Wednesday, 23 May 2018

SP18 - Recorrido por Extremadura - Baggage

No response from British Airways as yet and the phone number they give (well hidden on the website) has a queuing system that is indeterminate in how long the wait is to get through. So gave up.

We will take the small cases that fit in the overheads and have been tested to fit in the sizing frames that are dotted around the airport.   Plus everyone can carry a laptop bag even though I won't be taking a heavy laptop with me, although I might take my Nexus 7 tablet in case we need a bigger screen to view things on.

Luckily I have a few laptop bags hanging around the house and loft and a new one from work that has just been taken out of its packaging.

BA kindly have all the information on their website.

All we need now is to start packing!

Monday, 21 May 2018

SP18 - Recorrido por Extremadura

Not long now.

Airlines & Luggage

With budget airlines charging almost as much for a case to go in the hold as they do for a human to occupy a seat on the plane I followed the advice of a well known travel writer.

The advice? Book hand luggage only first of all as the baggage price is at its highest at this point. As the flight date gets nearer this price tends to drop and although still an "extra" it can save a lot of money.

So that's what I did. Will it work? Will it buggery.

With less than a week to go I logged into "manage bookings" on the outward leg of the journey. The flight is operated by Iberia the Spanish national carrier. I can add a bag for €15. Very reasonable.

Before booking I logged into the "manage booking" page of British Airways for the return leg. The flight is actually operated by their partner. Iberia!

Loads of information about additional baggage but no "add a case" button shows up. Unlike many big companies there's no online-chat facility.

In the flight details page I can reserve seats, free (another odd thing!) and so I do, but I can't add a bag for the hold. BA have a disclaimer that I have to agree to them sending this request to Iberia. I do. It gives me the BA booking ref and one for Iberia.

And as they are different. I try Iberia with the booking ref from the BA page. Doesn't exist.

Decide to messenger Iberia with my question about baggage and the booking references. They say that although I can book a case with them in advance now for the flight out, I have to wait for check-in on the return flight to come back with it!

A gamble huh?

Car Hire

The area we are going to is stuffed full of Roman sites/sights but the buggers went and built a massive aqueduct in what is now Portugal. Back then they didn't have such a problem. I had planned to go and have a look as we will be a mere 10 miles away, but sadly, the insurance on the hire car only covers it for use in Spain! Darnit.

Hotel change

Before checking the hire car situation I had booked a nice hotel in Elvas in Portugal. It is in a bit of a two horse town but has the aqueduct right outside!

So we are back to having a hotel in Badajoz. But not the original one as that is now fully booked. I have booked another one that looks to be next door.

This is as close as we are going to get to the aqueduct. Thanks Google.

Elvas Aqueduct

Monday, 14 May 2018

NO18 - Paid

May has come and we needed to pay the balance on the cruise. Bish bosh done.

The only other thing that needed sorting was the parking at Southampton. It is included in the cruise for us as we have a balcony cabin.

I couldn't find where to enter the codes and that was sorted by a few emails and a different url.

So. Now nothing to do until early August.

Travel Insurance - Yes or No?

Travel Insurance and/or EHIC?

Do we really need it?

As long as the UK is still in the European Union we are told that the EHIC card will get us treated in another member state. It might not be free but there is allegedly a way for UK citizens to claim back any expenses from the Government.

The two occasions we needed to use EHIC have been 50/50 positive.

The first when Claire developed bronchitis in France was back in 2000, the local doctor had never seen EHIC and so we paid him for coming out and for the prescription drugs.

When she had a foot problem some years later in Spain the doctor and receptionist took longer checking the card in a book than actual treatment.

But with roughly annual trips to the US meant that travel insurance seemed like a good idea. Luckily (touch wood here) nothing has required any medical treatment whilst over there.

An annual policy used to be around £60 with extensive cover and big bucks cover for the US and is sold as "worldwide'.

After my heart attack in 2015 the quotes shot up to over £400 a year. Despite the surgeon who cleaned our my arteries and installed the stent saying "you're fixed" it seems the insurance industry has other ideas...

For 2015 we were with BUPA, a private hospital etc company. They stopped doing insurance that year.

So for the last three years including the renewal that kicks off in a few days, I went with MAG Travel Insurance. MAG being the Motorcycle Action Group.

They have quite a few "badged" services underwritten by insurance brokers and Lloyd's underwriters. I renewed at £129.96.

I did worldwide although in the next 12 months the US or worldwide doesn't look to be on the cards

Friday, 4 May 2018

SP18 - Recorrido por Extremadura - Plan E

Another juggle.

Day 1 - Flight out to Madrid and Trujillo Parador to stay 2 nights.
Day 3 - Mérida and stay 2 nights.
Day 5 - Badajoz - one night
Day 6 - Cáceres - two night
Day 8 - Back to Madrid and flight home.

