Wednesday, July 23, 2008
EO 2008: the trip to Germany day 1
I tried to get some photos of my own without Dennis; they are pretty amateur but hey they help me remember! This is Hex waiting at the Ferry port on her newly sewn Union Jack dog bed. Lisa made the dog beds as we wanted the dogs to be patriotic also.
I thought I better start writing about our adventures before I forget. Time heals all wounds and all that! I will start by saying this trip was very interesting; take that as you want. You would think I would have learned from Norway; but I actually thought this trip would be easier. It was only in Germany; in theory only 4 hours from the French Ferry port of Calais. A piece of cake journey, right? Hmmmmm....
Initially we got a fright and were told that we all had to get on the coach in Daventry at some un-godly hour on Thursday morning. Holy toledo; Daventry is 3 hours NORTH of me and we should be headed 1.5 hours south to the Dover Ferry port. That just did not make sense! Why would we want to add 6 hours of travel time on the departure day and 6 hours on the arrival day? After much emails back and forth; finally the week before we were told we could meet in Dover. Phew! Why are the little things so stressful sometimes?
For future reference for fellow competitors; there is a lovely multistory car park at Dover where you can leave the car for around 6 pounds per day. That is much cheaper than paying for 2 tanks of petrol to get back and forth to Daventry.
I picked up Andy at his house and off we went to Dover. I felt really sad for Andy as he was not sure he should be leaving Nancy alone as she had just lost her special dog Abbey. Nancy bravely convinced Andy to go; but I know she was on his mind the entire trip.
There were 2 coaches taking us to Germany.This is what coach #1 looked like. Do these look like medal-winning handlers to you? Some of those guys had already been on the coach for 3 hours; I was glad we got on in Dover!
We had 15 dogs in each coach. The seats are removed on one side of the back of the coach and replaced with dog crates. I guess it is a good way to travel with many dogs but it is not great for the dogs who are cooped up in small crates. Also it is quite a palava trying to get the dogs out of the crates each time we stop.
So everyone onto the bus and across on the ferry to France. Once we are in France; the journey by car would have been just about 4 hours. By coach it was more like 7 hours. Dennis and Sonia had left in our car on a much earlier ferry and were in the hotel before our coach even landed in France! They had a much nicer journey than we did. And ,according to Dennis, Sonia was a great traveller and just fell asleep immediately as soon as she got into the car. She must have been very trusting of Dennis' driving ability!
So the drive to the hotel was not exactly smooth. The coach manager was relying only on an address in the sat nav. I guess he didn't feel the need to check before hand or maybe have a map...just-in-case... So, of course, we got lost! Back and forth up streets trying to find the hotel. I cannot remember how long we were lost but it felt forever especially knowing that Dennis got there with no problems. This was soon to be seen as typical for this coach company. We got lost ALOT.
Once we got into the hotel; we quickly walked the dogs and unpacked and then headed out into town. Luckily Dennis had already done a walk around the town so he knew where some restaurants were. I am so glad we went out that night to eat out of the hotel as it turned out to be the ONLY night we were able to do this. We found what looked like a typical German restaurant and went in with 13 people and scared the waitress to death! I do not think she was expecting 13 English speaking very-hungry and tired customers on a Thursday night.
The funniest thing that night was all of us pouring over the German menus and trying to figure out what everything was! Of course, no one remembered to bring a german phrase book and only 3 people had any semblance of an idea about German! I was afraid I was going to end up eating cow brains or something! Plus we had two vegetarians who were worried they would get meat. We started to muddle through and just as we were about to order...the waitress says "Oh Do you want an ENGLISH menu?" HAHAHAHAHA
I ended up eating schnitzel which was yum yum and Dennis had sauerbrauten! Food like mom used to make!