Day 1

Getting There

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or, why is Scotland so far away?

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img0097.jpg (68642 bytes)This day is pretty easy to summarize: driving, nothing but driving. I left home just before 10 in the morning, as I think that a good morning's sleep is more important than an early arrival. The journey went through Germany and France to the Channel. It should be noted that while gas is generally expensive in Europe, it is even more so in France; about $1.20 per liter, that is. Also, the autoroutes, as the French toll interstates are called, are expensive: I paid some $25 for the trip from Strasbourg to Calais -- in distance comparable to San Francisco -- LA.  No wonder the road was so empty! For that money however you get an extremely well constructed road with as said little to none traffic, and extremely nice parking facilities all 20km or so. Interesting was the toilet facility at one of them: one could completely see inside -- both the male and female side.

I came to Calais at about 21h and looked for the cheapest ferry. While everyone and every piece of advertising material promised a fare of about $200 each way, I got a round-trip ticket for less than that. And that included a return ticket without any blackout times. Why not?

img0042.jpg (111845 bytes)Once in Dover, after some 75 minutes, we first could not leave the ship because of a power outage that somehow affected the draw bridge between the ship and the pier (or who knows). Right afterwards I could experience once more the advantages of a Swiss passport: there was a number of lanes for EC and EEU members, and one for "others". While usually following an "others" lane of any kind is very fun promising (foreign friends, just remember the "others" lane at an US airport), in this case it was great: there is virtually no other nation in Europe not being a member of the EEC, and so I didn't have to wait at all :-)

Heading towards London, hoping to find a place to park and sleep (it was close to midnite after all), I was amused by the number of "DRIVE ON LEFT " signs, in some five languages, all the way to London -- initially all 100 meters and later at each exit. Finally I found a parking place to sleep. On the way there I passed through a one-lane construction site which was guarded by a traffic light. Much to all our confusion, this light showed green and red at the same time, and so the traffic obeyed its own chaotic rules.

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