Finally we’re off!

[singlepic id=568 w=620 h=440 float=center]Well, after a nightmare week of packing and moving stuff into storage we finally got our backpacks filled (4 hours after starting and emptying and re-filling a few times) and have now embarked on our trip of a lifetime!

Got up bright and early this morning at Pete’s (my brother for those not in the know! who cooked us the most awesome chilli pasta dish when we arrived at his at 10pm on Friday – thanks pete and jen – joint credit remember!). We got picked up by Addison Lee minicabs who took us to the meeting point – Cleopatra’s Needle on London’s Embankment. Bus ‘leader’ Leighton did give us some schpeel about what Cleopatra’s Needle actually is but to be honest I forgot it as soon as he’d finished! Far too much more exciting things to remember!

When we got there at 6.30 am we were already greeted by some of our fellow passengers – straight away we could see we had a real mix of characters, people and ages – should make for an interesting trip! As promised, our globe-trotting mini bus was ready and waiting for us! A 16 seater Mercedes, which actually is relatively comfy! Just as well since we are about to hammer across Europe in it!

Some bloke had fallen asleep next to the Thames and had obviously settled down there while the tide was out, but sure enough when he woke up he was surrounded by water. Wish i’d have taken a photo of him trying to get back over the wall – absolutely hilarious! Legs swinging everywhere. Needless to say we all gave him a big cheer when he finally managed it.

After a brief stop in Maidstone Services, we arrived at Dover a little tired and managed to catch an earlier ferry over to Calais. Went straight up on deck of course to wave goodbye to the famous White Cliffs!

We kind of lost everyone once we were on the ferry – it was packed actually. Did something I hadn’t done in a long time too – went to the arcade and played some shooting games to waste some time! Had a bit of an audience as we had to end up choosing the loudest game in the P&O Mega Drome! Then had a belated breakfast of crunchie nut cornflakes, yoghurt and chocolate – yum!

Crossing didn’t last long and I didn’t get sea sick either (hurrah!). Thank god for those Boots travel pills!

Arriving in France (about 12.35 local time) wasn’t the most momentous of occasions – not much to see straight outta Calais, but i’m sure the scenery will get better!

Got to Belgium is good time – Tour de France didn’t hinder us at all in the end, and I have to say, Belgium looks just like England! Flat, trees, v green and lots of cows! Even got treated to a couple of cows humping eachother at the roadside! Nice.

So driving into Belgium wasn’t particularly awe-inspiring either but that certainly all changed when we got to Bruge where our hostel is. Bruge is absolutely beautiful! Probably the best looking city we’ve ever been to. Dominated by cobbles and brickwork, it really is the epitome of picturesque!

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Once we’d dumped our bags at the hostel – Charlie Rockets – (random name for a hostel I know) we headed out to explore. Half the group went on a guided bicycle tour, but we decided to just walk it ourselves – saw loads and didn’t cost a thing! As the old saying goes ‘When in Rome’ – we HAD to buy some Belgian Chocolates (from a shop called Brown Sugar )and Belgian Beer and sat in an awesome pub, right over the canal. The local beer here is Bruge Zot – lovely beer, but so strong! Went straight to our heads!

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We got talking to an American guy Ivan who we saw buying some pink concoction at the bar who convinced us that ‘apparently it’s really nice’ – think it was just strawberry beer, it’s called Kriek Boen and omg it was pretty sickly! Totally ruined the taste of the Bruge Zot, but it had to be done! Ivan was really friendly and we’ve promised to get in touch if we ever manage to get over to the US. He lives on the West coast and sounds like a good man to know!

Decided not to get too carried away with the beers and headed back to the hostel about 6.30 where everyone was waiting to go out for dinner. We all decided to eat together as it’s our first night and went to a restaurant called Passage. Leighton assured us that it was gonna be good and to be fair, the food was nice enough – I had a Waterzooi – a Belgian stew/ soup dish with veg. Nice and I was starved. Richard had a Flemish Stew (with the obligatory chips!) and eventually got his plate as we were all finishing ours (typical that his had to be the one whose food was held up!).

Am sat at the hostel bar at the mo typing this but so need to go to bed as need to be up at six again – in time to make the 600k journey to our Germany stop! Yikes – come on travel pills, don’t let me down!
So, in summary our first day has been tiring and exciting all at the same time – we’re just about remembering everyone’s names and am looking forward to feeling more settled. Still in a bit of a daze and feel like we’re coming home next week – but I’m sure we’ll get over that feeling soon!


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  1. July 05, 22:44 #1 Donna Marley

    Hey guys!! Great reading! I keep looking up to your old flat in the mornings and expecting to beep Rich walking to work! lol
    Glad you got off to a good start – good luck with the long journey tomorrow and ais bring a sick bag!!! xxxx

  2. July 05, 21:32 #2 Aisleen Author

    Hiya, yes am glad we’re finally off! Going to Prague tomorrow which we’re looking forward to- hope all is well back home!! x

  3. July 05, 07:30 #3 Penny Arbuthnot

    Hi Aisleen and Richard

    Glad you got off OK, best of luck!

    Great blog,


  4. July 05, 02:16 #4 Lilliane @wanderlass

    Congratulations for finally hitting the road! I’m on the stage of just about get off and I’ve been dragging this forever. Don’t forget to come to the Philippines when you finally get to Southeast Asia. I may not be here (hopefully) but you’ll have a nice time with the great beach & mountain.

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