Day 1: Cirencester to Antwerp
My overland trip to Greece is now under way with the first leg – the first 300 miles – done.
I arrived in Antwerp during the night, taking advantage of the quieter roads to try and cover quite a bit of Belgium.
Driving to Dover on a Friday afternoon is always fun but despite the expectation that Friday afternoon traffic slows things down significantly, I did it in approx. 4 hours which isn’t bad for a Friday rush-hour.
I’d left a couple of bits at home so after leaving work I went home to retrieve them – and got on the road at 16:35.
I hadn’t anticipated getting stuck in the first traffic jam of the day before I had even got out of Cirencester. Then there was a broken down lorry on the A419 – this means I’d got stuck in 2 separate traffic jams before I’d done 5 miles. So far so good them.
Bracknell was as slow as expected. I chose not to stop in Bracknell this time and went straight through to the M3; I crawled round the slip road from the M3 on to the M25. I’m quite sure all that stopping and starting isn’t good for the clutch. Perhaps that’s why so many people brake down on the M25!?
After a short stop at Cobham services it was back on to the road – By this time it was after 19:00 and this leg of the journey sailed by. A clear run after getting back on the M25, I made it to Dover from Cobham in 1hr 30min.
Rolling in to Dover at 20:30 on a Friday night, I recall being a little worried that Brexit might make Dover a nightmare to drive through. In the end, we haven’t yet had Brexit, and therefore I hardly stopped for border control – I held my passport up and was waved straight through before I had any opportunity to give it to the border guards. Coming back in to the country, it won’t be so simple!
I arrived in Dover early enough to get an earlier ferry than the one I booked, which meant I was at Sea a whole hour earlier than planned.
I had a passenger for the first leg of my journey out of Calais! A hitch-hiker from Germany was hitch-hiking back to Germany from Brighton and, now that his previous lift was getting off the ferry and going in the wrong direction, was looking a new lift – he was looking for cars heading in the direction of Belgium. No problem I thought, someone to talk to while I drive so late at night!
I took him as far as Ghent, about an hour and a half from Calais. He was following the E40 road so I dropped him at a motorway service station about 5km before my junction which would see me leaving the E40 and turning left on to the E17 towards Antwerp.
I had a clear run all the way to Antwerp; It took me 2 and a half hours, slightly longer than I thought but that’s mainly because my hotel for the night was on the other side (the East) of Antwerp – so I travelled most of the way round the Antwerp Ring.
On the French roads the only cars on the roads were Brits, mostly ones from my ferry I think – and quite a few of those Polish vans. By the time I got to Belgium, I think the Brits had all gone to bed.
I had been trying to take a guess as to where I would see my first car on a Greek number plate during this holiday. I hadn’t really expected that moment to be at 01:30 in the morning in Belgium, before I had even done half a lap of the Antwerp Ring.
I arrived in Antwerp at 01:55 local time – checked in and went straight to bed.
I’m going to get some breakfast now, and then I will think about getting on the road and heading for Germany.
Today’s Mileage: 317.5