So, nearing dusk I walk out of the hotel, 50+ pound duffel strapped to my back like a backpack and looking positively foolish, I inhale, hold the breath and step out into town with conviction and a pop in my step. Moving forward, it always feels good to be moving forward, I say to myself. I slip away to the appointed location, walk for what seems like miles, straps digging into my shoulders, go thru check in and board. I wait until well underway to say to myself that I am no longer in the wind. The plan is in place and in my mind I am finally on my way home.
For those who care about such things or for those still stranded...and I have met enough to know that there are a lot following along with this story, here is where my travels have been and are going.
After the nightmare in Milano and realizing there is just not enough infrastructure to sustain that many people the decision was made to head south. The reason is twofold: one is that the ash is coming from a volcano in the north and NOBODY can predict the next blast. Reservations on a northern European flight are "rolling the bones", a crap shoot and I don't want to come up snake eyes and have to wait another few days until the reservation lottery gods say I can try again. There is concern about neighboring volcano's that might be even more traumatic. The second reason is just that the classic air hub cities in Europe are just overwhelmed. I suggest that travel through northern Europe be taken off your list or at least a plan to land far south and take trains back north. The UK is in a pickle and I would avoid that airspace unless you can afford an extra week in the wind if the volcano hiccups again.
So I took the train to the quaint little Mediterranean town of Genova. Why this town? It has a ferry that runs every other day to Barcelona. I arrive in Barcelona with enough time to get to the airport and check in for my flight. For those contemplating this route, the three airports worth considering are Barcelona, Madrid and Athens. Athens only has a couple of International flights going east so it is probably less appealing. The other reality is that flights going to the US are booked for weeks. Work with your airline to fly to North America first (Canada and Mexico) and then adjoining flights back to the states. My travels go from Barcelona to Mexico City on Air Mexico, and then onto Atlanta via Air Mexico/Delta, and then Delta home to BWI. The route I took from Milan has been a delight---from the train ride to Genova with the Albanian couple expecting their first child next month but worried they cannot get home (UK) for the babies birth, to enjoying a beverage at a cafe with marine contractors who are dredging the Genova harbor and wonder if they can get back to the UK when their job is done. Their pictures of the work they did in Antarctica was amazing! Seeing them arm-in-arm (or is it arm-in-flipper?) with the Emperor Penguins made me add that to the MUST do list. Who knew the Emperors like to ham it up for the cameras and mimic humans just the way we like to mimic them? Just think of the visuals of doing a moonwalk, high fives with a penguin, or chicken dance together? Quality entertainment I tell you!
A lot of miles in the air coming up so I will sign off now and wish everyone the best. Be home soon!