You know that scene in wedding movies where the characters aren’t going to make the ceremony?
So there we were. In our Sunday best.
The sun relentlessly baked the pavement outside Hotel Sao Sebastiao de Boliqueime.
(“We” = my happenstance wedding buddies – Andrea, friend of the bride; Flo, groom’s family friend.)
Our nearly-wedded friends had chosen to say their vows at a romantically off-grid spot in the Portugese countryside. The remote location had guests spread across several B&Bs nestled among hillside olive orchards.
Upon securing accommodation at a hotel in the nearby village – a maze of narrow cobblestone lanes – I remember thinking, “The hotel is only 2.5km from the wedding venue. That’s less than two miles – assuming we don’t catch a ride with other attendees, it’s walkable.”
Fast forward three weeks and five thousand degrees.
Turns out no one else was rooming more than 1 km from the venue. Happily, given the soaring temps, a bridesmaid’s husband offered to run down and pick us up before the ceremony. Sorted!
One: the pick-up itself had been arranged in a very go-with-the-flow, yeah-that-would-probably-be-great, too-many-chefs-in-the-kitchen kind of way.
Two: the time and exact place of the pick-up hadn’t been clearly confirmed among all four individuals involved.
Three: the wifi at the driver’s hotel was mostly non-functioning.
Four: fear of international rates caused the majority of wedding attendees to function without cell phones.
Five: the front desk clerk, we discovered after 10 minutes of waiting, actually interacted with our driver and basically told him we had gotten another ride. We’d later learn the confused driver headed back up the hill and cracked into cocktail hour.
Six: upon ringing the local taxi service I’d used days before, we discovered he was doing an airport pickup 150km away.
Seven: the two other taxi services they refer people to were booked solid for the entire (Saturday) night.
Eight: the groom’s brother, who had the only functioning cell phone we knew of, was engaged with groomsman duties as the ceremony drew near and was not answering his phone.
It was too late to walk now, heat or not. No way would we make it in time for the vows.
As we tried plans B, C, D, and E, the rest of the wedding guests sipped their way into the second half of the drinks hour. The wedding planner ran around the ceremony area completing finishing touches. The hotel clerk, acknowledging his role in our mini-catastrophe, racked his brain for ideas.
Enter… the hotel owner! The clerk rang back to the private office and explained the whole problem – from his oopsie to the wifi/cell-phone issues to the solidly booked taxis. Suddenly, a very busy man appeared to save the day!
And that, my friends, is how I ended up being chauffeured to the Quinta da Cebola Vermelha in a 2015 luxury car. ♣