Our wait at the bus terminal was more drawn out than expected, but finally our French driver with very limited English indicated we could board the bus to head back to London. Our first stop out of Paris was to pick up passengers at the International Airport – got to glimpse the Air France Concorde standing proudly on display. The runway appears to travel right over the main road so one moment you are heading along the road and next you have a large Airbus passing over you taxing in or out. The drive through to Calais took around hours – once we cleared customs we had to que to get on a ferry – that was an interesting process to be part of. There were literally hundreds of trucks lined up waiting their turn to board the next available ferry – looks to be 2-3 main ferry lines that span the Channel. We got underway on the 4.20pm sailing – crossing the channel we gained an hour back. Leaving Calais was pretty cool – there were ferries coming in and out – you could see a load of shipping activity out in the channel. The ferry crossing itself was around 90 mins from the time we were driven onto the boat till the time we disembarked in Dover. Darkness was creeping across the English coastline as we neared – but we were still able to see the White Cliffs of Dover up close – very cool.
The bus cleared the ferry around 5pm and we then had a trek of around 60 mins to hit the outskirts of London and then a slower 60 mins getting into the heart of London and back to the bus terminal. We made our way down to Victoria Station to get the underground and connected with the line out to Upton Park – around 15 stops later. We had a walk of around 10 mins up the road to a nice Guest House for the evening. Friday morning saw us up and our early to get out to the airport for check in. We had the whole crammed in tube ride experience again, but made our way out to the London City Airport – albeit too early for check in as it turns out – they only want you there 2 hours before check in. London City Airport is a busy little commuter airport – loads of smaller planes coming and going. The hop over to Dublin was straight forward – no cuppa and cookie which was disappointing (we were flying the Aer Lingus commuter line to then connect with main Aer Lingus service to Minneapolis). We arrived in Dublin to sunshine which was welcomed – we were anticipating some cold once we hit the US again. We had a 3-hour layover in Dublin – but also had a couple of security screens to clear – European Customs, and then US Entry Customs – Dublin is one of the few airports that does this – certainly made it easier at the other end in the US.
We left Dublin at 2.15pm and settled in for an 8-hour flight to Minneapolis – arriving in the US at 4.15pm – takes some adjustment to get your head around that. It was a good flight but certainly felt like 8 hours – sometimes flights seem to pass quicker. We arrived in Minneapolis to a balmy 4 degrees – not as bad as it could have been – there was snow on the ground but it wasn’t too bad. Minneapolis Airport is pretty big and the wait to the baggage area was good after sitting idle like we had but with bags collected we just had to wait for our hotel shuttle to arrive. Our European excursion had drawn to a close – but we’d had a really good couple of weeks – more than enough to wet the appetite to know we will / would like to come back to Europe – well London and the UK, some time in the not too distant future. But for now, we have a road trip planned to get back south to Romin – and the camper lifestyle again.