We are back from our European Adventure 2011. I decided to leave the laptop at home since it is on its last legs, and nothing would frustrate me more than lugging around dead weight across the Continent. I want to share some of the stories, but I think I will start at the end. After almost 24 hours of traveling (and being in the sun), we ended our trip with a rather interesting ride on the Super Shuttle.
The Super Shuttle is an LA institution (although I did see one of the blue vans on the Champs Elysees). I actually used to ride it quite frequently when I was in college, as for $15 I could get from LAX to John Wayne airport and then transfer to a city bus to get to my destination. As a result, I heard lots of interesting stories – mostly about drivers having their doors torn off by other vehicles in the airport.
People used to complain about the drivers getting lost, but now thanks to GPS, that isn’t as much of a problem. The bigger issue seems to be their fear of you missing your flight, so they pick you up 4 hours beforehand (if you live an hour away from the airport without traffic).
At any rate, we hopped aboard the shuttle, ready to call it a day. Of course, they are allowed to make another pass to pick up more passengers, so around the loop we went. Thankfully we picked up two more passengers, so were cleared to leave the airport. I could tell though just by looking at the one guy we picked up, that he was going to be trouble.
Unfortunately Mr. Trouble was our first stop. Although he told the driver he was going to a residence, it turned out we were dropping him off at his work, where he had left his car. That shouldn’t have been an issue, except that his office was behind a gate.
Mr. Trouble got out of the van and entered a code which opened the gate. He then got back in the van and told the driver where to go. It wasn’t terribly far, but we did pass several other offices on the way. The driver let him out, got his luggage from the back, and asked how to get out of the complex.
We drove back to the gate, the driver got out, entered a code, but the gate did not open. He tried again, but then got back in the van and drove back to Mr. Trouble.
At this point we figured he just forgot the code or something. When we got to Mr. Trouble’s car it seemed that he had gone into his office. The driver was able to find him, and asked again how to get out. This time the driver wrote down the code. Good thinking!
Back in the van. Back down the driveway. The driver gets out, but this time walks out the gate to where we came in, and where Mr. Trouble entered the code. It still doesn’t work. He tries one more time without success, walks back to the van, leaving the gate for people open.
The driver is definitely frustrated, but doesn’t say anything. He once again drives back to Mr. Trouble. We notice that there is another car – well, a pickup truck actually – getting ready to leave.
The driver talks to Mr. Trouble again, but then decides we should just follow the pickup truck out. He gets back in the van and we manage to follow behind the pickup and out the gate. Crisis averted.
Well, the driver does stop and get out of the van to close the gate that he left open. I’m really not sure why he didn’t close it to begin with, although I couldn’t help thinking that if he hadn’t left it open, and the gate didn’t open we would be stuck without a driver in the Super Shuttle van. Of course I realize one of us could have gotten out and opened the gate for him (although in fairness, the doors to the van aren’t the easiest to work from the inside). At least it didn’t come to that. And I have no idea if Mr. Trouble gave the driver the wrong code, or our driver was just incompetent.
Thankfully we were dropped off next. The only issue we had to deal with for the final leg of the drive was that the bench we were sitting on didn’t seem to be properly bolted down. It was fine on the freeway when the driver was going straight, but whenever he made a turn – especially a sharp one – it was a bit sketchy. It felt like we might actually fall over and into the luggage area. Not fun, especially not after 24 hours of traveling, although both of us were giggling on the final turns.
Thankfully we arrived back to the house without further incident. Next time, I think we might use the limo service.