Here is a very late recollection of our 8 day road trip through Europe visiting 13 countries back in 2016.
Day 1…Thursday 9th June
After a hard part week at work I was hoping for a lie in. No such luck. 7am came round and there I was, wide awake. You’d think I’d have jumped out of bed, I mean it was the day we were going on holiday, however, the prospect of packing for not just one, but two holidays, did not fill me with joy. As I write this I sound insane!! Two holidays!! Stop being an ungrateful cow and go and pack! So I did. See, I was lucky enough to have about two and a half weeks off work. Week one was to be spent gallivanting round Europe with Nathan and week two was a relaxing week in the Dominican Republic with mum.
Once packed, Nathan picked me up, treated me to a cheeky KFC and then we went to his to finalize everything to make sure we had all the legal stuff in the car such as:
- Warning triangle
- GB sticker (Nathan has GB on his plates)
- Headlamp beam converters
- High vis (good job we work in dotcom)
- First Aid kit
- Foil blanket
- Breathalyser twin pack
- Spare bulb set
- Guidance leaflet
Good job there was no weight limit on the car haha! All sorted now, we began the three hour drive to Newhaven where we would get the 11pm DFDS ferry across to Dieppe. It was £42 ferry so by far the cheapest option to start this adventure. Being the avid planner I am, we had a very intense plan to follow in order to maximise our time and see as much as possible. Dinner was eaten in the Brewers Fayre pub across the road from the ferry terminal followed by a trip to the Sainsbury’s next door because I for some reason, had packed no underwear. None whatsoever. Only thing I can think of was that I had packed it all in the case for holiday two. Whoops.
Once on the ferry we had to exit the car and we sat in the lounge and tried to get a bit of sleep. It wasn’t easy…
Day 2…Friday 10th June
Sleeping on a ferry really wasn’t easy. I must have only got about an hour and currently can barely keep my eyes open. Nathan managed to sleep a bit more but I did keep waking him up because I couldn’t get comfortable. Whoops. It was also incredibly warm so I kept getting hot and sticky yet when we arrived in Dieppe at 5am, it was bloody freezing. Whilst waiting to disembark the ferry we managed to book ourselves into a cabin on the return journey, which would hopefully give us about four hours sleep. I mean the itinerary had given us zero lie ins as there is way too much to see and do during our time in Europe.
Once in the car and out of customs, we headed to our first destination. The magnificent Mont St Michel, three hours west of Dieppe. We pretty much followed the coastline and it was well signposted the closer we got.It was beautiful. We parked at the end of a bridge and walked our way over. You can only access the stunning island once the tide is out. Located in the Normandy region, only around 45 people reside here. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1979 and is visited by over 3 million people every year.Despite the crappy overcast weather we wandered around the abbey as well as the steep cobbled streets. There were hotels, cafes, restaurants winding around the streets of this island.I have always wanted to visit this magnificent place and was so grateful we got to go. I even got pooped on by a bloody seagull and the heavens opened just as we were making our way out and back to the car. We stopped off for a cup of tea and a croissant (would be rude not to) and then set about heading towards Pont Du Gard. It was a further 900km and we had an arrival time of 19:50. Perfect. Or so we thought. So you remember I said that I had meticulously planned our trip yes? I planned where we were going, what to see, distances between places, arrival times, times to be spent exploring, sounds like everything was about covered right? What’s the one thing I forgot to research? Bloody opening times. That’s right. So we had been heading in the direction of Pont Du Gard only to find that it shut at 7pm. Traffic was getting worse too so it wasn’t like we could speed and knock and hour off the arrival time.
Nevertheless, we continued as we were going in the general right direction for the rest of our adventure. I drove for about two hours but the motorways were sooooo long that I had to pull over and let Nathan drive for fear of crashing. We located a Maccyd’s for dinner (really experiencing French culture we were) which had a drive through so we didn’t have to waste time going in. Wrong! They didn’t understand us so we had to park up and go in to use the machines. I blame Nathan for being fussy not wanting mayo.Toll roads were everywhere as we drove south through France. I think the cheapest was 1 euro and the most expensive was around 15. The sun began to set, not that it had actually reared it’s head and we started to look for somewhere to stay.We were on Tesco Mobile at the time and this was the first time that they had waived the roaming fees so as Nathan was driving, I would log into hotels.com and find us somewhere to stay. All we were looking for was a bed and shower, nothing too extravagant. Our hotel for the first night was Campanile Grasse Chateauneuf. Again, thinking I am a great planner, didn’t check what time we could check-in until and turned out it was only 11pm. We obviously were arriving after that so I tried to call the hotel, no one answered so I then emailed them. Thankfully they emailed back within about twenty minutes and the receptionist was still there when we pulled up around 11:30pm. She helped us get our room key out of the self serve machine and then it was time to hit the sack. Whilst I know we only needed a bed and a shower, our room was so hot it was like sleeping in a sauna. The weather on our first day in France had been even stranger than that back home in England…
Until next time…