Christmas Odyssey

Arctic conditions at Dublin Airport

This time last year, our part of Europe was in the icy grip of winter, and many Irish living abroad were struggling to make it home in time for Christmas. Ironically, I found myself “at home” in Holland for my mother’s birthday, and then tried to get back home to Dublin in time for Christmas. Things did not quite turn out as expected, and it took me more than 3 days of travelling through snow-covered airports and iced-over railway stations to get back in time for Santa’s visit to my real home in Goatstown.

This was the very first time I came to appreciate the power of “social media”, keeping in touch with friends and family throughout my journey via SMS, Email, Twitter and Facebook. This blogpost attempts to put all of the messages that I sent during those 80 hours – and some of the ones I received – in chronological order.

I was lucky enough to make it home in time to help Santa with his deliveries. To all of you who missed out on following me on Facebook and Twitter during those days, and of course to all of you who did, I wish you all a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Email, November 26, 2010
ITINERARY/RECEIPT – All times are local.
From Eindhoven (EIN) to Dublin (DUB)
Mon, 20Dec10 Flight FR1965 Depart EIN at 18:25 and arrive DUB at 19:05
PASSENGERS
1. MR PIER KUIPERS ADT

The Start

I take the 13:00 train from Amsterdam to Eindhoven to begin my journey back home to Dublin.

SMS, December 20, 2010 at 17:28
Flight delayed. Supposed to leave now but not sure has it even landed here yet…

SMS, December 20, 2010 at 17:30
There’s about an inch of snow here but not snowing now. No plane either, though…

6 hours

SMS, 20 December 18:57
URGENT-Your Ryanair flight has been cancelled – please visit www.ryanair.com for free rebooking/refund

SMS, December 20, 2010 at 19:51
Amsterdam Dublin €300 with Aer Lingus. No Ryanair until friday at the earliest

SMS, December 20, 2010 at 20:15
Aer Lingus Booking Ref:28VPT2
EI0607 21DEC AMS-DUB
dep 15:10 arr 15:50.

SMS, December 20, 2010 at 21:40
Still on train travelling at snail’s pace. Jobien picking me up from station. Still snowing there?

12 hours

Twitter, December 21, 2010 at 0:07
OK, so I’m back in Amsterdam, having spent 6 hours in Eindhoven waiting for a Ryanair flight. Dublin Airport closed. Yikes.

SMS, December 21, 2010 at 8:48
Got stuck in Holland due to weather, trying to get home on 3pm flight.

SMS, December 21, 2010 at 9:41
Looks like dublin is in chaos. Praying that airport stays open

SMS, December 21, 2010 at 12:37
On my way to airport, but just heard that “We have had to suspend operations until 17.00 due to a recent heavy snowfall.” fucking great.

Twitter, December 21, 2010 at 13:17
On my way to Schiphol, second attempt at going home. Wish me luck.

24 hours

Twitter, December 21, 2010 at 13:36
Just in from Dublin Airport: “We have had to suspend operations until 17.00 due to a recent heavy snowfall.”
Great.

Andrew Watchorn
Does that mean that you’re just in from Dublin Airport or just in from Dublin airport – as in news. Former = Congratulations. Later = Commiserations!

SMS, December 21, 2010 at 16:39
Hell on earth. Queue at rebooking desk 3 miles long.

SMS, December 21, 2010 at 16:45
If you’re online, would you mind checking if ferries from holyhead are sailing?

Caoilte Guiry
Holyhead to Dublin:0040-0630, 0130-0630 or 1310-1810 (at £41) on 22nd according to national express. I’ll check bus routes too as its quite busy apparently

SMS, December 21, 2010 at 17:25
Stena offices closed, am on the train. Packed to capacity, people standing. What a madhouse

SMS, December 21, 2010 at 17:27
Everything booked out until Friday, including Cork. Thousands stranded. Trains chaos. Making my way to ferry to England, is only hope to get home before Christmas. Not joking.

30 hours

Twitter, December 21, 2010 at 18:48
Flight cancelled, nothing available until Friday. Making my way to Hook of Holland to try and catch a ferry to England.

England here I come

Facebook, December 21, 2010 at 20:30
Fuck Dublin Airport

SMS, December 21, 2010 at 21:55
Status update: Just pulled away from the quay, ferry from Hook of Holland – Harwich. Arriving tomorrow 7am, then train to London, onward to Holyhead. Across the Irish Sea, and home for Christmas:-)

Twitter, December 21, 2010 at 22:40
And the band played “Dreaming of a White Christmas” When the ship pulled away from the quay…

Henk Kuipers 
It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won’t see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you
etc. etc.

Twitter, December 21, 2010 at 22:47
OK guys, this is it. On the North Sea en route to Dublin, with just that pesky bit of land inbetween. Wondering when I’ll lose my network.

