London to Biella (Xmas 2010)
So, where to start from...
My flight was supposed to leave Friday night, Stanstead to Bergamo, with Ryanair. Cancelled because of snow in Bergamo, when I was already in Stanstead.
Booked a second flight for Saturday night, Gatwick to Bologna (again Ryanair). No other options for Saturday - which is why I started to get scared and to look at alternative plans:
- Book a further plane on Sunday with some other airline, just in case. Ryanair was already fully booked for Monday.
- Look at land transport. Sounded fine - there where both trains and buses for Paris, and from Paris to Turin. A variation on plan B was to take a plane from Paris to Italy, but with the level of luck I had with planes I discarded it.
- Carshare: found Serena on Gumtree who found Paolo and Carmen, leaving from Brighton to Biella.
On Saturday I went to London Bridge, leaving at 14:30 to wait for the train for Gatwick at London Bridge, but I didn't take the train immediately. Instead I waited for news about my flight.
Of course my Saturday flight was cancelled, because of snow in Gatwick, this time.
At least I knew what to do, and I didn't waste any time to go to Gatwick. I tried to book a second plane (mobile internet!) but by that time the prices where unaffordable (Plan A not viable any more), so I went to Victoria to either get a bus to Paris (Plan B) or a train to Newhaven to join the Gumtree group (Plan C).
After 2 bad starts for the trip, I tought that a car trip might have been nice and relaxing, so I booked my train to Newhaven. I had to meet my first travelmate in Victoria, and by the time we managed to get on a train the travelmates with the car told us they forgot they passports and had to go back to Brighton to pick them up.
Anyway, we managed to all get the ferry to Dieppe and met onboard. Dieppe to Turin is about 1000km, quite a trip. Planned arrival time was sometime on Monday morning, 2 days from departure in UK. Not too bad.
Problem is, it was still snowing A LOT. And it took ages to get to Paris. The problem was also that the van broke down just after Paris, for good.
Ok, that's not too good. We were far from train stations, and anyway already outside Paris. That's when I called my sweet cousin Marta to ask her to check trains/buses.
Of course, there was nothing available anymore for Turin or Milan on that night, but she managed to book tickets for me and Serena to Genova, leaving at 22. So me and Serena left Paolo and Carmen, who were going to spend the night outside Paris in a B&B to try to get the camper fixed, and we made our way to the bus stop, to get a train to Paris. There were no taxis available, of course.
Probably it wasn't our lucky day; when we got to the bus stop we realised that due to the snow there were no buses either. Luckily after 45 minutes or so of hitchhiking we managed to get a lift to the train station, and from there a train to Paris.
We got to the Austerliz train station just on time. From Paris to Biella it would be about 7 hours in Eurostar (not reservations available) or about 18 taking the local trains (as I had to do). Paris-Nice, Nice-Ventimiglia, Ventimiglia-Genova, Genova-Alessandria and car lift from the (grazie Edo & Lori).
So, my comfortable trip London to Biella included:
- 2 cancelled planes
- Tube trips on Friday and Saturday
- 2 airport coaches
- 7 different trains across UK, France and Italy
- 1 ferry
- 1 van trip
- 1 lift from the kindest French woman
No, that's not too bad after all. I've met new people, I'll soon see my friends, and I'm sure that there are Negronis and Straberry Kaipiroskas waiting for me (are there, right?!).