When climate change catches up to travel

Couple in raincoats

We all know that climate change is affecting many parts of the world but to actually be caught up in its effects while overseas is another matter entirely.

I had planned a trip to Greece, filled with the idea of sun and idleness on a rocky beach. I managed that for two days and then the earth tilted ever so slightly on its axis.

It was September this year and we were in a small village on the east coast of an area in northern Greece called Pelion. It is an area of rugged mountains, lush greenery of chestnut trees and apple trees and quaint villages, some of which cater for snow skiers in the middle of winter.

The roads are torturous and windy, hairpin bends are common and the roads are narrow but manageable for our tiny hire car.

Holiday nightmare

We had driven over the mountain range to be ensconced on an eastern beach.

Bliss, until the rain began. It rained for three days straight, torrential rain that I had only ever experienced in the tropics. But unlike the tropics, this rain did not stop. Day and night, it poured down and the second night the sheet lightning kept the sky awash with light for hours.

By the third day, we had no power and no water at our hotel. The fact that we had no water to flush the toilet was greeted with dismay.

One of our party grabbed a saucepan and was collecting water that streamed past our door, bucketing that down the loo, but we all decided that decamping and heading back to Athens was probably a good decision.

We loaded up our small, underpowered hire cars and headed off back over the mountain range.

What had been a pleasant drive three days before became a nightmare.

The rain did not stop but as we climbed higher the fog descended and visibility was reduced to perhaps a metre or two in front of us.

Debris was strewn across the road, boulders and tree branches everywhere. The drive was excruciatingly slow, and the longer we drove the worse the roads became.

In many parts, half the road was washed away and great torrents of water gushed across the road. More and more we realised we were driving through floods, unpredictable flood waters. But we felt that we had no choice but to push on.

Thankfully after about two hours of peering into nothingness, we saw car tail lights in front of us, and carefully kept them in our sights.

Flood of complaints

Finally, we managed a route off the mountainous peninsula and attempted our way back to Athens. Even the major freeway was closed due to flooding. It took us 10 hours to do a trip that had taken four a few days before.

Sadly, many of those villages we drove through have had many of their houses washed away, the sheer volume of water too much for their foundations. The many seaside resorts had their beaches and hotels destroyed, cars washed out to sea, to be smashed against the rocks and foreshore on their return with the waves and tide.

We didn’t realise all of this destruction until the next few days back in Athens as we sat glued to the television watching the deadly effects of Storm Daniel as it continued to wreak havoc across the Mediterranean.

If we had known what was ahead, would we have left? Probably not, but we count ourselves lucky to have evacuated that area when we did, otherwise we would have been stranded, with a costly hire car to contend with.

So, travel now has more pitfalls to contend with, not just worrying about the odd pickpocket or two, or losing your passport, it’s the weather as well.

Has weather ever ruined your holidays? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: The surprisingly demographic travelling solo

Written by Dianne Motton

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