Yes we did……… we sailed from Dover, UK at 10.15am on P&O ferries, it was a uneventful foggy crossing! The transport from the drop off area for foot passengers was more eventful! We piled on to a bus to pile off again to show our passports, back on drove a couple of 100 ft and everybody off with bags for security! All the bags went through the scanners…… all clear, even Mikes bag with his handy dandy mini tool set in it (complete with pliers, knives and corkscrew). Then up a long zigzagging ramp into the vessel itself, found a comfy spot and started writing.We arrived into a dreary, fog bound Calais at 12.50pm…. it did not actually take that long, forgot we have to add one hour! Now was the testing time would our car lease be as straightforward as promised???
The arrivals terminal was in the middle of renovations and almost deserted apart
from one lovely lady waiting for…….. yes us! She pulled out a small pile of papers which included our lease agreement, our insurance coverage, another form just in case we should be involved in an accident and a set of keys…..
She locked up her little booth and we followed her out to the parking lot to our own brand new Citroen C3 car Ta Da! It is a cute little grey green number with a Bonus!!! GPS! Yeah……. We had almost bought one in the UK and had decided to wait till we got to Europe as it would already be loaded with the right software. She had even programmed it to the English speaking mode for us! EuropeByCar had certainly come through and more as we had not paid for GPS. Our little C3 even has park assist and a few other perks……. I will let Mike fill you in on those.
First stop was Calais itself to pick up a few supplies……. i.e wine…. Actually we did,
what we went looking for was a ‘dongle” as they call them in the UK, some of you may know them as a “rocket”. We were out of luck, yes they could be had and would work in all of France……. Not planning on staying that long in France! It was the same story when it came to getting a SIM card for the phone!
We ended up having lunch in Calais and then headed to Lille, where we had planned to stay over! It was not to be, a very cute, picturesque town with not many rooms available. The local tourist office was helpful and pointed us toward a place close by………. My “Spidey” senses took over; when I saw that someone had attempted to kick the front door in, add to that, only paid street parking! Mmmh next! We were intending to reach Belgium the 2nd day, therefore decided to just go for it!
Tournai, Belgium was where we stayed, a large 4 storey building, snuggled up to its neighbours in a sweeping arch behind the main square. We stayed in the “Renoir” room….. quiet, comfortable modernity in a historic setting. The main square was hopping with activity despite the steady downpour….. very much a contrast with the almost abandoned feel that Dover’s centre had!
We ordered the recommended Filet Mignon…….. note to self-do not assume it is beef! It was pork tenderloin cooked to perfection with a cream, mustard sauce, washed down with an excellent red wine at €2.8 a glass. The French may be famous for their food; my vote so far goes to the Belgians….. known for the beer, their love of meat and the best mustard sauce ever.
Dover, UK – Calais, France – Tournai, Belgium……. Three countries in one day! Bringing my total count of countries visited to a grand total of 50!!! Half way to my life goal of at least 100!!!!