Poland, volcanos and Dunkirk spirit…

A guest post from Patrick Jacobs, NLA Director of Finance.

My family and I had spent Easter in Poznan – a former capital city of Poland.

We were due to fly back on Saturday 17 April but on the Friday evening, I received a text message informing me that our flight was cancelled and to visit the airline’s website for a refund.

I spent the rest of the night attempting to check websites for alternative routes back – all crashed before any bookings could be completed. With two kids in tow, this was starting to look very ominous.

I also spent an age ringing train operators – all recorded messages said ‘please try later’.

On Saturday my wife bit the bullet and took a cab to the mainline station and eventually managed to get the last four seats on a sleeper train to Cologne departing on the Sunday evening – but they couldn’t sell her tickets from Cologne to London or Brussels…where would our journey end?

Despite starting early on Saturday, I again failed to make any bookings then quite randomly – after perhaps 40 attempts of keying names, and ages etc. – I got a booking on Eurostar for the Tuesday. I then lost the booking because my debit card failed!

Visa returned my call [at 11pm!] saying that I had two £8 transactions in March of which they were suspicious. I confirmed them –but the ‘booking’ had self-cancelled. Joy!

Eventually, I got a booking on Eurostar from Brussels on the Thursday, then managed to rebook Poznan to Cologne. German rail won’t allow e-tickets – they will only snail mail them – so we took a chance that we would get on a train.

A 50 metre long queue at Cologne ticket office, with many sad faces trying to get to London, being told Eurostar was completely booked so they would be stranded for a few days – but we were in luck and could get tickets for the next-but–one train to Brussels. Our luck was in.

In any event, all the connections worked and we got home only five days late. I’m told that some Brits are still stranded abroad which must be awful.

However, if there are any landlords who need their rent collected because they’re stuck overseas, do let me know.

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