Using this Rough Guide to read about the places to visit. To give us more time I have dropped one of the overnights and doubled up at Cáceres.

Three weeks to go.

Update 12th May 2018

Email British Airways. the return flight has been re-timed to be 1835 instead of 1805.  Not that it matters as we have to have the car back at about 1530.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

SP18 - Recorrido por Extremadura - Tyre/TomTom Plan D

Michelin 576
A few days sitting at home looking at the Michelin Map 576 and getting a "larger picture" of the trip means yet another update to the routing.

All the hotels for the first night have been either too far to the north and way off the path between Madrid and the first Extremadura stop at Trujillo. 

So yet another review using the map to see where places are has been helpful. I have changed the first night stop again.

That's what is quite good about! The chance to plan and chop and change as need be.

The biggest change is that I have decided that when we arrive in Madrid and get the car, it will be about 3.30pm so instead of an overnight on the way we'll go straight to Trujillo. I logged into the Parador website and "modify booking" didn't work. Luckily, they had a chat option and a nice lady called Viktoria changed the booking to make it a day earlier.

That of course freed up another day in the week. A bit of shuffling around and I I have a new plan - Plan D!!!!! I have been able to move the Merida and Badajoz overnights to a day earlier and then fitted in Cacares to make a loop of the "frying pan".

So then I had a review.

Day 1 - flight out to Madrid and Trujillo Parador to stay 2 nights.
Day 3 - Merida and stay 2 nights.
Day 5 - Badajoz - one night
Day 6 - Caceres - one night
Day 7 - Plasencia - one night
Day 8 - back to Madrid and flight home.

Plan D!

Plan D - highway no toll roads.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

SP18 - Recorrido por Extremadura - Tyre/TomTom

All change. Some small changes to the overnight stays have required a change to the routing.  The Parador de Gredos has been changed to another hotel nearer the main route between Madrid and Extremadura.

The changes are really to make the trip a little smoother. This routeing is set to avoid toll roads and highways.

As usual I have used Tyre to create the routing.

Tyre  Route - avoiding highway & toll routing

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Booking dot com - if you want to book hotels and aren't already signed up with them, please follow the link and sign up.  It's free to you.

SP18 - Recorrido por Extremadura - Tyre/TomTom

So with the car-hire dilemma sorted.  I went for the no-excess plan instead of the low rate and potential hassle route of the cheap hire and massive insurance risk.

So back to the route.  As usual I have used Tyre to plan a route between the various stops and the airport. Having this in the TomTom doesn't preclude from going off-piste to look at things in the Rough Guide or on the hoof.  

I know there are people that think that a paper map is all you need and technology only ruins the trip. Good luck to them.  Finding a hotel in a huge city and arriving right outside the front door is preferable to riding around for hours.  I have done both other the last 40 years of touring and believe me. The TomTom way is way preferable.

So this is the base route:

Anti-clockwise at the top from the airport to the Parador de Gredos and then clockwise around the Extremadura cities.

There will be some autostrada as well.  Not all of it on ordinary highways.  I can set the TomTom to ignore highways and toll roads and it will re-map to suit.

This is the same set of waypoints but with the avoid highway and avoid toll options set.

All actually clockwise.  

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

SP18 - Recorrido por Extremadura

It's been a while since I updated this trip. Everything has been in place for quite a while and there was nothing much to do, apart from make sure the Advanced Passenger Information (API) was completed for both of us.

Then as I was looking through the folder in my Yahoo email I to check dates and make sure that my Tripit itinerary was up to date (it feeds into Google Calendar!) I noticed that although I had a few car hire emails, I hadn't booked any.

Car hire is always one of the biggest bugbears for me.  Flights are easy to book. They give you a price and you accept that and then check for the add-ons (rip offs?) such as baggage check and reserving a seat and you get a price.  

But with car hire.  There are so many "insurances".  Very annoying.  I ran through a few of the online booking agencies and there are quotes as low as €40/£35/$50 for a week's hire for a small car like a FIAT 500 "Cinquecento". This includes legal insurance cover.  Then you see the insurance excess is anything from €1000 to €1400 deposited on your credit card. The slightest chip and..... kerplunk.  

Most of these companies though offer a weekly rate for the same car at around €25/£22/€30 a day that includes all insurances and no insurance excess!

There are companies selling excess cover insurance for about €40/£35/$50 for year's cover in Europe only.

So what to do?  I am leaning towards the "easy life" of the no-excess rental. It's a gamble like anything to do with insurance but it would save that huge excess appearing on my VISA and me having to pay it whilst claiming on the excess cover insurance.

It's Spain after all.  Some of the towns and cities we are visiting are small with narrow streets.... jumbled parking lots.... etc....