In my last post I wrote about getting stranded in New York because of the ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano in 2011. I made it sound awesome, which it was, but it was also incredibly stressful. No one knew when we would be able to get home. The US news is very sensationalist and they were talking about how it could take months to clear. We thought we would have to fly into Southern Europe and then get a train the rest of the way. A friend in the Navy offered to get me on a ship: Sailors? Yes, 7 days of seasickness? Hell no. This was also a few years ago, I was 25 and only had a £1000 limit on my credit card. We didn’t know what we would be able to claim back from travel insurance or our airline as it was ‘an act of God’ and therefore no one was really responsible. My parents were in Spain at the same time. They always travel by train so were rather annoyed when their normal peaceful journey home was marred by thousands of would-have-flown travellers. In the end I was only there an extra four nights. I was able to stay in my hotel room, and the whole bill just fitted on my credit card. I eventually got the extra nights’ accommodation and 2 meals a day back from Virgin Airlines. I did, however, weep at the sight of my phone bill. Multiple calls from a British mobile in the US to a British mobile in Spain is not a good idea.
However, my overriding memory of the whole trip is of the kindness of the people I met there. On our first night of being stranded, after hearing our story, a New Yorker at the bar brought us all a bottle of wine. When I popped into a yoga studio to ask about classes the lady not only offered me a free class but also positive, ash-cloud-blowing-away thoughts. One night, absolutely knackered (I don’t sleep well abroad, and even less well when I am worrying about something…) I had an early supper at Grand Central Station. I got chatting to an older British couple who were in the same situation. They asked if I was OK for money, and if there was anything they could do to help. I said I was fine. They insisted on paying for my lobster roll anyway. New York has a reputation for being a hard, scary city. I genuinely think it is the kindest place I have ever stayed in.
P.s. On the Monday, the day I was due to arrive home, I was wandering around the MET when I got a call from my bank. They said I had told them I would be away until Sunday night and my card was still being used. Was I still there? Yes, yes I am. HAVE YOU NOT SEEN THE NEWS? THERE’S A MASSIVE ASH CLOUD AND NO ONE IS GOING ANYWHERE. How many of these phone calls do you have to make today? I’m guessing quite a lot.