1140 km in 16 hours. Let me say that again. One thousand, one hundred and forty kilometres, in sixteen hours. That’s what it took me to ride to my holiday destination from Rotterdam right across France diagonally to the south west. Four fuel stops and a lunch break. Time of departure from Holland 3 am. Just call me crazy. I was past Paris by 9 am, enjoying the view of the Loire river and many chateaus by 1 pm (I stopped at a little town called Amboise for lunch), and I was in Parentis-en-Born by 7 pm. Talk about traffic though, it seems the whole of Europe was on the road heading on holiday. Lucky I was on a motorbike and could pass everyone. The courteousness was a pleasant surprise; most cars would see me coming up in their mirror … Read More
Am I not already on holiday?
There’s a concept known to travellers that I’ll call ‘a holiday within a holiday’. In effect it’s based on the premise that after travelling for a while, being on the move and being a traveller becomes normal day to day life. It actually comes close to being your job. You commute to and from work, in this case place to place. You complete your daily tasks – sightseeing and experiencing the culture, and you write reports – blog or email. Even meeting new people is akin to building rapport with clients. The only differences between long term travelling and work, well major ones at least, are that its way more fun than most regular jobs, and you don’t get paid for it. Unless you’re a travel writer. Offers anyone? Therefore, you still need a break, or a holiday, from your … Read More
C’est le Wi-Fi Rangers!
I don’t think you ever realise how manacled we are to the internet until you’re away from it for a while. This is what found Clive, Martin, and I driving around a wine store in a random little French town called St Chinian trying to get the best signal from the unsecured Wi-Fi network inside. Martin had bought along his IPod which proved to be invaluable for the internet. Sometimes we’d be walking around the most beautiful city just looking for an unsecured network. Wi-Fi Rangers all the way! Staying for three days with Uncle Gerard from Holland at his holiday house in Babeau, Southern France was so good. A perfect break during our sometimes taxing travel, especially after Morocco. There’s something therapeutic about staying amongst vineyards, meandering rivers, cute villages, and genuine rural French people. A bit of a … Read More
I’ve actually been very spoiled in terms of gastronomy in France. Every place I’ve stayed in has had beautiful authentic French meal. Even when they cook something simple they manage to make it so delicious. Eating here is almost ritualistic. First you have an entrée of soup, salad, or bread. Then you have the mains. Then you have a digestive of cheese and bread, then there’s dessert. And of course you have wine during the meal. This can be done for every meal of the day, ok maybe not quite breakfast. So it appears the mainstay of the French appetite is bread, cheese, and wine. Nice. I was riding away from Ploermel after seeing Vannes the previous day – beautiful little city. I was heading to La Rochelle further down the coast. As my usual luck was continuing the weather … Read More
What a couple of days
After a breakfast of a couple of pieces of toast (now that I am on the continent) I was chugging away towards Rouen. I was still unsure of my next destination as I had contacted a few people to host me but none had replied. Foolishly I was hoping to be able to check my emails on the way and that someone would reply. On the way, Rouen was a very different city to the others I had just been to. It’s right on a river which winds its way through a gorge and Rouen is nestled in between this. Very picturesque and lots of spires I thought. But onwards I went, stopping at a camping ground to see if they had internet. This is where I found out the French I had learnt was surprisingly good and useful, even … Read More
The road to Wissant
The next day I was on the road heading for a little French village called Wissant. I must say, the ride started pretty well, okay so the weather was a bit cloudy, but the going was good and I was in high spirits. And then I hit Belgium also known as worst-roads-in-Western-Europe-for-a-motorbike. Seriously, I was on the best highway they had and there were bumps that knocked me off my saddle every ten meters. Then to make it even more interesting there were grooves in each lane where vehicles had been over and over. I felt like I was on some old cart worn Roman road. I hadn’t expected this until at least Eastern Europe. As I was going along I looked down from the highway and saw a tractor going along what looked like a better road. Where’s the … Read More