August 24, 2015

My Moving-Across-Europe Road Trip: Holland > Belgium > France > Germany!


My final days of summer were spent in the gym, at the beach, and prepping for the complicated road trip I was about to embark upon.

Holland


My week of volleyball camp with the American School of the Hague was awesome, as usual. I've been working that camp for four years now, and have had the chance to watch several of the athletes grow into their own, some of them even going on to play in college. One of the recent graduates (and an excellent player) thanked me this summer, letting me know that I was the reason she learned how to jump serve. This may seem like no big deal to some people, but to have an athlete actually remember and take the time to credit a coach for teaching them something specific is rare and makes the work so much more rewarding.


I had several grand plans before I arrived, but the beach won out, and Gouda and Delft will just have to wait until next year. I did, however, manage to make it to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. After a long line and an expensive ticket, every painting and story was thoroughly enjoyed. Plan ahead better than I did and buy your ticket online!

The Road Trip Itinerary

The start of the journey was not by car, but since I had to wake up before 6am to catch buses and trains to get to Brussels, it definitely still counts as part of the trip. The idea was to get from Holland to Brussels, pick up the rental car at the airport, drive to Amiens, France, to retrieve our belongings from the storage unit, sleep in eastern France, drive to Colmar, drive to Lake Konstanz, sleep north of Lake Konstanz, then finish the drive to Vilsbiburg on day three. There's a reason people say I'm a good planner and very organized. It's because I can put itineraries like this together.

Brussels

I lucked out with a larger vehicle than I had reserved AND a built-in GPS system. When you begin a trip where a lot of things could go wrong, it's always a good sign when the first step has two bonus features!

Amiens


This was a little bit tricky, as the gate code we had been given to access the storage facility had expired two days prior. I drove around Amiens for about thirty minutes before doubling back - and, thankfully, the facility was open and I could access our storage unit. I carefully loaded everything up, then realized I had forgotten to include the two chairs. Let's just say that after three packing arrangements, my rear view mirror could still see through the window!

Colmar


Colmar flies a bit under the radar compared to its neighboring city of Strasbourg. But if you're in the Alsace region of France, this medieval darling of a village will keep you wandering for hours.


I only had time to stop for a delicious lunch (and last French meal for a while!) and to admire La Petite Venise - Colmar's own system of canals and bridges.



Entering Germany


Marc and I had discussed my various route options, and had decided together that it would be wiser for me to drive through Germany, than trying to do too much and looping through northern Switzerland.


We kind of forgot that the Black Forest loomed large and treacherous in the middle of our chosen route. Between crawling through insane switchbacks (see photo) and sweating over bridges that only get higher and higher in hindsight, I basically bit the bullet and went for it. I tend to be a lot tougher when I'm by myself, anyway, and I had no choice but to just keep driving.


All you need to know about the autobahn is that I was averaging between 75mph and 90mph, and multiple cars were literally flying by me. At least 40% of the cars (so, not the semi-trucks) were going over 100mph.


The roadside scenery changed as I traversed through southern Germany. The Black Forest shared its dark trees and mountains, then Lake Konstanz was surrounded by hundreds of vineyards. Arriving in Bavaria, the land turned to farms and fields, relaxing into rolling hills.


It was around 7pm when I arrived in Lindau, Germany, and planned to sleep in a nearby town. I checked the GPS: Vilsbiburg was just two and a half hours away! I went with my gut, canceled my AirBnB reservation, and pressed on toward my new home.

Vilsbiburg

I got out of the car, and it smelled like: Christmas. Check out "German Swag 101: Week 1" for the complete update, and to see whether or not I was able to get a job in my first week in Germany!

Let the #SwagVilasbiburg journey begin.

(If you're really far behind, read up on why we moved from France to Germany in Four Years in Paris.)

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