The Journey From Hell!

Spain
December 15, 2009 2:20pm CST
Hello everyone. We finally arrived back in Spain last night - a whole week late after a catalogue of disasters. We set off on Sunday morning last week, allowing almost 3 hours for a drive which normally takes just under an hour. My husband gets panicky over travel arrangements, so we always allow plenty of extra time. What we didn't know was that there's beeen a fatal car crash and the main (only) road into Plymouth was closed, with diversions in place. Still, as it was a Sunday morning, we thought we'd still have plenty of time to make the ferry. WRONG! The world and his wife was on that road, and even with the diversions and police controlling the traffic, we were at a total standstill for well over an hour and arrived at the ferry port just in time to see the boat sailing without us. Even though the ferry company knew of the crash, and that a large proportion of passengers had been held up as a result, they still sailed on time, leaving us and at least a dozen others who turned up while we were trying to reschedule very frustrated. We had to rebook through Portsmouth, but the first ferry that could take a motorhome was on Saturday, so we spent the week with friends, rather than go back and unpack the van again. Actually, everything about this crossing was superior to our usual ferry company - the cabin was bigger, with twin beds, so I didn't have to go mountaineering at bedtime. There were more choices for dining, and the food was better and cheaper, and the entertainment programme was much better. We arrived in Bilbao refreshed and ready for the 500 mile drive. Then we hit the snow. Yes, snow in Spain. They often get it in December in Northern Spain, but we had it for almost 450 of our 530 miles. The police closed the motorways and stopped the traffic for over an hour to let the snow ploughs and gritters through. I spent 8 hours solid behind the wheel - I couldn't pull off for a break, because those who did got stuck on the service roads. Thankfully, I'd filled up with diesel before I hit the snow, so I didn't have that worry. Our 9 hour drive took over 12 hours. I've never driven in snow before, as we lived in Cornwall, where if you get any snow at all, it's just a sprinkling that's gone within hours. After yesterday, I never want to do it again, either. I'm still exhausted. Have you ever had a journey from hell?
2 people like this
10 responses
@gabs8513 (48715)
• United Kingdom
16 Dec 09
Hi there Sandra that sounds so awful and I would not like to experience what you have been through I have had Journeys from Hell but I have to say not to that extend, I feel so sorry for you I hope that you have recovered by now and feeling better
2 people like this
@gabs8513 (48715)
• United Kingdom
16 Dec 09
Yes that is sad and so awful But I am glad that you are better now
1 person likes this
@thea09 (18327)
• Greece
15 Dec 09
Hi Sandra, welcome back, I thought it was a while since you said you'd be off line for a couple of days and looking forward to returning to the sun in Spain. I can't believe it took you a week to get another ferry that would take your camper van, that's ludicrous. So I suppose you weren't prepared for snow in Spain but at least they have gritters and ploughs out there which is good for a country not known to be snowed in much. We only see it on the news in Northern Greece where the usual havoc reigns every year. Good to see you back in one piece my dear. Here have a vodka.
1 person likes this
• Spain
15 Dec 09
Hello, Thea - thanks for the vodka. Actually, that was the first thing our neighbour said to me when we arrived last night. It's lovely to have friends to look out for me! The problem is, only Brittany Ferries (Plymouth) and P & O (Portsmouth) sail directly to Spain. P & O sail twice a week, Brittany Ferries once and, as lots of people with motorhomes go to Spain for the winter and the sailings stop from the end of December to mid March due to conditions in the Bay of Biscay, the last few ferries in December are very busy. We could have sailed to France and driven down, but that would have taken 3 or 4 days and, as the camper was absolutely full of furniture and other stuff that we were taking with us, we couldn't have slept in it, so it would have cost us a fortune in overnight stops, plus we'd have run the risk of snow en route.
@thea09 (18327)
• Greece
15 Dec 09
WEll if you will insist on carting half the contents of England back to Spain with you every time there's hardly likely to be room to sleep in the camper is there? Did you notice my duvet sitting around on the ferry by any chance?
1 person likes this
• Spain
15 Dec 09
I think you're exaggerating ever so slightly there, and no, I didn't see your duvet.
