The long journey home from Spain


With thousands of British travellers stranded or delayed in Spain due to wildcat strikes by Spanish air traffic controllers, some are having to go to unusual lengths to get home.

Jim Kirby found himself stuck in Alicante after his return flight on Friday was cancelled, with an alternative flight on Saturday also grounded.

He was told the earliest available flight would be a week later, so he's opted to make his way home by taxi, tram, train, ferry - and another train.

We'll be adding updates from Jim, as he tries to reach home near Wimbledon, south London by Tuesday.

Tuesday 1830GMT

Well I'm finally back. This journey may sound like lunacy to you, but I'm glad to be home. And I needed to be here so I can prepare for my next business trip - back out to Spain on Friday.

The last leg was fairly smooth. I boarded a ferry from Santander at 1300 local time on Monday. I had a cabin so it was a chance to have a good sleep. The sea was calm, which is quite lucky considering we were crossing the Bay of Biscay which can be very rough.

I arrived in Plymouth at 1145GMT on Tuesday, took a cab to the train station and was in London Paddington by 1620.

Of all the things though, my final journey on the district line was hit by a signal failure and so it took me another hour and a half to get to Wimbledon.

If I had any advice at all it would be make sure you have access to the internet if you are flying with a low cost airline. If you get into a bad situation you can look for alternative routes home and find good deals for transport and hotels.

Next time I'm definitely taking my laptop.

Monday 0915GMT

Image caption, Heading home on Britanny Ferries. Ship departs at 1200GMT

I spent the night in Santander. This morning it's raining but it's still warm with temperatures reaching 16C. I'm about to check in on the ferry back to Plymouth.

This is after Ryanair and Easyjet cancellations and the no seats fiasco on flights. I finally get to head home on Britanny Ferries.

It's a 22 hour journey back to the UK so I should arrive back in Plymouth by tomorrow afternoon.

Two national holidays are set to compound misery for travellers. Constitution Day is being celebrated today. On Thursday it's Immaculate Conception day.

Not surprisingly Spanish news programmes show lots of disgruntled holidaymakers trying to get home from various airports around the country.

ATC have spoiled the holiday weekend for a lot of people. Hasta luego.

Sunday 2130GMT

Image caption, I'd only brought hand luggage and had to buy more clothes.

I have just arrived in Santander after an eight and a half hour train journey from Alicante.

The train was very fast - at times it reached 280km per hour. It made six stops including Madrid.

I pre-booked my hotel room for the night. I'm going to grab a cab and make my way there.

I tried to get a flight home but I couldn't get a confirmed seat. I saw some flights going for £700 but I wasn't going to pay that.

The funny thing is I have to go back to Spain on Friday on business, so I hope things will return to normal by then.

Sunday 1330GMT

Image caption, Castle on the hill, San Blas. Half an hour out of Alicante heading for Madrid. Sun gone, rain coming, temperature outside 15C

Sunday 1245GMT

Image caption, On train now long haul to Santander. Out from Alicante 1400 local. Very smart trains. RENFE national long distance via Madrid to arrive in Santander 2230 tonight.

Sunday 1030GMT

I'm in a taxi from Villaitana, near Benidorm where I've been staying after my meeting. I'm going to get the tram which will take an hour and ten minutes to get me to Alicante Central.

I work for the golf course so I've been lucky to be in five star accommodation. There's lots of retirees who live out here who haven't been so lucky and have been stuck at the airport trying to get home.

The tram is a bit like the one that runs to Croydon in South London and will take me to the station, where I've got a seat booked on the train to Santander in the north east corner of the country.

It's eight and a half hours direct to Santander so I've booked first class. It's actually quite cheap: I'm 60 years old so I get a 25% discount which means the fare is 89 euros.

I'll get to Santander at 2230 tonight and I'll stay there overnight before getting the ferry to Plymouth at 1300 on Monday. That gets into Plymouth at 1300 on Tuesday and I'll get a train up to London from there.

I only turned up with a suit for my business meeting and hand luggage so I've had to go out and buy clothes. I had booked a few days off to play golf in Ireland but now I'll be doing this journey. It'll be an experience to remember.

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