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The volcano and a photographer - Photographer David Clapp and his partner Rachel are still stuck out in Lisbon. He gave us this round up of the worst trip abroad he has had in a long time. Illness, bad weather and the never-ending river of travel chaos.
‘This week will be remembered as one of the most draining trips I have ever undertaken, but for a variety of non-volcano related reasons. After getting the trip off to a flying start with two days of beautiful sunshine in Sintra and the city, I got sick with flu. This flu was not the worst I have had by a long shot, but was enough to have me staggering slowly around the city feeling very frail and elderly, looking for walls to sit on and breaks in the cloud to keep shooting.
‘As the week went on, my health got worse and so did the weather. Torrential rain battered metal window shutters all night as I suffered pouring night sweats and worse of all drunken neighbours fighting at 3am in the room next door. Every night was like an orchestration of disaster - I would just fall asleep and something would wake me up, then I would get freezing cold, then the rain, then shouting… I was dog tired, trying desperately to keep it together in the day.’
Then when the volcano took its grip, it was like nothing could get any worse. With so many people ahead of me flying Thurs - Sun, every rescheduled flight was booked solid. The next return flight to Bristol was the 29th April, some eleven days later! A flight to Gatwick was the only answer on Sat April 24th and we are now booked on that.
Booking Madness - All the usual panic stories were breaking as I kept necking Paracetemols. We were asked to car share a €2000 hire car to Paris. Tales of mass exodus were flooding the world news, with trips to overbooked coastal ports and ferries costing many hundreds of euros, thousands if you were travelling as a family. Websites jammed and booking became very complex, with page errors on every attempt.
Then more health disasters, Rachel got an acute bout of food poisoning and became very weak. We booked a bus for Thursday 22nd April to get us to Paris for €200, as Plan B, on the rumours of a second ash cloud escalated. As the volcano has stabilised it will be unlikely we will need the tickets, but the backlog here has been horrendous.
A spot of Composition collecting, this classic shot was filled with compositional problems, like scaffolding and parked vehicles. The only viewpoint was in the middle of the road.
David is now relaxed, listening to lounge music in Browns, a cool coffee bar in Rue de Vittorio, free from flu at last, waiting for Saturday processing new images and writing on his laptop. ‘I could write a book on ‘How to Swim Upstream’ after this weeks experiences. Literally every aspect of the trip has been an exhausting struggle. Still, I have a 700 new pictures, but more red tape to wade through when I am home, in my fight to get those expenses back. This extra week has been filled with stress, countless trips to McDonalds (for WiFi certainly not the food), Skype calls to the UK (to keep my business running), BBC World News and endless hours queuing for flight information. Just like others will say, it was far from a relaxing experience.’
Words and pictures by David Clapp.