I’m blogging this from Aarhus, which is not how things were supposed to be.
We were supposed to spend a week in Copenhagen, celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday, let Anna play with her first and second cousins (Ursula, Aya, Karl and Olivia), show off Amaia to everybody, and then fly home to Scotland last Friday.
However, Thursday morning Phyllis’s parents contacted us about an ash cloud.
At first, we thought it was a delayed April’s Fool joke, but as soon as we switched on the TV, it became obvious that it was no laughing matter.
By Thursday evening it had become obvious that our flight home would get cancelled.
Friday morning I went to the main railway station to see what they could do.
I was offered a train to Amsterdam with changes in Fredericia, Padborg, Hamburg, Münster, Enschede and Amstetten, and then a ferry to Newcastle. There were only two problems: Firstly, the train was leaving an hour and a half later, which meant that I had to call Phyllis to get her to pack our bags urgently and rush to the station. Secondly, to get the ferry ticket, I had to line up in a separate queue, although they assured me that the ticket should be available.
I then queued for more than an hour, and by the time I got to the front, there were no more ferry tickets left.
I consulted Phyllis, who had already arrived, and we decided to go to Amsterdam anyway in the hope that there would be more ferry tickets available there (and we would be much closer to the English Channel if trains or ferries became available there).
So we rushed off to the train and started working our way down Europe.
However, when we reached Neumünster (north of Hamburg), the train stopped and we were told to change to a replacement bus.
Because we had lots of luggage and two small girls in a damaged buggy, we were the last to get to the bus, so by the time we got to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, the train was long gone.
I went to another long queue, and then another, and then we were lucky: A nice lady in her fifties had a look at my wee girls and asked whether I really wanted to spend the night in Duisburg Station. I said no, and she then offered us a free hotel room for the night.
Of course I said yes, but I got a shock when I saw our room: A suite with two queen-sized beds in Park Hyatt just round the corner from the main station, with breakfast included! It was the most luxurious hotel room I’ve ever been in!
The next morning we returned to the station to continue our journey to Amsterdam.
However, a technical problem meant the train was suddenly changed to take off from Hamburg Harburg, but again our slow progress with our wee girls meant that we missed the train.
I asked when the next connection was, and I was told that we wouldn’t reach Amsterdam till dinner time.
We concluded that this would be useless, given that the news programmes were claiming that there were no hotel rooms left in Amsterdam because so many people were stranded in Schiphol.
So we asked to get back to Denmark, which they agreed to do.
This time we got onto a direct train, and we got to my parents’ flat in Aarhus just in time for dinner.
In the evening we booked a new flight for Friday (Billund-Edinburgh), which is also when the three big kids are now supposed to return from France, so hopefully the ash cloud will disappear before then.
If it stays in place, we don’t know what we’ll do. Rent a minibus, drive down to France, get the kids, drive up to the Channel, take a ferry and then drive home, perhaps?