Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Year of the Unfortunately Thwarted Travels - Part I

If you're a longtime reader you know our family travels a lot! It used to be mostly within the U.S., to Canada, and to & from Brazil where we are from and where most of our extended family members live. Starting in 2012, though, we began to go on a few trips to other faraway places thanks to my mother-in-law's successful travel agency business!

First it was an amazing trip to South Africa (I wrote 10 posts about that one!) in March 2012, then, a couple of trips to Brazil, and in 2015 we had a long and marvelous "Epic Family trip" first to the Middle East (Egypt, Jordan, and Israel) and then to Europe (Germany, Switzerland & a tiny corner of France -- Chamonix/Mont Blanc). I even created a label about the epic trip so I could link to all posts together here. Last year I barely blogged out trip to Brazil since I didn't have a laptop in which I could download my photos (now I do! It's a work laptop, but I will be using it to blog!), but on that nearly 6 weeks long trip we did two "epic" things, visited Foz do Iguaçu and the Iguaçu/Iguazu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu) and spent two short, but marvelous days in Rio de Janeiro.

So, this year didn't begin with grandiose travel plans, except that my brother-in-law K3 who lives in Doha, Qatar (they teach at the American school there), invited the whole family to spend Christmas with them. My mother-in-law decided it would be more exciting if we spent a week in Dubai (United Arab Emirates -- UAE) first, so she booked a few suites there and was planning some outings for us, and then we'd spend a week in Doha. So in the end we were having one major trip in 2017.

In April, I think, my husband decided to go ahead and purchase our tickets to go on the trip. We were flying in and out of Dubai because it was cheaper, and would buy our flight to and from Doha later (it's less than 1 hour flying, and pretty cheap). As you may remember from reading/listening to the news, it turns out that because of the TV channel Al Jazeera and some other disputes, several Arabic countries (UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia & Bahrain) decided on a blockade against Qatar in the early summer, hence completely destroying the plans for our trip.

Of course we were the only ones who had actually bought tickets, so we had to think of alternate plans. United was kind enough to let us switch the flight from Dubai to Doha, Qatar, and also the date, from Christmas from Thanksgiving. I wasn't very happy about this because my thinking is that if you're spending more than 3K on a trip it should be longer than six days, but whatever... In any case, you won't believe what happened! Lufthansa cancelled its Frankfurt Doha flight ENTIRELY back in September. Seriously!! And the annoying customer service people at United kept saying our flight was ok (in spite of us telling them we'd read in the news Lufthansa had announced the cancellation), until they found out it wasn't (DUH!) a week later and called us frantically several times.

In conclusion, we asked for our refund and had to sadly tell our brother-in-law, SIL, nephew and niece that we wouldn't be visiting them after all. :-( I felt sorry for the kids who were looking forward to having guests! We debated going to Europe (our initially desired destination before this whole brouhaha started in April) to meet up with K3, but he bought their tickets to fly here instead, so the whole family will meet up for the holidays (my mother-in-law rented a house in the Poconos, PA, since there are 17 of us. We are hoping to hit a few indoor water-parks there, since we don't know if it will be snowy/cold enough to hit the slopes).

That's all there is about that huge thwarted trip, but there's one more messed up trip (not entirely!), and I hope to blog about that shortly!


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