Page last updated at 11:17 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 12:17 UK

Down and out in Europe - Travellers' Tales

Stranded, beached, grounded - travellers' tales of being 'down and out' in Paris, Rome, Madrid and across Europe.


We managed to get across the French border last night (Monday).

We drove from Malaga to Girona on Sunday and it took us all day to get from Girona to Perpignan which is less than a hundred miles because there is a rail strike or a bus strike or dear knows what kind of strike going on in France at the moment.

We have now managed to get a hire car and we are heading for Clermont Ferrand.

We do not know which ports to head towards because we getting conflicting information that ferries to Ireland are full and will not take any foot passengers.

We are even having to share double beds. There are four of us and last night the only hotel we could get only had double rooms.


Stefan Decker
Professor Stefan Decker bought a car to get home

On Friday, we flew to Madrid from Valencia where our conference was, but that's when the trouble started. Our flight back to Ireland was cancelled.

We went to the train station, there must have been more than 1,000 people looking for train tickets. We tried to rent a car and the guy in front paid 3,000 euro for a one-way journey from Madrid to Copenhagen.

So we thought we would just buy the car because, at least, we would have a car.

It was utter chaos in Madrid airport. Buying the car was logical, crazy as it sounds. It looked to be the cheapest option because we can sell it again. We bought an old Honda Civic and it is holding on. We are heading to Calais, the Eurotunnel and hope to catch the Holyhead ferry.

I've a meeting in Dublin on Tuesday. We all have work and we can't put our lives on hold.


I was due to fly from Belfast to Newcastle today until Easyjet updated their website last night to say that it would be cancelled.

I have changed my flight to Wednesday morning so I'm still hoping to be able to fly then. I live in Londonderry and go to university in Newcastle and I have only about five weeks of uni left.

I need to get there this week because I have no books or other materials here to work with.

If there are no flights on Wednesday, I have planned out an alternative journey which will take about 11 hours through buses, trains and a ferry.

It is such a pain but I know there are people who are in worse situations than me. One of my friends is stranded in Portugal for four days with very little money or clothes.


We flew with BMI to Heathrow on Wednesday to catch our connecting flight to New York. About an hour and a half before our flight was due to depart, it was cancelled.

At that stage, we thought it would be just a couple of days before we were able to get another flight, so we were happy enough to book a hotel and bide our time. Of course, things haven't quite turned out like that.

We decided that we would cut our losses and make our way back to Belfast. That wasn't the end of the drama though.

We bought two tickets to go from Euston to Glasgow and when we got to the station to collect them, they had no record of our own booking. So we bought another two and when we got to the gate, they weren't happy with my partner's ticket.

But we've managed to get through, and we're now travelling to Glasgow, where we hope to get a bus to Stranraer and a ferry to Belfast, arriving 15 hours after we left London.


We were due to fly back on Friday morning. After spending 11 hours at the airport on Friday, we had to find a hotel and have been paying for our accommodation ever since.

We have had no contact from Aer Lingus but Dublin passengers are getting texts from the airline on a regular basis.

We're here with five other couples and we've been left stranded with no information from Aer Lingus.

We're basically on the street, we're running out of money and we don't know what to do, we've looked at hiring a car and they're pushing up the prices everywhere.

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