OR... NO TRAINS, PLANES, & AUTOMOBILES!!!
Unbelievable!!! I had been grounded in Manchester,England due to the Volcano erupting in Iceland!!
Generation Pop Gallery in downtown Manchester was having a month-long exhibition of my new pieces and I was scheduled to fly in for the gala opening on a Thursday night. I flew through Frankfurt, Germany as it was the shortest travel-time. When I arrived at Frankfurt our flight was cancelled to Manchester. We got on what turned out to be the last flight into London's Heathrow Airport, before it got shut down due to volcanic ash! I took a 4.5 hour bus ride to get to Manchester just in time for the show. Had a great time meeting new collectors and visiting with old ones. The news of the volcano over there just bred hysteria...all airports closed, trains booked for weeks, no cars for hire. People were going crazy. Websites were down, flights were cancelled, no one to answer the phone when you call your airline or train line. Even the Queen Mary 2 had a wait-list of over 1000 people!!
Normally, to be stranded in Europe wouldn't be a negative experience...it would give one extra time to explore the Louvre, or shop in London, or catch another great meal in Madrid. However, I have been overwhlemed with work and commitments back home that this adventure became an unwelcomed event.
We gave ourselves several days to get home, and kept our fingers crossed that we could do it in that short time span. We navigated ourselves off the island country of England (a feat not to be underestimated). We had to take a train from the Manchester, close to the top off England down to London at the bottom. Then we waited for several hours in a queue for a teller to schedule us on a Eurostar train through the Chunnel. As our fantastic luck would have it, there was one leaving in 5 minutes!! Needless to say, we RAN through Euston station to get to our train (tickets in hand) just as the conductor blew the whistle and the doors closed. Phew! Arriving in Paris in the middle of the night, there were no convenient hotel rooms available...and we wearily walked and walked until we found a vacancy in a place I wouldn't have boarded my dog in...but it was a bed...and a shower, although disgusting. Magically, and after hours of waiting we scored bus tickets to Madrid that evening. 18 HOURS LATER on a lavender bus with no toilet we pulled into Madrid. There are no words to describe the terrible bus ride that could even do it justice...all that is important is we got to Madrid alive and with our bags. We took a train to the airport which was open at that point!! Our original airline that we had been booked on refused to help us get home, and we would have got on ANY flight that would have taken us to AN America (North, South, Central), we just needed to get to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean which at that point was unaffected by the volcano ash cloud. We finally searched and found an airline with 2 open seats and a flight leaving within the hour for Atlanta and $2500 per economy ticket later, we were back home in the United States. By noon the next day I was comfortably sleeping in my own bed, with my own pillow, and my own clean sheets. I even went out to my favorite sushi restaurant. I have since been back at work trying to catch up on the week that I missed trekking thru Western Europe. Home never felt so good!! And now I know how all the people on Gilligan's Island felt on their "3 hour tour..."