8th August 2016
Alarms set for 7:30am saw us up and out the campsite by 8:15am. The drive from Brugge to Calais normally takes about an hour and twenty mins so we thought we had plenty of time for our 10:50am crossing. We had hoped to fuel up in Calais and possibly stop for some beer/ wine with remaining Euros.
The journey started well and we cleared Belgium in no time, we actually joked the people mustn’t go to work as there had been no rush hour style traffic at all. As we approached the French border it all changed and as we crossed the border it was grid lock. Google traffic showed an incident but we never saw any blue lights which we thought was strange.
The queue went for miles, as people started getting out their vehicles and engines turned off we began to worry but still had no idea what was causing it. Watching people climb the crash barriers to visit the bushes I was so glad we had a toilet onboard.
Eventually after a few hours of moving a few feet at a time we could finally see blue lights and the motorway shut ahead. The police and army were taking everyone off the motorway carrying out searches then letting you back on, it was painfully slow. Who could believe travelling from Belgium to France could be so hard.
Our turn eventually came to be interrogated by the policeman, he took our passports and looked through. He then held up my passport and said in broken English that he needed to see this person pointing into the back. We shouted for Lucy to come forwards and with a thumbs up he passed the passports back and we were off. Did he really think Lucy was me?
Now cutting it fine for our two hour window at the tunnel once through the border checks we blasted off hammer time style hoping to make it not to incur extra costs. We were both absolutely flabbergasted how it could take so long to travel between two supposed Schengen Countries.
Boy did we cut it fine, after getting the dogs through passport control in the nick of time we checked in with literally 2 minutes to spare. No extra costs incurred but as we missed our crossing we would be put on the next available crossing and this was hours away. What a depressing way to end a brilliant holiday but a few hours to kill at the tunnel obviously meant a BurgerKing.
We finally boarded the tunnel at 2:30pm and we were homeward bound.
The drama did not end there. We were 34 miles from home on the A3, having done nearly 3500 miles on this trip, when a loud hissing noise came the engine and black smoke billowed out of the exhaust. We safely stopped in the first layby we could and Neil quickly diagnosed a split turbo hose. The RAC were called and 90 mins later they arrived and bandaged the split hose so we could gently nurse the van home. We were just glad that the hose decided to split then and not in Latvian roadworks.
Overall we covered 3531 miles (including sea crossings) in 19 days. We went to 11 countries and made 19 border crossings. Our fully zoomable Live Tracker is now archived, but can still be found at his link – https://track.gs/uCQlbU
Screen shots of the Live Tracker can be seen below:
Our next big motorhome trip will be in October 2016 and you can follow us using the various email or Twitter links on this page. Current thoughts are Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland…