• Sweden edition
 
VOLCANO FLIGHT CHAOS
Stranded in Europe - readers' tales
Keith and Kathryn snag a Skoda

Stranded in Europe - readers' tales

Published: 22 Apr 2010 11:04 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Apr 2010 11:04 GMT+02:00

The week-long air travel chaos brought about by the eruption of a volcano in southern Iceland has led to thousands of travellers stranded across Europe. The Local has asked a few of them how they have coped.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the name of a 1987 John Hughes movie starring Steve Martin in the story of a family man struggling to get home for Thanksgiving. While the ongoing volcano ash chaos has not affected the holiday season, it has left many experiencing the goodwill of their neighbours, and left a travel tale or two.

Mark Blake, an Englishman living in Stockholm, found himself playing host to relatives for a little longer than planned as their flights to the UK last Thursday were cancelled.

"My step-dad and his daughter were caught up in the problems last Thursday," Blake said.

But Keith and Kathryn, UK nationals resident in Jersey, decided to seek their own means of returning to their Channels Island home.

"After being cut off after 75 minutes in the SAS phone queue, they decided to head up to Arlanda airport to get some personal service. They got as far as the central station and caught a rumour that there was a coach leaving for Amsterdam, so they stuck around," he said.

But while the prospect of a coach trip to the Netherlands proved something of a false dawn, the pair did meet up with a couple of Dutch ladies in the station, and together they hatched a plan to buy a car.

"But as none of them were Swedes they had to enlist the help of a local, a complete stranger to Keith and Kathryn, who then bought the car on their behalf."

The ageing Skoda, bought for the sum of 4,800 kronor, proved up to the task of driving the unlikely quartet through the night to the Belgian port of Oostende where they jumped on the ferry, eventually arriving home 43 hours later.

"The battery caused a few problems, but Keith is a physics teacher and so he knows about electricity and they were able to nurse the car on through the night," Blake said.

The trusty Skoda is now in Jersey, but as it is registered as a Swedish car will need to be repatriated next summer if it is to be sold.

"That is if the Swedish owner still wants to have anything to do with it," Mark Blake said.

With telephone queues long, trains and coaches packed to the rafters, and the ash casting a blanket over the skies, the second hand rental market has been booming across Europe during the past week as Martijn Balzer, who works for the Dutch tourist board in Sweden, can testify.

"We were in the Netherlands doing a shoot for the TV4 show Äntligen Hemma [literally: Finally Home] when I got a text to say that our flights had been cancelled," Balzer told The Local on Thursday.

Balzer and his colleagues decided to head for Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport to see what the problem was and on arrival realized that this was no ordinary situation.

"There were huge queues. All flights were cancelled and night trains to Malmö, coaches, all options, were running out fast."

It was at this point that a celebrity gardener on the TV4 show recalled that he had seen a car for sale on one of the tulip farms they had visited in the course of filming the show.

"He called the farmer and reached a deal with his friend who was selling the old Volvo 850 - within two hours registration and payment had been sorted and we were on our way," Balzer said.

When asked about the journey, Martijn Balzer replied:

"It was fantastic, a bit surreal. When we boarded the ferry from Puttgarden to Denmark at 3am we were surrounded by hundreds of lightly-clad Pakistanis - they were heading for Oslo but had been dropped off in Austria and seemed a little lost and confused."

Balzer and the TV4 film team took it in turns to drive through the night and made it back to Stockholm by lunchtime, in time for the evening kick off of his local football team's opening match of the season.

But not all of The Local's readers have had such a dramatic week with Hugh McCarthy left fairly unfazed by the whole affair despite being marooned in Ireland.

Hugh McCarthy lives in Stockholm, but was back in his native country for a short visit and had been due to fly back last Thursday, when the first problems began.

"I wasn't really shocked by the news, to be honest. It is a force of nature and is out of my control so I just had to accept it and make the most of it," McCarthy told The Local from Limerick on Thursday.

The enforced stopover has given McCarthy an extra week at home and the chance to spend some more time with his parents.

"I have been able to work all week from here, so it hasn't affected that but a few of my friends from Sweden have not been able to join me for my stag which will now happen this weekend," he said.

McCarthy has delegated his travel arrangements to an agent and is hoping to get back to Stockholm next week.

"It has been nice to escape Sweden for an extra week but I am hopefully flying back on a flight booked next Thursday, but we'll just have to see."

If your travel plans have been affected by the volcano chaos and have a story you would like to share with The Local, please mail us on news@thelocal.se.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

14:50 April 22, 2010 by summo
sounds hellish, imagine relatives being forced to stay longer, people stranded in hotels, must have been such an ordeal. People will make movies about this in years to come.
16:16 April 22, 2010 by glamelixir
I have been stranded a week in London, without information, little access to the internet, a trip to Italy that I lost with a lot of money invested in it. And got back by paying 7000kr and losing another big amount in hotels in london, phone calls and more.

The airlines are already asking the governments for help to save their economies.... who saves the people's economy? We are always the last ones in the priority lists.
Today's headlines
Ikea to introduce 'green' vegetarian meatballs

Ikea to introduce 'green' vegetarian meatballs

Swedish furniture giant Ikea is planning to put vegetarian meatballs on the menu in an attempt to cut down on its carbon footprint, the company has announced. READ () »

Students to keep paying off debt beyond 67

Students to keep paying off debt beyond 67

The Swedish government has proposed scrapping the 25-year span for repaying student loans, by suggesting those who attend higher education should keep paying the money back well into retirement. READ () »

Drowned puppies found in crayfish cage
The crayfish cage in the picture is not the one mentioned in the story. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Drowned puppies found in crayfish cage

Police in eastern Sweden have launched a preliminary investigation of animal cruelty after two puppies were found drowned in a crayfish cage. READ () »

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat
Rickard Rundgren Björk of the coastguard services speaks to the media after the rescue operation on April 19th 2014. Photo: Maja Suslin /TT

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat

Three Saturday morning sailors had a lucky escape after their small boat collided and sank after it crashed into a cruise ship whilst sailing in the Stockholm archipelago. READ () »

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK
Sofie Marie Jansson. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK

British police have found the missing Swedish girl Sofie Jansson in London, exactly a week after she was last seen, with authorities saying she is doing well. READ () »

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Sweden's opposition party has stepped up its efforts to secure the pensioner vote by pledging to lower taxes for the elderly and make higher earners pay more. READ () »

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend
Showan Shattak pictured in Malmö before his attack. Photo: Facebook

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend

The 25-year-old man, whose stabbing by neo-Nazis sparked mass demonstrations across Sweden, has made a strong recovery in hospital and took to social media to thank supporters for campaigning against fascism. READ () »

Police seeking missing Swede in London

British police have issued a plea for tips in the search to find Swedish national Sofie Marie Jansson who hasn't been seen for almost a week. READ () »

University applications rocket to record high

University applications rocket to record high

Swedish universities continue to draw vast amounts of applicants with the number of prospective students seeking a third level education increasing for the seventh year in a row. READ () »

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot
Swedish artist Lars Vilks pictured in New York in 2012. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot

American authorities have sentenced a 20-year-old accomplice of 'Jihad Jane' to five years in prison for an attempted terror plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, after getting involved with the murder plans when he was a teenager. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
Advertisement:
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

738
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com