Escape Route

The Year of Travel Disasters, Part 3

Subject: Making a break for it
From: Rory Ewins
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2010 22:06:42 +0100

Hi folks,

We’ve decided to stop placing our bets on EasyJet cancellations and rebookings, with the only options extending well into next week (with no guarantee that they’ll eventuate), and to make the journey back overland: a 1500-kilometre drive from Alicante to Paris, Eurostar to London on Friday, and then the drive to Edinburgh. Should be back there on Saturday, nine days after we were supposed to be. It will cost a bundle, two grand by the end of it probably. There goes any summer holiday.

Hanging around here indefinitely just wasn’t going to work. We all have work responsibilities that are on hold but can’t be forever, and we can’t get work done effectively here without nursery care etc. S. and E. have come to much the same conclusion and will probably be following in our footsteps only a few days behind us.

Fortunately all those Canberra-Melbourne drives should be good training. Hope William holds up okay—he’s taken on board the story of the volcano ash pretty well.

We got our one-way rental car today, after returning the local one that we’d extended. (Our second rebooked flight that didn’t happen was this morning.) The itinerary is to drive up past Valencia and Zaragosa to San Sebastián over the next two days, staying as close to the latter as possible tomorrow night; then we cross the Spain-France border by bus or train to Biarritz; then pick up a second rental car and drive to Paris over two days to catch a 2pm Eurostar to London on Friday. Having one car all the way would have added 700 euros to the drop-off fees, hence the break at San Sebastián/Biarritz. The worst of it is we’ll get to do hardly any sightseeing—this would be an amazing road trip over two or more weeks, but we can’t keep adding extra nights of food and accommodation. We’ve established that our travel insurance won’t pay for any of it—they have an exclusion for flights that were cancelled on aviation authority advice. We were already planning on that assumption, though, as we watched events unfold over Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Yesterday we just had to bite the bullet and start booking. We also had to change our plans as we went over the morning, because everyone else was racing to book the same things; one plan involved getting to Zeebrugge for a ferry to Rosyth near Edinburgh on the 23rd, but that got booked out and the next was on the 26th, so we had to revert to the Eurostar. Calais is a nightmare by all accounts.

I’ll try to keep you posted, but I’m assuming that wherever we stay won’t have Internet—one of the advantages of the hire cars is that we can stay in smaller towns and avoid booked-out city hotels. Not that we had much choice: there were no trains available until the end of the month either. Hire cars weren’t too hard to arrange, though, all things considered; none of their customers can get here.

22 February 2012 · Travel