21 August – Travelling from Dieppe to Dunkerque

Today we enjoy a more relaxed morning. After breakfast, we checkout and move to the hotel’s piano bar where I finish blogging. While Johanne is busy, I go out to get a local newspaper that covers the weekend events. There’s an interesting photo of our Governor-General in cycling gear preparing to test the local trails. Of course, there are also many other great photos of the various commemoration ceremonies in the paper. Before we set off for Dunkerque, we go for lunch to a restaurant (Bas Blanc Fort) at the base of the chalk cliffs, probably not too far from where my dad landed. Johanne has the most delicious fish she has ever tasted in a Neufchatel cheese sauce while I have a nice salmon dish. We say goodbye to Dieppe, the beach, the cliffs that sheltered my dad on that fateful day in August, and to the great citizens who treat Canadians as their countrymen.

A slight hiccup leaving Dieppe, we miss the road out and have to circle back and then we are away – but not on the road Google would have us travelling. But the one we are on is taking us to where we want to go (Abbeville) so we carry on. We meet up with the A16 and then we fly (130K and we aren’t keeping up with traffic). We avoid the t problem at the toll booths we had last year (t – ticket) and make good time bypassing the lengthy back up of traffic at the exit at Calais, site of Chunnel & ferries to Dover. Exit 56 takes us into the outskirts of Dunkerque and now the fun begins. None of the $#%^^% streets have visible street signs with names. All our Google directions use street names. We rely on dead reckoning to get us close to where we should be but then roundabouts complicate matters with many exits but no clues as to where we should go. Last year’s training kicks in and I circle a roundabout at least 6 times waiting for a signal from my frustrated navigator. “Take this one,” she cries out only because she is getting dizzy. We end up in a maze of roads in some suburb of Dunkerque. I stop and ask directions and the gentleman lefts and rights me until my head is spinning. We do our best to follow the directions and end up back on the A16. Johanne thinks we should be headed in the opposite direction. I stop at a service area and explain our situation. The fellow behind the counter starts to draw a map on our Google directions, but quickly realises this may further complicate matters. He retrieves a map of Dunkerque from the shelf and uses it to explain the route to our hotel. This isn’t going to work. I tell him I’ll buy the map if he uses a marker to highlight the way. A few minutes later, we’re back on the A16 but headed in the opposite direction to what we thought. We pass our Google exit 56 and carry on to exit 60. Ten minutes later, we are at our hotel, the All Suites Apart Hotel. We’re both pleasantly surprised at how nice our room is – equipped with a little kitchenette and a view overlooking the port. Our 3 hr journey took us about 4.5 hrs. We’re too wound up from the day’s excitement to enjoy a nice supper in a restaurant. We would love a glass of wine and something simple but we don’t want to venture out again in the car. Johanne finds a Pizza Hut pamphlet and they not only deliver, they also sell wine. Make that a pizza supreme with classic crust and une bouteille de rosée! That’s it for today.

Tomorrow we are off to the Operation Dynamo Memorial that covers the dramatic escape of over 300,000 British, French and Belgium forces from the German encirclement in May-June 1940. Johanne’s mission tomorrow is to try and find which ship our friend John Welbourn’s father was on when he was evacuated from Dunkerque.

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