A Travellerspoint blog

Harwich to Hook Of Holland

sunny 18 °C

Day 2

Got up at 6:45 am as the ferry leaves at 9am and you have to be on it at least an hour before so we needed plenty of time to repack the bike boxes and find fuel for the bike. The decision to stay in the Premier Inn was a great one as the ferry port was literally across the road from the hotel. Luckily Morison's was open so we grabbed some fuel and breakfast snacks before queuing for the check in gate. It took about 45 mins to get through the check in so we were glad we'd been up so early. The guy at the desk told us to drive to lane 1, which seemed weird as everyone else was in lane 3. I was hoping that this was something to do with the bike going on first and not that they were about to search us for illegal contraband! Sure enough almost as soon as we had stopped at the end of the lane, a guy with a fluorescent jacket and walkie talkie waved us through and up a long winding concrete ramp. The ferry was waiting at the end of the ramp looking like a massive hungry metal beast that the men in fluorescent jackets could only satisfy by feeding motorists into it's wide open mouth!
A guy waved us to the end of the deck where we parked up next to a metal bulkhead and the guy explained that the wheels needed to be lined up with markings on the floor so that they could strap it down for the trip. We took most of our bags with us as we had booked an outside room and headed up the lift to the public decks.
The boat was huge and the corridors seemed to go on into eternity,
but we managed to find our little door and putting the key in wondered how small our single room would be...
But we were massively surprised! We had a fairly large cabin with a double bed and a single bed above it. There was a giant porthole window and an en-suite which was surprisingly spacious!
We changed out of the bike clothes for a bit and headed out to explore the deck. There was a cinema, casino, games rooms, bar and just about everything else you could want for.
We opted for spending a few hours out on deck catching some rays before retiring to the room for a snooze.

Arrival in Holland
Packed the bike back up and made our way off the boat into a beautiful sunny day in Holland.

Set the sat nav on the phone for Beer and Martijn's house in Leiden and off we went. It was weird riding on the opposite side of the road on my own bike, it didn't feel right at first but after a few dodgy roundabout moments it was becoming natural.
The main road to their town was closed which left us following another car that we hoped was trying to divert around the closure. Luckily it was because it took around 10 minutes of driving down little alleyways with every road seemingly closed or blocked before we finally made it back to the main route!! And the sat nav seemed rather insistent that we turned around and head back to the original closed road so it was quite a relief to find sign posts again.
Jayne also saw her first genuine Windmill as it shot by...

It took around another 45 minutes to find their road and it was great to see Beer walking down the street towards us with a beaming smile.
They live in an apartment above a shop (a bit like us!) and although it's small it's very open plan and cute! We took all the luggage off the bike and Beer suggested we try and fit the bike down a small alley to a lockable compound where they keep their push bikes. It was a bit of a squeeze but I JUST squashed it down the alley and put it to sleep for a few days.
Beer laid on a huge feast including cheese fondue and we stuffed it all down before spending the evening being show around Leiden on a walking tour (Martijn was at a party in another town until late, so would join us later).
Leiden is a very pretty town, little cobbled streets with rivers cris-crossing through it and more churches than you can shake a stick at.

After our walk we headed to a local 'CAFE' (read as busy bar) called 'Oliviers' which serve around 50 different Belgium beers! They give you a card with 6 beers on it and if you drink all six you get a pile of free deep fat fried nibbles. Game on!
I should explain that the card was between 3 of us but was still a challenge as Belgium beers range from 6% - 11.4% !! They are ridiculously strong and more than 2 does start to kick your ass. We had our first 6 which included Duval Green, Orval, Delirium, Barbar, Chimay Blue and others I can't recall.
We had a great night catching up and the free nibbles were much appreciated. Martijn joined us at around midnight and we carried on drinking ridiculously strong beers until the early hours.

Somehow we managed to get back to their pad and had a completely comatose sleep on airbeds in their lounge.
What a fantastic start to the trip.

Posted by Chris_Jayne_RTW 12:16 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

Another Trip so soon??

