Salut, Calais!

Our mum & daughter road trip had finally come to an end. It was a whirlwind ten days holiday which was filled with lots of laughter, meaningful conversations and a few unexpected events. I was very sad because the holiday with my precious mum was over but also I was relieved because I managed to finish the 3756km drive without any incident and to deliver mum home safely.

After leaving Cité Europe, we followed Google’s instructions for Eurotunnel Terminal.

Wind mills were hard at work at Calais…

My word of advice for anyone who is considering using Google Map in order to find the right terminal for cars and coaches is, DON’T USE GOOGLE MAP unless you want to end up at a terminal for freights!

Until we found ourselves at the check-in gates for lorries, I had 100% confidence in Google Map. However, the glitch let us down at the very end. Shame on you, Google!

After a few frantic three-points turns and whizzing around countless roundabouts, we managed to find the right terminal without using satnav and parked the car at their car park.

‘Phew, that was a bit hairy!’, we agreed as we alighted from the car…

We looked around a shop and used a bathroom before joining a queue for the immigration.

The queue through UK Border Force point was long and slow …

Same as the cross-channel ferry journeys, an interview by the immigration officer took place while we were in our car. Even though, the interview was friendly and courteous, it was much more thorough , therefore, it took a lot longer than I expected. Since the UK terror threat level was still critical, it was understandable that the border force wanted to scrutinise every single person entering the UK properly.

Finally, we were boarding…

Salut, Calais…

A journey to Folkestone was smooth and eventless.

When we arrived to the UK, the sun was already set…

So this was the way our road trip ended. I never thought that writing a chronicle of the holiday would take this long! Anyway, that’s a wrap! Thank you for your patience and I hope our adventure was entertaining and inspiring somehow. We are already plotting another mum & daughter road trip 2018 which will take us all the way to the south of France and back. I can hardly wait…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Rotten Apple (Maps)

It was supposed to take only 40 munites. Instead we spent more than four hours on the road to reach Rothenburg ob der Tauber, thanks to stupid and useless Apple Maps! I wish if I could send them an invoice for the extra fuel I had to spend and clain conpensation for the unecessary, anxiety-ridden and unpleasant time mum and I had to endure.

Up until then, the app was working impeccably, directing us to the addresses in Reims, Strasbourg and Würzburg without any hitch. However this time, it made a monumental error. When I asked a route to Rothenburg, the app led us to Frankfurt Airport and beyond instead!

You may say that I should have consulted a map properly and grasped geographical bearings instead of setting off in an unfamiliar country with satnav alone. Yes, my shortcoming was obvious in hindsight but it was not at all obvious at the time.

When I consulted the app, it directed us to a northbound A3. Even though mum and I found the instruction a bit odd because the town we meant to go was in the south, we convinced ourselves that using the autobahn was the fastest route. We carried on like this for another two hours. Then, we saw a jumbo jet flying over us and realised something was seriously wrong. We were fast approaching Frankfurt Airport. Why are we here? Why are we in Frankfurt?? Then, it dawned on me, ‘Are we a victim of the notorious Apple Maps’ error?’

At first, I was in the state of disbelief, and then I became very very angry. Because of some idiot in Apple programmed a wrong coordinate while creating Apple Maps, not only I wasted my time and effort but also was abandoned in a Frankfurt suburb!

‘Mum, we have to U-turn and head back to Würzburg!’ I instructed mum to retrieve a paper map from the rear seat as I made a three point turn. We were definitely not in the mood to trust any satnav, Apple or Google.

We managed to find signs for the autobahn fairly soon and we were on our way back to where we started. However, a return journey to Würzburg, using A3, was far from smooth.

‘Gee, why is the traffic so slow?’ The traffic was very heavy on A3. The three lanes motorway was reduced to two lanes with a 80kph (50mph) speed restriction. But the average speed of the traffic was less than 40kph. Ugh! We’ve got to get back to Würzburg on the double!!

Then, another concern surfaced. Petrol!

We had already driven extra 105km (65miles) so far, therefore, the amount of fuel left in the tank was not enough before reaching Rothemburg. Early on, we saw a broken-down car being pulled into the lay-by with a girl shouting into her mobile phone. Oh god, we can’t share the same fate on this Autobahn, mum and I both shuddered. Could I arrange a recovery or a repair over the phone in the middle of traffic jam in Germany on Sunday? The prospect was too scary to contemplate.

Eventually, a sign for the service station came up and we had a sigh of relief. ‘Let’s fill up the tank and also buy some bottled water.’ We also used their loo and came back to our car. Then, another problem surfaced. We found the traffic on A3 almost standstill!

It took us ages to rejoin the autobahn from the slip road as the queue on the road was solid. The pace of the traffic was crawling and it carried on like this for a good hour. Then, two lanes was reduced to one lane! Why? Any accident ahead?

Yes, there was. A cab of the HGV was about to be transferred onto a recovery vehicle when we drove by. The front of the cab was completely caved in like being punch by a fist of a giant! We guessed that the lorry must have rammed into the back of another lorry. The way the window was smashed, the driver must have got hurt badly too.

After passing through the restricted area of the autobahn, the traffic gradually gained its normal pace, and we arrived at our starting point, Würzburg, around 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

By the way, mum proved to be a very able navigator through this unplanned detour. She read the map and directed me towards Rothenburg. How reassured I felt by it, glancing at her chubby finger time to time, tracing the Michelin route map on her lap!

I turned on Apple Maps again to see if it behaved any better when we reached to a fringe of Rothenburg.

The stupid app still asking me to go back to Frankfurt!

I lost faith in Apple Maps completely. I will never use it as long as I live, I swore.

Then, I turned on Google Map and it took us to our hotel in Rothenburg in no time. Oh how I wished if I used Google in the first place! We didn’t have to spend 4 hours on a bloody autobahn!!! And I had no idea how I managed if I didn’t have mum helping me…

You, damn, stupid, useless, Apple Maps! I hate you FOREVER!!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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