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Special Report: The Journey from Hell

/*Disclaimer: People with a bad stomach should not read this story*/

Do you know the Murphy's law? The idea is that anything that can possibly go wrong, will go wrong. I'm positive that at some point in your life you blamed Murphy's law for choosing the slowest line at the groceries store or for the flat tire when you were already late. But on Tuesday, a group of six die-hard Culés from Slovenia came across an unbeatable combination. The French version of the Murphy's law.

Some of you may be aware that in France there was an air traffic controller strike planed for Monday and Tuesday of this week. A strike that "shouldn't interfere with planes simply flying over French airspace" they said. Already on Monday we found out that that would not be the case, as several of our friends were delayed for up to ten hours at the airport.

But despite those problems, Ryanair, our airline company, made no indication that they expect any delays the next day. So, in the early morning on Tuesday seven of us met up and drove to the Treviso airport in Italy. The usually smooth 350km drive turned into a horror ride when about 30 km before our destination the phone rings. It's a text message from Ryanair saying: "Your flight has been canceled". Shock, disappointment, anger immediately surfaced, but we had no other choice than to continue to Treviso and find out if we have any other options.

When we arrived we found out that only our flight was canceled, while others were just slightly delayed - some not even delayed. Ryanair gave us the option to book us for a plane at 9pm to Girona which was obviously not acceptable for us. We decided to try our luck 30 km to the South at the Marco Polo airport in Venice. When we arrived five tickets to Barcelona were still available, but only one of them found its way to our group. Now, there was six of us.

Desperation really started to kick in, but some quick thinking gave us another option. A plane from the Malpensa airport in Milan was scheduled to leave at 5:30pm. That would give us more than enough time to get to the Camp Nou for the kickoff so we quickly bought new tickets. Milan, here we come. 320km later we arrived to the airport. Finally we were feeling confident again. The first look at the departures reassured those feeling as there was no indication the flight was going to be delayed. The second look, about a minute later, was different, however. The flight was delayed for 45 minutes. We all started doing calculations and we came to the conclusion that we would get to Barcelona just in time for the game. However, at the check-in desk the news got even worse. The (actually very helpful) employee at the counter explained the situation and gave us our options. But, in a nutshell, he said the plane wouldn't leave for another 2-3 hours. Morale was at an all-time low, but somehow we remained Peptimistic and decide to wait as long as we can and not actually miss the game itself.

Soon the departure time was pushed back for another 45 minutes, meaning we would miss the first half. But at least we would be in Barcelona for the game we thought. As 7pm, the departure time, approached suddenly a gate number for our flight appeared. We rushed there and quickly the plane started boarding. We were excited again. The engines were turned on. But then, the pilot turned them off. We missed the short window to take off which meant we were grounded. For at least another two hours they said. Nearly half of the passengers decided to leave, most of them went to Barcelona to see the match they were going to miss anyway. After some select words to the crew we left in search for a bar, restaurant, anything really that has a TV.

After 30 km we finally found it, it was a pizza place and the pregame show was already ending. We entered and the door greets us with an AC Milan sticker. On the walls hundreds of AC Milan memorabilia. One fan actually called the restaurant "The house of Milan". But despite everything they accepted us even though the six of us marched in wearing Barcelona shirts and scarfs. We ate, we drank, and in the end we won - thankfully because I don't think we could handle a loss at this point. The owner of the restaurant congratulated us and showed us around. Shirts, scarfs, pictures with players eating at that very restaurant, other pictures, it had everything.

In the end we were happy that we found a great place like this where we could watch the game. But the day wasn't over as we still had 700km of road ahead of us. A drive that long is always grueling, but this one had the added bonus of the night and rain. But we defeated that part as well, thanks to our two amazing drivers.

This is a journey none of us will ever forget.

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