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Newbear

Making it home from Europe...

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I got back from Paris this morning, two days late - it was supposed to be Saturday morning. Here are my top tips if you are stuck and able to read this...

 

1. Take the initiative and break out of dependence on airlines looking after you.

2. Break the rules and don't believe the advice given by airline, rail and other officials.

3. Form a group with others with a similar aim and work cooperatively, sharing ideas, good spirits and resources.

4. Use your networks (friends and workmates contacted by phone, Blackberry etc) to get independent information - usually no-one official has any information worth having and they will often mislead you.

5. Act sooner than later - don't delay strike out with your own plan.

6. Take one step at a time, expect setbacks and meet problems with new ideas.

 

Here's how I and group of five others got back:

 

1. Me and a guy I got talking as we waited for our plane in Paris CDG on Saturday. We formed a plan that afternoon when our plane was canceled.. We decided that, after one night's delay and a re-booking on a flight for Sunday, that if our plane was canceled again (on Sunday) we would head off on our own. The replacement flight was indeed canceled, we were refused accommodation for another night - so off we went. We made the mistake of queuing for three hours at the Air France desk - we should have skipped that as a waste of time and just depended on ourselves.

 

2. We had already contacted friends and workmates (one amazingly working at a PC in the Algerian dessert) to find out that Eurostar was fully booked for two days but that the cross-channel ferries were still running and the SCNF trains were delayed but still running. On the basis of this we headed off to catch a train to Calais. A couple with a 5-year-old boy and someone working for Paris Disneyland joined us.

 

3. We ignored SNCF instructions to go back into Paris Gard du Nord in order to buy a ticket to Calais. Instead we jumped on a train to Lille without a ticket. A fabulous SNCF guard sold tickets to us and checked the connections we could make in Lille to get to Calais. He was a complete star.

 

4. Things ground to a halt in Lille when our connection got progressively delayed. After three hours we agreed with our travel buddies to get a taxi to Calais. We should have done this sooner. It was expensive but sharing the cost among 5.5 made it possible. The taxi got us to Calais and we were able to get to Dover in the early hours on Monday morning.

 

5. In Dover the girl from Disneyland called her boyfriend who collected her and took some to a hotel and others to the train station, where we bought tickets for onward journeys. Everyone got home later that day.

 

That's my experience - and I hope it can help anyone out there still stuck.

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An excellent metaphor for life!

Disregard authority and official instructions when they are daft.

Get on and do it yourself... no-one knows better than you what you can and can't do.

Great advice. Feels like it should be accompanied by "DON'T PANIC!" and ... never forget to take your own towel.

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A receipe to get through the financial disaster of 2007-20XY. Replace XXX, YYY by "government", "JPMorgan", "Prime Minister", "Ben Bernanke", or whatever pleases you.

 

1. Take the initiative and break out of dependence on XXX looking after you.

2. ... don't believe the advice given by XXX, YYY and other officials.

...

5. Act sooner than later - don't delay strike out with your own plan.

6. Take one step at a time, expect setbacks and meet problems with new ideas.

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Hi Newbear, I got stock abroad during the Volcano last year. My story is not unlike yours , nor are the conclusions I drew ...

 

http://www.moneyweek.com/investment-advice...cano-01613.aspx

 

Wow, yes the similarities are uncanny, which maybe reinforces the general conclusion.

 

Apart from the lessons for life I am struck by our common experience of the much neglected ferries being so useful and, in these circumstances anyway, so reliable. Last night whilst airports and the Eurostar were being mobbed, the ferry was almost deserted. Admittedly it was 3am but with a bit of effort so many people could have been home if they thought to get to the ports.

 

Don't follow the herd, I agree. But it is at least as important to work with others - a kind of collective but voluntary self-help that, at a small cost to complete autonomy, pools resources to the greater good.

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Nice pointers and story.

 

Had two days of cancelled flights and eventually decided to go it on my own returning home at 5am on Sunday morning, thankfully, else I'd still be there. It was interesting to see groups of people, mostly based on age, formed to figure out ways to get back whereas others were defeated waiting to be told what to do and just stopping where they were. I would have grouped up but didn't like the one plan I discussed (was too tardy getting to the desk to get in with others) as it relied on luck to get there easily and cheaply but would result in a lot of expense or getting stuck if it went wrong, which it did, they made it to the final leg all the same but at a cost.

 

I did have a couple of setbacks along the way and ended up with a good story. The funny thing was at various points along the route seeing other people with airport tags on bags joining the route when everyone set off in a different way taxi/bus/train/hire car or some to more central hubs to start but all ending up joining at various points along the way to be grouped together at the final hop which was the only way home at that time.

 

I couldn't have done it without some help from someone at home at the end of a phone and a decent smartphone for myself, had I bothered less with asking officials it would have gone better.

 

On trusting people I had a taxi driver flat out lie to me saying my route wouldn't work because he knew for sure a line was closed saying I would get stuck in a train station all night in the cold to make money out the situation but he was a bad liar and could see the money in his eyes, £300ish he said it would be. Received wrong information from a train and a bus official that had I accepted would have had me screwed, that wasn't malicious just people in a position of authority not actually knowing what they are talking about.

 

Only wish I had set off sooner and not waited a couple of days also really really really glad I bought a woolly hat earlier in the day! And last bit of advice, when your really cold a laptop with a few CPU intensive processes and its lid closed closed works as a great "pocket" heater when your stuck on a train platform in the silly cold ;)

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Wow!

Those stories from the third world are really chilling.

I feel so lucky to live in a part of the world where transport is modern, efficient, and runs like clockwork (most of the time.)

 

CentralMTRsigns-TR.jpg

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Apart from the lessons for life I am struck by our common experience of the much neglected ferries being so useful and, in these circumstances anyway, so reliable. Last night whilst airports and the Eurostar were being mobbed, the ferry was almost deserted. Admittedly it was 3am but with a bit of effort so many people could have been home if they thought to get to the ports.

 

Our final hop was the last ferry, the woman at the desk was a little surprised when about 60 foot passengers appeared at midnight. Knowing the flying troubles a few coaches laid on by the ferry company could have gotten them a silly numbers of passengers.

 

 

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People on the continent always used to be much more amenable to picking up hitchhikers when I was younger. I don't know if that is still the case though.

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On the subject of how underprepared we all are ...

 

Soho, which is basically the centre of all things media in the UK, has had a fire in a power station somewhere with the result that the internet and phones are down across the whole area.

 

This whole industry is very last minute which has meant it's suddenly come to a halt. And nobody knows what's going on because nobody can speak to anybody.

 

Normally my phone is going all day with messages to go this or that studio. Nothing has happened today. (I thought it was me) And I couldn't understand why. Now I know.

 

I'm well hacked off because I've lost some big jobs ... But with Xmas all the last minute deadlines are not going to be met ... It's amazing how quickly everything has just suddenly stopped.

 

Loads of people are going to lose a loada money

 

 

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