Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
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Day 14: Lahr
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Day 14: Lahr
Day 15: Lucerne
Day 16: Munich
Day 17: Munich
Day 18: Nurnberg
Day 19: Dresden
Day 20: Berlin
Day 21: Berlin




Zum Schwanen


Sunny in the morning and on the ferry, becoming cloudy in the late afternoon, ending in rain in the early evening with a high of 22C

Day 14: Monday, September 18, 2006     Lahr, Germany

Three 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).

Sailing away 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 travels.


We now headed out on a 500 km journey across northern France from Calais to Strasbourg.  Along 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.

Colored rectangles on the A26 in France

We had 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.

We 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.

What an amazing day - breakfast in England, lunch in France and dinner in Germany.

A 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.

Day 15

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