When we arrived at Faro airport that early morning there was a total panic going on. The hall was fully packed with people. We had no clue what was going on, so we stepped in on the end of what looked like our queue to check in for our flight to England. We noticed a few minutes later that everybody became a bit quiet and were listening to a ground stewardess who was trying to tell the eager travellers what was the matter. After a while it became clear: there were clouds of volcano ash from Iceland that made flying impossible for maybe days.
Everybody looked at each other in disbelief and stayed in line while shouting at the stewardess. Some were even shouting obscenities. We decided it was useless to stay there and discussed a few possibillities. We could try to book something on line, but that idea was skipped immediately. No flights meant NO FLIGHTS, so we were not going to join in another queue at the few internet connections that were available.
We were lucky to have the phone number of the hotel on our mobile phone, so checked if we could get back to our room. They answered that we were not going to have the same room but another, but for the same price as the old one. We found our transport company and soon we were on the road back to the hotel that we just left an hour ago. The driver told us that some hotels in Faro had doubled their prices. We were very aware that we were having a bit of luck in this moment of mishap.
At the reception in the hotel we obviously were going to be checked in by a new member of the staff. She was a pretty girl of about 18 with a very new staff outfit; the colours told us that it probably never had been in the laundry. She had to learn some more English we noticed too, but her smile made up to that. She was prompted by a man with more experience, speaking perfect English. But he was lured away by other customers. Suddenly it became crowded at the desk. Only once he came back to show her how to book things on the computer.
She nodded, she understood everything. He asked something in Portuguese and she nodded again. We were left in her hands.
She asked if we wanted to smoke in our rooms. In unison we asked for a room in the non smokers area. She went ahead on her keyboard while giving us an assuring smile once in a while. She made it very clear that we were handled by someone who had everything under control. I decided I could make her task a bit heavier and asked if she could give us a room very close to the lifts. “My wife can’t walk very far”, I added. She nodded again, I had made myself clear.
Her coach looked once over her shoulder and ran back to a new arrival. She looked questioningly at him, but he gave her an assuring smile. She smiled back and hammered the last keys and entered.
“So!” Her task was completed, she gave me the keys and wished us a nice stay in the hotel.
We took the lift and searched for our room. It was as far as possible from the lift. Walking through the hallway we noticed a door of a room was open. I could see a man in that room, sitting on his bed and smoking a big cigar. Now I noticed too that there was quite some smoke in the air, the airco couldn’t cope with it.
We decided to stay in that room anyway, thought it would only be for a few days. We both didn’t feel like checking in again. We were just tired and wanted to sleep a bit more.
Later that morning I had to ask something about the internet access in the hotel. The girl couldn’t help me. Instead she asked with a lovely smile if I was happy with the room. I couldn’t get myself to disappoint her, so I told her that I did. Her smile became unforgettable.
The few days turned out to be two weeks, but I never complained.