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Subject: Getting to Essen via car & ferry? rss

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Matt Tonks
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Three of us are going to Essen this year & we're keen to go by car this time so that we have more flexibility over more much we can buy without wondering how we're going to meet the luggage allowance, as well as being able to arrive/leave Essen when we like. Being able to drive to the Messe from our hotel is a bonus as well.

So obviously we're starting to wonder about what ferry options there are for the journey. Obviously there is Dover - Calais & then a drive up to Germany, but what other options are there & for those who have done this trip before, which has worked out best in the past?

Thanks,

Matt...
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Green Dan
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Same situation here. First time for Essen, me and my girlfriend are planning on driving. I plan to drive to Harwich, float over to the Hook of Holland and then Drive to Essen. Should be doable all in the wednesday. It's a long boat trip but less driving.

Only booked the Hotel so far though...
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Neil Denny
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I have done this trip and it is fairly straightforward.

I went from Dover - Calais, then North into Belgium, turn right through Holland, briefly, and into Germany. You can do Calais to Essen in 4 hours, 5 tops, so with shared driving it will be a breeze.

Good variety of local radio stations as you go as well. The Dutch radio was particularly bizarre.

Enjoy the trip.
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Green Dan
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See, now in my head this has been planned for ages. Now I'm thinking the Dover-Calais option may be better. I was just thinking about minimizing the driving in a foreign country in our 18 year old car option. Now I'm not so sure...Aaarrgh!
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Johan L
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We were driving last year, and it worked mostly fine so we plan to drive again this year.

We went from Dover to Dunkirk (Norfolklines) rather than Calais as that felt a bit closer to Essen. One thing we plan to do differently this year though is to avoid going past Antwerp in the Wednesday afternoon rush hour - I thought UK traffic was bad, but this was worse as we were delayed several hours (although we might have been unlucky).

It might also be worth mentioning that you apparently have to keep both a fire extinguisher, spare bulbs and a fluorescent vest in the car when driving through Belgium, and it's probably cheaper to buy it before the trip rather than on the ferry.
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Richard Dewsbery
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I did the Dover-Calais route twice - once when someone else was driving a minibus full of people, and once when it was forced upon me by the conditions in the North Sea. That second time made for a total journey time of over 20 hours, most of which I'd been driving for. Absolute hell - especially Antwerp in the rush-hour (I still have nightmares about that). Of course, if I had driven straight to Dover instead of going to Harwich first it might not have been quite so bad, but it's only really the best option if you live in the South West, South or South East.

If you live in the Midlands (as I do) or the East, then Harwich-Hook of Holland is the best route. It's about 4 hours from Hook to Essen, half through the Netherlands, and half in Germany (most of it on unrestricted Autobahn).

If you do go for the Harwich-Hook route, heed the voice of experience (I've done it for Essen 10+ times now). That high speed catamaran? Ignore it. Yes, it's cheaper and faster than a proper roll-on/roll-off ferry, but there are two basic problems with it. The first, a minor inconvenience, is that you don't get much of a rest on the boat - and if you suffer from the slightest sea-sickness, son't be surprised if it makes you ill. If the seas are anything rougher than a millpond, it turns into a vomit comet. Which links nicely into the second drawback - if the weather is anything rougher than a force 5.5 or so, it won't sail. This is the North Sea we're talking about, in the Autumn - of course it's going to be rougher than that. I think we tried the high speed cat for about 4 years, and managed no better than a 50% success rate in not having a sailing cancel on us. Which meant either getting to Essen later than we wanted, getting back later (and costing me a day's work two years in a row), or forcing a change of route to Dover-Calais (sodding nightmare, that was).

No, the smart travellers go by ro-ro. It is slower (a 7-hour crossing), and it's more expensive (especially if you go on the overnight boat, as you have to book a cabin), but it is much, much more civilised. I drive down to Harwich, leaving home at about 5pm, and jump on the boat at 9pm. Wake up the next morning in Holland, and drive down to Essen arriving at noon. Even though it's a total of 8 hours driving, the break in the middle makes it palatable.

Not had the ro-ro ferry cancel on me yet, and it's been the transport of choice for the last 5 or 6 years, ever since the catamaran cancelled on me for the last time and the staff at the ferry terminal gave us the option of the freight boat (she meant the ro-ro, which carries more lorries than cars, but my wife had this mental image of us being winched onto a banana boat!). I suspect that the preponderance of freight goes some way to explain the lack of cancellations (that, and it's a bigger, more stable ship) - you can tick off the tourists in their cars, but annoy a couple of hundred truckers and they'll take all their regular business elsewhere. Only real drawback is the increased cost - especially as they've now started charging for the food served onboard.

Which reminds me - must book this year's trip.
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Richard Dewsbery
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There are all sorts of things you need to carry - which vary from country to country. Germany, for example, insists on a red warning triangle being carried, and IIRC the first aid kit is mandatory too. Though what use my handful of plasters and a manky old bandage would be is anyone's guess. Check with something like the RAC website. Also check that your insurance covers you (they should, these days, but most need to be told you're going), and I always make sure that my breakdown cover is valid for the EU too. It goes without saying that you should take your insurance certificate, driving licence and proof of ownership of the car with you (as all three have to be on you when driving in Germany).
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John Mitchell
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Thanks Richard & all, the discussion has inspired me to get on and book the Harwich crossing.

