Day 14: Monday, September 18, 2006
Countries in One Day
Our ferry was scheduled to leave at 9:30 am but we
got up at 6:00 am to make sure we were not late. After packing
up the car we made the 45 minute drive to Dover. The
odometer showed that we had driven 1800 miles or 2900 kilometres in
the UK. While Ken was returning the car, Kathryn discovered we
were just early enough to catch the 8:15 am ferry - which
would not only save us 75 minutes crossing but would also save us a
two-hour wait to pick up our rental car in Calais. The car
rental place was supposed to be closed over the lunch hour. We
hurried and just made the bus. The bus took us on a short ride
to a separate building where we had to take our luggage off the bus
and have it scanned. We had our passports stamped, put our
luggage on the bus and headed off to the ferry. We then had to
take our luggage (2 large bags and a carry-on each) up a ramp
three-stories high. Luckily the luggage had wheels but Ken's
knees were squawking at the top.
When we were in Dover the day before, the "white
cliff of Dover" did not seem very impressive. They looked
like grey rock covered in trees but the further we sailed, they
more spectacular they looked. Ken decided to have his last
big English breakfast and got his salt content for the week.
It was interesting to watch the English gentlemen rush the bar
as soon as we sailed for a pint or a brandy for their coffee -
at 8:30 am. Out on the deck we met a couple from Grande
Prairie, Alberta who took our picture. They were
surprised that I knew the Mayor of Grande Prairie really well
(he is a basketball official).
from Dover on the ferry
We docked in
Calais, France a little over an hour later and had to haul
our luggage down three stories of ramps - which is still hard on
Ken's knees. We went to the car rental place and picked up
the funniest looking little car we had ever seen, a Renault
Kangoo. It had huge headroom and a square back. We
were able to store all our luggage under cover in the back.
Kenny fell in love with his little Kangoo - no more right-hand
drive. We actually saw lots of them in our European
headed out on a 500 km journey across northern France from Calais to
the way we saw the most amazing site - along side the road there
were large (2 m) colourful geometric figures. They were
bight pastel pinks, yellows, blues and greens. There were
circles, triangles, rectangles, spheres, and 3-D boxes.
There would be 5 or 6 then nothing for a km, then 10 or 12, then
nothing for 2 km, then sometimes 2 or 3 and sometimes a hundred. This went on for
almost two hours. Unfortunately we were on a freeway with
no place to pull over and the only photo I got (at left driving
in an entry lane) does not do the bright colours justice.
rectangles on the A26 in France
know idea what they were for but when we stopped for lunch at a rest
stop, a lady in one of the shops told us they were just there to
break the monotony of the long drive and keep drivers awake.
When we came back to our car, discovered hundreds of butterflies in
the bushes in front of the car (see slide show for photo). On
our trip across France, we had to stop at several toll booths and
pay for using the freeway. These fees ranged from a few euros
to over twenty.
finally arrived at Strasbourg and crossed over a bridge over the
Rhine river. When we reached the other side we were in
Kehl, Germany and just kept on driving. This was a real
difference for Kathryn who had been to Strasbourg many times when
she taught in Germany and had always had to stop and go through
Customs. Now we just drove through. Soon we were headed
south on the infamous Autobahn where
Kenny got to drive over 130 km/h on the way to Lahr. We
had lost an hour due to time zone change and it was getting dark and
the rain, which had started in early afternoon, had just stopped as
we entered Lahr. Although she had taught there for three
years, it was now twenty some years later and things looked
different for Kathryn. We had entered the city from a
different direction; the place had changed and we were lost in
downtown Lahr - which is not a really big place. We noticed a
man walking along the street so we asked him if he knew where our
hotel, Zum Schwanen (Hotel Swan), might be. It turned
out that he was staying at our hotel and it was only one block and a
right turn away. We drove to the hotel and checked in.
We had passed an Internet cafe while we were lost so we went back
and spent an hour emailing home. We went to a take-out pizza place across the street for supper.
There were four high school age kids working and with their limited
English and Kathryn's foggy German, we finally managed to know what
was going to be on the pizza we ordered. We took our pizza
back to our room.
an amazing day - breakfast in England, lunch in France and dinner in
Funny Anecdote: As we were flying down the Autobahn in
Germany, I kept seeing these signs with arrows pointing off to
several different towns. It seemed like every second one
said Ausfarht. This kept up for several km and I thought
"I've never heard of this Ausfarht but there sure are a lot of
ways to get there". I finally mentioned it to Kathryn and
she laughingly informed me that Ausfarht was German for Exit.
I told this story to the MacDonalds ,who were on the cruise with
us and touring Germany afterwards. When they got home, they sent me the
photo at right which had "We found it" written on the back.
Click here for a slide show of Day 14 photos.