Dover UK 2009 BellaOnline Gathering
I had trouble falling asleep so I went on and off the computer catching up on email and such, my stomach rumbling, until 7am. Finally - breakfast!! I went downstairs and they were laying out the buffet. There was nobody at the "wait here to be greeted" sign so after a while I just went and made a plate. Scrambled eggs, sausage, mushrooms. Some orange juice and hot water for tea. The hot water was HOT - I burnt my tongue. When I was done I went to the front desk and it turns out I was supposed to get a voucher from them. They were supposed to have given it to me last night. He gave me one, I went back and gave it to the now present waitress and headed back to my room.
Tuesday - Driving to Reims
I took an hour nap and then began to pack up. Check out was quick - just turn in my key and that was it, no receipt or anything. Then I went out front to wait for Peter and Joan.
At 10am they arrived, and we were off! We drove down around towards the chunnel, stopping to get gas along the way. We made great time and when we got to the Chunnel entrance they asked if we wanted to get on an earlier train. Yes! So we went in to the big mall complex at the entrance where people wait for their "train letter" (in our case H) to be called. We had barely bought coffee (for them) juice (for me) and sandwiches when they started to announce H on the intercom. We got back in our car with the food items and headed in line. Peter was very impressed at how small the line was, Soon we were driving the car onto the train car.
Once there we turned off the car and pulled out our items. We had a little picnic in the train car as, full of cars, it began to pull out and we ate our food. There was even a sign in the car about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Dover flight, very neat! In only 30 minutes we were across to the other side. Joan and Peter switched so now Peter was driving, and now suddenly we were on the right side of the road, in France.
Now a lovely drive through the French countryside, in an English car with the steering on the right, driving down the right hand lanes. A little tricky but Peter handled it nicely. We stopped at a highway rest stop with really primitive "squat over a hole" toilets. Quite exciting! We passed a huge windmill farm with windmills that were very skinny vaned, they looked almost ominous stretched out over the landscape.
A short few hours later (including the +1 hour time change for crossing into France) we were arriving in Reims! A lovely city with some cobblestone streets. We pulled into our Holiday Inn and got our rooms. I set up my laptop and began downloading and catching up. I got on Skype with Bob and talked with him for a while, and Peter came and talked too. The electrical plugs here are different than in England. It is still 240 volt like England - so more powerful than the US plugs - but these have two holes rather than three rectangles. There's only one plug in the entire room. I should ahve brought a power supply!
Then it was about 6:30 and we headed out towards the cathedral. There are COOL signs on the street that tell you were parking locations are and how many open spaces are in each one! I've never seen something like that.
The gorgeous Cathedral at Reims is where the French kings were all coronated, and where Joan of Arc was instrumental in one case. It was amazing. The world outside was very sunny and hot - but stepping into the multi-story high cathedral was literally cool air, silence, darkness and beauty. It was amazing what stained glass and sculptures were inside. One set of 3 stained glass windows was all about Champagne, how wine is made and how it is holy. One stained glass set was in a modern style, like a watercolor. There was a whole area dedicated to Joan of Arc.
I took many photos and wished my camera would NOT make noises when I used the shutter. After a long while we were done looking around here and headed over to the tourist office.
The tourist office had closed at 7pm, ah well. We saw where they're putting in new trams to help out with people moving. We decided to head down to the main restaurant boulevard - pedestrians only - for dinner. There were many types of restaurants, all with menus posted at the street, many with multiple languages posted.
After walking up and down the wide street Joan chose a "beef and salad" location which, like most of the others, had lots of on-street seating. Everyone was sitting in the lovely sunshine, enjoying the breezes. Unfortunately my camera died now!! I had to convert over to my cell phone camera which I can't load up until I get home.
We ordered a bottle of Champagne, and then I ordered beef burgundy (try to get something authentic and low carb) with green beans. Peter ordered steak, Joan ordered salad Norwegian style. Peter also ordered us some water with "gas" and they brought us an Italian one, not a French water :)
We finished the Champagne and had a red wine. Dessert - "delice" chocolate cake with ice cream for me, with a side of hot chocolate sauce. Joan had cappuccino ice cream.
Finally we were full. I tried to pay with my USair card and although it was empty it was denied. Darn USAir! I tried a second card and it went through. They have hand-held devices that they run the card through at the table. The tip was already included on the bill. I left 2 origami cranes and we headed out.
At the hotel we went to the small bar and Peter and I got final glasses of Champagne. The server poured out some from a bottle of their "Champagne of the Month", saw it was flat and emptied the bottle into the sink. She got a fresh bottle for us. It was lovely. Eventually we headed back to our room.
I found my laptop had timed out of Boingo which is what they use here to connect (at $60/month, my alternative was $20/day and we're here 3 nights / 4 days). I'll have to try CNN later to see if having a CNN page up helps it stay connected. I'll leave FTP open too.
I connected with Bob again and talked for over an hour to figure out my origami orders, my beeping camera and so on. He called in to USAir and sure enough they had put a hold on my card for the "strange purchase" which he got released. He was an awesome help, my camera no longer beeps. I only have one outlet in the room so it's charging the camera battery back up, and I offloaded all the photos to post for today. My laptop is now unplugged and draining. I am hoping the camera charges fully soon so I can plug the laptop back in and keep mail flowing in. In any case it's now 12:10am and we wanted to meet at 8:30am for breakfast, so I have to head to bed! Enjoy the photos!
12:38am - camera is done charging, so under 2 hours. Plugging the laptop back in so it stays alive and hopefully keeps downloading email.
Tuesday Photos 2
Tuesday Photos 3
Dover UK / Champagne FR Trip
Lisa's 2009 Travelogues Main Page
Lisa's Travelogues Main Page