Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Start of the adventure

Hi everyone and sorry for disappearing... After the hectic end of the semester A. and I took off to Spain (since we could not go to Marocco, we went as far South within Schengen as possible).

Early on the 18th I took a flight to Paris, met A. and in the evening we had a flight to Madrid (don't ask why I went to Paris first... all for cheapest tickets!). It was snowing hard when the flight took off in Oslo, but no one missed a heartbeat, except for a few minutes the plane stood on the runway while being deiced.

Paris was nice, cold but nice, during the day and we arrived early to take the bus to the airport and then it started to snow. To get to the Beauvais airport (70km or 55 miles North of Paris) we usually take a 1.5 hour bus straight to the airport and it is recommended you take the bus 3 hours in advance. We were there 4 hours early and decided to grab a bite before heading out. That's when I realized that the boarding passes I had meticulously printed out beforehand had been forgotten in A.'s apartment. This would not be a problem in any other airline, but Ryanair, with their ridiculously low fares, tries to get some money out of their passengers by any means possible, including charging you €40 to print your boarding pass in case you do not bring it with you. This resulted in us rushing around the mall frantically searching for an internet cafe to get a printout (since we refused to pay additional €40 each on a flight that cost us €20 in the first place). Finally we found it at a hotel a block away. The printer wasn't working! It printed out my boarding pass but not A.'s! Precious minutes passed (as we were now very close to the time we should have taken the bus) and finally another printer popped out the boarding card! We rushed back to the bus stop while snow kept falling densely... as we were approaching we realized there was a large crowd gathered around the ticket booth, but I supposed it was just holiday passenger traffic. We arrived just in time to hear the announcement:
"Buses have been cancelled due to a city ordinance forbidding buses on the roads due to the snow. Planes are leaving as scheduled though so you have to figure out how to get to the airport on your own."

Can't believe this is actually an iphone game!

This lead to everyone scattering around and a mad race to get cabs. People were spreading out along the streets and jumping on any taxi that came by, asking if they would go to Beauvais. Most didn't. Some said they were not allowed to go that far and others said the snow was too bad. We finally got a cab, jumped in and added 2 more people to share the cost. As we headed out of the city, everything seemed to be ok, and since we still had 3 hours before the flight we were all confident. Leaving the city and taking the highway we noticed the road had not been salted and it continued to snow fiercely. Soon we were down to 30km/h (20 miles/hour) and following a long row of cars going in the same direction. After a while we saw a car literally sliding down while trying to take an uphill exit that had too much snow and ice (also, no one has snow tires here). From here on things got scary. There was about 5cm/2 inches of slush on the road and we were making very slow progress. The number of cars had decreased considerably, many just stopping by the side of the road. Then came a section of the road that was iced and some cars had slid into the ditch next to the road. Our driver kept crawling on, but a too optimistic turn of the steering wheel made us slide about 2 m/yards sideways. We stopped somehow and he managed to get back on track. A few seconds later (which felt like hours) we slid again, now almost into the ditch. We all get out of the car and try to push it, just to realize that we were sliding on the ice too. Fortunately the driver managed to steer the car back into the road and we continued the drive, an inch at a time. Then salvation came in the shape of a salting truck! We finally managed to follow right behind it and as we approached the airport we realized it had snowed a lot less there. The other girl in the cab called a friend who checked on the airline and they said the flight was on time. We arrived at the airport at 9pm when our flight was due to leave at 8:55pm.

I ran into the airport, straight to the check in counter, while A. got out bags. There they announced that the check in was closed and that we had missed the flight. There were some girls crying close to the counter but I decided to run to the gate (it is a small airport). The monitor said the plane was still boarding. I asked the lady at the gate and she also said it was too late. Then A. caught up with me, and asked again, saying we were late due to the storm, please, etc, etc. A guy then said ok, I'll check, and came back seconds later, asking if we had checked baggage (no) and let us in the gate!! He still had to run to check in to get a stamp for A.'s boarding pass (since he needed to have his visa checked) and then got us through security quickly. In total about 8 people were allowed on the plane late and as soon as the last of us boarded the plane's door was closed.



  1. Whoa, an adventure! Hopefully rest of the trip was better.

  2. Wow that was a close call! I hope you had a great holiday after this misadventure. It seems this year snow really created havoc all across Europe.