Sunday, April 18, 2010


Sander van der Borch / Artemis
By Paul Cayard
Sunday, April 18, 2010

Between Barcelona and Lisbon on the train -

I could never explain well enough what the situation is like over here in Europe for anyone who wants to travel somewhere or get a hotel room.

Since making the decision to try to escape one day early, here is what I have encountered:

1. Got to my hotel in Barcelona and had them tell me that the hotel was oversold, but that had covered me in another hotel.

2. Was boarding the flight to Atlanta this morning when the airport authority ordered the airport closed.

3. Waited there as told by Delta, and lived through all the "we're going", "no, we're boarding in 20 minutes", "no it's canceled", "wait, we're going at 12:00". During these three hours I was asking Torbjorn's pilot, Henry, who was in Palma with Torbjorn's plane, about the likelihood that Barcelona would reopen, as well as about Madrid and Lisbon. Finally, Delta pulled the plug at 1300.

4. Onto plan C. Get a car or train to Lisbon for tomorrow's flight to Newark which my travel agent Elin had booked before Plan B. (Plan A was flying through Frankfurt on Monday in Business Class arriving into SFO at 1200, nice and fresh. That plan got nixed on Friday).

5. No cars available in BCN.

6. Called Russell Coutts' PA Alex who is Spanish. She had been stranded in Paris and was on a 13 hour bus ride to Barcelona. All the while, she had been working on getting Russ out of London where he had been stranded since Friday. He eventually took a train to Paris this morning and is now driving from Paris to Madrid...18 hours.

7. Alex had a network modem and got me a train to Madrid and a car to rent there to drive to Lisbon, all from the bus.

8. I then went to the same train station in Barcelona where she was arriving by bus to then take a train to Valencia where she lives.

9. When I got to the train station it was total chaos. The line to buy a ticket was out the door. Thank God she had sorted it all for me and bought the tickets on line.

10. I then started to think that driving 8 hours tonight from Madrid to Lisbon might not be a good idea. So I asked her about a train. At first, nothing. Then she did something else magical and found one that leaves at 1030 tonight and get to Lisbon at 8am tomorrow. "Perfect...let's buy it"

11. What about Lisbon airport? Is it still open? Called Torbjorn's pilot Henry again. Yes, still open but Palma and Madrid closing. The cloud is still creeping South! Lisbon expected to stay open. Better start moving Southwest!

12. Called United to reconfirm the flight. With all the hecticness, that reservation had been voided somehow. My heart was in my throat as the agent told me this very calmly. I knew this flight was my last chance.

13. I resurrected the reservation. Thank goodness.

14. Then my credit card would not work. Unbelievable! If he could not issue the ticket I would not have a reservation and the flights for the rest of the week are oversold. All the people in Europe who want to go to the USA are running like rats down into the Southwest corner.

15. I had one more credit I never use it.... it is for my kids. I used it!! And it worked!

So, I am now on the train. Surely, I am not done jumping through hoops. Going to try to sleep a bit as I am pretty fried and I will need energy tonight for sure. If I get on the plane, I can sleep all I want.

Obviously in cases like this you don't ask what it costs or if you can get an upgrade. All that is out the window.

Fortunately, Artemis won the regatta so I feel a little less badly for leaving them. But my poor teammates are stuck in Palma I am afraid. Maybe they will take the Artemis RIB or a ferry to Valencia and drive to Lisbon.

I am sure by now you are seeing it on the news in the States or wherever you live.

In summary; We have a situation over here! Looking for my next hoop.


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