The whole brouhaha over the lack of air travel due to Iceland’s volcano eruption reminded me to continue blogging about our Europe trip and how we didn’t fly as much as we could. We did fly to Amsterdam but decided to take the scenic route back in order to visit a few more cities. Our last leg was to go from Brussels to London.
The easy way to do this would be to take the Chunnel and that was the option we were considering at first. It would have been cool to take a train under the English channel, but in the end we decided to take a bus. The bus ended up being a better option because it was significantly cheaper (I can’t remember but at least half the price) AND it was an overnight bus so we would save a night of hotel in London. After finding out this option, we booked our seats online.
In retrospect, we probably should have put more thought into this. First the bus ride was scheduled for 8 hours even though the distance between London and Brussels was about 360km. Sure you need to cross the water and customs, but it shouldn’t take that long! And also, you need to cross customs so you can’t actually sleep for the entire time. We didn’t end up with a lot of sleep that night!
It wasn’t all bad though, and actually an interesting experience. We got a good seat at the front and was able to watch the bus driver navigate and jostle for position amidst the narrow streets of Europe. But the most interesting part was when we had to cross the English channel. We didn’t do any research, and considered that the Chunnel might support vehicles in addition to trains. Well we still don’t know because we took a car ferry across from Calais, France to Dover, UK. This was our first time on a car ferry!
The ferry was actually pretty nice, and not like the ones that you would take to Centre Island. Once on board, you had to exit your vehicle and go up to the passenger cabin. There was a restaurant, a couple of bars and lots of seats for the passengers. They also had gambling machines and a duty free shop for when the ferry was in international waters!
And it really doesn’t take that long to cross the channel, about 1.5 hours for the 34km. Even with the customs and onloading/offload we ended up in London an hour early, which meant that we got there at 5 in the morning. Unfortunately, nothing in London is open at 5AM, not even McDonalds.