But We’re So Close- Ferryiing from England to France

by Jessica on March 7, 2009

Saying Goodbye England at the White Cliffs of Dover

Almost any trip we take as a family is subject to what I like to call the “but we’re so close” syndrome. Because we consider traveling to be an essential part of the kid’s education, most of our trips are inspired by our current studies. Once we pick a destination, we can’t resist looking around to see what else we might be able to see and do. Usually, I bust out google maps and spend an evening charting out the times and distance and dreaming.

Our trip to England was inspired by our studies of medieval England, but I quickly discovered that France was just a quick chunnel ride away. We explored both the options of riding a train into France, or boarding a car onto an auto transport through the Eurostar. But, the most economical passage for us was by ferry. I should mention here that Europeans do not call the channel connecting England and France the ‘chunnel,’ and will look at you oddly if you call it such.

The ferry allows passengers to board along with their vehicle for one flat rate and ferry across in about 1 ½ hours. Passengers without a vehicle are also allowed to board for an equally appealing cost. Due to rental restrictions, we decided to leave our British car in Britain, and pick up a new rental once we reached Calais.

We boarded the ship with our luggage, much like the boarding of the plane. There were only a handful of foot passengers and for the first 15 minutes, we were the only people on the boat. We took a few minutes to explore the boat and soon we could feel the ocean moving below us. A last look at the sun setting on the White Cliffs of Dover, as we pulled out into the ocean reminded us that we were leaving England and heading somewhere new.

The boys were completely enamored with ferry travel. Enamored, but still hungry. A full service restaurant was available on board, so we went there first. We were the only people in the restaurant for a few minutes, but once we were underway, the passengers from the cars below came up to the main deck and joined us.
After dinner, we roamed around the boat a bit. The boys spent most of the time playing in the children’s area. Outfitted with TVs running cartoons and toys of various kinds, it was a hit. The space and the ability to roam around was a great change to the car and airline trips. I found myself wishing that all travel could be as jaunty as the ferry, until I felt a familiar seasick feeling. Luckily, the trip was almost over and before we knew it we were disembarking on French soil in Calais.

The formalities of traveling from one country to another were to be attended next. We needed to pass through customs,have our passports stamped, and call a taxi. Also, there was the matter of the language changes and money changes. The ticket agents were kind enough to call a taxi for us and helpfully informed the taxi dispatch that we were ‘grande famille avec beaucoup de bagages’ (big family with lots of bags).

Travel weary, but happy our large family with our tons of baggage (really only one suitcase per person) dragged ourselves to the waiting taxi. Another week, another country, another adventure awaits.

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