Motorbiking around the European Coast for Cancer Research - www.justgiving.com/edandjames
29.04.2009 15 °C
We left Amsterdam in good time this morning, but with a bit of drizzle. There was quite a bit of traffic coming out of the city, partly because the swing bridges were open for passing boats and we took the motorway towards Rotterdam before joining the smaller roads island-hopping back towards the Channel Tunnel.
After another 6km tunnel we rode into Belgium and stopped for petrol before looking ofr some lunch. 100m down the road from the petrol stop was a cafe, but it was shut. As I was talking to a local who was directing us to another place a man came running down the road holding my tank bag which I had left at the petrol station! This reminded of me of the night before we left 3 months ago where I did the same thing - must be getting close to home!
We managed to avoid the showers most of the afternoon and just got caught in one as we arrived at the Channel Tunnel terminal. There was another biker joining the train as well who was over visiting friends in Belgium for a long weekend from Somerset. He asked "Are you two over for the weekend then?". Ed replied "Errrr, not quite, no!"
We popped up in England shortly afterwards into the glorious sunshine. Just a couple of miles around the corner and we were welcomed back by Alex and John, back where we had stayed on day 2. They had another couple of visitors (Alan and Jan) staying with them and the 6 of us shared a wonderful homecoming meal and drank wine over travelling stories.
We have run out of superlatives to describe hospitality now, but I suppose the biggest compliment and thanks we can pay to Alex and John is to say that it felt like coming home. John even lent us some local currency to pop down the road to the pub for a pint. Ed and I sat at the same table that we had done 3 months ago and reflected on the trip. 100 miles or so to Brighton tomorrow and we will have actually completed the loop we planned, on schedule and with only a slight adjustment in Scandinavia.
I've forgotten how many miles we did today, but it was 275ish!
29.04.2009 15 °C
After a late night yesterday taking in the sights of Amsterdam we had an easy morning in our apartment for our last day off somewhere before returning home.
After a stroll around town and a beer we met up with Mclean and his lovely girlfriend Alex for a chin-wag over a meal and some wine. Even at this late stage of the journey we are still surprised and amazed by the friendliness of strangers and I'm sure we'll be seeing them again at some point, hopefully Mclean, Ed and I can sort out a ride some day.
For dessert we had some glasses of whipped sorbet with vodka and champagne that were absolutely delicious!
On the way home I saw a couple of girls clutching a map, clearly lost and had been for some time as they were shivering, so went over to help. They showed me on the map where they wanted to get to, and I pointed out where we were.
"So, just left here is Dam square, and right is the direction you want. Keep walking for 5-10 minutes and you'll be there."
"Okay, so left: Dam square, right: our hotel. Thanks."
As I walked away I turned around to see them walking left!
27.04.2009 18 °C
Despite the marathon this morning we got out of Hamburg without any problem and were on the main road very quickly. The dual carriageway we were on was a slightly irritating mix of clear sections and roadworks (about half and half for 100 miles really). Beautiful weather again though and lots of bikers to wave to and wind turbines to look at!
We stopped for lunch just before the border with the Netherlands and the friendly Dutch waiter put the formula one on the tv for us!
Over the border the landscape flattened almost immediately to the stereotypical Dutch flats. Around an hour North of Amsterdam we reached the Dam separating the North Sea from the Ijsselmeer. This was something else: a 15 mile dam with an embankment on one side, the road stretching as far as you can see into the distance and water to your left for as far as you can see. Halfway along we stopped and got a view from the embankment. Quite strange to have water at different levels on either side!
We enjoyed the ride through the canal-side streets of Amsterdam and checked into our apartment for 2 nights. As we unloaded our things a guy called Mclean came over to chat with us. He's a Texan guy who is living and working in Amsterdam and has a big Harley. We'll be meeting up for a beer and a bike chat before we leave I think!
323 miles today takes us to 15 965 and we're off to the channel tunnel on Tuesday.
26.04.2009 20 °C
We set off from Lemvig this morning in beautiful sunshine again as we headed down the west coast of Denmark. There are some beautiful nature reserves on the coast and a few thin spits of land sheltering lagoons again. For stretches 10 miles long or so we were riding at the foot of huge sand dunes/banks on one side (facing the sea) and on the other side of the road a big lagoon. Lots of wildlife around as well, plenty of people out enjoying the weather and a fair few insects found our visors too! There were also lots of bikers to wave to.
Shortly after lunch we made it over the border into Germany. At a petrol stop we found a German fella with a fifty year old BMW bike and a couple of friendly petrol attendants. The girl was understandably helpless against our charms and fantastic German.
Back on the road we noticed a more forested and undulating landscape than Denmark and enjoyed the small roads south towards Hamburg. We also noticed that virtually all of the traffic lights were switched off, so either someone hasn't paid the bills, they're rethinking all of their junctions or they're conducting a huge social experiment,
In Hamburg we parked up on a partially pedestrianised street to find a room for the night. Every other shop seemed to be a kebab shop ('kebaps' here) or an adult DVD shop and all the hotels were pretty full as there is a marathon tomorrow, but we got a place without too much trouble.
270 miles makes 15 642 total.