>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
(>Pictures at the bottom!)
…via England back to Switzerland
As soon as we left Seyđisfjöđur/Iceland and the bay of the same name, the captain announced a somewhat rough sea for the crossing to Denmark. What was probably more of a light breeze for the sailors, we felt more like a storm and we soon feared great seasickness with all its side effects.
After the first evening on the ship and the starry night, there was hardly anything to see on the second day; rain, fog and a cold wind greatly shortened our stays on deck. On the other hand, we enjoyed the quiet ambience in the skylounge and reminisced about the past time with a fine glass of wine, or was it beers; the rocking movements of the ship, however, could not be compared to those of the jeep in the highlands 😉
For us, the main thing was to continue our journey to England. We really wanted to take our son, who has been living on the island for 4 years, in our arms again. Due to the worldwide pandemic, he could neither leave the country nor could family members join him in England. Anyway, we were full of confidence that we were finally allowed to drive on the left side of the road again.
While we were planning our onward journey, our ferry chugged across the Atlantic and North Sea towards Hirtshals. After three days, the mini-cruise was over and we were glad to finally have solid ground under our feet again. The swell on the first two days put us under a lot of strain.
Towards the end of the crossing, the sun was smiling on us most of the time, while on the mainland the clouds were getting thicker and thicker. Regardless of these clouds, we headed as quickly as possible for Rotterdam, where we wanted to board the ship to England, and already the windscreen wiper was buzzing in continuous operation. After two days, Denmark and its rain was behind us and it was finally dry again on the Elbe. Immediately we lifted our foot slightly off the accelerator and enjoyed the vastness of East and soon West Friesland.
Now we had to definitely book the ferry crossing: It was to go from Rotterdam to Hull on the British east coast. But oh, what a shock; the first surprise and the first uncertainties arose during the booking process. In order to travel to England, we had to register electronically with British immigration, something we already knew from last year’s visit. What was new, however, was a simultaneous booking and payment of a Covid test, which even vaccinated people have to take. Without such a booking, the registration could not be completed. For us it was almost an act of many question marks and the cancellation with our son in England became more and more likely; it was exasperating.
Despite the doubts about our abilities, we still managed to make the appropriate bookings and registrations, so that we too immediately received the desired barcode from England, which in turn enabled us to obtain the boarding pass. And what was possible a year ago with the identity card, was no longer possible this time: without a passport, one is denied entry into the Kingdom.
We deliberately booked a crossing during the night so as not to have to look for accommodation in a new country straight away, and the offer at the late hour was correspondingly favourable. It was also the first time we had travelled with P&O and virtually with a cargo ferry. The courteous service surprised not only the truck drivers but also us. When we visited the duty free shop late in the evening, our eyes were immediately moist from the super favourable offers. The only downer was that the equipment was only handed out in the morning before we arrived in Hull.
Thanks to the pre-registration, the entry control in the port of Hull was a short formality. No sooner had we passed our passports through the counter than we received a friendly remark about our jeep and a brief question about our intentions here in England. The red passports were handed back to us and we were allowed to enter the UK, driving on the left of course. Again we had an entertaining discussion about what was right and what was wrong.
From Hull we followed the most direct route to Shrewsbury via back roads and paths and finally had to make an additional loop southwest of our destination. Again, our timing didn’t quite work out. We only noticed later at certain addresses that we had entered Wales completely unnoticed, and according to the regulations in force at the time, it would actually have been forbidden. But we found our way back to Shrewsbury and were finally able to experience a long-awaited reunion.
The next few days flew by far too quickly and for us it was again an England that you can only experience with “locals”. To our surprise, we had a raclette and raclette cheese imported from the Alpine country especially for the occasion. The pleasure was almost indescribable and brought back various memories, but also that the year was coming to an end and we were still far north in Europe.
After a few wonderful days, we set off on our way. Our way to winter quarters is still long and we already had many plans for our short pit stop in Switzerland. It was also planned that our son and his life partner would travel to Switzerland 2 weeks later. A family reunion was on the cards; the first in 4 years! So we headed almost directly towards the Channel coast, bypassing the agglomeration of London very generously on the western side.
The stench in Brighton took us by surprise and there were piles of rubbish everywhere in the streets. We first thought of the lack of lorry drivers for the refuse collection, but far from it; there was a strike here. Maybe the rubbish collectors want to take advantage of the situation and get a few pounds more in their pay packet. We don’t know! But with the prices for the “Channel Shuttle”, it was clear to us why they were fighting for more pay in Brighton; the half-hour trip under the English Channel would cost us a whole 150 pounds. The ferry from Dover to Calais was not even half that. And this is how a privately owned company is supposed to operate with empty shuttle trains?
Up to Boulonge-sur-Mer we followed the English Channel for a short time and then finally turned southwest. Actually, we wanted to follow the course of the Somme River, but we kept discovering other ways and roamed the Ardennes in our own way. So we found ourselves almost unnoticed in southern Belgium, where the many racing cyclists left no doubt that a lot revolves around these fast two-wheelers here. In any case, the training ground is ideal and the scenery is a dream.
Another surprise followed shortly after Bastogne; we were already thrilled by Belgium, which continued in Luxembourg. It was uphill and downhill, from one valley up to the next valley down, wonderful landscapes and small pretty villages. Long valleys along some rivers and at the top we experienced dreamlike views into the wide landscape; really dreamlike on two or four wheels. Even in this dreamlike landscape, the day was drawing to a close and we had to find a place to spend the night, but there were warning signs everywhere drawing attention to the hunting season.
Soon we were on the Moselle and on German soil. Through the Saar Palatinate mountains we reached the Rhine and further on we crossed Germany to the eastern side. South-east of Nuremberg there is an off-road outfitter who is supposed to be a specialist in car heaters in the German-speaking countries. After the many cold hours and nights in Iceland, we wanted to retrofit our camper with a heater and wanted to use the know-how of this business.
We noticed that we had arrived in Bavaria not only in the more disciplined behaviour of the local population, but also when we spent the night at any campsite; without a Covid certificate, the doors remain locked!
On the last kilometres to our interim destination, we still roamed the Bavarian foothills of the Alps, and the increasingly dense traffic soon announced our home country.
We are now curious to see how long we will last here; after the announced visit from England, we will soon be heading further south and without a permanent home, we will – one way or another – not have too thick seat leather.
>Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator