Thought You Might Like To Know….

Everyone who notices the European country flags on the left side of Tulip asks about it and when I tell them that we shipped Tulip to Europe the first question always, without fail, is how much did that cost.

Port in Belgium

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It was roughly $2800 to ship our RV from Jacksonville, Florida to Zeebrugge, Belgium.  The amount is calculated based upon cubic feet so every inch makes a difference.

The return to Halifax, Nova Scotia was about $3800.  We could have saved a little by shipping Tulip back to the U.S. but we learned that Europeans always ship to Halifax because it is totally hassle free as opposed to jumping through U.S. Customs and Homeland Security hoops.  And it was.  We also had nothing stolen as opposed to shipping from Jacksonville where even the shower head attachment was removed from the wall.

Then you have to factor in transportation to the port, to Europe, and the return.  It adds up but I would do it again if Steve agreed to go and I get healthier.

We often get asked “wouldn’t it have been cheaper to rent an RV?”  Yes, if we were going for a few weeks but we stayed about 5 months.  For instance, I have been checking on prices to rent an RV in New Zealand (should our house sell this summer) and it’s $10,000 for just six weeks.  That’s just preliminary research with one company so hopefully something else better is available and for a longer period of time.

Now you know.

Tulip Is Fine

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An automated phone call from United Airlines awakened me this morning with a message that said Steve’s flight out of Las Vegas (I think airlines need a geography lesson in their routing from Colorado to Nova Scotia) was delayed and therefore his next leg from Washington D.C. was changed to a different flight on Air Canada.  I understood the message to say he would arrive at 8 am tomorrow which would have been two nights in a row traveling.   He missed the plane in D.C. but then luckily it came back because of engine trouble and they put everyone on another plane so he landed in Halifax at 2:32 pm.  He took a taxi to the Wallenius shipping office and then walked to customs and everything went just fine.  Customs only wanted to know if there was liquor, tobacco, or firearms in the motor home.  Customs then called a cab to take him to the Autoport.  He paid the cab and it left.  It was 4:28 and the building was locked!  Steve said he banged on the door for five minutes until a lady came.  He begged her to help him get our motorhome otherwise he was stranded.  So she called someone who drove it up front, checked his paperwork and he was on his way.  What a relief!
I had been trying to call Steve all day and visa versa but the prepaid AT&T phone which is supposed to work calling to/from Canada isn’t cooperating.  He called me collect from a pay phone at Walmart  just outside Halifax where he is spending the night.  At first Steve thought the front hubcaps had been stolen but they were sitting on the front floor board.  Nothing is missing except that he can’t find the license plates which he had removed and hidden.  He’s looked in all our hiding places except the furnace compartment.  In the meantime he put on the laminated copies we had made prior to going to Mexico in Dec 2009.  They have an expired date on them but our registration shows we’re up to date in case he gets stopped.
When we dropped off Tulip in Zeebrugge the agent warned us very strongly against having anything inside the motor home but said the outside compartments should be fine as far as theft.  In addition to packing the outside compartments we hid our things in the following places:
1.  Steve took the panel off the ceiling that curves down to the overhead bed in the very front.  There is a LOT of space there and we used it for clothes and shoes.
2.  He took off the speaker on the wall below the refrigerator and that dead space has only wires.  We put quite a few small items in that area.
3.  Underneath one of the dinette benches is the furnace.  We used some of the extra space and screwed the lid down.
4.  There’s a cabinet under the other dinette bench that we packed solid with books.  First Steve took the lid off the bench and then cut the red and white striped bicycle warning board to fit in the opening of the cabinet door.  Then he screwed that lid down.
5.  The box frame for the bed has the biggest area for storage and many screws secured the top down good.  Actually nothing was stolen from there on the trip over to Europe.
6.  Steve even stashed quite a few things in the water pump compartment that is underneath an outside cabinet.  We didn’t bring back anything that was illegal – everything was hidden just to prevent theft.  And I mentioned previously that Steve chained the spare tire to the bike to the lawn chairs to the toilet with a long cable lock.

Halifax

Steve is taking an overnight flight to Halifax and should arrive there at 11:30 am tomorrow.  Then he will go to Wallenius Lines office downtown to pay the port charges of Cdn $348.  After that it’s the customs office and then a $40 taxi ride to the port.  Hopefully he can get all this done before the end of the business day tomorrow otherwise he’ll be looking for a hotel room.  I’m sure he is going to be exhausted and will be looking for a place to sleep right away.  He has a couple of hours of work on Tulip before he wants to start driving anyway.  Chores like putting the spare tire and bike on the back, unloading everything from some of the hiding places that make driving not wise considering where things are, turning on propane, hooking up the coach batteries, and putting the license plates back on. Then he has a 1700+ mile  drive to visit family in Wisconsin and after that more family in Kansas. 
Steve plans to call tomorrow after he picks up Tulip to tell me how everything went and if anything has been stolen or vandalized.  Keeping my fingers crossed.  I will post here tomorrow and let you know what I hear.

Homeward Bound

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The last few days have been busy ones getting Tulip ready and packed. Steve cleaned the outside of Tulip because if she arrives dirty in Halifax we will be charged $300.  I don’t want to jinx ourselves but unless someone literally tears Tulip apart, nothing should be missing. I’ll explain that after we have picked her up. And Steve removed the spare tire and roof vent because that lessened the dimensions and saved us 200 EU. He chained the bike, tire, and new chairs to the toilet.  It’s odd but we got very attached to our six day home in Zeebrugge.  Normally, after two days somewhere we can’t wait to leave but this little spot was so cozy and we loved watching the ships, the cranes, the people…………everything really. 
It turned out to be very emotional leaving Zeebrugge this morning because we made some good friends in several countries and it’s hard to think we may never see them again.  But I plan to entice them all to visit us in Manitou Springs by attempting to do a post of our town that will be irresistible.
We dropped off Tulip at 10 am today and thanks to some fantastic new friends, John Luc (Belgian) and Therese (French), all went smoothly.  They have a big American Class A motorhome and were parked across from us the past  6 days in Zeebrugge.  John Luc works for one of the shipping companies and volunteered (actually he insisted) on accompanying us to Wallenius Lines where he marched right in ahead of everyone in line and got someone to help us get processed.  Then he and Therese took us to the train station in Blankenberg, about 5 miles away.   John Luc knew to ask for a promotion fare that was 1/3 what we paid in April!  He and Therese stayed on the train platform until we pulled out. I have to say that more than one person was shedding tears.
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Steve gave John Luc several cans of flammable type items that we weren’t allowed to have in the motor home.  I wanted to do a trade for their cute dog, Sheba, but it didn’t work.  However, John Luc and Therese treated us to a little going away celebration last evening with wine and other goodies. 
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This isn’t a very appealing picture but it’s where we are right now. This is the view from our room right across the street from the airport. The Sheraton is the only hotel near the airport, otherwise we would have to take a taxi from somewhere else.