Lee had a 3-day weekend for Easter, so we decided it was high time we figure out how to cross the English Channel and go visit the rest of Europe. We even took the ferry on the way over and then the train that goes under the water on the way back, and both were surprisingly easy. Lee got tickets for us on both several days in advance (probably should have booked out a little bit further given that it was a holiday weekend, but whatever); the GPS got us exactly where we needed to go, and basically you just queue up (Britons love to queue) and follow everyone else. Easy peasy.
The ferry takes longer because you have to arrive an hour before departure time, and it takes about an hour and a half and if the weather is bad or if it's really windy I can imagine it being rather hellacious, but happily we had a smooth crossing.
Lee was being artsy taking a pic of the Cliffs of Dover reflected in my sunglasses.
And here he is, reading The Hunger Games. We parked the car and got out to find seats near a window, but the window was too encrusted with saltwater grime to get good pics of the cliffs as we floated away, so we both read books for most of the crossing. Then, when we arrived, we just got back in the car and drove straight off the boat and into FRANCE.
Here's Lee driving in France! Hey, I was excited...I took French classes for like almost 10 years (I started in middle school and if I'd taken two more classes, I would have had a French minor in college) so it was cool to actually be IN France, even if we were only driving through.
Look, signs in French! Lee was all happy I was able to translate the signage, though to be honest most of it is just place names.
So the countryside outside Calais pretty much looks the same as the countryside around Dover on the other side of the Channel. Perhaps the cows speak French; we didn't stop to ask them.
Here's me, all excited to be in France, even if we didn't get to stop anywhere. Next time, dude.
And there's the fancy sports car that went screaming past us on the highway and then we saw it a couple minutes later when we all got stopped in traffic, so he didn't get anywhere faster than the rest of us did. Heh.
I'll share pictures from Bruges next time, this time I'm just putting up the ferry and train pics. The only issue we had with getting to the train was that the stuff Lee printed out called it the Eurotunnel and our GPS didn't like that; we had some issues with trying to put in any kind of address and finally just fed it the latitude and longitude coordinates and discovered that on the French side, it's called le Tunnel sous la Manche. Pretty much the same deal as getting on the ferry in England; you just follow the signs, queue up behind everyone else, they briefly look at your passport and then you get in line to board the train. And that's when we saw this character:
Oh yes, we were totally taking pictures of this guy with his manly purple undies sticking out. Come ON. I've always been much more interested in making sure my butt was covered and trying to make sure my undies *didn't* show. When will this "fashion" trend end?!
So anyway, we were the tail end of a long line to get on the train, which is a double-decker affair and you just drive your car right on. They've got people that will come through and tell you if you need to pull forward or anything, and the train is wide enough that you can get out of your car and walk along the sides of the train without feeling claustrophobic (that's us inside the train). We were sitting right next to windows, but of course you only see black out the windows for most of the crossing. The train only takes about a half hour to do the crossing, but it's more prone to delays (ours was delayed 20 minutes), so there are pros and cons to both methods of crossing the Channel.
There you see what it looks like while you're sitting on the train. There was a big long space behind us but we didn't realize until we drove off that we were like the last car on the train.
And here you can kind of see what the train itself looks like, just a big double-decker industrial-looking thing, but pretty darned long. Lee took a little nap for most of the train ride while I read a book on my Kindle, and then we drove off the train and right onto the highway back in England. Pretty nifty. Now all I need to do is plan a trip to France...