2 Wheels? Are we crazy?

overcast 9 °C

Day 1

Well it's been less than 6 months since we returned from our round the world trip and already our feet are getting itchy. It's been an amazing few months with Jayne securing a great job in Graphic Design and me getting my dream career. It was difficult when we were back at first, money worries started to become an issue before we found new jobs. I was working every hour I could, waiting tables and delivering cars while Jayne hunted high and low to try and secure interviews or contract work.
But although it got stressy for a few weeks, the long term result has been fantastic. Both in better jobs than before, both very happy and the trip gave us a different outlook on life that will stay with us forever (as will some of the people we met - we hope!).

So now we've settled in a bit to our jobs and can take a few weeks out, we thought it was time to clock up a few more miles.
I have bought a new motor bike since my return. The super fast and incredibly uncomfortable R1 gave way to an enduro style BMW (Think Charlie Boorman and Euwan McGregor or Paris-Dakar style). I decided that I would like to see more places and doing them on my old bike would have been a pain, so I switched. I was a bit nervous at first as it was going to be very different for me (and a huge chunk of change!) but I've had it a few months now and I love it. I use it come rain or shine and it's so comfortable, hence the decision to use it on our trip. The most difficult decision was what to do with luggage and how to secure it/keep it dry on the bike. I opted for a nice big GIVI 55 Litre top box on the back which could hold our bike gear when we stopped and would also act as a mechanism for keeping Jayne on the back when I accelerate!
I then spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to decide on which side panniers to buy before my now best friend Jansen offered to let me borrow his BMW Adventure spec aluminium boxes. I am so thankful as they are an awesome bit of kit and cost around £1200 fitted (I am a very lucky boy!). I had already bought matching waterproof gear for the bike so I was all set but Jayne didn't have much in the way of appropriate clothing so she opted for a new Rica jacket with lots of Fluorescent strips on it and a Shark s700 helmet. Nice Kit!
I also bought the Sena S10 bike communication kit so that we can talk to each other, listen to music, take phone calls and have sat nav in our ears for the trip! I must seriously be one of the only guys on the planet to spend £300 so he can have his Mrs screaming and singing in his ear for 2 weeks!
So, whats the plan I hear you say? I wish we had one! Something travelling before has taught us is that the unplanned, spontaneous things about travelling are often the most exciting and rewarding, so we have planned relatively nothing except for a basic direction. We will leave tonight (Friday 28/9) as soon as Jayne returns from work and head to Harwich. From here we have booked a ferry to 'The Hook Of Holland' to hopefully meet up with Beer and Martijn from our world trip for a few days. That should be a nice gentle start to the trip! Then we will move on down through the west coast of Germany before going into Switzerland for a few days. Hopefully stuffed full of cheese and chocolate we will then cross the boarder into France and continue heading south through the Alps in search of a warmer climate. From here we are undecided whether we will dip into Italy first or head straight across the south coast of France/Monaco to meet up with some more friends. Our route will depend on how quickly we get to this point and be very weather dependent. It will then be our aim to head south into Spain and to skirt along the northern territories before taking a ferry back to Portsmouth from Santander.
Sounds easy doesn't it? :o)
Well I've finished checking the bike over and attaching large metal boxes to it ready for the start of the trip, it look massive now!

Fingers crossed for nice weather!!

180 miles later...

Arrived at Harwich and the Premier Inn is very comfy. The trip down wasn't too bad, the weather stayed dry the whole way so that was a good start! It took around 4 hours due to a few stops for coffee and to warm us back up (it was quite chilly). The communication system worked brilliantly and apart from an issue where the Iphone wasn't charging for some reason and went flat (this appears to be because of a loose cable) all went perfectly. There was a slight scare where the fuel light came on at 160 miles and the only petrol station we found had no fuel! But we limped into the Premier Inn car park having done 20 miles on the fuel light (a personal best) and are hoping that the Morrisons over the road will be open first thing so we can top up before jumping on the ferry.
We'll be up nice and early to catch the ferry as it leaves at 9 and we have to be on it by 8 the port is only about 5 minutes from us, so no drama's expected in the morning.

Posted by Chris_Jayne_RTW 15:03 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

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