We flew down to Valencia again on last Sunday to see Antonio, our architect, and sign the applications for the planning permission. We were surprised (almost horrified) at the amount of paperwork he had to prepare. I think he was a bit surprised too – the law has changed recently, and ours was his first project since the changes came into effect.
We were confronted by 6 bright yellow box-files sitting on his desk when we arrived. Each full of paperwork. One for the local authority’s planning officer, one for the builder, one for the College of Architects in Valencia (who have to sign off the project before the local authority will process the application), a copy for Antonio, one for the technical architect who will supervise the building on site and one for us.
Each box-file was full with the drawings (20 different CAD-drawings showing the layout of the water, electricity and so on, as well as the elevations of the house) and six thick printed documents describing the technical and health and safety standards to be followed and the specifications of the materials to be used and so on. Even the plan for the erection of the scaffolding had to be included.
As we were booked on flights with Ryanair, and they had told us that only hand-luggage would be allowed (there was a general strike on the Wednesday, when we had tickets to fly back), we left our plans with Antonio for the moment. He burnt a CD with all the documents for us instead, which is much better as far as we are concerned – it got copied onto our computer and we can access everything much more easily than if we had to trawl through hundreds of pages of documentation.
Unfortunately our flight back got cancelled by Ryanair. Although they requested on the Tuesday that all passengers check in again on-line and reprint their boarding cards, we got a new e-mail on Wednesday morning telling us that they had cancelled ALL internal flights in Spain and the vast majority of the international flights to and from Spain. Really annoying, as if we had known on the Tuesday, we could have probably bought train tickets home before the strike started. The next flight home was scheduled for Friday (Ryanair doesn’t fly every day on that route) and was fully booked, so the chances of getting back for Ruth to be in work on Monday via Ryanair were not good.
We went to the main railway station to be told that the desk for international bookings was not open due to the strike and to come back Thursday. The helpful man at the information desk could tell us that we could get tickets to Paris for around 140 EUR each, but not what the cost to Frankfurt would be, or how long the journey would take in total.
We then visited a travel agent round the corner, who told us we could buy one-way tickets with Lufthansa for 680 EUR each, but that it was uncertain whether the flight would get away. (In the end 63% of all flights in Spain did depart, so we guess a large part of the cancellations were the Ryanair flights – their list of cancellations for the Wednesday covered multiple screens on their web site and had four columns of flights listed, if I remember correctly.). We thought that was too expensive, and the agent told us the main bus station on the other side of the old town might be open. It was, and we booked seats on the next bus back, which left on the Friday morning and took 27 hours to reach Frankfurt. There was quite a mixture of people on the bus – very fragile looking elderly people, more Ryanair ex-passengers, some African men and some Muslim women. And, of course, various Spaniards who were not otherwise exceptional.
While I wouldn’t want to voluntarily repeat the bus trip, I have to say that the drivers on the bus were very friendly and helpful to all the passengers and the although the bus was full, the only negative point was that sitting for 27 hours with only short stops for food or to stretch your legs really can not be comfortable for that length of time (and especially, not good for a good night’s sleep). We had to change buses once at Barcelona, and after that it was straight through to Frankfurt.