Pools star Matthew Bates is on the road trip of a lifetime this summer as he and a group of friends travel to France in camper vans for Euro 2016 – and he’s going to take us with him!
The defender sets sail for Calais on Friday night and will spend a week travelling the country and following the tournament – and he’s agreed to keep us up to date on his progress.
Bates will pen a daily Blog from his camper van and his travels take him across France, following England in their opening group games against Russia and Wales.
Here’s his first instalment…
We’re just about ready now for this trip and we can’t wait, to be honest. The last time I went to a major tournament was the 2006 World Cup in Germany and, although I loved it, it was ten years ago and I was only 17 at the time. I was at the game when Wayne Rooney got sent-off against Portugal – the night of Cristiano Ronaldo’s infamous wink!
Everything is more or less in place and most of that is down to the planning of our friend Dan. We’ve tortured him because he’s come up with a really strict itinerary – he’s even given us all shopping lists that we need to go and buy before we leave! We’ve taken the mick out of him but, to be fair, I think you need someone like that in the group to get everything organised and he’s done a great job.
We’ll be travelling down to Poole on Thursday to meet some friends and we’ll have a bite to eat and a couple of drinks in the evening and then be up bright and early the next day to go and pick up our camper vans.
I think the journey from Poole to Dover is about three hours so we’ll want to get on the road as soon as we can because we’re a little nervous about the traffic as I am pretty sure that plenty of people are having the same idea as us about going to France.
Once we’re on the ferry and sorted the anxiety will ease and it’s about ninety minutes to make the crossing to Calais and then we’ll make the long journey to Marseilles, stopping in Rennes on the way to pick one of our friends who is flying in from New York. He’s told us that Rennes is on the way anyway – it’ll probably turn out to be miles out of our way!
We’re aiming to reach Marseilles at around 4am on the Saturday morning which will mean it’s been a fairly long shift of travelling but once that’s over we know we’ll be looking forward to a great week. We’ve got two nights on the camp site in Marseilles and obviously part of that will see us go to England’s opening game against Russia.
We’ve just managed to get our hands on some tickets for that last week so we’re buzzing now and can’t wait to get there and enjoy the game. On the Sunday we’ll have a day out looking around Marseille and then be up on Monday to drive onwards to Paris.
We’re staying in a little place just outside of the capital for two nights and we’ll be able to get a train in to the city and have a good look around there too which I am really looking forward to.
From there’ll be on the move again when we head towards Lens but I think this is the part where we’re going to be winging it a little bit because we’re not sure what it’s like there. England are playing there against Wales but there have been reports that the Fan Zone isn’t brilliant so we may head for Lille instead which we understand is a little bigger and only half an hour away.
We’ve struggled to get tickets for the Wales game because they’re going for silly money now because it’s such a big fixture but to be in the area for the day and soaking up the atmosphere will be brilliant, I am sure.
After that we’re about an hour and a half back to Calais and our ferry home – by which point I am sure there will be a few tired people on our camper vans!
I am looking forward to keeping you up to date with a Blog and plenty of photos while we are over there so keep on checking the Official Website to follow our progress. It’s bound to be fun!