Back to basics due to volcanic ash

Dear Bloggers,

A business trip to Madrid was supposed to last two days. Now it could end up being here for close to two weeks. At least that was before the Volcano in Iceland was disrupting air travelling. The flight back to London was set for Thursday at 11.05am.

But this flight never took off as the airports in the Northern parts of Europe had to be closed and also the airspace around. The authorities said that it was to dangerous to fly as the engines might fully stop due to the particles of the volcano. All of sudden I talked with an old colleague on facebook that was stuck in Spain due to the ash cloud, I could imagine some worse place scenarios to be stuck in. As they had free internet access he asked if I had any ideas how to get home. "Can't you drive down here and pick me up?" I could but you have to pay me big money I told him, but I have a possible way to get home in about two days.

But he is looking for any conceivable way to get back to his family earlier - if he can just get to that more Northern part of Europe. Maybe he could rent a car and make it to Calais in France or Santander in Spain, from where he might be able to take a ferry to England, he said. Booking the ferry from Santander was not an option as more people had the same idea. Not before next week there would be any space available. I suddenly realized that he is one of thousands of travellers stranded in Spain due to the huge cloud of volcanic ash that has enveloped western Europe. The ash has kept major international airports closed since Thursday.

As he was not looking forward to drive such a long distance in one day through Spain and France as the only chance to cross was to drive down to Calais. A nearly 15 hours drive and approximately 1560 kilometers behind the wheel. He asked if I had any suggestions for a stopover and if I knew any good hotels on the way down. I wrote to him if he did not mind to make a bit of sightseeing tour out of it as he needed to make a bit of a detour.

From Madrid he could drive in a bit more then seven hours to Forges in the Corrèze one of the most beautiful peaces of French historic sceneries. The Corrèze boasts a very diverse range of scenery, from the mysterious atmosphere of the Plateau de Millevaches moors to the gentle pace of life in the Brive region, from the sometimes wild gorges of the Dordogne to the green valleys of the Vézère and Auvézère rivers and the forests of the Tulle region. An exceptional built heritage of castles, fortresses, churches and villages bears witness to a rich past. Historic sites, museums and exhibitions offer year-round visits and events, including unusual introductions to the Corrèze’s heritage and generations-old expertise by traditional and contemporary Limousin troubadours. The département also abounds in natural sites, from ancient trees and beautiful gardens to impressive caves. Our comprehensive range of activities will make your holiday here a wonderful and unforgettable experience!

For the night he could probably stay over in auberge de Forges and get a great meal and being pampered by Micheal and Sytze, these guys are running a hotel and stil know what service means. I would say just have a look on their website
After a good breakfast he could carry on with the second part of his journey and pass the city of Orleans who doesn't know the story of Jeanne d'Arc and of course Paris is on the route as well. From Calais there are regulary ferries sailing to Dover or he could maybe go by train with Eurostar.

The closure of most of Europe's airspace except for the eastern and southern rims has cost airlines and airports hundreds of millions of dollars, and these called yesterday for a review of the restrictions. The closure has also stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers and hurt exporters.

The Dutch airline KLM, which flew a test flight on Saturday, said most European airspace was safe despite the growing plume of ash, and dispatched two commercial freight flights to Asia yesterday evening. Today the first commercial flights have been carried out by daylight and eventhough there is still an ash cloud hanging over Europe. They could fly without any severe problems.

All my planning has been for nothing unfortunately as today he could catch a plane to Amsterdam and he will take the ferry from Hoek van Holland to Harwich. He wrote me that he might be using the travel details to go on holiday later this year and drive to the sun instead of flying. Who knows where it was all good for.

The Old Sailor,


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