Sorry that it took us so long to write this entry, but we had quite a lot to do concerning exams and stuff...
Anyway, after some starting troubles we could leave Calais heading towards Charleroi. Since the offline navigation system couldn't do routes longer than 200km we had to guess the fastest way home. Well, we took large towns on the straight route as our daily aims.
First thing we noticed about French streets was their horrible state. Second thing was the missing fuel stations (there were about none) and third was that, finally, we could drive safely on the right side of the street! Great feeling!
We didn't stay too long in France since we drove straight towards Belgium. Did I say the state of the streets in France was horrible? Nothing compared to the ones in Belgium! It was like driving slalom all the time because the holes in the asphalt had an average size of 0,5m² and had a distance between each other that was just as big... I'm not exaggerating things!
On this day we just wanted to get as far as possible because we all felt a lot like getting home. We reached Charleroi when it was about to get dark. Charleroi was... dirty. And it felt as if half of the townsfolk had fled or something. We asked two people for something like a cheap hostel and they told us there was no hostels, just hotels, and sent us to the station where there should have been 'a few hotels'. The only hotel we found was the ibis and it was far too expensive for us. On our way to the hotel we found the town even dirtier than we had already thought, everywhere signs on the houses saying "For sale", everything grey and the people running around looking at us very suspiciously. Anyway, we were all very tired so we tried to find a hostel and asked somebody else. Some told us where the battered women's shelter was which didn't really help – the guys wouldn't have been able to stay there.
After some searching and asking people we were sent to a hostel. Schwabi and I (Hella) went there and knocked at the door. A small window with iron bars in it in the door was opened and the man behind the door asked what we were looking for. After some chit chat we left for asking the others whether we wanted to stay there – it was a hostel with twin rooms, each 30€ per night. On our way back we remembered we hadn't asked whether we could put our scooters somewhere in a backyard or something since we didn't really want to leave them outside since the area seemed anything but trustworthy. When we came back the man just asked us inside and called his boss for asking whether we could leave our scooters in a corridor, but he looked at us in a very strange manner... While he was talking to his boss a couple he seemed to know already came inside and he told them to go to the 'usual' room, that 'the key was in the lock' and gave them a small, square package. Yay. In other words we realized then that the name "Chambre du confort" had a special meaning: We were asking for a room for seven people in a brothel. No wonder he was looking at us that strangely.
After that we had a lot of fun making it difficult for the man to keep his decent manner. Back at the place where the others stood we all agreed to search for a camping site a little further out of Charleroi. After calling a lot of camping sites (none had space for us) we finally found one 30km from the place where we were. Even though we were really tired we left as fast as possible – Charleroi had shown us a very awkward, ugly side of Belgium.
On our way we came across an ice cream van driving the streets, its lights were switched off and it was playing some very familiar music... It was quite strange to hear the circus music again, even though we had left England and drove off as fast as we could. Finally we reached the camping site, it was surrounded by a very high fence that was secured with an alarm security system which gave us a lot of comfort. The owner was very kind and said he would come over the next morning for checking everything and so we had a short dinner we had bought in Charleroi and went to bed quite early.
The next morning we got up early since we wanted to get to Germany that day and had a very long way ahead of us. Easier said than done.
After – again – some starting problems we left for the next petrol station. We were all longing for coffee, but there were no petrol stations around. By chance we found one that didn't sell coffee -.- Anyway, we went on and got to see some beautiful landscape – and even more horrible streets. That horrible, that Lena's exhaust broke off. Great. Fortunately we found a break down service/garage, but they had lunch break for the next hour. So we had to wait and therefore finally got our breakfast/lunch. This is what happens if you make people stay against their will... We called him 'Blattie'^^
After another hour of waiting for the exhaust to get welded we could finally go on. We were all glad when we reached Luxemburg – the change of the street state was... 'remarkable'. But Lena's scooter wasn't the only one to suffer from the street condition in Belgium – also Schwabi's scooter had lost two more nuts that we, again, found at a parking lot at a broken down fence... Fabi just smiled mischievously, when everyone immediately ran off into different directions, to see if they could find a fitting nut for him. Afterwards we could enjoy the rest of the route driving with no further incident.
Luxemburg was smaller than expected and we soon reached Germany, heading for a youth hostel in Saarburg. We had called there before and arrived at around 7pm after a spectacular drive over really steep hills, nearly too steep for the scooters. It was great having a shower and a little later, still be able to go out for dinner – for the very first and last time on this trip. There was only one restaurant having the kitchen opened, but it was all awesome! We all couldn't have thought of a better evening, I guess. After sitting in the restaurant a little we went back to the hostel enjoying the rest of the night drinking some wine and German beer and afterwards in really comfortable beds.
The next morning we left after some great breakfast and arrived quite early in Karlsruhe. We went shopping and finally had a yummy dinner that Nora cooked (with some aid, but mostly her) and a last evening all together.
All in all we were glad to be home – but already a little sorry the trip was over ;)