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EUROPE 2002

Journal of a 9-day coach holiday through 9 countries.


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This page last updated: 23rd March 2007.
EUROPE 2002

day 9 I am awake a little before the wake-up call is due. We get up at a leisurely pace and go down for breakfast.

Most people are already in the dining area when we arrive. There are a variety of cereals available, along with the usual array of meat and cheese. Scrambled eggs and warm mushrooms are also on offer.

We are surprised to see our co-driver. It seems he waited with the coach until the part arrived from Paris. He then drove up to Brussels arriving about 3 am. The driver who came with us has now taken that coach over to the Holiday Inn and will be off back to Switzerland again with a new tour-party.

In the meantime another coach has come down from Yorkshire and our co-driver will be taking us back to Dover in this. One of the co-drivers that came down overnight is taking his place on this week's Swiss Glacier Tour.

As we are leaving Brussels later than planned they gave us a lie-in; we should have been up at 6.15 am! the usual visit to a Belgian chocolate factory has been dropped.

However, we do stop again outside Calais at the hypermarket we visited before. I buy some sandwiches for the journey and loaf of "brioche" which turns out to be a cross between bread and cake. I also get a decent cup of tea from the stall outside the market.

We are booked on the noon ferry. The driver had thought we were on the 12.30 ferry, so we arrive just in time to be the last coach on. All of this suits us fine. The lift up to the viewing lounge is a few yards away. No sooner do we settle down into some seats near the front of the ship, than our voyage begins.

The captain apologies for the fact it is a little rough mid-channel. I get two bar-room specials a BLT [bacon, lettuce and tomato roll], bag of crisps and a can of Coke and sit at a table from where we can see the waves crashing over the bow. I feel a little unsteady and so take my vertigo-tablets early and lie down. I can feel everything creak, each time the ship hits a large wave. I find I am better off sitting up and watching the sea pound.

It is good to be on the ferry. It is less cooped-up than on the coach. There is a greater sense of adventure too from watching the land approach, than there is emerging from a tunnel. I've never seen the famous White Cliffs of Dover before. As we get closer, the sun comes out, the sky shows more blue. I go aloft and outside. Although there is no rain, a cold wind is blowing and it feels very wet. I take a few quick photographs before retreating to the comfort of the lounge.

On arrival at Dover, we are driven off the ship and around the port about twice before getting to the place where we change to our feeder coach home. On seeing Christine with her walking stick, a lady kindly vacates one of the front seats of the coach for us.

The driver is anxious to get going. We are delayed a while in traffic on the M25 near the A2 junction. We cross the Thames on the Dartford Bridge. He doesn't stop for a break until we get to Watford Gap Services on the M1. As we arrive it starts to hail. By the time we have been to the toilets, it is fine again.

The first drop-off is in Coventry. The coach-station appears to be in the centre of a gyratory system. Getting to it involves several quick lane-changes. The co-driver, at the wheel, is new to the route. At the first attempt, he misses the entrance and has to sweep around again. How anyone manages it in rush-hour traffic, heaven only knows.

After Coventry we make for Solihull. On the M42 the traffic heading North looks congested. After Solihull, therefore, we take the road through the centre of Birmingham to join the M6 at Spaghetti Junction. Being Sunday afternoon, Birmingham is fairly quiet. By the time we reach Sandbach Services for a drop-off and another brief toilet-stop the time lost earlier has been made up.

After dropping off in Stockport, the driver agrees to drop us off in Denton rather than have us going on to Ashton. I leave Christine by the bus-stop with our cases and cross the road to the taxi-stand.

It is a quick taxi-ride home. The taxi-driver tells us that he is flying to Geneva in a few days time. This will be his first visit to Switzerland. We warn him about the price of food.

At 8.15 pm we land back at home-sweet-home.

I order a pizza for delivery and put the kettle on.

Tonight we sleep in our own bed.

On Monday we do very little. The brioche I bought in Calais is delicious. This, together with the food left in the freezer means we can put off doing any shopping until Tuesday.

Christine reckons this was our worst holiday ever. Methinks we might have forgotten some others, but I'm too tired to argue.

Whatever, it has certainly been an education and our minds have broadened as a result.

Journal Day 1 Photographs Day 9