Rotterdam (The Netherlands) – Bruges (Belgium) – Dunkirk (France) …ferry
… Dover – Canterbury – London (England)
|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
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.
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architecture in Rotterdam
Cube houses designed by Piet Blom
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|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.
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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!
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A windy experience on the dam
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
Converted barn in Vrouwenpolder
|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
|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!
Dover – Canterbury – London
cliffs of Dover, England
First sign we encountered
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
Traditional British fare
|Bicycle paths were on very quiet|
roads, or trails with cumbersome barriers to keep traffic out.
Well sign-posted trails
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
English breakfast (without beans!)
Dim Sums in Bayswater
One last surprise!
The London Eye & River Thames
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!