Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More dash than ash

My friend Ollie - scourge of bamboo roots, layer of paving stones and lender of pressure washers - is one of the Stranded. He flew out to Heraklion, on the island of Crete, on a working trip last Wednesday and was supposed to fly back last Friday but was delayed by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano.
After hanging around waiting for news for a couple of days, he was told by EasyJet that even if the restrictions lifted, he would not get a flight home until this weekend.
So, never one to sit around twiddling his thumbs, he set off an odyssey across the Mediterranean. On Sunday night, he caught the overnight ferry (nine hours) from Crete to Piraeus, the port outside Athens. Then he took the bus across Greece to the western port of Patra(s).
From Patra, he took the overnight ferry (21 hours) to the Italian port of Ancona. He arrived this morning and immediately took a train to Bologna, where he was advised to make for Milan, as extra trains for Paris were being laid on there.
As I write this, he is - I hope - on a train from Milan to the French capital, which gets in around 9am tomorrow. When he gets to Paris, he can either try to get a seat on a London-bound Eurostar train (fully booked until Thursday) or make for Calais and hope that he can wheedle his way on to a ferry across the Channel.
Along the way, he has made friends with four other Victims of the Volcano. Thanks to the internet and mobile phones, they have kept in touch throughout the journey, and the first two to reach Milan bought the precious tickets for Paris for all five. I sense a lifetime's friendship being forged here.
I'm confident Ollie will be home by the weekend. But just in case he hits any snags, please join me in cheering him on. Go, Ollie!