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Published: October 31st 2010
After spending a lovely relaxing time at Birgit and Lukas' place, it was time to move on and, as time was running out, make a beeline for the north or France where we were to catch our ferry. But not before we were to make a few stops en route.
Our first main stop was the German city of Munich. No one was sure why we wanted to stop at Munich but as has happened so many times this year, it was just “one of those places we should visit”. After spending way too long in Munich traffic jams, we finally made our way to the one place that sounded like lots of fun to us....BMW World! From the outside BMW World looks rather spectacular, an engineering and architectural feat. It's completely glassed in, and there is apparently a 800 kW solar plant on the roof which has been cleverly tucked away underneath a cool exterior of dark glass. My initial thoughts about BMW World was that it would be much like the BMW displays at the Auto Show in Melbourne but on a larger scale, but actually it was more like the displays on steroids! Not only were there
Inside BMW World
We were tempted to take the 'special entrance' and zoom in with Lentil
all the latest cars that you could jump in and beep the horn, there was also interactive displays, video games gift shops, cafes and a restaurant! A highlight for Phoebe was a specially designed kids area for “little engineers” where kids complete experiments and then complete quizzes at the end of the experiment. It's actually basic science principles but cleverly disguised with 'fun' for the kids, hehehe.
Just across the road from BMW World was an ice-skating rink which, once Phoebe saw, could not STOP asking us to take her. We gave in pretty easily and went up to hire some skates. Here we experienced a bit of genuine German hospitality and welcoming in the form of a grumpy lady who steadfastly refused to give us three pairs of skates as we only had 100 Euros and a 50 Euro deposit was required PER PAIR of skates. No matter that the skates were probably worth 20 euros, and that it was such a quiet day we were her ONLY customers. Perhaps she thought we would steal them. Anyway, we weren't going to let her ruin our fun, so Nick and I tag teamed with one pair of skates between
us. The skating arena was the former Olympic arena for the infamous 1972 Olympics and as it was mid-week, it was very quiet. In fact, the only ice-skaters that were there looked like they were in training for the 2012 Olympics, and one rather precious looking girl, younger than Phoebe, who was probably in training for the 2016 Olympics. Phoebe was duly impressed but did agree, it looked like rather a lot of hard work.
Onwards we went, through Luxembourg, then Belgium, then France, tried to find petrol, got lost, back into Luxembourg, found petrol and then off again into France. Good job we did too, as it so happened that in true French style, the French had decided to strike and blockade oil refineries, leading to a national petrol shortage. Apparently raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 in France is a heinous crime against humanity and justifies the whole nation being thrown into turmoil. It's just as well this never affected us
Our next stop was to pay a visit, and our respects to my Great Great Uncle William Baillie who had died at the Western Front in World War 1. I'm sure I have
The Happy Couple
The photo that Phoebe took just minutes after Nick popped the question
many more relatives out there, but I found William's records while doing some of the family tree. So on our way over the the Australian Memorial Phoebe drew a large poppy and when we arrived we found William's name and stuck the poppy up. Of course, like many Australian soldiers, William didn't have a dedicated grave, as his body was never found. The monument was set in a beautiful, immaculately maintained garden and was quite an imposing structure. It was funny to see the occasional Australian wandering around, as up until now we had hardly seen any in France. After we had left the poppy, had a wander around and signed the visitor register, we set off again, this time headed for Dunkerque, the port where we would catch our ferry.
It was in the Northern French town of Arras, on our last night in mainland Europe, at what was going to be the end of our adventures in Lentil, that Nick proposed to me. That is, got down on bended knee and asked me to marry him. It was a big surprise and I was actually dumbfounded for a few seconds (Nick would probably like to add “for the first time ever”). On Nick's part, it was quite spur of the moment , but as he said, it felt like the right time. Afterwards, Phoebe made a celebratory Lego construction of us in the campervan drinking champagne, and as we still had a big drive ahead of us, this was probably the closest we were going to get to a tipple that night.
While getting engaged may seem like it's “about time” (as some friends have said!), it's still a big step for us, and one that we're very excited to take. For all those who are curious to know, we have no plans as yet, and figure we will concentrate at the moment on travel planning. However, I suspect the budget for the honeymoon has already been spent this year!
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