until I got to speak to someone on that number, and their initial response was that I should "wait another couple of days for the tickets". That was red-rag-to-a-bull-territory, and I have to confess they got on the receiving end of a rant about how I had been waiting for these tickets for over a month etc etc. "Can I just put you on hold sir".

I was on hold for fifteen minutes. I began to think that he had just put me on hold as a "difficult customer" and left me to dangle, but I hung on, and when he came back he said if I called the next day (Thursday) they would have an answer, but at the moment they were not sure whether it was best to re-send the tickets or whether they could have me collect them at the airport.

Then a little while later someone from Lufthansa phoned me back, and said that the courier had been trying to deliver the tickets. I started going into the whole "but they keep failing to find my house, and I've waited in" diatribe again, then checked myself and said "That doesn't matter now - what can we do next?". They gave me the phone number of the courier office.

So on Thursday I called them and said I would pick up the tickets - what was the address. Well, he said it three times and I was none-the-wiser. "Where are you near?" I asked. "the electricity company" he replied. Now we were on.

Courier Well it is quite a trek by foot out to the ΔΕΗ building, which is right on the edge of town, but I found them. I can't say the security was great - "I think you've got a package for me, Martin Belam?". Woman fetches package. "Is this your name?" she said pointing at the address label. "Yes" I said. And that was the extent of the ID check.

Claire did point out that if you went to the collections counter at the E17 postal depot and asked by name for a parcel with a non-native name, that had been in the 'pending' tray for over a month and returned about a gazillion times, they might also just be pleased to get rid of the thing to the first obvious foreigner who walked in.

Also, in fairness to the courier, the scribble all over the envelope, and then the second envelope they had put the package in so that they had the space needed to write more scribble, indicated they had tried to deliver and SMS me on several occasions. On the other hand, the original letter had exactly the correct address that all our other mail is successfully sent to.

Anyway, I'm on my way to Dortmund.

Via Frankfurt.

Which is the only place I could get a flight to.

And it isn't even direct to Frankfurt - I have to hop to Athens first.

But that's a whole other story...

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V and I are so glad you finally got your tickets! Enjoy the trip!!!

Crikey. Living abroad sounds hard...

>> Crikey. Living abroad sounds hard...

Well, I don't know that is "hard", but I think some of the everyday things are a bit more of a challenge than I was expecting. The language and cultural differences mean that a lot of things we would just take for granted in the UK just don't exist anymore.

I was actually pretty pleased with myself in the end that with the vague directions I was able to locate the place without having to call them again :-)

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