Saturday 3rd June
Finally the journey begins!
We packed a few final things, said our goodbyes, and set off for the Eurotunnel at 9am.
Luckily, we arrived early for our booking, because we promptly got very lost in the car park. And we definitely weren’t alone in our confusion. Signs saying FRANCE → were literally everywhere, arrows pointing in all directions. To make matters worse, painted markings on the road directly contradicted the signs that stood right next to them. People were cluelessly driving back and forth through the zig-zag lanes, and one man hung his head out of his window shouting “France??” as if desperately calling for a lost dog.
A gang of motorcyclists eventually pointed out we were going the wrong way, saving us the humiliation of a thing that apparently happens sometimes: Driving to the tunnel with the intention of making it to France, but instead somehow ending up driving right back out via the UK border control, and handing over your passport in some kind of confused stupor. The French border control told us this story when we admitted we got lost in the car park. So, at least we didn’t completely fail their entrance exam.
The shuttle itself was pretty damn cool. It’s a double-decker train, big enough for cars on each floor. We were able to stand next to our car while being shuttled through the tunnel, so we made a little dog-zone for Lex, who patiently sat in this strange box for the 35 minute trip, no problem.
Coming out the other end of the tunnel, I took the first shift driving “on the wrong side of the road”. Luckily, I barely know how to drive on the left-hand side, so driving on the right feels totally fine. We made a brief stop in front of an electronics store in the Belgian village of Knesselare to eat our pack lunch and stretch all eight of our legs. At one point the owner of the shop appeared and politely asked us if we wanted him to open gate we were parked in front of. We declined, and drove on to the Netherlands! We crossed the border soon after 5pm and found an adorable “mini-camping” site near the tiny village of Uden.
They had a lot of clogs and bicycles, so that satisfied our primary expectations of the Dutch.
After dinner, an ice-cream truck turned up, so of course, we obliged.
That night there was a beautiful bright pink sky as the sun set around 9pm.
And aside from a chorus of merry singing coming from the camp next door, continuing into the early hours of the morning, we slept well.
Overall an excellent first day!
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