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April 30, 2010

It’s a long way home

Multraship-responderFinland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, UK – When the ash cloud shut down European airspace last week, people ended up stranded all over the place. Tales of forlorn travelers getting stuck in distant outposts came thick and fast and the adventures of some had to be seen to be believed. I know one banker who, trying to get back from Bahrain, ended up buying a car in Madrid to drive back to the UK. But there’s a tale of 10 Nokia employees who circumnavigated half of northern Europe in their 48 hour trek from Espoo to England. Read on after the jump to find out what happened.

Stuck in Espoo, Nokia’s Head of Music, Geoff Roberts was desperate to get back to Bristol in the UK. With no obvious route back, he got in touch with Nokia’s travel centre to find out if there were any foot passenger places on the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm. From there he planned to make his way to Copenhagen and then onto Brussels. Not wanting to travel alone, and with a mind to help fellow stranded Nokians, he gave the travel centre his number and suggested other adventurers get in touch and rendezvous at the port.

From Stockholm, the now 10-strong group – which also included Nokia’s camera crusader, Damian Dinning – made their way to Copenhagen and then onto Germany before arriving, jaded, in Brussels. On route, one of the crew mentioned that he had a friend in shipping who was going to try and arrange a boat from Belgium to the UK. Fast forward to Ostende Port, via Brussels Eurostar terminal, and the motley crusaders were met by local immigration officers. Problem. The boat had been arranged, a small Multraship Responder (pictured), but UK immigration weren’t happy about letting a group of jaded travelers pitch up in an unscheduled boat.

After much cajoling and faxing of paperwork, the immigration folks relented and the Nokians were on their way across the English Channel in a noisy, almost three hour, ride across the waves. Landing in the UK, the team were met not just by UK immigration, but by a BBC camera crew. They also happened to be the last small vessel allowed to cross the channel.

With a pretty arduous experience behind them, Geoff has some tips to share with anyone else who ever needs to embark on such an adventure:

  1. Stick together
  2. Keep moving
  3. Plan the next move two steps ahead of where you are
  4. Sleep and eat when you can