The Final Countdown: Europe, North America travel blog

Monday 1st October

Day 16 Paris – London – Cardiff

The 6am wake up came far too soon for some, but we had to pack, have breakfast, and be ready to leave on the bus by 8am. Liam comes over to Tony to apologise, and when asked if he knows why has to admit he doesn’t. Tony gets the camera out and shows him, he is highly embarrassed especially when shown the ones of him groping his own Father.

It doesn’t take long to get to Gare du Nord train station, we are there by 8.40 and then had to wait on the bus until a porter arrived to take our luggage, a good 20 minutes later. While we are waiting there is a cry of horror from those in the front of the bus. Someone unloading a car transporter was knocked down as a car came down the ramp. Barbara goes out to see if help is needed, and reports back that all is ok.

Check in is quick, and then we have immigration to the UK to tackle. We are questioned why we are only staying four weeks, which seemed strange to us, to be questioned, that is. Cynthea explained we had a five year visa, but we had been away nearly 20 months, and she was wanting to get home to hug her children. The attitude of the immigration official changed immediately, she said she couldn’t bear to be away from her kids for more than a few weeks. She stamped our passports and wished us safe journey. We then had a 90 minute wait for boarding, and departed just after 11am.

The 2 ½ hour journey passed quickly. Clocks went back an hour and we arrived in London by 12.30. We took our time heading away from the station as there was plenty of time before the bus left. We had to caught the tube to Victoria, and then it was 15 minutes walk to the coach station.

The bus to Cardiff left around 3.30pm, arriving just after 7pm. We walked around to NosDa, it was good to see familiar faces, and there was a welcome note up on the board for us in reception. Steve, a kiwi from Auckland working at NosDa, changed our room for us because the kiwi in our room snored like a train, LOL. We got an upgrade to a four bed dorm, and if we are lucky there will be no one else in the room. We did have a two others book into the room later, but at least we got the pick of the beds! Clare arrives for her night shift, it was good to catch up with her again.

Later Tony was ordering a drink at the bar when a voice asks what he is doing there. Tony looked around to see another Kiwi that he had first met in Edinburgh, and then later at a hostel in Glasgow, three times! He had stayed in the same room as Tony on one visit there, and was later on staff at the same hostel, now he was working here in Cardiff. Steve is surprised that we know each other, and then admits that this is the guy that was going to be in our room, the one that snored like a train. Tony says they have slept together before and snoring wasn’t a problem…

Tuesday 2nd October

We had planned to go to Devon on Wednesday, and then to Penzance to thrown Cristan’s ashes off the pier at the weekend. However we had a call from Malcolm in London saying he had to work and couldn’t get the time off. We are devastated, especially as we had come back to the UK especially for this. When the date was set Cynthea had also asked Malcolm if he was sure he could get time off (there was a big fundraiser at the pub), and she was assured it was all ok., so it felt like a double blow. We are pleased that we had not booked accommodation yet.

We had also planned to go to Berlin and see Pol the following week, so had to cancel that too. We decided to carry on with the plan to take a rental car on Wednesday, and go to West Kidland Farm, and then head elsewhere. We will figure out how to get to Penzance next weekend later.

The weather is a bit rubbish, so we don’t go out until after lunch. We head down to Avis to organise a rental, the price keeps chopping and changing for some reason. Not sure why, but the best deal we could get was for a wee Fiat 500, £162 for four days. We booked it quickly, before the price changed again.

We needed to change our bank account over to one with no fees, but it is nearly 5pm when we get to the bank. Fortunately they don’t close until 6pm. It is a bit of a rigmarole to get it all sorted, apparently the guy we talked to in Banbury didn’t know what he was talking about, and the account he told us about was not available. We could continue with our account as it was, and pay £13 a month in fees. We are told this is a good deal, we get free roadside assistance (err, what part of no car, and we are leaving the UK didn’t he understand?), free travel insurance (didn’t we just say we were heading back to NZ), and free life insurance (already got some). Tony had to bite his tongue somewhat and struggled not to be sarcastic, doesn’t appear the guy listened to us when we explained why we wanted the account changed. The other option involved us promising to pay £1500 into the account each month as a minimum deposit. What is it about some people! We ask what will happen if we don’t make the minimum deposit, and we are told we will be written to after a year, and the account might be closed, or changed to something else. All seems to be a lot of nonsense, and we go with the second option. At least we will have an account for the next year, and we will see what happens after that.

We felt a bit shattered by the time we left the bank, and decided we could not be bothered cooking tonight. We found a pub advertising two meals for £10, so that was tea sorted.

Tony had wanted to visit the Eden Project when he was in Devon last year, but it was difficult to get there and back in a day from the farm. A bit of searching on the web found discount tickets for £28.50, saving around 40% buying through website (some good bargains there for anyone in the UK, Europe or USA).

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