@rosepedal64 (4192)
• United States
15 Dec 09
Hi Sandra I haven't the bad experience like you explained there. It almost sounded like this trip wasn't meant to be. Im glad to hear that you are back home and all in one piece..I remember once that we was driving to another state that was going to take us about 8 hours to get there. We was pulling a camper behind the truck. The camper got a flat tire in the middle of the night. So here we set on the side of the road with a flat tire. My current husband was able to change the tire, it just took longer because of the weight and the type of jack he had. We also went on. I hope that your next trip will much smoother for you. Have a good day. Keep smiling.
• Spain
15 Dec 09
Hello, Rosepedal. Funnily enough, when we told our friends we'd missed the ferry, they all said there must have been a reason for it. As yet, we haven't worked out what it is, and we're just glad to be back safely. Usually, it's a stress free trip, and the roads in Spain are so good and so quiet generally that the drive's a walk in the park. Things do seem to go wrong at bad times, though, don't they - like your flat in the middle of the night. At least you had the man for the job!
@thea09 (18327)
• Greece
15 Dec 09
Hi Rose.
• United States
16 Dec 09
Hi thea And yes it was nice that he was around to do the job. Can you imanage what they would have charged that time of night to come and change a tire..WEW
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
16 Dec 09
Never quite that bad. My mom used to have a condo in Durango Colorado. One Christmas she wanted to go up there. Well, we get there, her, my sister and I, and all is fine. Then my Great Aunt went into the hospital, and she wanted someone who could be with her 12/7 for a few days/weeks when she got out. Well, the rest of the family lived in NJ and might go over, but didn't want to spend all that time with her, so mom offered to go. Only problem WAS, a blizzard hit Denver and was getting ready to arrive in Durango and the only plane out of Durango was grounded because it was to go to Denver. My sister got on the phone, found a flight out of Albuquerque at 1 p.m. Driving from Durango to Albuquerque takes at least 4 hours. We quickly packed and got out of Durango as the snow was starting to fall for the drive to New Mexico at 8 a.m. We got to Albuquerque shortly before noon and dropped mom off at the airport. We listened to the weather and it said that the snow was to arrive in Albuquerque around 3, so we hit the road. We got to Amarillo around 6-7 and stopped to eat, but it was supposed to hit Amarillo at midnight, so, rather than get stuck in Amarillo by the snow, we kept going. Midnight was in Wichita Falls, my sister called her partner to let her know we were coming and to make sure there was a place for me to sleep when we finally arrived. Her partner pulled out the hide-a-bed and had it made when we finally dragged in after 2 a.m. in Arlington Texas. I called that the day we were chased across 3 states by a blizzard! and having made me type up this story, now give me a chance to post it as its own discussion....
1 person likes this
• Spain
16 Dec 09
Hello, Elic, that's some tale! You spent even longer on the road than I did! We tend to think of New Mexico and Texas as sunshine states, but obviously they have their share of snow, just like Spain. I've never driven in snow before, and my husband doesn't drive now due to eye problems, so it was a journey I'm in no hurry to repeat! Glad I've inspired you to a new discussion.
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60895)
• United States
16 Dec 09
at least my sister and I were able to switch off - and, unbelievably, my sister stayed awake the whole time! she's NOTORIOUS about sleeping when she's not driving! (she's been that way in the car since she was a child!)
@zed_k4 (17627)
• Singapore
16 Dec 09
Wow... I hate traveling days like that. Having to rebook, reschedule, make last minute changes and to top it off the journey considering the changing weather from good to bad and many more; these are some pros of traveling. Over 12 hours of driving; no wonder you are so exhausted. But as long as you are safe, that's more important. Fatal accident? That's bad..
@zed_k4 (17627)
• Singapore
18 Dec 09
That's right, ladies.. We always have to be grateful for anything in life. I am sometimes a Complain King too, but when I see the little things in life, I feel so humbled.
@p1kef1sh (45640)
15 Dec 09
I used to live in Londond Sandra and went up to Birmingham at weekends twice a month using the M25 and the M1. Nuff said?
1 person likes this
• Spain
15 Dec 09
With you on that one. At least while I was battling through the snow there weren't millions of other road users doing the same thing at the same time. Talking of the Birmingham area, the point where the M5 becomes the M6 is almost as bad as the M25 - particularly on a Friday afternoon.
