Landing in Paris, 2 1/2 hours late, on the morning of 15 April, our flight attendant announced that during the night we had been diverted south due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland. At the time I merely thought, "huh. interesting." Two days later, however, I thought "what an effing pain in the ash!!!"
My connecting flight from Paris to Budapest, Hungary, was uninterrupted. I arrived on-time, but sans luggage. They assured me it would meet me at my hotel later that night - which it did thankfully because I really didn't feel like wearing sweatpants for the whole trip! Over the next day and a half, we toured the city without giving another thought to Eyjafjallajökull; (try saying that 3 times fast...or even once for that matter!) even checked to ensure our respective flights to Prague were still on schedule (I was leaving around 2pm; Stefani around 5pm), which they were. We split up on the day of our departure from beautiful Budapest, only for me to quickly learn that the airport was closed.
I spoke with the ticket agents at the airport, and they stated the airport was hoping to open around 2pm, thus the reason behind the fact that neither of our flights had been cancelled. Of course my cell phone was not working for some reason, and I had no way of getting hold of my cousin to give her the heads up, so I had to make a call to Kris...on a pay phone...in Eastern Europe.
Who uses pay phones anymore?! Um...after this one...not me...EVER again. It was $42.86...for less than 5 minutes!!! WTF?! GRRRR! Anyhoo...I was able to contact Stef and met up with her in town and we decided to take an overnight bus, since they were not sure when the airport would re-open. (sidebar - I can now check the country of Slovakia off my list of countries visited since I actually got off the bus and took a potty break there!)
We arrived in Prague early the next morning, groggy and in need of coffee, so we checked into our hotel, had a bite to eat, then rested up for a bit. Note to self: when a European hotel states that it has "satellite tv", what it means is it has possibly 4 channels (tops) in English, and 3 of them will be news stations (i.e. BBC, CNN...). Good thing in this case, because had I been watching old episodes of Veronica Mars, I would not have known that everyone in Europe trying to get home (whether to the UK or the US, etc.) was flocking to Spain (because they never closed their airports) and I may have ended up in that crazy mix. Instead, my plight was to extend my stay in Prague 2 days, where I was afforded a clean and warm bed and a shower to clean the city stank off after a day touring...coulda been much worse. From there, I had an overnight stay in Brussels, Belgium, then a flight home through Chicago where I almost missed my connection to Dallas! I would've really been ticked if I had gotten that far only to be stranded yet again!
The ambiguousness of the situation is what really killed me. You see, I'm not one who likes to have my cheese moved. I enjoy life most when it goes as planned - or rather - as I have planned it. This trip ended up being a continual process of calling the airlines daily (or twice daily) to see if a better flight home had opened up.
Not all was bad, though. I had a great time with my cousin, we saw three beautiful cities, and I learned traveling alone really isn't all that bad. My cousin is right - there is something to be said for being lost in your own thoughts and learning from self-reliance. Most importantly, always remember, when life hands you lemons, add alcohol and stir!