European Mega Road Trip

Enough of the UK.  Time for a MEGA ROAD TRIP!  And we may just like the destination enough to stay there for good 🙂


 

I’ve done a bunch of research and have found its not just as easy as getting in your car and driving off into the sunset.  There are some unique rules that you have to get your head around, and there are about 50,000 ways of getting to where you are going.  Choose wisely!

Getting from England to France

There are several options – DFDS Seaways, which appears to be the cheapest (£45.50 best price) and P&O Ferries which looks nice but is more expensive (£70).  Both ferries take about 1:30hrs.  Couple that with the bizarre fact France are ONE HOUR AHEAD of the UK (take one look at the map and the first thing you think of is WTF?) you have effectively lost somewhere around 3hrs including loading/unloading your car.

So… the highest priced option is taking the Eurotunnel.  I’m being quoted around £89, but it only takes 30min and the loading/unloading looks a lot easier and quicker.

If you are doing what we are… you’ll choose the train too 🙂

Driving on the Continent

The French have some whacky little rules they appear to enforce with an angry little clenched French fist.  However we will be in their beautiful country so it would be poor form for us to not comply.

What you need in France is:

  • A reflective jacket, in case you need to get out of your car in an emergency situation
  • A breathalyzer… or not… or two.  Trying to work out this bit is a challenge.  They passed a law back in 2012 saying you need to carry one and if you didn’t you get fined 11 Euros, then it was temporarily postponed, then it was permanently repealed.  Now you it appears that you should carry TWO… just in case the one you have is broken or used, but if you get caught without one you wont get fined… (?)
  • Careful if you drive at night and your headlights are set for driving on the left – the French Police will ping you for dazzling oncoming drivers and you’ll get fined.
  • There are a bunch of other rules too like reflective triangles etc

What you don’t need in France:

  • Careful with your GPS – if it tells you where the speed cameras are you will get fined.  Switch off the POI function and save yourself the grief.
  • Careful with your paper based street directory too… if it tells you where the speed cameras are you will get fined just like you would if you had a GPS or speed detector.

Phase 2 – France to Italy

Its GPS (Sygic) vs Google Maps vs www.findthebestroute.com.  Find the best Route has some sort of algorithm to pick the best route… so they say.  Anyway the route they picked looked good enough.

I must say that Sygic gets you where you need to go quite well and for the most part I’m very happy with it, but it totally screwed up its calculation on this mega-route.  It just freaked out and told me to drive through the heart of Paris for example.  Yep, there is no hope in hell I’m doing that!

The route looks amazing however.

Phase 3 – Genoa to Palermo, Sicily

Well, I did size up the alternative… drive from Calais to Villa San Giovanni, but that was going to mean yours truly was going to have to drive a very long way, so when that alternative came up about £200 more expensive it got drop kicked out the window!

So, to get to Sicily the way to go is to get on a Ferry operated by Grandi Navi Veloci.  It takes around 21hrs.  I recommend booking via www.aferry.com, they are the cheapest I found.  After a mountain of research, I found that they have the reputation to have overpriced slop for food and service levels that would be poor in anyones language.  So its BYO food.

The ferry terminal (it has been said by forum contributors) is very hard to find.  I found that you can easily find it on Google Maps.  However, I will reserve my judgement until I get there, the entrance does look a little tricky.

 

For Part Two, stay tuned for a future post!  I’ll be posting photos once we get to our destination.

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