Fast, then Slow, then Fast.
The audience is full and lively,
the room is upstairs from the famous Cavern. Each floor has walls covered in art. There is a different energy in Liverpool, a proud musical legacy. The concert over, an early day lays ahead. We must make the Dover Ferry by six, it’s all the way across the country.
Right Side Driving, Left Side Road
We drive out Penny Lane and take a right. After some wandering, we leave Liverpool and begin our drive across England.
A Fine Country Road.
No worries, off we go. Once on the Motorway, the electronic signs begin warning of trouble up ahead. The countryside is beautiful, especially when you get off the Motorway. We leave the Motorway and take a fine English country road. As it turns out, it is a good idea. A major backup had delayed traffic for miles, we get off just in time.
The White Cliffs of Dover.
A smooth trip around London’s busy roads, we head toward Dover. Nowadays most people continue on to the “Chunnel” under the English Channel. We decide to go old school. You see pictures of these famous cliffs, but in person, they are much more. We are taking the P&O Ferry – Dover, England to Calais, France. It’s the shortest water route and we want to arrive in daylight. Walk on, walk off traffic is low. Today Ferries mostly deal with loaded trucks and buses. This trip across there are only four pedestrians.
The trip across the English Channel is smooth and sunny. It also gives pause as the French Coast rises. I think about June 6th, one million soldiers, and the price we continue to pay.
is a beautiful port city. There is a lack of massive skyscrapers, just a timeless small town next to a large port.
Only four pedestrian passengers, so no taxi’s. We walk into Calais to our hotel, pulling suitcases and carrying instruments. It’s about a mile away from the docks. Hot and tired we are all checked in, let’s get some dinner.
Our first meal in France was at Au Coq D’or, we walk to the town square. Many choices, when in doubt, I suggest the restaurant with the largest crowd. A local place with excellent food.
How’s your French?
When you are told, “It’s Ok, everyone in Europe speaks English.” Well, that’s a lie. In the larger cities, in tourist places, some people speak English. In Calais, only the hotel proprietor spoke some English. The restaurant is great. The food is delicious and the atmosphere local. Being Americans in the UK is one thing, Europe is very different.
Excuse Me, Se Vous Plait?
Here in France you really start to feel conscious about differences in language and culture. Maybe it’s because you don’t speak the language and are constantly looking and observing. Each interaction observed is a piece of a story someone else is experiencing. Each time I interact with someone, I am interrupting their experience. My interaction will primarily be a request for help. The basic foreign language skills I have are not even close to what I need. I keep hearing Blanche DuBois,
I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
Looks like I am going to need a lot of help.
Train, Train, TGV
We head out the next morning to catch the TGV, France’s high speed train Calais to Paris. Trains in Europe are, for the most part, quiet and efficient transportation. Sometimes they are the best way to go. It all depends. We are industrious and confident. Loaded with instruments and luggage, we head to Paris.