Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Day Trip, Aussie style!

With a Bank holiday weekend looming, a visitor from Australia, great weather forecast and one free day with nothing planned, we jumped online, booked a day return ticket on the Eurotunnel and planned our day trip to Europe! Our English friends could not believe that we would drive to Europe and back in one day, but we are Australian, used to travelling long distances. I could not drive to another State of Australia in the time it would take to drive through England, France and to Belgium. I have driven for two hours to go to a supermarket for groceries in WA, so the thought of visiting three countries in one day was exciting. We were up at the crack of dawn, piled into the car and headed down to Folkstone. Was lovely seeing all the new Spring growth on the drive down!


The Eurotunnel was very easy and efficient. Loved seeing The White Horse on the hillside on the way to the train. The horse was constructed in 2003 by local artist Charles Newington, inspired by the White Horse in Uffington and a team of volunteers. It was paid for privately, gifted to the people of Folkestone and is there for all the users of the Eurotunnel to enjoy too!


We were happy to discover that our train was named after Aussie Icon, Dame Joan Sutherland, one of the world's greatest opera singers! Happy too, that we cleared French Customs on the UK side so we could just drive off on the French side!


After a quick thirty minutes in the tunnel, we arrived in France and hit the highway.


 After another thirty minutes, we were in Belgium! We headed to the beautiful city of Bruges, the historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Such a beautiful city with amazing architecture, peaceful canals and delightful cobble stoned streets. We had a lovely time meandering through the streets and taking it all in on a glorious Spring day.




Of course we had to stop for some Belgian mussels while out exploring. Apologies for the terrible photo, but I had to contend with four fellow adventures who were starving and wouldn't wait...and I didn't want to miss out either.... I can say the mussels were good...very good!


We had another look at the beautiful city and incredible fairytale style buildings before we headed back to France. I have a feeling we might head back to Bruge for a longer visit, it's a place that begs you to explore more, discover the history and soak up the ambiance. Plus, my husband and I both had to drive...and we didn't have any Belgian beer....or Belgian chocolate....


We cruised back, through picturesque countryside and arrived in Calais. We found a lovely Spring garden in the middle of Calais, full of colour and delicious Spring smells.


Town Hall

The Calais Town hall is a stunning brick and stone building, construction started in 1911 but was interrupted by World War 1. It was completed in 1925. It was built to commemorate the merging of the cities of Calais and Saint Pierre in 1885. The ornate clock tower and belfry stands 74 meters high and can be seen for miles around.

Six Burghers Monument

In front of the Calais Town Hall is The Six Burghers Monument, sculpted by Rodin in 1895. Calais was under siege by the English in 1347. England's King Edward the Third offered to spare the people of Calais, if six of it's leaders would surrender themselves to him. The six volunteers took themselves to the city gates, dignified, defeated and heroic, expecting to be executed. This moment is what is captured in the monument. Their lives were spared when England's Queen, Philippa of Hainault convinced her husband that their deaths would be a bad omen to their unborn child.

We were expecting to do some shopping and have a meal before heading to the tunnel and back to the UK. Sunday trading hours in France had other ideas...nothing was open on our sunny Sunday afternoon. We checked in at the Eurotunnel, was offered an earlier departure at no extra cost and headed back to the UK. We had a delicious meal at an English country pub on the way home. Our adventure covered eighteen hours, three countries, about 400 miles and lots of history...would we do it betcha!

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