TWO Cardiff Devils chiefs found a novel way to get home after being left stranded in the Czech Republic by the volcanic ash cloud – a £1,400 taxi ride.
Hockey director Shannon Hope and coach Brent Pope flew to Europe last week to take part in ice hockey’s Budweiser Cup.
When ash started spreading from the Iceland volcano last Thursday the two Canadians found themselves stranded.
But with Shannon due in a 10am meeting in Cardiff yesterday the former pro players hailed two taxis on Monday morning to take them 1,045 miles across Europe to London, where they had to pick up their cars from Heathrow.
Amazingly husband and wife drivers Robert and Lucie Kandel managed to make the ferry connection in France with just minutes to spare – ensuring Shannon made it to his meeting with Cardiff Business School.
Shannon, 47, a one-time Devils defender and British team captain, said: “We rolled into Cardiff at 6am. I’m on my way to my second meeting now – I have one at 11am.
“This morning was a bit tough rolling out of bed with just two hours rest. But the shower shook that off.
“The journey was fine. We got to the ferry with two minutes to spare. It was not even too busy to be honest. It was really smooth. We went through seven countries on the way.”
Their chauffeurs topped speeds of 100mph as they raced along Germany’s autobahns in VW people carriers.
Despite being used to driving on the right, the cabbies negotiated themselves from Dover and through London.
Shannon said: “They were petrified but we took them through. They had never driven on the left side of the road. But there were no crashes. They were very good, really good drivers.
“They were not the quickest drivers but that was only to be expected in London – the wife was the leader, she was the quickest.”
Brent was thankful the journey did not turn into a “bloody saga”.
The 37-year-old said: “We count ourselves pretty lucky. I don’t think there are too many of us as travellers that have had to get taxis from the Czech Republic to London. But it was a crucial time for Shannon and myself.
“We could ill afford to be away any longer, so it was time to get back.”
Shannon and Brent shared their cabs with London businessmen Robert Corkum, Brian Gordon, Mark Yaniw, Sebastian Pech, Kelly McKenney and Frankfurt’s Chris Traggio.
They made a number of stops to drop off the other members of their party, before leaving their taxi drivers in London, where they are being put up a member of the group for a few days.
Their trip followed Monty Python comic John Cleese’s £3,300 cab ride from Oslo to Brussels on April 16.
Ex-football star Gary Lineker and his Cardiff-born wife Danielle also endured a mammoth journey to get the Match of the Day presenter back for the show on Saturday.
The couple, together with Lineker’s children, flew from Tenerife to Madrid, drove to Paris, and took a train back to London, arriving back two hours before the show.