Day 103: November 2nd
We had a real early start this morning. We had to drive around two hours to Lille from Reims to catch our Eurostar to London which was at 11:30am. We also had to drop of our Hertz rental before that and check in for our train. No big deal…we left Reims at around 7:15 am and we’re driving into Lille at 9:45 am. We had plenty of time to drop off the car.
Only, as we’ve come to realise…whenever Bill and I are leaving a country…there is always a complication! ( read my China and Mongolia posts:))
Turns out this Hertz rental place was really hard to find. We had it on the map, but just couldn’t find it. Finally we saw a store front for the Hertz. When we pulled up, we realized that this was an old storefront and they weren’t here anymore. After an hour of futile driving around these narrow one way streets, we decided to go to the train station anyway and see if there was a Hertz counter there. That worked! There was….but we were told, that the car drop off was somewhere else.
So we decided that I would stay with the bags while Bill would drive to a car park next door( seemed real easy on the map) and drop the car off. Apart from this, we also needed to print out our Eurostar tickets based on the booking we had. I couldn’t do it while Bill was away as he had the iPad with him( for the map). So all I could do was wait for Bill to return.
Bill on the other hand was driving around the train station based on the directions given to him by the lady at the Hertz desk…and he still wasn’t able to find it. There weren’t any signs at all. Meanwhile, there were announcements being made that the check-in counter was going to be closed soon and I began to panic a little and make alternate plans in my head as I was sure we were now not going to make it.
Bill finally finds the car park… We just chances it and enters one right next to the one where we were parked earlier…and when we does, he sees a sign for Hertz…one that couldn’t be seen until you enter the car park!!! Would it be so terrible to have a sign up front?
He makes it back to me with 15 minutes to spare. Meanwhile, the Eurostar staff are all familiar with me as I’m the only one waiting to check-in. I ask them to print off our tickets as we aren’t really sure what was involved in that process and how long it could potentially take. Phew! We make it onto the platform with a few minutes to spare as our Eurostar from Brussels pulls in for a few minutes on its way to London. We made it!:)
The only thing we couldn’t do was refill the fuel tank. We had filled it up earlier in the morning on our way to Lille closer to Reims but it was only three quarters full when we dropped it off. We are going to get charged an exorbitant amount for that…but better that than buying brand new Eurostar tickets which I have to say were ridiculously expensive even though we purchased them a month ago.
Finally the adrenaline wore off…90 minutes later we pulled into London’s St.Pancras station. Happy to be back in a city where we know our way around and after three months…no language barriers!:)
We made our way to our cousin Raghav and his wife, Aditi’s place. My aunt and uncle were also visiting them so it was a happy reunion. Bill and I are happy to have come full circle. We started our journey in the UK three and a half months ago and the last time we were here, we were a bundle of nerves… Nervous about what was to come! We’ve been very lucky that there have been no big mishaps… No stolen passports, missed trains or flights and most importantly, neither of us has fallen sick. That is indeed an accomplishment.
We spent the rest of the afternoon eating some home cooked food and watching tennis! Perfect!
Later in the evening we all headed to a pub where a close friend joined us as well. It was a triumphant return to the UK!:)
Tomorrow, we head to Liverpool to spend time with more family before we finally fly back to the US.