Since we hadn’t done a christmas market in a couple of years, we decided that this year we would make the effort to go to one in the Netherlands and since Germany was so close we would find one we hadn’t been to there.
We had some Tesco vouchers that we converted into Eurotunnel vouchers to help make the trip cheaper. We converted those and paid the little bit extra to get Eurotunnel over – it is the best way! No choppy seas, no long travel times (i’ll get to that below), drive on and drive off.
I also booked an Airbnb in a little town on the outskirts of Amsterdam called Uithoorn (pronounced Outhorn). It worked out well, we had our own rooms and the bonus for me was that the house was on the final approach to Schiphol airport so I was in my element – being in a different country AND close to an airport.
Anyway, about the travel times. I got picked up straight from work and we headed to the tunnel. Eurostar usually has a policy that if you arrive within 2 hours of your stated travel time and there is room they will accommodate you on the next train with spaces.
We got there at 19:00 ish (this is important to know) and the next train with space was in just 40 minutes time but required an uplift of £40 to be paid. As frugal as I am, I politely ignored the request on screen. I decided that I would speak to customer service which turned out to be less than helpful. At this point we had 3 hours and 20 minutes before our booked train.
When I spoke with customer service, I was advised they only offer the 2 hour window if you arrive AFTER your allotted time. I was told this has always been the case (not true, we have always been able to get on earlier for free if there has been space). I was told for a £30 uplift, we could get on the 21:20 train. I am so glad we didn’t pay for it as about 20 minutes later there was a trespasser in the tunnel (a common occurrence since Calais has so many migrants trying to get to the UK for a better life) and that all services were delayed. Our departure time went from 22:20 to Please Wait. Not a good sign since we – Jamie – had a 3.5 hour drive from Calais to Uithoorn.
We ended up leaving at 23:00 because of all this trouble. It’s one of the risks when you use Eurotunnel.
We finally got to Calais and off the train at about 00:30 and headed off to our Airbnb. The drive there was pretty uneventful given how it was the small hours of the morning. We finally got to the house around 04:00 and headed straight to bed ready for the adventures of the next few days.
Once we were finished looking around this area, we decided to head towards the tunnel. We again had a late train and were hoping that we could get an earlier one due to both working the next day.
The drive seemed to take forever – not sure if that was due to the sat nav taking us the scenic way or if it was because the trip was over.
We found a Subway in Dunkirk and had some food before heading back out to the tunnel.
We got to check in and it said there was a train an hour earlier on that we could change to free of charge. We dutifully accepted this. I thought this strange since I was adamantly told Eurotunnel do not offer this kind of service just a few days prior! Well, that hour was appreciated. It meant we both got home at a semi-reasonable time and not some unearthly hour like on the way to Uithoorn.
You can see all the pictures from the trip here