42 hours

Foursquare, December 22, 2010 at 7:43
Harwich International Station
So far, so good

SMS, December 22, 2010 at 8:56
Home sounds like a good place to be! Just arrived in London, gonna check flights. Will keep u posted

Foursquare, December 22, 2010 at 10:07
Liverpool Street Platform 6
Getting tube to Euston station…

Mark Palmer 
You seem to be running to your new schedule OK. Good luck with the rest of your journey.

Chaos at Euston Station

SMS, December 22, 2010 at 10:21
In London Euston waiting for delayed train to Chester. No flights available until Saturday. Not sure if I’ll make Holyhead in time for tonight’s ferry…

Foursquare, December 22, 2010 at 10:41
London Euston Station (EUS)
See if Virgin can get me a ticket all the way to Dublin

Facebook, December 22, 2010 at 11:14
Train to Chester delayed. Massive crowd here, but maybe it’s always like this :-/

Twitter, December 22, 2010 at 11:28
Chester train cancelled. Fuck.

Sinead Lawlor
Don’t lose hope!!

SMS, December 22, 2010 at 11:41
Train to Chester cancelled. Now on the train to Crewe.

SMS, December 22, 2010 at 11:42
It’s unlikely that I’ll make the 5:15 ferry. There is one at midnight, it appears. Still need to get from Crewe to Chester to Holyhead first, though…

Twitter, December 22, 2010 at 12:07
OK, on train to Crewe, it’s a start. Seat with table, power supply and free wifi – no excuse, better do some work :-(

Twitter, December 22, 2010 at 12:15
Right, so the wifi is useless. View from window nothing but SNOW. Read my book?

48 hours

Snowy landscapes near Birmingham

Twitter, December 22, 2010 at 13:07
Picture postcards views of snowy English lanscapes near Birmingham somewhere

Foursquare, December 22, 2010 at 13:54
Crewe Railway Station (CRE)
On to Chester

SMS, December 22, 2010 at 15:03
Given up on ferry, Fully booked so no guarantee of getting across. Eoin got on alright, the bastard. Booked flight from BMX at 20:15

Facebook, December 22, 2010 at 15:57
Leaving Chester, heading back to Crewe. Stena not accepting any more passengers until Friday, so not heading to Holyhead but to Birmingham to catch a flight – hopefully…

Gerry McLoughlin
Jesus Pier, I hope you get sorted.

Tom Wiebe
I sense a book in the making…

Willie Van Velzen
ya poor git!

Email, December 22, 2010 at 14:30
Passenger(s): MR PIER KUIPERS
Flight: EI0277 – Wed 22 Dec 2010
Departs: Birmingham-Terminal 1 (BHX) 20:15
Arrives: Dublin-Terminal 1 (DUB) 21:15
Status: Y/Economy Class CONFIRMED
Airline: Aer Lingus

SMS, December 22, 2010 at 17:14
Made it to Birmingham Airport, flights looking good. fingers crossed.

Foursquare, December 22, 2010 at 17:44
Wetherspoon, Departure Lounge (BHX Airport)
FECK! DRINK!

53 hours

Facebook, December 22, 2010 at 17:53
Having travelled all this way over land, getting on a flight at this stage feels like cheating. But let’s not speak too soon – it may yet be cancelled…

Facebook, December 22, 2010 at 20:49
OK, flight’s delayed until 2300. Things are looking up for the anti-cheating squad.

Facebook, December 22, 2010 at 20:56
In Birmingham Airport sipping pint of ale. Flight delayed until 23:00. Aer Lingus gave me a €5 voucher – yay. I lost it – sigh.
Recent experience has taught me that delay is the first step to cancellation…

SMS, December 22, 2010 at 21:39
I am so goddamn bored and homesick. Entering day 4 of my attempts to get back. I’ll get the Aircoach to Stillorgan and a taxi from there no matter what the time, they go all night.

SMS, December 22, 2010 at 21:56
Latest news: flight delayed until midnight. I think I’ll have a pint, so.

SMS, December 22, 2010 at 22:16
Delayed, estimated 0001, gate opens 1 hr 5 mins. Believe it when i see it.

Now boarding...

Facebook, December 23, 2010 at 0:35
“passengers please proseed [sic] to departure lounge by 2355.” Woah. I’d better drink up.

Facebook, December 23, 2010 at 1:26
NOW BOARDING AT GATE 48. Oh yeah, baby.

SMS, December 23, 2010 at 00:27
I can SEE the plane, and people getting off it. They’re very slow, though…

61 hours

Facebook, December 23, 2010 at 2:56
Guess what? My flight has been CANCELLED.
Aer Lingo are putting us all in the Hilton tonight, along with the crew who need their 12 hour beauty sleep now, rather than flying us back to Dublin first.
OK so. Whatever.

