Nœux-les-Mines

24Jul11

Yesterday was exhausting, I suspect, at this early point, that this is developing as an ongoing theme.

Left London via rail, due to construction on the line, we then had to take a bus to Alton.  Picked-up the car, Jason saved the day by knowing how to drive stick and being able to adjust to driving on the wrong side.  We picked-up a tire and some odds and ends, like a TomTom in Alton, then made our way to Goodwood– we drove through a lot of narrow roads, without shoulders, surrounded with hedges, along with bicyclists, cars parked helter-skelter, and some aggressive drivers.   A small piece of metal fell out of a car, too.

At the Goodwood Motor Circuit, we connected with a large portion of the other Mongolian bound drivers, rolled some stickers on the car, met some guys from Dortmund, Germany (who appreciated Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company and handed us some actual Dortmunders from Dortmund), and drove a circuit around the race course.  Photos will follow.

Next it was to Dover via a three hour picturesque trip through Brighton, Hastings, and Rye.  The M20, the final road to Dover, was the closest thing we found to our standard American highway– it had shoulders and it lacked parked cars, small children on scooters, and everything else you would not expect on a highway.  Google/TomTom/Every Mapping Service I tried kept on sending us to a route via London which seemed like it would be unpleasant, so I’m grateful that the Stranges (who I met for a delightful dinner at a nearby Brazilian restaurant) and some of the other Mongol-bound cars took this route.   Jason seemed to have really acclamated to the cars coming at us from the wrong side and going the other way on roundabouts just in time for us to board the ferry and head to Calais.

across the channel from dover, uk to calais, france

We had heard it was not worth sticking around Calais, so we switched to the right side of the road and carried on, thinking there would be more places to stop in the very north of France in the summer on a Saturday evening.  Not so.  We also found ourselves on a toll road sans Euros.  After finding a rest stop, we acquired some Euros, met some folks looking for a camping site, and carried on until we found a city– a city with apparently a dozen closed hotels.  Finally we found a very pleasant hotel in Nœux-les-Mines and my disasterous French yielded numerous apologies and a room.

Fun fact of the day:  Fiat Pandas don’t always come with cigarrette lighters.  There is no electrical port in our car.  Everyone we talk to is shocked that this could be the case.  It really is.

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