…on our Christmas holiday we tried to go.
(or Germany day 0)
Steve and I were 2 of the 31,000 people whose Eurostar trips were cancelled on Saturday. Friday night several trains got stuck in the Chunnel. Apparently they don’t really know why but they are speculating electrical failure due to condensation from the current cold weather (~-5C).
We later found out this was due to melting snow getting into the power compartment and taking out the electrics.
We were booked to leave St Pancras station, London for Brussels at about 1pm Saturday. We got to St Pancras about 11am, as the website said trains would be running after noon. When we got there they said everything all day was cancelled.
Lots of angry/confused people milling about. We headed upstairs to a small cafe I knew about and got a coffee to discuss our options. We decided pretty quickly to find an alternate way to the continent and that we could cope with pretty much anything in Germany as our rail passes would then allow us to catch up to our original itinerary and the hotel we had booked for Christmas. I did entertain the possibility that we’d have to scrap the whole trip, but thinking about this being our last chance to travel without the little man coming in February we were determined to make a go for it.
2 hours later we had booked flights to Munich, booked a hotel in Munich, a hotel near Gatwick (to allow us to catch our crazy early flight) and had figured out how to get to Gatwick from central London.
All tolled we probably spent 4 hours re-planning (including probably 2 hours to get my pregnant self cleared to fly). A drag, but I’m certain we ended up with much less disruption than most – as we only had to adjust the first 48 hours of our itenerary. AND BONUS! Our friends Alan and Megan are in Munich and we knew we would possibly get to meet up with them.
We are really thankful that we weren’t on the trains that got stuck, and that we have FABULOUS friends who went to great lengths to help us get our new plans sorted. We wouldn’t have gotten over here without them!
Now, we would have to figure out mid-week if we’d be able to catch the train back home – but that is for later:-)
**all the gory detail
After deciding to find an alternate way to the continent we got online and found the number for Expedia. The travel websites were too bogged down to function, but a call to Expedia was magic – got a really helpful girl who helped book tickets for the next morning to Munich for a not-unreasonable amount of money.
But there was a big snag, the whole reason we were taking the train is because I’m pregnant enough that flying is a hassle. I had called one of my colleagues to get a reccomendation for a hotel at Gatwick, and his lovely wife, knowing I was pregnant, looked up all the pregnancy requirements for me online. This ended up being a lifesaver as I was just assuming it would be enough for me to show them my pregancy notes (here in England you keep them with you, not at the doctor’s office). Aer Lingus requires a doctor’s note after 28 weeks, and I was 32. Luckily we have a good friend who is a GP, so I called him and he wrote me a note, which his fabulous wife walked down the street to scan at a neighbour’s house and e-mailed to me so I could e-mail to Aer Lingus by their 5pm cutoff. 3 phone calls with Aer Lingus to sort all this out and confirm and we were cleared to fly!
We also had to find a hotel in Munich – one of the easiest bits as we had two guidebooks and Skype on my laptop to call.
We also had to find a hotel near Gatwick – because our flight was crazy early.
We also had to figure out how to get from central London to Gatwick (trains run from Victoria station, we now know).
As of Monday Eurostar was still struggling, so we decided to cut bait and book a flight home. We found a flight from Luxembourg that was quite reasonable – and that would allow us to catch a day in Trier, Germany which was cut when we had to adjust the front end of the trip.