photo credit: Nico Strydom

In a previous blog post, I once mentioned that Elaine and I don’t like travelling, we like arriving. Arriving in a new country or city is very exciting, but the actual travelling from point A to point B can sometimes suck. Today was a primary example of travelling gone wrong and why we only want to arrive. So let’s back up a bit…

Yesterday, on the 20th of December 2018, the news broke that Gatwick’s runway was closed after a drone was spotted near the airfield. For many hours during the day, someone, somewhere around the airport deliberately flew their commercial drone so close to the runway that Gatwick had to suspend over 800 flights, affecting over 120 000 passengers. The world’s busiest runway was officially closed around 1pm and the police and military forces were called in around 5pm to deploy counter-drone measures. Not a single flight landed or departed from Gatwick, costing the airport and airlines tens of millions of Pounds in misplaced passengers, cabin crews, aircraft and cargo. Departing flights were simply cancelled and left passengers stranded whilst incoming flights were diverted to airports around the UK and Europe.  We were told that the runway will remain closed until at least 6am this morning and we had no guarantee that we’ll fly out to Tromsø this afternoon. And if that wasn’t bad enough, we also had friends (who travelled all the way from Johannesburg in South Africa) waiting for us in Tromsø – so we had to go for plan B.

So last night, in the middle of all the chaos caused by an idiot with a drone, we started looking for alternative ways of getting to Norway. Our original trip was a simple direct flight from London to Tromsø but now we had to take Gatwick out of the equation. What we didn’t realise at first was that thousands of other people had the exact same idea – to reroute their travel plans through other airports in Europe to get to their destinations on time for Christmas. It was the craziest booking experience ever. We couldn’t find any other direct flights between London and Tromsø and connection flights were booked out within minutes. After 4 hours of extensive searching, not to mention the dent to my credit card, we had a plan B!

Originally we wanted to leave our home at 11:00, board our plane at 14:00 and fly at 15:00 to arrive in Tromsø around 19:00 and meet our friends at 20:00. But instead, our day looked like this: we woke up at 04:30, left our home at 05:00, got onto the Eurostar in London at 06:30, arrived in Brussels at 10:00, took another train to Brussels Airport, boarded a flight from Brussels at 14:10, arrived in Oslo behind schedule at 16:25 (we thought we were going to miss the connecting flight but luckily didn’t), boarded another flight from Oslo at 17:00 and arrived in Tromsø at 19:00.

Instead of travelling just 6 hours door-to-door, we ended up with a slightly more stressful day, with more trains and planes in the equation and a total travel time of just under 16 hours. Just to put that into perspective, in the same time-frame of travelling to Tromsø today, we could have left for the airport in London, flew all the way to Johannesburg, got into a car and drove almost half way to Bloemfontein. Just saying.

Was it all worth it? Heck yea, because tonight we sleep in a secluded log cabin in the Arctic with three of our friends! Tomorrow, we’ll explore the Fjord and then embark on our Aurora Hunting trip!

Thanks for checking in,
Good night!