16 February 2011

Glad that's over

I'm home again after a ghastly trip to Hamilton. It wasn't a trip I was supposed to do: I got a call at about 3pm on Friday afternoon asking whether I could deliver training in Hamilton on Monday and Tuesday this week - which of course means that I have to travel on Sunday (something I try hard not to do, as it means I lose about half my weekend and most of my Sunday). I agreed because we were desperate - someone had pulled out and there was no-one else available.

Our training team arranged for the box of goodies to come down from Auckland and get left at the motel which was already booked, and I sorted flights and a rental - there was only one car left in Hamilton, a Toyota Camry (bigger than we usually use but I wasn't moaning!). However it turned out that only one night had been booked there instead of two - we got this sorted in the end.

I arrived on Sunday evening, found my motel, then went for a drive to find the Wintec campus in Avalon Drive where I was supposed to be delivering the course. What a nightmare! The signposting in the city is just awful and it was already dark which didn't help. Also, it is definitely unclear that the new north-south bypass is also Avalon Drive and there were signs pointing to Avalon Drive in another direction altogether, so all in all I spent about an hour cruising the streets looking for this wretched place. I got there eventually but was somewhat displeased.

Worse was to come. I found the venue itself on Monday morning and got set up in the room I had been told we were in. I was just about ready to start delivering when the organiser of the venue popped up and said she'd changed the room - I refused to budge until the following day. It was about 28degC that day and hugely muggy (thank God for airconditioning) - and I wasn't the only one who got lost on the way. Most of the trainees got lost too and were late. And I snagged my nice new work shirt (that I only got on Friday) on some sharp thing on the doorframe and it ripped. Just a little rip and fortunately nowhere naughty, but I was peeved because I liked the shirt.

Day 2 we moved into the new room - which had an antique airconditioning system with three settings: "loud", "off", and "deafening". I opted for "loud" as it was over 30degC and we desperately needed it, but it made it hard for me to hear their answers and sometimes for them to hear me. The room was also unsuitable for the number of people we had and all in all it was a bit of a mess. However the training went well, which was good.

The complete disaster started when I was leaving. I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare to be told that "we're not checking anyone in for your flight yet". I left my baggage with the attendants and tried the Koru Lounge, but found it even hotter and stuffier than the general airport areas, so gave up and went to the cafe. Hamilton Airport is a dump: it has a bookshop, one very overpriced cafe, and car rental cubbyholes, and that's it. You'd think for a so-called "international" airport it could do better - even Napier and Palmerston North airports are better.

I waited ... and waited ... and waited. No information. No announcements. Time was creeping on, and rumours were flying amongst waiting passengers that the plane had been turned back to Wellington. I asked the staff but they were singularly unhelpful. I waited some more. And then, ten minutes after the last Auckland flight left, they announced that our flight to Wellington was cancelled and we had to stay the night - had they told us even 20 minutes earlier I could have flown to Auckland and picked up a flight home. So they arranged accommodation for me at the Airport Inn, with vouchers for dinner and breakfast. The one bright spot was the lovely man at the Hertz cubbyhole who extended my rental on the car for another night quite happily (essential because Hamilton Airport is about 30mins from Hamilton city).

I checked in. I ate dinner (very nice). I went to see Black Swan (review to come). I came back to the motel - to find the driveway literally crawling with huge black insects about an inch in size, that look like some bastard offspring of a grasshopper and a weta. And there were hundreds of these things: and guess what? They were in my room too... the first time I have ever contacted reception of a motel and asked for flyspray to be delivered. I have no idea what they were, but they were huge, ugly, and in horrifying numbers.

Air NZ had refused to rebook me on a flight until after 10am (so much for preferential treatment as a Koru Club member!) and the flight was nearly 45 minutes late, so I wiped off the whole day - by the time I made it back to lovely Wellington it was almost lunchtime and I was hot, frustrated, and desperate to be home. So I came home and worked from home - and caught up on my laundry.

And I have to do it all again this weekend: but to (the hopefully slightly more civilised) Auckland. Another Sunday departure, another loss of half my weekend. I only hope it's not such a fiasco as this one.