Monday 19th April 2010, I am still trying to get to Istanbul to give an NLP Practitioner course , and the situation did not look good.
Not wanting to disappoint the participants and to honour the commitment I had made to give the course, I had been continually reviewing my options, and modes of transport.
I had contacted EuroLines, a bus transport organisation, transporting passengers throughout Europe by road, but they do not go to Turkey. The nearest they could take me was Sofia in Bulgaria, a three day journey, and the earliest they could get me a seat was in five days time. I would then have to find my way from Sofia, across the Turkish border into Istanbul, perhaps another day in travel.
I could drive my car across Europe, that was not a solution as I have not taken my car on the road for 18 months, it would need a service, oil changed, brakes checked, the paperwork prepared, insurance, but the worse would be the fuel consumption, my car achieves 18 miles to the gallon, (29 kilometers 4.5 liters approx.)
I could take a train or trains. On my return from working in Saudi Arabia, I had visited a friend in Athens, and on the spur of the moment, decided to take the train home from Athens to England and in 1988, with slower trains, it had taken me four or five days, a wonderful experience, but would I want to do it again, London to Istanbul by train.
I decided to go to the offices of Europe Train in central London, as they were not answering the telephones, their web site did not give me any help, in fact at the beginning of this crisis, their web site was being rebuilt and was unavailable.
Arriving at just after 10am in the morning, I joined the queue of hopeful travelers, which stretched from inside the offices, round a corner, down a street, around another corner, and down that street.
The queue outside Eorope Trains in Central London stretches even further into the distance, inwhich I stood for over 6 hours.
I stood in that queue until 4:30pm, and still not reaching the last corner, and we were told that there was a chance we would not be seen as the offices closed at 6pm.
I was cold, the cold wind had reached my bones. I was hunger, I had not eaten since breakfast, I was thirsty, again not having anything since breakfast.
I was asking myself, was this worth the waiting? But I had made a commitment and a promise, people had booked time off work, not gone on holidays to attend the course.
Would Europe Rail be able to get me to Istanbul, after all, the bus company EuroLines only went to Bulgaria?
There was no information, no-one from Europe Train was to be seen. A young man, a fellow traveler made an effort to get information, and slowly went down the queue informing people that the earliest train to Rome would be Wednesday and the same to Spain. But I was going a different route, perhaps I could get an earlier connection from Paris.
Now, I had an idea, just like the ending of the very funny film, The Italian Job, (the original is far better than the recent release), what if I went to Rome and took a flight from there? Then I thought, would I get a flight? What happens if the ash cloud covers Rome, or as I had been told closed Turkish airspace, I would be stuck in Rome.
I had throughout the day been telephoning friends to keep an eye on the fluid situation, the ever changing news of the air travel, I had my travel agents checking as well. Nothing.
Then I had another “Italian Job” idea, check the internet myself on my mobile phone, and the news from the BBC news pages was, that flights were being allowed from Scotland the next day, and with luck London airports opening in the evening.
I had a British Airways ticket on BA0676 on Wednesday.
After spending six and a half hours in the queue, cold, hungry, thirsty, tired, my legs stiff and back aching, with no guarantee that Europe Train could help me, and at what cost, I left the queue to return home, spirits raised.
Now, Tuesday morning, (20th April), I have seen on the news that there has been fresh eruptions from the Eyjafjallajoekull eruption, and an ash cloud is set to cover the UK.
Oh Poo Poo.
Then I looked at what aircraft have been allowed to fly so far today from Scotland. They are small propeller driven aircraft being flown to the outer island around Scotland, which fly below any ash cloud, not the jet airliners flying to international destinations the majority of travelers and myself hope to take.
So, were we given the correct information by the news media?
We all assume that if someone says the flightpaths are to reopen, that ALL aircraft will be flying. We put out “cat on the mat“, in NLP terms we made a presupposition, we presupposed that we understood what was being said by putting our own understanding.
The other piece of information that was given was that an international flight was made. Where to? Iceland.