Volcano ash has spring breakers grounded in Barcelona

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A group of Andalusians who went to Europe for spring break are among the thousands worldwide who can’t get home because their flights have been delayed by the fallout of a volcano in Iceland.

Andalusia High School English and French teacher Dawn Thompson took a group of nine students and seven adults to Paris, Provence and Barcelona for spring break. The group left on Fri., April 9, and was scheduled to fly on Sun., April 19.

Thompson said in an email sent from Barcelona yesterday that the group had been enjoying their travels and weren’t really aware that the ash from an Iceland volcano eruption was disrupting air travel.

The group was in Paris until last Tuesday, then left of Provence, where they stayed for three nights. They arrived in Barcelona last Thursday night. On Friday, Thompson spoke with a parent at home who mentioned the situation.

“We were not aware of the severity of the situation,” Thompson said in an email on Monday. The group was scheduled to fly from Barcelona to Paris and then to Atlanta on Sunday. Instead, they hope to take a direct flight from Barcelona to Atlanta on Wednesday,

“EF Tours, our educational tour company, has been taking very good care of us,” Thompson said. “They are paying for our hotel rooms, meals, transportation, etc. Today, we went back to the places we had toured earlier, taking more time to visit and shop, of course. Tomorrow, we will take an excursion to the mountains to visit a monastery. Our students have been very well behaved. In fact, the chaperones from the other groups (one from California and from Connecticut) have complimented our students.”

Thompson said the students are upset that they’re missing school this week, as they’ll have lots of catch-up work to do when they return.

“But they will never miss this trip,” she said. “The other adults have been very helpful with supervising the students. They have kept an upbeat attitude even though they are missing work. We are all working together to make the best of an unexpected situation.”

Thompson said she’s been traveling with student groups for 10 years and thought she’d experienced almost everything.

“However, I never thought about a volcano in Iceland erupting and creating an ash cloud that would cancel thousands of flights in Europe,” she said. “I like to say that we don’t have problems, just adventures, and this trip has been amazing!”

Limited air travel in Europe resumed Monday, and more planes are expected to be in the air today.