For once I had very precise plans for Europe; I was glad to make my father happy. And yet again Life thought otherwise and messed them up splendidly, of course. Planning just does NOT work with me.
So the return to Europe was not easy to say the least. Starting with the bomb on the train to Delhi, my first plane to Amman (Jordan) was four hours late due to technical problems. I didn't care of course, because with the volcano eruption in Island I knew I wouldn't get on the next plane anyway. I was lucky after all; I got stuck in Jordan for two nights only. The first day was crazy and exhausting. The airport hotel was fully booked; it was quite comical at the reception looking at the poor staff outnumbered by the passengers showing and handing their passports with the blue and green slip they had been given at the transit desk at their arrival, asking and getting angry and laughing and persevering and trying to get a room anyway. There were many people sitting outside the hotel and waiting there for god-knows-what too. Eventually another bus was organised to return to the airport for all to obtain a normal visa so that we'd go to the centre of Amman to another hotel. There were hours of going round in circles on the airport bus. A lot of dumping and taking my three heavy bags again and running after the group to not get lost on the way to the next desk. No time for toilet or food or water. Eventually eight hours later our group of distressed (but quite amused too, because the situation was quite comical at times) passagers got in the hotel in the centre of Amman. There were all sorts of people, some Italians business men who had been to India for two days only and had only missed their plane to Rome, some Americans who had also missed their connection but who had to stay a night, a German group wanting to go to Frankfurt, a big lively Marrocan family who had gone for pilgrimage in Mecca and wanted to return to their home in France, a lone Swiss woman who came back from 6 months in Sri Lanka, a big group of Dutch, a couple from Saudi Arabia wanting to go to Germany, and a couple from Northen France who had spent 10 days in Jordan and like me had initially planned to fly to Brussels. We were looked after well though. Our first night there was free with free food. A man hired by the airline company was very dedicated to help us the best way he could, and he was very helpful and friendly and efficient indeed. Just before I did leave he was kindly arranging with the hotel manager to lower the price of the rooms for those passengers who were stuck there for longer (with success). I stayed with the northen French people a lot. We visited the Jordan University because it wasn't far and made all the students laugh a lot on our way. Most women were veiled but not all. It's funny how fashionable or even sexy they can look as well with their veils. We had visas but did not want to venture too far from the hotel because our priority, of course, was to return home, and we had to stay there to keep up with the news.
Our kind helper was announcing any flights leaving to the reopening airports. On the first day there were flights to Spain, Italy and Greece but it was way too far for me. Eventually, two days later I decided to leave the French couple and got on a plane to Vienna to attempt to visit my sister who lives in Munich. Our helper was taking names and ticket number of those passengers who wanted a flight and booked them on. I learnt about the flight to Vienna around 10, had to decide myself very quickly; he took my name; a couple of hours later the airport bus to pick us up, and there was just enough time to hop on the plane. By 6pm on 19th April I landed in Vienna, 50 hours after I had been supposed to land in Brussels. It was easy to go from Vienna Airport to the central train station by the shuttle which had conveniently been made free. Once at the train station I saw the queue for the ticket office, horrified. But there were ticket agents everywhere in the hall and if I took a national train to Salzburg first I didn't have to go through that enormous queue. My sister had texted me the train times for Munich and I had time, but eventually I decided not to take a night train to Munich, under the advice that they would all be fully booked. So after taking just a croissant/water because there was no food left at the that snack counter I decided to take a train to Salzburg. I would have to wait four hours for my connexion in the night, but i took it anyway because I didn't care and it seemed there was no other way. In the end I luckily met a Munchener on the train whose sister was coming to pick up. She picked me up too and dropped me at my sister's house door... I arrived at 2am and, delighted that I would have a bed to sleep, and relieved to arrive on familiar ground, finally!
Overall I was lucky. I sent a text to the French couple who are only flying to Paris today. But despite the inconvenience and distress, I think this volcano is a good thing, for anything - Life telling Humankind to stop mindlessly flying anywhere and everywhere. It will just have to stop one day...
A note on my three blogs
A note on my blogs
(1) vio; in love with india - this one is the main blog about my Indian adventures, which started in 2005. I don't write much on this blog these days because I prefer to write privately in the confidential blog. But check out the categories and the index to figure out your way. I have kept some older posts not about India but which I still find interesting or relevant in Old words. Also check out my new, fun category Only in India in which I post photos of funny, unique, Indian situations...
(2) vio; sounds of india - this is my blog of sounds, because India wouldn't be as incredible if it was not so vibrant and just so full of incredible sounds!
(3) vio; confidential - this an extension of my main blog in which I post entries I do not want to reveal to the entire webspace for privacy or sensitivity reasons. You must receive an invitation from me and then accept the invitation to be able to read it. You may email me if you are interested in receiving an invitation.