Leaving Vienna on a very empty coach at about 8.30pm in the evening, we drove back into the Czech Republic through a fairyland border town clearly set up to entice Austrian tourists out of their traditional (and by all accounts quite religious) country…………..it was a bit like Las Vegas meets Patpong Road! Molly loved the “themed” restaurants, hotels and night clubs – dinosaurs, pirates and weird animals bigger than houses lined the car parks making it seem very child friendly. I suspect that is misleading and that in fact the main attractions to this town were girls, poles (the kind you dance around) and casinos.
So after a stop at a Czech roadhouse, we slept quite nicely through to a 6am stop in Berlin. 1 hour later we were on a different bus to Hamburg and arrived there in time to get an afternoon train to Rotterdam, as long as we made our 2 connections!
So when our first train took an extra 35 minutes to cover it’s 2 hour route, we missed connection number 1, meaning we would actually have to wait 2 hours for the next train. Suddenly we were not going to have time to get to the ferry port, almost an hour out of Rotterdam. After some quick research in what was perhaps the seediest railway station bar I have ever been in (it is never right to be facing out of a cubicle, pants downs with jerky motions whilst the door is open!!>???!), I wanted to get tickets to Lille in France and hoped that this would give us the best chance of crossing to England by early the next morning.
“No problem, no need to change tickets, you have plenty of time in Rotterdam” Herr Meyer, Germany’s foremost authority on Dutch transport hubs assured me. “Der Ferry Port is not far, plenty of time for boarding ferry”. Strange that he knew all of this but had no explanation for why his trains were running so late…….
OK, let’s see how we go – at least we had someone to blame if we ended up stranded at the Rotterdam docks at 9 o’clock on a Friday night.
So the next two trains were bearable – we had finally worked out how to reserve seats. Although this was impossible for the last connection and we sat at the end of a carriage on fold down seats, watching the endless parade of excited adolescence explore the train at the start of their school holidays.
Hey, before you knew it, we were in Holland…………oops, I mean we were in the land of the Dutch…………..oh, yeah, that’s right, we were in the Netherlands. Rotterdam to be more accurate but hey, any “dam” dutch place would do!!
Um, all locals say ferry is impossible….OK, let’s stay the night…..unless I can manage a ride on an overnight bus to London – then we save on accommodation and get to somewhere close to where we need to be.
Ring Eurolines, after all, they sorted our last great bus journey……nothing at all to complain about so bus wise this should be easy. They have a Rotterdam to London schedule and to be honest, I was thinking us to be the most worthy passengers any Dutchman could find. But it was not going to be that easy.
Office – closed.
Telephone booking office – closed.
On-site booking with bus driver – NOT possible.
You want a ticket in the Netherlands – “You MUST come to Amsterdam”!
OK, can’t do that so looks like a night in Rotterdam – but maybe a walk past the Eurolines bus stop might be worth while………………..mmmmmmm, not looking good.
“Um, mister ginger haired, tattooed man, can you assist us?”
“Eyeaearh, buot it weeill kost ya” said our new Scottish friend……….
We asked how much and the answer was in riddles……”thearts a good figure, boout, wat currency??”
Australian dollars does not work in this situation – 9 at night, bad town, long way from home, daughter in tow………daughter……..”oohw, yee have a wee bairn wiff ya, thas different………150, I shan’t stuff ya around!!”
Mixed blessin’ me thought as we raced away from the Calais docks 6 hours later, my new Scots friend demonstrating all of the speed and none of the skills of his F1 countryman Alex Coulthard.
Not that a bad trip will ruin your arrival at Victoria station, London. The station, its inhabitants and its lack of amenities will do that for you. Sleeping bags, newspapers, hyper party goers and duffle bags all serve as a good advertisement for London in the lead up to the Olympics!!??!
Let’s get a car, a road map and some Marks & Spencers salads and tell our story driving………………………