Reviews: Swiss Airlines and Apartment Pinkas

Thrifty Travel Mama - Flying Swiss Airlines with KidsIt’s Christmas Eve’s Eve!  I’ve got a cake in the oven and peanut butter frosting in the works.  If I can prop my eyes open, I’ll be mixing up some gingerbread dough (sans molasses – where in the JUNK do you find that in Germany?!), wrapping presents, and putting the last-minute touches on T-Rex’s paper Pollack tree.  Picture to come!

Let’s wrap up the Prague trip and put a bow on it, shall we?  I have two reviews today, one of Swiss Airlines and the other of the vacation rental we used in Prague.

My little traveler in training thought getting a snack and a drink was the coolest thing about flying on the a-plane.

It’s Christmas so I’m going to start on a cheery note.  I really enjoyed flying Swiss.  None of us had graced their wings with our presence before.  The plane was small, but it didn’t feel like the tin can on steroids like most regional jets.  The flight attendants spoke three languages (duh, it’s Swiss – but bonus for us).

No peanuts for this crowd – on one leg we received a pretzel filled with cream cheese.  On the return, we were served mini baguette sandwiches.  Leftovers were offered to the passengers.  We had lunch the following day compliments of the airlines.  Oh, how I love “free” stuff!

But best of all, the staff did not mind having children on board.  As soon as we were seated, a flight attendant brought the boys several toys each: coloring books, colored pencils, finger puppets, puzzles, a cloth picture book, etc.  Doc Sci had Screech strapped to him, and the flight attending gave him a special seat belt just for the baby.  Coolness.  I’m hard to impress – I thought the attention to wee ones was superb.

The price was right, the Coke somewhat cold, and all luggage arrived on time.  Rock on, Swiss.  You just made my list of favorite carriers.

This is about how I felt regarding our apartment; unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the museum during our stay.

Now, let’s talk holiday apartments.  It’s wise to get an apartment when visiting a city with a family.  It costs the same (or often much less) than a hotel but you have a LOT more space, usually several rooms, and a kitchen.  However, keep in mind you won’t have concierge service, a 24-hr front desk, room service, or any of those other extras.  I can live without that stuff – I’m too thrifty to use it anyway.

To be honest, I somehow came down with a mad case of where-the-heck-did-I-leave-my-brain disease, most likely due to the week of cooking at Thanksgiving, a certain little boy turning three, and other miscellaneous things.  Apparently, I booked this apartment through an agency, and not with the apartment company itself.  Don’t ever do this.  It’s MUCH easier to deal with the property than with a middle man.

I give credit where credit is due: Swiss is getting a thumbs up and Farux / King Wenceslas / apartmentplan.cz (this agency has THREE names?!) / Prague Holiday Pinkas Apartments deserves a big fat thumbs down.

I booked this particular apartment for several reasons: location, price, cost of parking, baby cot provided, wifi, and washing machine in unit.

Location: Very good for the price.  The location is New Town so you will have to walk about 10 mins to the Old Town.  We live in Europe so we don’t care.  Americans who are not Jared the Subway miracle might care.  The flat is a 3 minute walk to Tesco, the subway, and a tram stop (unless it is a blizzard, then it’s more like 8 mins).

Cost of parking: We considered driving to Prague, but then I found such an amazing deal on Swiss that we flew instead.  For the record, it was 15 euro/day.

Wifi: It worked fine – but we had to call and ask for the password.  And while I’m thinking about it, none of the ridiculous number of companies listed above put together any kind of information for the flat.  We had no idea if or when linens would be changed (never), when and if trash would be collected (not even once), what to do with the mountain of trash that would unavoidably accumulate (pile it outside the door?), when to check out, where to leave the keys, how to turn the heat on, etc.  Very bad service, indeed.

Welcome to Apartment Pinkas – a busted baby cot shouldn’t make you lose TOO much sleep, right?

Baby cot and washing machine: The bulk of our troubles rested on these two items.  When we arrived, neither one could be found anywhere in the unit.  We called the emergency number which was for Prague Holiday, not for apartmentplan.cz.  After a heated discussion with the man on duty, I persuaded him to come out immediately and get a baby cot in the unit.

Good afternoon, here’s a baby cot, put it together yourself.

The two cots this company had were broken and totally unsafe.  On Saturday night at 6pm, he said he couldn’t do anything about it that night.  Or the next night.  Or the night after that.  Nope, not even the night after that.  In fact, we visited the apartment office every day (except the day we went to Karlovy Vary) to ask about this and only on Friday night (the night before we left) did we receive one.  Shame on you, man.  You’re a parent yourself (I actually saw him with his wife and daughter at the mall), and you don’t care about other childrens’ safety.  Boo.  Hiss.

It only took three days of pleading to get the washer. And when it came, they actually moved the broken chair and other trash that happened to be living in this corner.

Since I was assured beforehand (by the website) that this unit had a washer in it, I packed accordingly.  My two dirt devils can give Oxi-Clean a run for its money.  Well, the problem is the website is just plain wrong.  In fact, the number of the unit on the website is also wrong.

After proving to the Prague Holiday guy that the apartmentplan.cz website listed a washer, he tried to talk me in to using one in another unit.  No way, pal.  I’m on vacation; I’m not here to pretend I live at a Czech laundromat.  After three days, we received a washing machine.  My boys and their clothes thank you, Prague Holiday.

Mmmm nothing like a little dirt to go with your TP.

On one of my daily visits, I asked the guy how long they had been in business.  “Since 2003,” he said.  I found that hard to believe seeing as the WC had no toilet paper holder or towel hook/rack, the bathroom had a wire hanging out of the wall, the living room had holes in the walls where other pictures must have been, etc.  The ever-truthful website said the flat slept 6.  I think you could fit about 23 with the ridiculous number of futons and single beds in there.

Prague’s tiniest sink.. with an invisible towel.

So, bottom line, I didn’t pay the original asking price for this apartment for the week. I exchanged many emails with the Farux / King Wenceslas / apartmentplan.cz person, asking him to call and discuss the situation.  He did not call once, nor did he offer any explanation or sympathy for the train wreck this apartment experience turned out to be.

If this sort of thing happens to you, speak up.  Document it.  And get a receipt in case those crooks charge your credit card later, and you paid cash.  And, do everyone a favor, don’t stay here.

Okay, enough Scrooge talk.  Happy Christmas Eve’s Eve!  T-Rex has two weeks off kindergarten so my posts may be spotty from now in to the new year.  Enjoy your holidays.  I hope Santa brings you lots of airline tickets!

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