@p1kef1sh (45640)
15 Dec 09
It is indeed. A total nightmare at times. I like northern Spain. But it does get very busy especially around Santander. Must be all the folk coming home from blighty and heading south. I'm pleased that you got there safely though. Snow is forecast here tonight. Deep joy!
1 person likes this
@maximax8 (28559)
• United Kingdom
16 Dec 09
Hello there Sandra. I am ever so sorry that you had the journey from hell. It must have felt terrible to know that there had been a fatal car crash. The diversion must have been awful with all the heavy traffic going that way too. It must have been upsetting when you had missed the ferry. It was great that you got a better ferry over there. But then it must have been awful when you journey in Spain was so slow because of the snow. I didn't think Spain had snow except in the mountains with the border with France. I am sorry to hear you are exhausted. It turned out to be a nightmare rather than a holiday (vacation). My last trip was to South Africa. It was a four hour journey from Somerset to London Heathrow with my toddler son when he was 20 months old. I was pregnant with my daughter. Fog meant that the plane didn't land in London it went to Manchester and sent its passengers by coach. It came back to London and went out five hours late at one in the morning. After ten in the evening the airport was like a ghost town. Few people were around and then the cleaners began working. We arrived much later than we expected and we had to wait ages at Cape Town Airport for our guest house pick up. Then our trip was excellent. We explored Cape Town and the Garden Route. A bad thing happened to me on the beach. I slipped over and luckily my baby stayed safe. She was born in June 2009.
1 person likes this
• Spain
16 Dec 09
Hello, Maximax. It wasn't really a holiday, more a coming home. We were beginning to wonder if it would ever happen, and if we would have to change our plans and spend Christmas in the UK, but we're back now, and our friends are pleased to see us, even if the weather is very unSpanish at the moment. It's actually colder here than in the UK at the moment,although it's meant to warm up at the weekend. You also had the journey from hell, with the added complication of worrying about your daughter. Glad it all worked out well. I really believe that we are never given more than we can deal with. I dealt with it, and although it was very stressful at the time, I've learned something and I'm proud of myself, because against all the odds, I got us here safely.
@rsa101 (14921)
• Quezon City, Philippines
16 Dec 09
Wow that travel was indeed full of delays already. Good thing you did return back home pretty safe despite that delays and all the trouble you had to go on with your trip. Well i think we really have to accept the fact that when traveling things like this happens. In your case it happened almost simultaneously.
1 person likes this
• Spain
16 Dec 09
Yes, we did get everything thrown at us at once. Strangely enough, the time in England was a bit frustrating, as hardly anything went to plan. Perhaps we should have just stayed in Spain in the first place!
@jennybianca (12914)
• Australia
16 Dec 09
Well, yes, I have kind of have. Not as bad as yours though. When I was 22 years, I was on my return journey from Hungary and Austria. I took the night train from Vienna to Munich. This goes all night and was uneventful. On arriving in Munich I got myself to the airport and waited.. and waited.. and waited... There was a blizzard. My connecting flight wouldn't land. Eventually they took me in a bus to Cologne, where the weather was better and I could catch a flight there. First stop, somewhere in the middle east. No we didnt need the fuel, but for political reasons had to divert to Syria and buy some of their fuel. Within hours of this waste of time stop, the hostesses decided to go on strike. We had no choice but to land at Bahrain. Fascinating.. The Iran/Iraq war had just started and we could see one of those countries from Bahrain. They took our passports away, just in case. After 24 hours of being entertained in Bahrain, we were put back on the plane, and I eventually arrived in Australia at least 12 hours late.
1 person likes this
• Spain
16 Dec 09
Hello, Jenny. That's some kind of a detour! It must have been quite scary having ringside seats in the Iran? Iraq war. However, at least you made it home safely, even if somewhat behind schedule.
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
15 Dec 09
We had snow last week too. Seems it's been unseasonably cold all over. Not sure about a journey from hell, but we did have a trip to Arizona last year where we had a 2 hour delay in 105 degree heat waiting for something up ahead of us to be cleared from the road. We never did find out what it was. The heat was bad enough, but every time that cattle truck pulled next to us, phew!!!
1 person likes this
• Spain
15 Dec 09
Hello, Dawn. Yes, everywhere seems that bit colder this year. Think I prefer the snow to what you had, though. It's much easier to get warm than to get cool, and as for the cattle truck - well, I'm glad it was you not me!
1 person likes this