Driving weekend

20 04 2010

Ok, that was weird.

You may have heard about the volcano. The Iceland one. The one that is throwing dust into the atmosphere and giving the aviation industry a great chance to support Earth Hour, a few weeks later. And perhaps causing a few issues for those that travel as part of their living.

I was working in southern France. I had changed my flight back to the Friday, the day after all the flights were cancelled. Both my departure and Barcelona airports were open, but I had a flight via Paris. Paris was not. So my flight was cancelled. Ok, so I get stuck in France until Sunday night (next available direct flight). Could be worse.

My colleague was also stuck, but the possibility of getting back to the UK were practically nil. He was desperate to get home. Even though I wasn’t he convinced me that the best way was just to take the hire car we already had, and drive back. I could have taken a train, only the French train drivers are also on strike, and getting a train is bit like playing the lottery. Since I detest driving on highways, especially through country I haven’t seen, I only managed to go half of the way fast. It took me two days to get back to Barcelona. Slightly inconvenienced, but nothing disastrous.

My colleague was not so lucky. In fact it became obvious that he was stuck in Lyon for another week. So he figured he may as well work for that week. But he needed someone to work the night shift. That’s where I come back in. Literally.

So after spending Sunday at ‘home’ (and really made maximum use of it by teaching myself how to pick a padlock, sleeping and eating), I hired a car Monday morning and headed back to Lyon. Good thing it isn’t very far. Well, in Australia it wouldn’t be very far. In Europe it is definitely two languages. On the highway it is 640km, and involves the following navigation: “Drive down the toll road. Turn left. Drive more. Arrive”. Of course I make it more interesting, and managed to get lost a few times (I swear they need to update this map…). I’m beginning to learn that the highways make things much, much faster in Europe. They shorten the drive by half, and the distance seems to be less also. But the tolls are certainly expensive, and there is so much to see on the back roads.

So since Friday I’ve driven for 35 hours, covered more than 1,600km and gone exactly no-where. But I did get to take some photos.


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