4:45am came way too early. We woke up, packed our bags, and got on our first bus to Dover, England at 6am sharp. We had a boxed breakfast on the bus and it was either really good or I was early hungry. The bus ride was about 2 hours long and I slept on and off the whole time so it went by pretty quickly. We drove through the hilly countryside and even though it was overcast, it was still very beautiful. There were several beautiful farms and vineyards (I think they were vineyards) along the way. Everything was very lush and green.
We arrived in Dover about 8am and while we waited to board our ferry, we went to the little gift shop and cafe outside. It was freezing outside so no one really wanted to be out there for more than a few minutes anyways. They unfortunately did not have any Dover keychains but Victoria bought some blankets and hot chocolate for us!
Dover is not only a ferry port; it’s also known for its white cliffs… appropriately named the “White Cliffs of Dover.” They were gorgeous but with the weather being what it was, they were a little difficult to see. We got some decent views from onboard the ferry but again, we mostly stayed inside even then because it was so cold.
The ferry ride was about an hour and a half long, landing in Calais, France. We played cards with Greg and Abby (we taught them Rummy!) for a bit. Victoria started feeling really sea sick so she went to the ferry shop and bought sea sick wrist bands to try and help. Greg, Abby, and I played a card game called “Idiot” until we docked. I hadn’t played the game in forever and had forgotten how fun it was.
We docked in Calais at 12pm (11am England time… we hit another time change) and boarded our official tour bus that we’re using for the rest of our trip (well, until Greece) and met our driver. I fell asleep on the bus and woke up at the first pit stop for bathroom breaks. We tried to watch Eurotrip on the bus but Marlene (our tour director) couldn’t get it to play in English so we started Madagascar 3 and I fell back asleep under the warmth of my new blanket! We stopped for lunch around 2:30pm in Asheville, France at a popular rest stop called Sanef: think a smaller version of Buccee’s. It had several fast food restaurants, bathrooms, a gift shop/convenient store, and large seating areas to just relax. Victoria and I weren’t hungry so we didn’t get anything but the food everyone else got looked pretty good.
The big new thing was that it was the first time (and certainly not the last) on this trip where we couldn’t read or understand any of the signs or people. Some things were also written in English but for the large part, it was foreign. It’s definitely a weird feeling to not feel like you can communicate with the people around you! I’m thankful for my Google Translate app and am hopeful that it will help minimize the language gap a little bit.
Anyways, we boarded the bus again around 3pm and took off to Paris! We arrived to our hotel, the Campanile, at 5pm. It was the smallest hotel room I’ve ever seen but also so cute. Of the two hotels we’ve been at, both haven’t given us washcloths and both have had showers/bath tubs that are unreasonably high to step into. It must be a Europe thing?
At 6:30pm we took the bus to our formal dinner. It was freezing and still rainy but everyone still dressed up… we were committed. The bus took us all through Paris, giving us our first glances of the Eiffel tower, arc de triumph, Champs Elysées, and many other areas. It was really exciting to see the Eiffel tower for the first time and I’m looking to actually getting to see it and take pictures tomorrow! Our bus driver successfully navigated the craziest roundabout I’ve ever seen before we parked at dinner down the street at Chez Clément.
We enjoyed a delicious 3 course meal and a few glasses of wine! Everyone was so overwhelming full afterwards.
After dinner we headed to the Seine River for our boat cruise. We got to see so many amazing things on the river; I wouldn’t even be able to list all of them (I took a ridiculous amount of photos). The big things were obviously the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, which was so gorgeous lit up! A lot of people stayed inside the boat because of the weather but Justin and I stood outside at the back and made it work: no amount of poor weather was going to keep us from seeing everything! My shoes and dress were soaking wet (and why is my scarf ALWAYS messed up?) but I would say it was worth it!
Tomorrow we have a planned bus tour of several of the popular sites followed by some free time in the afternoon. We’re excited to try the typical French food like croissants, French fries, and French toast… all of which apparently did NOT originate in France (Austria, Belgium, and Belgium respectively, in case you’re curious). In the evening, we have our first “excursion” – about 7 or 8 of us are going to see the Moulin Rouge. That should be very interesting and different but since we’re here, we might as well go! When in France.
After the amount of walking we did yesterday it was nice to have a relaxing travel day today, even though it was a late night. I still have yet to have a good night’s sleep but the naps are helping and I’m feeling good!
Looking forward to tomorrow!