March 16th: Calais, France

I had wanted to take a day trip to Paris (there was a weekend day trip train rate of $100), but I waited too long and that fare was sold out. I decided I’d still go to France – I’d go to Calais on a ferry. There were multiple trains to Dover; I took a 10:30 one. I arrived in Dover around noon and rode the ferry (P&O Stena) shuttle to the port. Once there, the ticket agent checked my ticket and passport, then issued me a boarding pass. I boarded another bus to take me to the ship, where I just made the 1:00 sailing. It was an uneventful hour and a half trip.

Once there, there was again a bus to the entrance, and a different one into town. It was almost 4 by the time I arrived in Place d’Armes, the town square. I wandered around the town and visited the church of Notre Dame before heading out towards the shore. I was getting hungry, and I went into Le Sybilien, one of a handful of restaurants that face the water north of town. It was my first experience trying to communicate where English wasn’t dominant (I bought a phrase book the day before), and I wasn’t perfect, but I got what I wanted. I ordered from the fixed price menu, and had snails, lamb chops and a tart. The snails were served in a herb/oil mix that was still boiling when it arrived. Of course I burned my tongue on it, but the entire meal was excellent. Dinner took nearly two hours, and I was running out of time. I stopped at a cheese shop, La Maison du Fromage et des Vins, and picked a yellow one at random. I took the two buses back and got on the ship.

When I arrived in Dover, they had a customs station, and that was the only stamp my passport got that day. I got to the train station about 20 minutes before the last train. It was after midnight by the time I got to London. I checked my email, then tried to take a bus to the hostel. I say tried, because I was so tired I got on the wrong one. I realized my mistake, took one going the other way, and then caught the right one.

[Originally published at GoHither.Net]