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Friday, April 23rd, 2010 -- 10:09 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director

A Neillsville woman is back on American soil after an interesting vacation to Europe.

Doris Bakker embarked on what was supposed to be a 9-day trip to southern Ireland and Wales. She left April 8th and she was supposed to get back on the 18th.

"The trip was wonderful," Bakker bubbles. "Ireland was beautiful, the flowers were in bloom. They have, literally, billions of daffodils growing wild."

"Even London was beautiful. You'd never know there was a problem," she says.

But, there was a problem.

A huge cloud of volcanic ash was hovering over Western Europe. It basically shut down the airspace.

Bakker first heard a volcano in Iceland had erupted on Thursday. She was eventually told that, not only had her Sunday flight been canceled, but officials weren’t sure when the airspace would be reopened.

"The details then were this could last anywhere from a week to a month. The airport was closed. Don't go to the airport," she says.

So, Bakker found herself stranded in London with a group of 27 other tourists—many from Australia. She quickly made arrangements to extend her stay at a hotel. She says it wasn’t cheap, but at least she had a place to stay. Money was an issue.

"They do not want US dollars anywhere, unless you go to a bank. They prefer not using credit cards. What they really wanted you to do was use ATM cards," Bakker recalls.

Bakker didn't have an ATM card, thankfully her friend did.

On Wednesday, she was told to go to Heathrow Airport for a flight to the Twin Cities, but there was a snafu, and there wasn’t a plane available.

"It would have cost me $60 to go back to my hotel. I went to the Delta office and asked if there was anyway to get stand-by to anywhere in the United States. I really didn't care where, just get me anywhere," she says.

It turns out the flight was to Detroit. Bakker finally made it back to Neillsville late Wednesday night.

While the ordeal was frustrating, it wasn't without some benefits.

"People were very gracious. We met the most interesting people because we were all had the same crisis. The other thing is, we all sat back and said, no matter what, we are not in control."

Bakker has visited 32 countries, but she’s says this is definitely one trip she won’t forget.

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