Gone Bike About...

Amsterdam – Rotterdam (The Netherlands) – Bruges (Belgium) – Dunkirk (France) …ferry … Dover – Canterbury – London (England)   

500km
It was supposed to be a surprise weekend in London to see Ireland’s great Christy Moore in concert. However, Kurt found out and improved on the idea by suggesting we cycle there… from Amsterdam!
The overnight train from Zürich (City Night Line) fitted the bill and we arrived to glorious sunshine in what has to be the one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe. Well, that is if you have your wits about you and don’t obstruct the bike lanes for the impatient local cyclists.

Room for 6 to sleep

Amsterdam

A break along the River Amstel

Lovely quiet bike paths

Neat thatched house with straw bales for walls

Rotterdam train station

Rotterdam was well worth the stop with an amazingly impressive harbour and modern architecture to compete with the best.

Modern architecture in Rotterdam

Cube houses designed by Piet Blom

Of course, being the largest harbour in Europe, containers offered a very colourful panorama, with the odd windmill thrown in for good measure! Folding, lifting, tilting and whatever else bridges in the Netherlands do allowed for numerous tea breaks en route.

Container landscape

Rotterdam

Tea time!

The bike lanes/routes didn’t disappoint, and brought us through a real cross-section of the countryside and up on the famous dams. The only thing was the wind. We were headed in the wrong direction!

Goedereede

A windy experience on the dam

Darina continued to deliver on the surprise element guiding Kurt to pre-booked accommodation along the way. It was our first time trying out the Airbnb site and we had some beautiful overnight stays, including a converted barn in Vrouwenpolder.

Converted barn in Vrouwenpolder

Ecological trail In Belgium, an ecological trail means you have to share it with sheep! Bruges was another fabulous stop, made all the more special by our Airbnb host Maël who brought us on a very enjoyable and informative walking tour of the city.
  
Arriving in Bruges

Maël, our Airbnb host

Bruges, Belgium

Downtown Bruges
Our cycle in France was short and sweet as we took the ferry from Dunkirk to Dover, affording us absolutely fabulous views of the famous white cliffs. Kent countryside was a welcome contrast to the flat, monotonous terrain on the continent and the local cyclists were all up for a chat!

Dunkirk, France

  
Dover – Canterbury – London
 

The white cliffs of Dover, England

  
First sign we encountered 

Dover

  

Kent countryside

The Sun Hotel, built in 1503 The Sun Hotel in Canterbury, a favourite of Charles Dickens in the good old days, was a great place to rest our weary bones. Overlooking the magnificent cathedral where archbishop, Thomas Beckett was murdered in 1170, the hotel is a prominent fixture on the Canterbury ghost tour. Judging by the enthusiastic tourists’ calls and their flashlight direction, it seems we were keeping the ghost company that night!
The Old Weaver’s restaurant

Canterbury cathedral

Traditional British fare

Chilham

  
Bicycle paths were on very quiet roads, or trails with cumbersome barriers to keep traffic out.

Well sign-posted trails

  

Cyclists only

Leeds castle, Maidstone area

  
Christy in the Royal Festival Hall We arrived in the nick of time to jump in the shower, meet Katie for a curry and enjoy a brilliant night with Christy. And Kurt didn’t forget his socks ‘n shoes ‘n shirt ‘n tie ‘n all!
  
Then there was a little time to enjoy the sights and variety that a big city like London can offer, before surprising Kurt one last time with tickets for Billy Elliot, the musical!

London Pride

  
English breakfast (without beans!)

Dim Sums in Bayswater

  
One last surprise!
The London Eye & River Thames

Buckingham Palace

  
Converted church accommodation Our accommodation in a beautiful modern apartment was another Airbnb contact – this time in a converted church near London City Airport, making our departure stress-free.
  
We were mega impressed with the bike routes through London itself. Google maps have the lot! On the continent the cities were what made the trip. In England, it was the Kent countryside… and, of course, our good man Chrishty! As I sat lookin’ up at the Guinness ad, I could never figure out how yer man stayed up on the surf board after 14 pints of stout!

The Docklands