On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


Tally Ho

B- and I have fled to the UK for a few days, visiting his brother D- and family.

Without getting into the complicated details, we ended up driving over via the auto-train through the chunnel, Tunnel sous la manche as the French signs said.

Our late night road trip (naturally, we were running two hours late) took us past Rotterdam, into Belgium via Antwerpen, skirting Gent and Brugge and then on to Calais in France.

What we learned about driving through Europe:

It was a bit disappointing driving through different countries as there was no fanfare whatsoever when we crossed the borders. No "Bienvenue a France" or anything, just a puny little European Union-blue sign that said France with gold stars around it. We got our fanfare a bit later, though.

Between cities in Belgium, there is no posted speed limit. Consequently, they drive like maniacs. There we were in our 2-cylinder Ford Ka with Audis running up on our butts every five minutes, flashing their lights and giving us dirty looks. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a lead foot, but the little Ka has no juice. Grrr.

Also Belgian highways are crap, and boy was that rest stop outside Gent nasty. They also have these sickly, yellow street lights that make it more difficult to see than if it were pitch dark.

By contrast, the French would rather we drive nice and slow... causing us to miss the 1:30am chunnel shuttle. See, they don't just let you drive along under ground, you have to load up on the train and ride along. Boooring. With two hours to wait, we curled up in the teeny weeny Ka as best as we could for a quick snooze.

The fanfare came when the French customs officers decided that we must have dope in the car, you know since we come from Holland. They searched everything. It would have been like Tijuana except that it was clean and they didn't look like they'd accept bribes.

They sounded more than a bit disappointed when they asked, "Do you have any cigarettes?"

"No, nuh-uh."

"Do you smoke sometimes?"



They did manage to find my credit card under the seat, but weren't able to find the gloves I'd lost earlier in the night. Bummer.

On the otherside, we were quickly reminded to drive on the left and we were off, feeling like we weren't making any progress at all. Again no speed limit signs, what up? we just came in from another country?? They thought it better to spend more money on signs warning you about the speed cameras instead. I expect a pile of traffic tickets when we get home.

So, yeah it felt like we were driving in molasses. The distance markers on the road signs just weren't dropping very fast. It wasn't until we finally came across a speed limit sign that said "60" that we realized we'd switched from kilometers back to miles. What? You mean Americans take all this crap for not going metric, and the Brits haven't either?? Pshuh!

We crawled into bed at the wee hour of 5am thankful we made it at all.

(Note: I'll post photos when we get back to The Hague. We aren't able to download the photos to D-'s computer.)



Blogger Reid said...

You lost your credit card AND your gloves?! That car's like some kind of black hole!

3:41 PM GMT+1

Anonymous redsnapper said...

Olympics security guy: "Monsieur. Parlez-vous Francais?"

Me: "Oui. Comment?"

Security guy: "OK. Do you have a knife?"

Me: (thinking: er, Francais?) "No. Non."

Security guy: "You don't have a knife?"

Me: "No."

Security guy: ... (cold stare) ...

Me: "Um. Should I have a knife?"

Security guy: "No. Non."

And he waves me through.

What the hell!?!? Maybe he normally works the Chunnel.

8:28 PM GMT+1

Blogger soo doh nim said...

You're gonna have enough material for a book soon.

5:00 AM GMT+1


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