Friday, April 20, 2007

A Boat Ride

After working on Heidi the van (UK name for a motor home) for a while, loading water, bicycles, clothing and the like, we visited the local supermarket for our last shot at groceries with labels that we could read. This turned out to be more grueling than expected and we were obliged to undergo resuscitation with the aid of two large orders of paper-wrapped fish and chips heavily dosed with vinegar and salt. It felt so good! We slept in the van to check that we had not forgotten anything and got up early the following day to acquire the dozen or so items that we had indeed forgotten. It’s always good to have a plan, we find.

Thus, it was around noon on the day after our arrival in England, that we decided to set off. Rather than race along the freeways with death defying bravado (driving a left hand drive five speed manual monster truck on the left side of the road) we opted for the death defying bravado of the coastal roads through Eastbourne, Hastings and all points east until we reached Dover. Buying a ferry ticket turned out to be a mixture of rental car and air ticket selection and, within a few minutes during which Heidi waited patiently, we were booked on the 5:00 pm P&O ferry to Calais.

Calais is just twenty-one miles from Dover and the trip takes about 1-1/2 hours. The volume of daily traffic is staggering and so is the scale of the ferry complex. As the EU has developed over the last forty or fifty years, numerous continental businesses have established themselves in England and many English company’s are well entrenched in Europe. There are four or five ferry lines running round the clock each with departures every hour or so. Every ferry contains a mini traffic jam, having five of its seven decks filled with two lanes of traffic ranging from motorcycles to fully loaded semis. The top two decks are set aside for passengers, including all vehicle occupants, with a variety of restaurants, Bureau de Change, duty free stores and bars. In our excitement, we got caught up in the spirit of the duty free binge and ended up with a huge box of Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts which we managed to eat over the next couple of days. Dover does indeed have white cliffs and these were our last glimpse of Blighty as we set sail for France.


Unknown said...

I thought you were going to use an RV not a boat - oh that's it take a boat across the channel. Have a great time and post often so we can follow your journey and see the sites of France and it's vineyards.

Bob and Marlene Rea said...

Keep those updates coming, your fan base is huge.

Vicki and Don said...

Just wondering if you've given any thought in trading the Monaco for your "new" European RV? Pros, cons?