SMS, December 23, 2010 at 2:56
Latest travel news: flight from Birmingham CANCELLED at the last minute. Staff need their 12 hour beauty sleep. We’re told we’re flying tomorrow at 14:45. Yah right. All of us being transported to the Hilton now (at 2:45am)

Foursquare, December 23, 2010 at 3:56
Hilton International Birmingham
Ireland? Huh? Where’s that?

Dave Slater
Well, at least you’ll get to see what the outside of the National Exhibition Centre looks like – which I am sure has always been one of those boxes in life you wanted to tick.

Pier Kuipers
Heh. I ticked that box a few months ago when I was here for a meeting. Any other suggestions as to why being here might be a good thing?

Dave Slater
Pier, I was just trying to give you some encouragement.

69 hours

Facebook, December 23, 2010 at 10:12
From Dublin Airport via Twitter: “We are temporarily suspending flight operations for about 30 minutes to allow the runway to be sprayed with de-icer.”

Ronan Doyle
i think dublin is closed until 1.30 :-0

Willie Van Velzen
snowing heavily in Leixlip at the moment

Ronan Doyle
Ever feel like that steve martin from Planes, Trains & Automobiles??

Mr Flight Delayed

SMS, December 23, 2010 at 10:55
Dublin Airport closed until 13:30 to clear snow

Twitter, December 23, 2010 at 11:13
Latest News > 09.30: Flight Operations Suspended At Dublin Airport
Think Happy Thoughts.

Facebook, December 23, 2010 at 12:43
The name is Delayed. Flight Delayed. And that’s Mr Delayed to you.

Andrew Watchorn – Classic!

Johan Sölve – Bummer.

Facebook, December 23, 2010 at 13:45
Look! I got another boarding pass for my collection.

73 hours

Twitter, December 23, 2010 at 14:09
Yesterday Dublin Airport was open, but we had no plane.
Today we have a plane and a crew, but no Airport. Two out of three ain’t bad?

Facebook, December 23, 2010 at 14:11
Dublin Airport Flight operations resumed at 13.00. Woot!

Twitter, December 23, 2010 at 16:21
“ladies and gentlemen, can you please take your seats to enable a speedy departure so we won’t miss our slot”.
HURRY UP YOU MUPPETS!

77 hours

Arctic conditions at Dublin Airport

Twitter, December 23, 2010 at 18:06
LANDED IN DUBLIN

SMS, December 23, 2010 at 18:07
Just landed after circling for 30 minutes. Nowhere for the plane to park, pilot describing “chaos & confusion”.

Twitter, December 23, 2010 at 18:22
Chaos at Dublin Airport with planes fighting over spaces as if they’re in the car park at Tesco’s

Twitter, December 23, 2010 at 18:45
Our plane’s captain needs a martialler to guide him to our parking spot. Can anyone help?

Twitter, December 23, 2010 at 18:48
That should be “marshaller” of course. Anyone with a couple of torches and big earphones will do.

Twitter, December 23, 2010 at 19:09
OK, plane’s parked. But now the air bridge is stuck, so we can’t get off. Oh, and it’s snowing again.

Twitter, December 23, 2010 at 19:42
And bingo: Dublin Airport closed.

SMS, December 23, 2010 at 18:53
Getting next available aircoach out of here

SMS, December 23, 2010 at 19:56
Sitting on bus but not going anywhere fast. It’s supposed to go to stillorgan shopping centre, trying to find out. Chaos here.

The Finish – 80 hours

I finally arrived home at sometime after 21:00 on the 23rd December. I shared a taxi with a fellow Christmas 2010 Veteran from the Burlington to somewhere in Goatstown where the taxi driver told us to get out, because he wasn’t driving any further through the snow drifts.

Twitter, December 25, 2010 at 1:25
Merry Christmas to all, and especially all of you who kept me company on Facebook and Twitter during my recent odyssey – thank you!


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3 thoughts on “Christmas Odyssey”

  1. When you see that ‘travel log’ laid out like that it really hits home on how much of a nightmare you really had. Did you try calculate the extra miles that had to be put on your journey too? Also, as far as I know, this is the first time I had a mention on anyone’s blog so thanks for that.

    :-)

    Gerry

  2. But Europe is such a tiny little place. I will be documenting the snow this year, as I hear it’s going to be nasty. Hovering around 0°C, that means lots of moisture in the air, knocked out of clouds as snow. We usually dip to -20°C, where there is hardly any moisture in the air, so it gets cold and clear. The snow freezes and the earth is a crusty dirty mess. Not this year. I’ll be filming and plotting major snowfalls. Ya, I’m bored.

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