This blog has been a little on the quiet side in June. We were on a road trip back to the UK, with Lotta of course. It’s great that we’re able to take Lotta with us, she isn’t very happy staying with other people, given her first experiences in life. She tends to become very stressed, although travelling is also not without stress. The arduous journey from Germany to France is relentless but with a few stops on the way it becomes less tiring, giving everyone a chance to stretch their legs and of course go to the loo. Due to Lotta’s box in the back we have very little space in the boot for our things. Packing has become a very fine art. We’ve tried having Lotta on the back seat with the boys which gives her a break from her box but she isn’t as relaxed there as she is in her box, where she obviously feels safe.
Our journey to the UK is only possible with the right sized car, we have a VW Touran which is ideal for families and long journeys. My husband has a company car which is leased for three years, after which we have to decide on a new car. Well that time has come again and after much consideration and many recommendations from various people we have decided to stay with a VW Touran but not diesel this time. It has the most room in the boot and suits our needs to the T. We’ve also decided to choose a model without the extra seating in the back (7 seater) as we hardly ever use them and I also have a car too, so on the odd occasions where we do need those extra seats we can just use two cars.
From our house we travel upwards towards Stuttgart which has had road works on that motorway for as long as I’ve lived in Germany (23 yrs) and probably longer, then across to Strasbourg onto the A4 to Reims where we stop for the night. We stay in the Aparthotel in a family room. They accept dogs which is great, with a charge of 10€ a night. The boys who are the size of grown men now have to sleep together on the sofa bed, not the best solution for them but it is only for one/two nights. The toll motorways in France are fantastic as there are plenty of places to stop for a break, the ones with the Sanef signs tend to be the better ones. With very little traffic on the motorways it is from there on plain sailing to our stop in Reims and then on to Calais (Eurotunnel).
Dogs have their own passports now with all their vaccinations documented. The pet border control is very strict and you have to comply to the rules otherwise you may have a problem actually getting into the UK. This means your dog must be microchipped, the Rabies vaccination has to be up to date (without any gaps) and also a tablet for Tapeworm should be given not less than 24hrs before travelling through the tunnel and not more than 120hrs. They have kept me waiting and sweating in anticipation on some occasions, because the vet had forgotten some minor detail like the time the tablet was given or using Tipex to correct the date on the Rabies vaccination. Getting to the Euro Tunnel is very easy from the toll motorway, you just follow the signs and if you have a pet to check in, then you follow the signs to the Pet Reception, it’s as easy as that. Once at the reception you’ll be asked to show the pet’s passport and to scan your own dog. Scanning your own dog is less stressful for them and is really easy to do. Once they’ve checked the information you’ll be given a sticker to hang in your front windscreen to show that a pet is travelling with you. Exercising areas for your dog are clearly sign posted and England even has a separate one for bitches in season. These are fenced off areas so that you can let your dog off the lead for them to freely roam around.
Once we’ve passed passport control for everyone else, we’re designated a letter of the alphabet. On arrival you can also choose a boarding time to suit you. This time, on our departure from the UK, we hit traffic jams on the way to the tunnel and actually missed our boarding time (It took us 6hrs instead of 3hrs!!). This didn’t matter, they said we could just get on the next one without charge. This is definitely a bonus to other means of transport. From then on you can drive to the waiting area where there is a huge notice board with all the boarding times displayed. There is also a duty free shop and several places to eat and relax. We normally use this time to go to the loo and stretch our legs and give Lotta a little exercise. There are toilets on the train but the tunnel crossing is only 35min. and sometimes they’re out of order. Better to be safe than sorry!
Once the number you have been allocated shows that it’s boarding, you then proceed towards the UK signs and wait in queue with all the other passengers. In summer it can get very hot, as there isn’t any shade at all. When the lights turn green it’s all stations go, everyone drives in a line to the train where you board through an opening in the side of the train, either up the ramp or down on the bottom of the train. There are four cars assigned to each carriage. Then it’s handbrake on and all windows open half way and away you go. It’s recommended that you stay inside the car but people do get out. I thought I would feel very clostrophobic during the crossing but I was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case. One of the officials at some point comes along to scan the hanger you receive on arrival. When the train comes to a halt debarking is very swift, I’m always amazed at how quick it is. You are at this point kindly reminded to drive on the left.
We follow the signs to the motorway and stop at the first petrol station so that we can swap drivers, I do all the driving in England. My husband doesn’t like driving on the left and I don’t mind it, although it is a little difficult on the motorway changing lanes and coming off the slip road. I find there is a big blind spot to the right hand side of the car. I’m sure we can get an attachment for the wing mirror to solve this problem.
Apart from the length of time in the car, I don’t mind travelling to England via the tunnel, this was our third time. With the toll, hotel and tunnel charges it’s still cheaper than flying. I think the ferry is less expensive but the crossing takes longer and you can’t stay in the car.
We had a lovely time seeing friends and family. It gets harder to say goodbye each time we bid our farewells.
For more information about the Eurotunnel, please click on the link below:
Links to the equipment I used on this trip with Lotta: