Monday, December 20, 2010

Snowland Update

Greta & Kaiser get into the holiday spirit

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

This morning's press
The newspapers are filled with the chaos caused by Europe's unseasonable cold snap and the buckets of snow that are being spread all over the place. While I wait to see what adventures today holds for me, I thought I'd give you some real-time updates (as the airline sites phrase it):

London. The latest from Qantas: "Severe weather conditions continue to cause airport closures in Europe which have resulted in a number of scheduled Qantas services to and from London Heathrow delayed or disrupted. Scheduled departures for 20 December are expected to operate as well as some services which had been delayed from 18 and 19 December, based on the latest information from the airport authorities." 

My plan is to be on QF2, scheduled to depart at 9.45 pm London time, Monday, and to be home for Christmas....let's all hold that thought! 

St Pancras in her winter outfit
Eurostar concourse at St Pancras. Going nowhere fast.
Paris. I did have a kind offer of a spare room and Christmas festivities from Marilyn and Jim in Paris, but one look at the Eurostar concourse this morning shows that Paris is as inaccessible as Sydney at the moment. Possibly even more so. The ticket office is closed, with a sign saying that all seats are sold. The queues to board snake several time around the long concourse. There have been cancellations and reduced services.

Be nice if I could get there...!
Luxembourg City: Brigitta and Michael attempted to fly out of Luxembourg City for sunny California yesterday, but without success. They then took a train to reach the main airport at Mainz in Germany, but that too was delayed. Last I heard, they were sitting on an all-stops local train because it was a warmer option than waiting at the station for the express...'California Dreaming' . Brigitta reported that Luxembourg had not had this much snow in 100 years.

Luxembourg City looking very pretty
Indiana: One person who takes all this snow in his stride is that native of small-town Indiana, Kyle. He is flying home for Christmas later this week (assuming planes are getting out) and laughs off the thought of deep snow drifts and temperatures as much as -20 below. Clearly they raise 'em tough in Indiana.

Heading, er, north.
Scotland: There is one Merry Crew planning to embrace their inner snowman and actually spend the New Year in Inverness in Scotland. Yes, this is the chosen holiday destination for Kyle, Andrew, Rachel, their friend Scott, and the dogs Greta and Kaiser. Driving and flying, they will head for a remote cottage at 57°47′N, with no mobile phone signal, no television signal and no internet. Just to put that in perspective, that latitude is higher than Gothenberg in Sweden, higher than Moscow, and only a little lower than St Petersburg. Only six hours of daylight, I am told, and already three feet of snow. That's why I gave them fiction for Christmas. 

Village near Inverness. On a good day.
"Real Time Update": 4.45 pm: Flight to Sydney is still scheduled to depart in five hours. No more snow has fallen. The Eurostar queue is now out of the station, down Pancras Road, around the corner and up Euston Road. People are being given flyers setting out their rights; coffee vendors are becoming millionaires. 

I took a walk to the shops, and posted some photos on FaceBook. This link might work.

"Real Time Update": 5.45 pm. The Qantas flight status site has crashed. I'm heading off to meet the car now, into the bedlam that is St Pancras, and thence to Heathrow Terminal Three. Wish me luck. 

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