Grant and Susan in England
May 10-17, 1996 - Germany --> Belgium --> France --> UK
We flew into Frankfurt on May 10, picked up the bike from Lufthansa's cargo area (quite a straightforward process, they seem to be very familiar with shipping bikes), drove rapidly through Cologne, Brussels and Calais, then caught a ferry to Dover.
The whole drive to London was pretty uneventful, the main roads are excellent, border crossings non-existent, and traffic isn't too bad as long as you stay out of the towns. Dunkirk was much bigger than we expected, and we managed to get lost trying to find something to eat, and then get to the ferry in Calais. It's an easy crossing, only an hour and a half, but they could learn a thing or three from BC Ferries. Not nearly as nice or well appointed.
The first border we actually had to get our passports stamped was UK, although we would have stopped anyway as we had to get the entry stamps for my right of abode visa and Susan's equivalent. That was interesting - the guy said that there were two ways to do Susan's visa, and the consulate found a third! However, we managed to sort it out and now we're legit in the UK.
We stayed in Dover the first night in England, a pretty little town and the "cutest" B&B you could imagine - the room was all pink and frilly with pictures of little girls playing tea etc. on the walls - amazing. Did a little sightseeing in Dover, which has definitely seen better days.
We moved on to Canterbury, but the weather was so bad - really cold and wet - we didn't see much, will have to go back later. Canterbury was packed with tourists, apparently it was a long weekend in France, and Canterbury is directly on the route between Dover and London. We've been setting a blistering pace, with our usual crack of dawn starts. One day we even managed about 20 miles. (Dover to Canterbury).
May 23, 1996 - Tonbridge (near London)
We've holed up in Tonbridge, southeast of London, to await better weather and catch up on odds and ends of things, such as entering bits and pieces of information and then throwing away the paper, to reduce the amount of paper we're carrying on the bike.
Weather here is wet and cold. We had to drive in to London to get new tires for the bike, a central but sleazy / industrial area of town, and then drove back in the rain, so we were cold wet puppies by the time we got to the hotel. Rain gear worked okay, though, clothes underneath were dry, and a hot bath works wonders.
We have to leave tomorrow, and rain is predicted on and off, but we're only 250 miles from Liverpool, and our ferry is Saturday morning, so we should be able to make it at a reasonable pace, and if the weather gets really frightful, we can find a restaurant and hole up until it clears. At least we have two brand new tires, the old ones had a lot of mileage on them. Next destination is the Isle of Man.
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