It’s Easter again so it must be time to get on the bike and head for the Continent. As I’m in the middle of a contract and am already taking some days out of it for holiday I don’t want to add to the list of non paying days so am limiting myself to the 4 day weekend.
After a hectic day at work on Thursday (major system outage and just me in to deal with it having only been there for just over a month) I managed to get to the Channel Tunnel just in time to catch the train before the one I was booked on. I’d booked an F1 Hotel near the exit of the tunnel for the first night as I ‘lost’ an hour in transit due to the time difference between the Continent and the UK. As is ever the case when you are aiming for a specific hotel you have problems finding it and this was no exception – I could see the hotel from the road, but couldn’t work out how to get to it! Im my efforts I ended up in the car park of a trading estate and nearly dropped the bike whilst doing a ‘U’ turn (I clipped a 45° kerb that I couldn’t see in the dark). I managed to keep it shiny side up and no harm was done.
On arrival at the hotel I quicky realised that I’d stayed at one of this chain’s hotel’s before and hadn’t been impressed. I remain unimpressed. In their favour they’re cheap and clean but the rooms are very cramped, they’re not en-suite and the bed was uncomfortable. It was only for one night though.
I set off in light rain and made sure that I stuck to the speed limits exactly as I didn’t want a repeat meeting with the French Police! I was soon in Belgium in improving weather. Circumnavigating Brussels proved to be a bit of an ‘issue’ and I losy half an hour riding up and down bits of the ring road. Trying to put a positive spin on the experience I think I will characterise it as ‘character building’. The truth of the matter is that I always get lost around Brussels and Belgian road signs suck.
Brussels behind me I made good time across the Netherlands spur and arrived in Germany. Here I was free of speed limits and was able to open up the bike s bit and enjoyed a short blast down the Autobhan in the company of a strikingly blue British Potsche. Unfortunately play time came to a halt all too soon as the traffic came to a standstill in a place where the lanes were reduced in width because of roadworks. There wasn’t enough space between the lanes for me to filter through so was stuck with the rest of the traffic for 30 minutes or so until we cleared the site of an accident where two of the three lanes were closed. Shortly after clearing the accident I was in Cologne.
Despite it being Easter the first hotel I stopped at had a free room so I booked it for two nights. It’s an Ibis – a brand I’ve stayed with before. The hotel is right next door to a railway station and a cathederal. The room is quiet, clean and comfortable.
After checking in I took a walk down by the river (the Rhine) and stopped at a bar for a beer and something to eat – an octopus salad which was very nice. After the meal I headed back to the hotel to collect my coat as it was starting to get chilly. I then ventured out to do a little sightseeing around the local area and look in a few souvenir shops. They were full of the usual tat that you can find in any large city so I passed on buying anything. One thing I did notice was the highly visible police presence – I don’t think I was out of sight of at least one policeman / woman at any time whilst I was out!
By this time I’d become quite tired and was aching from the ride and all the walking so went back to the hotel intending to have a rest before going out for a meal in the evening. However, feeling sleepy, I decided to order of the room service menu displayed in my room. Only to be told, extremely curtly, that the hotel didn’t offer room service! I therefore went out and got a takeaway pizza to eat in my room (and saved €4 in the process).
It is now Saturday morning and it’s raining. Fortunately there’s a back door from the hotel directly into the station so I used that to go and get a currywurst and bratwurst for breakfast. Depending on the weather I may visit a museum / art gallery, take a trip on the Rhine or take a railway trip.