The buffet breakfast at the White Hotel was fantastic; one of the best of our trip.
After breakfast we took a taxi to the Brussels airport for our trip to enchanting Venice, Italy.
I had booked us on SwissAir for both the trip from Brussels to Florence and from Florence back to Amsterdam. I had heard good things about SwissAir.
With the wackiness of airline pricing, I found it was dramatically cheaper to book two round trip tickets for each of us instead of purchasing a pair of one way tickets (we just threw away each of our return flight tickets and — Oila! — we had convenient one way tickets). As far as I know, Southwest is the only airline that doesn’t do that. Their one way tickets are half the price of their round trip tickets. Duh.
The SwissAir flight staff, food and drink (and free Swiss chocolate!) were wonderful. These folks seem to actually like serving their passengers!
I was concerned about our connecting flight, though. We were flying from Brussels to Zurich, Switzerland, changing planes in Zurich and then flying to Venice. There was only a half hour between our scheduled arrival in Zurich and our departing flight to Venice. On top of that, our plane left fifteen minutes late, leaving us only fifteen minutes to get off the plane, find our gate and board our Venice flight. What if they had the same “no more boarding of the plane 30 minutes prior to departure” rule as in the U. S.? Yikes! It didn’t look like we were going to make our connection.
Just before landing, however, it was announced that SwissAir was aware that several people had tight connections. They said someone would be waiting to assist us upon landing.
Sure enough, when our plane landed there was a SwissAir employee on the tarmac holding a sign that said “Stout”. We caught his attention. He smiled and escorted us to his nearby van.
Once inside (our minds totally blown), he said, “I’m just going around to the other side of the plane to collect your luggage.”
He whipped the van around, grabbed our luggage and loaded it into the van, verifying that we had everything. Then he cruised across the tarmac where our SwissAir connecting flight was waiting for us.
As we walked over to the stairs to board the plane, he said, “See? I’m loading your luggage on to this flight.”
“Omigod,” I gasped. “Is this standard treatment for all European air travelers?”
“No, this is SwissAir standard policy. We hope that you will fly with us again.”
“Are you kidding? I’m going to try not to fly with anyone else. Your service is extraordinary!”
He flashed us a big SwissAir grin.
Think about it. This policy makes real sense. And dollars & cents sense, too. Because we didn’t miss our flight, they didn’t have to go through the hassle of re-booking us. If there hadn’t been a flight until the next day, they would have either have had to put us on a rival company’s plane (costing them money) or provided us with a hotel room for the night plus money for meals (also costing them money).
We were gobsmacked, as my English friends are fond of saying.
So, we got to Italy.
But I’m not going to talk about Italy just yet because I’ve got to get ready for the weekend event known as Baby Tattooville. This is the coolest contemporary art event in the U. S. It takes place in Riverside, California (Wha?) at the incredible Mission Inn (a trippy hotel apparently designed by M. C. Escher that takes up an entire city block). I’ll be one of a total of 30 top artists this year (up from their usual ten — it’s publisher and event organizer Bob Self‘s way of celebrating the fifth anniversary of Baby Tattooville). Attendees have full access to us for the entire weekend. There’s a professional pop-up shop there and gift bags for attendees that are typically filled with about $4000 worth of art goodies by the time they leave.
Read all about it at http://www.babytattooville.com/BTVille/Home.html
This year’s event is sold out (usually, there are only 45 total slots — 50 for this year — sold; Baby Tattooville is kind of a semi-secret non-advertised thing that sells out almost as quickly as it is announced — with enormous repeat attendance), although there’s a waiting list. If you’re interested, I advise signing up for the 2012 Baby Tattoovile ASAP. It’s almost always in October. Bob likes it that way because the big summer convention crush is over. Having it in October gives everyone a chance to finally relax.
It starts tomorrow! Woo hoo!