I arrived back into the UK in May and spent quite a few weeks travelling around seeing friends before (finally…!) settling back in Bristol. While I absolutely LOVE the city in which I grew up in it didn’t take me long to get that itchy feeling in my feet, I just needed to be exploring and travelling.
Since getting back I had bought a bike built for touring and after a practice cycle tour from Bristol to Portsmouth and back I decided to do a cycle tour of Belgium and the Netherlands. Why? Mainly because Eurostar were having a sale and what better country to do your first cycle tour than the Netherlands? The country where EVERYONE cycles!
So here are the journal entries I made…
Left home at 0930 to get to Bristol Temple Meads, I’m still surprised how heavy the bike is when fully loaded, was a bit wobbly when I set off! Got there in plenty of time for the 1030 train. When I got into London it was quite scary riding as the roads were quite busy, it’s scary enough in a car! I clipped something near Tavistock Square and hurt my back keeping my bike upright, good start eh…
Got to St Pancras in plenty of time again but it took me ages to find the place to take my bike for the Eurostar. I then spent a sunny hour having lunch at Kerb, one of my favourite street food collectives at Kings Cross.
I was really excited about taking the Eurostar, it just reminds of the helicopter chase in one of the Mission Impossble movies, 1 or 2 I can’t remember (it’s 1!). Fortunately that didn’t happen this time. I enjoyed watching the last bits of England disappearing before disappearing into a dark tunnel and then suddenly reappearing in France!
I spent the time looking out of the window, the woman opposite was busy doing working on her laptop and the novelty must have worn off on her. I was surprised that I maintained a signal on my phone all the way through the tunnel. Magic! I went to the bar carriage as well but didn’t get anything, it was £4 for a small can of beer. I’m supposed to be on a budget break!
Getting back onto the bike in Brussels was exciting, having to learn the road rules quickly and remembering to stay on the right side (figuratively and literally!) of the road. Good thing bikes have right of way on the roads which is handy! Found my hotel after a quick cycle, checked in and then went for an explore. I texted my mate Huggins for advice as he spends time in Brussels for work, conferences and stuff.
Went for a walk but having just an evening (having got in at 1800) I didn’t have enough time to see everything. I went to the Grand Place and then a couple of places to have a few beers. At the Delirium Cafe (one of Huggy’s suggestion!) I talked to a group of middle aged Americans (Jean, Jeff Cybil and her husband who’s name I can’t remember (strange as I spent most of the time talking to him…). They’ll be in Bruges on Friday so I might see the then!
Had some frites before heading off to bed. As national food specialities goes, just chips (basically) is a bit boring (even if it is doused in mostly industrial made sauces). At least it was relatively cheap but still around £3 for chips and mayo… At least I’m thoroughly enjoying the beer!