When the Hill family moved to England the Hamricks and Joneses knew a trip to visit them was a necessity. Having that trip on the calendar made the good-bye hugs easier as we knew just a few short months would pass before we’d hug again.
After careful calculations by Cory, admittedly the biggest nerd of the HHJ group still remaining in Germany, the group decided to take a large 12-passenger van which was actually classified as a ‘minibus’ according to the *ferry line we took. (MANY MANY thanks to the W. family for loaning us their minibus!)
Before the trip I made several attempts to warn Cory and Aimee about what it would be like traveling with our family. I warned them of bored bigs, tired babies, and a sleeping Matt. I tried to make sure they knew what they were getting into before we committed to traveling together. (I even sent Aimee the link to a funny blog post by Jon Acuff which describes ‘Road Trip Wedding Vows” and suggested we read them in light of our friendship!)
The day before we left for our big adventure, Aimee came over and helped me organize the food for the trip. I used the same plan I had used when my family traveled to Amsterdam. I purchased snacks and put them in ziplock baggies. Then, I organized the bags we’d need:
Wednesday: breakfast, morning snack, lunch, ferry snack, evening snack.
Thursday: snacks while walking around London, train ride back home snacks
and so on…
I made a bag for each day I thought we’d need food, and inside the bags specifically for lunches I included mustard and mayo packets along with knives for spreading those condiments. This plan made it easy to find and distribute the what we needed while driving down the road and it also made it easier to make lunches for 9 people while still inside the minibus. We ended up having two picnics inside the van using our large cooler as a table, and then on the ferry ride home we took what we needed upstairs and made our picnic on the ferry. We saved a lot of money this way.
In the collage below you can see our happy travelers!
Here are our seasick ferry riders. Matt and Aimee had to face forward to keep from getting too sick. Carson had spent an hour playing a game on his iPod while riding backwards and ended up with a headache.
Here you can see Carson playing his iPod, Hayden building something with Hero Factory toys, and Cory drawing on Parker’s “draw.”
White Cliffs of DOVER!!
Once we exited the ferry, Cory had to “think LEFT.” He did a great job driving on the wrong side of road, even though we were welcomed with heavy rains and storm clouds. We were so fortunate that the babies napped at the same time throughout the whole trip. Notice Cory posing for a picture beside the first tank of gas we had to get on the economy. £111.75 for three-quarters of a tank. That came to $185. Ouch.
For dinner this night we stopped at a McDonald’s. (I know it’s gross, but Matt loves it.) I had budgeted £30 for this meal and it came up to only £18! That made me happy, even though converting the pounds to dollars that makes the meal $29.09! (I guess for six people $29 really isn’t that bad.)
We arrived at the Hills house to the warmest of welcomes, with hugs that almost hurt and tears that almost fell. The bigs and babies fell right in as if no time had passed and the adults talked until we couldn’t stay awake any longer, which was much earlier than we had expected! 14 hours of travel, though much more peaceful that we ever could have anticipated, had taken its toll on the Hamricks and Joneses.
We went to bed knowing that the morning brought new adventures in London!
This information is given for those who want to know how travel from Germany to England by car.
*Ferry Line – In March 2011 the Hills and Hamricks took the DFDS Ferry from Dunkirk to Dover. This year the Joneses and Hamricks took the P&O Ferry from Calais to Dover. If you’re going to take a ferry, just check both websites for the best prices and times. I also suggest calling them to see if they can give you a better price over the phone, which is what happened with us this trip.
On the way there we drove straight through, from our door step to Jessica’s doorstep, but on the way home we stopped for a night in Dover. Our ferry time going was 13:50 so we left at 6:30 am to arrive on time. Our ferry time coming back was 13:25, giving us plenty of time that morning to explore the Dover Castle, which was just above our hotel…literally.
*Hotel – On both of our trips to England we stayed a night at the Premier Inn Dover Central (Eastern Ferry Terminal). This allowed us to visit the Dover Castle twice, seeing different things each time.
*Gas – Driving from Germany to England is expensive. We stopped for gas at the last Esso station in Germany, in a town called Aachen, filling up with US prices. Then we filled up in St. Neots, Jessica’s town. As I mentioned above, that cost us $185. The girls took a trip to Cadbury World (four hour round trip) and it cost £95, or $153.