When we last wrote, we had just arrived in Strasbourg, France from the Alps and were unsure of our next route. Long story short, we decided to hang a sharp left and go to Paris for a couple of nights. We then drove almost straight north to the French coast, which we bounced along for a while before going through the Chunnel (“The European Tunnel” is its official name), then went east to Sandwich, Kent England for a night and we’re now in Burford, Oxfordshire in the West of England. We have to meet the ferry to the Isle of Man in two days time.
It’s hard to narrow down what to tell you about as every city we’ve visited has had its own special appeal. It’s also difficult as old churches and buildings are my equivalent to Karen’s “you’ve seen one Swiss chalet and you’ve seen them all.” How much charming old stuff can one look at? Apparently a lot, for KR.
We have been lucky on almost every front. Only two days of rain while riding during a time that much of France and the UK have had rain. We’ve had no bike problems, which is like unbelievable given our history. We’ve met some very nice people who’ve given us good advice along the way. For the most part, the places we’ve stayed have been above par given our habit of not looking for a hotel until about five o’clock the day we need it. We’ve had some missteps, but have worked our way around them with little hassle.
Our biggest nightmare was trying to enter Paris at 5PM in what turned out to be horrific traffic. A traffic accident while on a Parisian freeway ground all lanes to a halt for 4-5 miles. We followed four Police trucks as they cleared a path, which was immediately taken up by a full array of scooters and motor bikes of all sizes. At one point I just chickened out trying to split and hop lanes like every other two wheeled vehicle was doing. Miraculously I didn’t scape a car, fall down, get punted by a car or truck, and after three tries, found our hotel. Well, more accurately, we tried three different hotels before finding “the” winner, the Petite Madeline, which is very aptly names.
Riding through through the countrysides and cities of France and England, we both notice the difference yet its hard to describe what it is beyond the obvious — driving on the left side of the road is a pretty good wake-up call that something is different:) France has lots of farms/vineyards while England has fields that seem to be used for animals. The style of the buildings are different as well, but an “English Cottage” and “French Village” don’t seem that far off, especially in the north of France.
The English are certainly more talkative than the French, at least to Americans. Ask a French shopkeeper whether he or she has an item, and if not, where might one find it and you get a “no.” Ask an English shopkeeper and you get an apology for not caring it and three or four suggestions. Not sure if the response is due to us — Americans– or their different natures.
So far, we’ve driven about 2300 miles through France, Italy, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Germany and England. Here’s what the last few days looked like in pictures.
Tomorrow we start the final leg to the Isle of Mann. We need to catch a 2AM ferry from Hesham on the 7th.
More as it happens.