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Ashes to ashes and dust to dust: Stop moaning and start driving!

April 18th, 2010 | Tina | Denmark, England, Events and Activities, General, In the news, Spain, The environment, Travel | 4 Comments »

It has now been four days since all flight traffic over the northern Europe was cancelled due to the volcanic ashes from the explosion on Iceland. The airspace is still closed over: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, UK. It is partly closed over: Italy (northern airspace closed until Monday) and the flights are operating in: Greece, Portugal, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Spain.

In the meantime the news broadcasts hundreds of articles and TV programs about people being stuck who are going to- or leaving from cities in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

Obviously a lot of the stories focus on sensation – like four French business men who were stuck somewhere in Denmark and "had to" hire a taxi to get home to Paris for 15.000 crowns (2700 USD). But really my question is: What happened to people’s logic? Did it disappear with the availability of cheap flight tickets?

Before the days when we were all able to pollute the atmosphere with CO2 (from flights) on a regular basis, we used to travel on buses and trains: OVERLAND TRAVEL. Doesn’t anyone remember that?

There are still regular buses and trains connecting all the capital cities in Europe!!! I understand that you can be "stuck" if you are travelling to or from Asia and South America. But to say that people, who are "merely" travelling from Paris to Copenhagen, are "stuck" is ridiculous.

Google "bus Europe" or "train Europe" and you will get thousands of entries. I went to the following website: This website combines all train travel all over Europe – from the very South of Barcelona to the north of Norway.

I decided to figure out how long it takes to go from Copenhagen to Paris. Well I can leave tomorrow morning at 07.45 from Copenhagen and will get to Paris tomorrow evening at 20:53. The trip takes 13 hours and 8 minutes. That’s 10 hours more than flying. But honestly – we are NOT "stuck" in Europe. It’s such a small area that being stuck is for the most part more a question about comfort.

Thomas and I travelled for 9 months in South America. We did all our travel overland. This often meant 20 hour bus journeys and as you can imagine travelling from Guatemala to Bariloche in Argentina overland takes many hundreds of hours in buses. I never thought about flying.

I do sympathise with people who have engagements to attend to etc. But why not use this opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint and get back down to the ground – take the train or the bus in Europe 🙂

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4 Responses to “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust: Stop moaning and start driving!”

  1. Tom
    April 18th, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

    Good point. My sister is now “stuck” in Barcelona, but secretly I think people quite like being stuck 🙂

  2. Costas
    April 19th, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

    Erm, you’ll find that the truth is a little less romantic than that.

    Trains, buses, and cars for hire across Europe are not only overbooked to bursting point but any remaining seats (if any) are already outrageously expensive.

    Turns out that people did indeed have the common sense to seek alternative routes to their destination, only to be faced with single-journey tickets running at a cost that’s 10 times that of their flight fare and car hire that would make a luxury taxi ride cheap in comparison (how about €1000 for a two-day hire?).

    If you are in central Europe, things are possibly a little easier (although any traffic going in and out of major travel hubs is going to be overbooked no matter where you are planning to go).

    Things get much worse however in areas that are connected to the Continent by sea (such as Great Britain) or via a single road artery, such as Scandinavia.

    Tom and you were single individuals with no kids, no pressing work schedule, traveling in South America at a time when there was no extraordinary traffic surge and at a cost that is generally much lower than that in Europe.

    Traveling by bus and train in Europe can be expensive enough at off peak times, let alone when every man and his dog is trying to catch the same train/bus as yourself.

    Spare a thought therefore for the family of four who paid €400 for flights to Spain only to be slapped with a potential bill of over €4000 to get home, and several days of lugging around their kids and all their belongings through train stations, bus sheds and countries they know nothing about.

    Not everyone’s idea of “adventure”

  3. Hitomi
    April 20th, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

    Dear my alma mater,

    I’m worn out by moaning
    like a baby being exhausted with crying.
    But, your picture is almost driving me crazy.

  4. Tina
    April 20th, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

    What picture Hitomi? 🙂

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