Many a times I’ve been driving from England to Hamburg over the past 6 years. It’s always been a special trip and I enjoyed a lot spending this long time on the road by myself. It always gave me the opportunity to smoothly transition from my English life to my German life, get used to speaking German again or on the way back get back into my English mind set. I noticed how much that helped every time I flew over and got thrown into the other world within an hour or two. Most of those times I struggled more to switch straight back to the other language.
When I drove I always took the ferry, during my first year still from Harwich to Cuxhaven (the direct ferry to Hamburg unfortunately had been suspended quite a lot longer already), and then later from Harwich to Hoek van Holland.
I celebrated these trips, my me-time and every personal mile stone along the way, every bit that has become so familiar over the years.
Upon embarking on this trip for the last time, or at least for the last time under these circumstances, I got very sentimental and had some tears in my eyes but quickly got cheered up by some lovely tweets from my sensational followers, especially this one cheered me up much longer than the duration of the trip. (More about that in another post.) There had also been the advice to take pictures along the way, which I then did.
Since I moved to South East London I had to go via the Dartford Crossing, tunnel on my way north, bridge for going south. There’s usually a lot of traffic so one has enough time to enjoy the view, more so going south of course, but also going north looking at the QEII bridge.
Arriving at Harwich there is always a little stop to be made to get the last bits and pieces (mostly food) to bring back to family and friends. Every time I leave there to proceed to check in I think they should also bid those leaving fare well, not only welcome those arriving.
After check in there’s waiting for boarding and this time this rather boring hour or so got sweetened by a spectacular sunset with amazing colouring listening to BBC5’s coverage of the world cup match Netherlands-Paraguay. Luckily the nice chap in the car behind me told me where to find BBC5 (909 AM frequency – I never used AM before. Funnily enough I still got the station in the Netherlands the next morning on that frequency for quite some time) and listening to the extremely comedic commentary we exchanged the odd glance smiling with amusement. Needless to say that with a Dutch ferry company and many Dutch cars around it was impossible to miss any Dutch goal. And I am still convinced that the sudden delay in boarding was due to the extended injury time.
This1 also brought a smile to my face – own up! Who did organise that for me? 😉
After a short night on the brand new ferry and some morning coffee with a view of Hoek van Holland I am off driving through the very flat Netherlands. Green houses underneath a cloudy sky and the familiar motorway lined with trees for miles pass by and I realise my loveable green tank2 is approaching a special mark himself (yes, this car is not an it!). At a quick stop on a lay-by and a few hundred metres further I am remembering how it has accompanied all of our family safely and reliably for many years on so many long trips.
Very shortly after that the mathematician in me came through and I just had to take this. You might not see it the same way but I see beauty in these numbers.
Already familiar from previous trips I pass through road works and like the Dutch way of encouraging drivers to take it easy. Every kilometre there’s a sign with a smiley, each time looking happier and indicating how long to go.
A few hours, and a quick stop over at a friend’s a long the way, later the first sign of home appears, shortly followed by the definite sign: I am on home turf! A few more bends to drive and I can see the harbour, not the prettiest, but a true home feeling for me, just like driving through the Elbtunnel.
I have arrived, physically at least.
1 For those not familiar with my home town – the river Elbe goes through it.
2 I feel as safe as in a tank in our thirteen-year-old Volvo estate.