24 October 2012

European Expedition

I must have a lousy sense of direction. Last time, I planned a trip to Iceland I ended up in Morocco, and this time the trip to Nordkapp saw us in Poland...

Craig and I decided that as both had time off in October, we'd go somewhere. Research in to Norway in October suggested short days, low temperatures, and possibly snow... So Eastern Europe it was.

With no real plans, no hotels booked and just the return ferry crossing to aim for, we set off on an early Saturday morning crossing from Dover to Calais: destination Poland.

Rolling off the boat, we turned left, and kept going. Belgian roads are dreadful. Motorways with huge potholes that, in the rain, fill with water and can't be seen. Lovely. And why, in the roadworks, are all the cars squeezing over on to the one lane? Oh, OK, it's a road-roller trundling down the live carriageway towards the oncoming traffic, with just its hazard lights for protection. But of course. Imagine that on the M1!

Overnight: Liege, F1 hotel. Cheap.
Food: Pizza made by a Macedonian chap in an Italian restaurant.
Language: Italian.

Day 2

Weather: Misty
Destination: Germany

Through the morning gloom we set off east. Belgians have the comedy "give-way to the right" rule that France is generally abandoning, and with there having been no driving test there before 1970, driving standards are low.

Climbing up on to a hill-top road, we spot an American WW2 cemetery.

7992, if you're counting. In the sunshine, with misty edges, it's quite a moving experience.

Not having had breakfast at the hotel, we spot a sign to McDonalds but at a roundabout we see a biker café instead and, as we'd crossed the border without noticing, we sat down to frühstück. Fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, rolls, bread, orange juice and coffee. There was probably some sauerkraut there too.

Realising that our route was in the general direction of Colditz, we decided to pay it a visit and looked for somewhere to stay halfway there. Würzburg was the answer.

The journey there was mostly on fast German roads and Autobahn. Unfortunately, loaded with panniers my top speed was limited as the bike developed a wobble between 120 and 130 KPH (it seemed to depend on wind direction too).

Spotting a sign to the Nürburgring, we thought we'd go and take a look. It was closed to bikes, apparently, but there were plenty of cars including a couple of KTM X-Bows (one British, one German).

From there, onwards to Würzburg. Arriving in a smallish town, we noticed an interesting looking stately home. It wasn't really grand enough to be called a castle, but certainly looked moderately impressive in the setting sun.

The circus was in town too, and no, I don't mean us!

Overnight: Würzburg, Ibis Budget hotel. Slightly less cheap.
Food: McDonalds
Language: Deutsche

More to follow...

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