I'd been wondering how to best to get to Essen at a decent time on Wednesday, and of course the answer is to start driving on Tuesday night

 
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Damen Parker
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Thanks for the benefit of your experiences. Sounds like there is little in it between Hook of Holland and Calais. The ferry duration means more rest for the driver (me) and some bonus gaming time for all.

Hmmmm... what games to take TO Essen. That's the question now.

Cheers

Devious
 
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Hanno Girke
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Don't forget to check this thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/324032

Often it is smarter to leave the car at the hotel and use the subway to get to SPIEL.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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pallidcreatures wrote:
Good variety of local radio stations as you go as well. The Dutch radio was particularly bizarre.

... ??? I don't really want to ask, much less know, but there's forces at work here compared to which my willpower is an insignificant trifle. What was so bizarre about Dutch radio?

 
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Louise Moore
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Me and my husband are driving out to Essen for our first trip to the convention. We've booked the Dover to Dunkirk Ferry.

Thanks to everyone who's mentioned the necessary documents and fire extinguishers etc you need for driving on the contienent. I'd forgotten all about those requirements.

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Susan
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tonksey wrote:
Three of us are going to Essen this year & we're keen to go by car this time so that we have more flexibility over more much we can buy without wondering how we're going to meet the luggage allowance, as well as being able to arrive/leave Essen when we like. Being able to drive to the Messe from our hotel is a bonus as well.

So obviously we're starting to wonder about what ferry options there are for the journey. Obviously there is Dover - Calais & then a drive up to Germany, but what other options are there & for those who have done this trip before, which has worked out best in the past?

Thanks,

Matt...


Hi there!

I thought that I would jump in since I live in Holland. I've done the different ferries going to England many times. It really depends on where in England you are coming from. My preference is usually from Calais to Dover since you are not on the boat that long. If you get unlucky and have rough water, a long ferry ride can be hellish. Dover to Calais is not much more than an hour and certainly easy to do. It is a pretty uneventful (boring) drive up towards Holland usually unless you get a traffic jam. Going around Antwerp is always busy.

Then, from Calais, it is usually about 2 1/2 hours to the South of Holland (where we live). Be forewarned though that there is often road construction in Belgium, Holland, and Germany. It's kind of a constant really. You can usually find it online about traffic construction, etc beforehand.

Getting to Essen from where we live (near Belgium border) is only about 1 1/2 hours. Really not bad.

If you live more North in the UK, then going over to Hoek van Holland is probably a better bet. You will be on the ferry boat much longer and traffic coming out of the bigger cities can take awhile depending on the time of day. I would probably just take whichever has the shortest travel time in total.

We plan on going this year as well again. The plan is to head out early in the morning, do the fair and then stay in a gasthof or something nearby. Then, hit the convention again the next day and then come home. Certainly can be done with our distance.

Depending on how far you live from the ferries, you might want to stay over somewhere the night before so you are fresh for the fair.
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Green Dan
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We are booked onto the 23:45 harwich to the hook. Arriving in holland wednesday morning giving us the day to get to essen.

very excited now.
 
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Susan
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Greendan wrote:
We are booked onto the 23:45 harwich to the hook. Arriving in holland wednesday morning giving us the day to get to essen.

very excited now.


Cool! I hope that you get good traffic along the way Morning traffic around the big cities is usually... well, pretty bad. Once you get past that morning rush hour though, it should be pretty smooth sailing for you
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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Dan, we should be on that same Tuesday night boat. Haven't got around to actually booking it yet, but I will do in the next couple of days.
 
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John Mitchell
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I'm on that same boat going out, coming back on the Monday at 14:30.
 
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Green Dan
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Tycho wrote:
I'm on that same boat going out, coming back on the Monday at 14:30.


Sweet. Good to hear we're not the only ones. We're on that same boat coming back too.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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I should be on the Sunday night boat heading home. It means having to leave Essen at about 5-ish, so if you like staying until the very last minute it might be a bit of a push (I know one exhibitor who tried to make the Sunday night boat one year; he didn't), but it means that I get home Monday morning in time to do some work Monday afternoon.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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How do us Tuesday Night sailing types recognise each other on the boat?
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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RDewsbery wrote:
How do us Tuesday Night sailing types recognise each other on the boat?


Boardgamegeek.
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Christopher Dearlove
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RDewsbery wrote:
How do us Tuesday Night sailing types recognise each other on the boat?


I think I'll recognize you (I'm Richard's passenger) but for anyone else the easiest thing would be just to get a game out.
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Green Dan
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I plan on sleeping on the way over as I don't fancy driving through germany on no sleep. The monday coming back is differant however. May even have some new games to play...
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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No use to us - we're on the Sunday boat. Plus we usually take Sunday evening to write something for Counter.

As for sleep, you're going to Essen - more than 5 hours of sleep each night and you'll be labelled a slacker. That includes the boat (which I can sometimes sleep on, and sometimes can't). I've been practising extensively for the past few weeks to make sure that I can still function on just 4 hours of sleep per night.

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John Mitchell
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Having been forced to pay for a cabin, would like to use it

Certainly want some sleep, but wouldn't want to retire until after we sail, and then some. I know Richard & Chris, & will hunt them down.

You guys who have been on this ferry before: where's best to hang out? How long before the sailing do they put the cars on board? What the procedure in the morning re waking/disembarking?

@Greendan, in case we haven't met going out, I'll geekmail you my phone number

Um ... will my mobile get a signal on board?
 
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