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Mini Euro Bike Tour...


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I will eventually get around to sticking up some photos - but I don't seem to be taking as many as I did last year in the car - but the story so far...

Set off from Caerphilly at around 3pm Sunday, destination Harwich. Nice and sunny until we hit the M25, then it clouded over. Stopped at South Mimms for fuel and to put on an extra layer, then did the run to Harwich non-stop.

Harwich. What a shît hole. There's a Morrisons right on the entrance to the port - but the petrol station closes at 6pm on a Sunday - WTF=?! (They even close down pay at pump). Rode around the locality and eventually found somewhere to top up, and proceeded to check-in.

I really hate checking in for ferries. They never seem to open it when they say they will - and I always end up in a queue with someone who doesn't seem to understand that they are going to need their passport and booking confirmation. Still, we didn't get *too* cold, and at least it didn't rain!

We were stuck in a lane to wait for the ferry with other bikers and cyclists. A few lanes over was a coach tour of Indians doing 2 months in Europe. They had a real passion for bikes - but what I learned is that a Triumph Rocket Cruiser beats an ageing BMW Sports Tourer in the photo stakes - they all wanted a photo on the Rocket, only 2 blokes were interested in the BMW... and then one of them asked how difficult it was keeping such an old bike on the road! - the cheek of it, from a nation that brought us the Hindustan Ambassador and Royal Enfield!

Anyway, we finally boarded - Stena are quick and efficient at this bit - and went up to the cabin to freshen up and ditch as much kit as we could - then it was down to the restaurant. We'd pre-booked dinner and breakfast, so got a 3 course dinner that was equal to many a good restaurant, washed down with their special offer Merlot - before retiring to the bar, then eventually back to the cabin.

Monday morning was up early, breakfast (don't underestimate how pushy the Dutch can be when it comes to getting their Breakfast!), and onto the bike for the trawl through Zeeland and into Belgium.

Not a lot to report on the riding front. Zeeland is flat, featureless, and, worse still, has low speed limits and double white lines everywhere, making overtaking mostly illegal. Add to that Dutch drivers who see the speed limit as an aspirational target, and you get a long, boring trip. (next part to follow)

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Belgium was an improvement - but spoiled by the sheer amount of goods traffic that occupies their main A-roads. I don't believe their Autoroutes have tolls, so I can't really understand why so much freight uses the 'Route Nationales'. Still, fun was to be had once we got off the double digit roads onto triple digit roads.

They aren't a bit fan of public conveniences, so we did dip onto the motorway for a comfort break and lunch, before heading back to the minor roads for the final 50 mile blat to the hotel... which was awful. So awful, we had a stern conversation with the manager, persuaded him to cancel the booking, and looked for somewhere else. I suppose the room was alright - but they didn't make it clear that they don't open the restaurant on Mondays, leaving us with a 5 mile ride to the nearest town for food - I thought that was a little underhand, so we fired up the Accor App on my phone and booked into the Ibis in Liege.

Liege never really appealed to me as a destination - but having visited, I have almost been persuaded otherwise. It's a Monday, so not the liveliest night to be here - but we still found somewhere selling decent food (steak in roquefort) and beer - Chimay and Leffe were consumed, before retiring back to the hotel with 4 cans of Jupiler.

So that's the trip so far.... next stop, Seebach in the Black Forest, before heading back north to Trier - we are definitely going to visit the Spa Francorchamps museum, and may possibly call in on Porsche in Stuttgart.

More updates if I am sober enough later this week!

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So, German A Roads.

Just don't. Traffic lights, speed cameras, trucks. Sloooooow.

Eventually gave up - after covering just 100 miles in 3 hours.

Now in the Black Forest. B500 to do tomorrow (look it up - it's epic), and a load of local pottering.

Things I learned today.... iPhones overheat when it's 30 degrees and you're in traffic on an air cooled bike. So I lost my navigation several times.

Not many photos taken so far - most are with me or K holding a beer,

On the positive side - breakfast in Liege was great - coffee and fresh croissant and pain au chocolate.

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