The morning started off bright and early at 6 am after a less-than-perfect night’s sleep. Did I mention we weren’t staying in the “best” part of town…lots of parties and shouting at all hours.
Once awake, we quickly packed up and headed off on our bikes to the ferry. The day is quite gray but it is still dry outside. The passport control at the docks went smoothly and was timely. Our only hitch was that the on-line system with which I’d purchased our tickets, allowed me to purchase passage for multiple passengers but only allowed me to indicate a bicycle for the primary passenger. When we arrived this meant we had to purchase one additional bike pass at the last minute. It was good that it didn’t take long because we barely made it onto the boat before they’d shut the gate. Whew.
Parking bikes on a ferry apparently doesn’t happen every day. I am not sure the crew knew what to do with our bikes when we arrived. But we made it onboard. Next we headed upstairs for our breakfast. This reminds me of the ferry crossing I took as a child to travel to PEI.
“When we arrived in France ….”
I ask all our readers to stop here for a moment and consider all the obstacles in place that made the phrase above almost incomprehensible just a month ago. If there is ever hard evidence of my good friend Gerhard’s motto “Nichts ist Zufall” (nothing is random), consider this:
1) We had to each get results from 5 consecutive Covid PCR tests each within 24hrs after taking them. That’s 10 opportunities for “something” to go wrong.
2) All our flights, busses and trains and boats had to run on time.
3) In the 10 days since arriving in the UK, France had to lift its PCR test restrictions (there were no indications this was even in the cards).
4) France had to resist Germany’s call for tighter UK travel restrictions AND resist the urge to “retaliate” when the UK singled them out for tighter restrictions – almost unheard of.
5) We had to find bikes for sale after learning that the ferry would no longer accept foot traffic.
6). The one PCR test that got delayed ended up not mattering because France dropped their restrictions.
7) The one PCR test that got lost ended up not mattering because we took the chance for a 5day early release test.
8). I could go on ,…
But somehow we are in France.
Disembarking from the ferry was a real treat. We were directed to lead the way ahead of all the cars. I think the real goal was just get us out of the way. A pace-truck lead us out of the docking area. I think this must be because “Tourists smushed by cars leaving the Dover Ferry” probably makes for a bad headline.
Riding our bikes through the streets of Calais heading toward the center of town was an adventure. We found the Calais cathedral where we anticipated receiving our first stamp in France. But it did not open until 14:00 so we were not waiting around for that stamp. Next up we rode to the tourist office where we did receive a stamp in our pilgrim’s passport and they kindly took our bikes to donate to charity. You will all be shocked that our next stop was to purchase a chocolate pastry and a demi-baguette. The last chore was to find the local grocery to complete our lunch options.
Walking along the boardwalk in Calais was surreal but beautiful. Lots of open space, sandy beaches, a cool breeze, and togetherness. The coastline changed to cliffs fairly quickly with open fields and cows all around. Yes, I was actually glad to see cows and no sheep all day.
We left the shore for a brief trip up and inland as the Via Francigena climbed to the summit know as Le Blanch Nez (the white Nose). The sky alternated from blue to a misty white and the monument know as the Dover Patrol (commemorating the French and British patrols of WWI ) went in and out of view.
After peaking the “summit” and through the afternoon we passed relics of the Atlantic Wall – the German defensive system designed to make an allied landing difficult. To see the remains of these fortifications so intact was a chilling reminder of what a peaceful life I’ve lived.
The day ended as most days. The last kilometers into town always seem the longest. But we made it to our lodging in the touristy seaside village of Wissant (well worth a visit if you have the chance). We did the “shower and clothes washing thing” and walked about 10ft from our hotel for dinner.
And what a dinner it was. Of course being a seaside town we had to choose seafood and both dishes were tasty.
But the real star of the evening was dessert. Sorry England…France does desserts better – no offense.
We ended our evening with a quick stroll. There was a small carnival in town and we walked quickly through it and then had a romantic walk to the beach. It was a nice way to end the day.