So after a hectic ride to reach London in time and a further insane week in London, I have at last made some time to keep the blog up to date. So here is the last week in London Town!
We woke to a cloudless sky, white snow capped mountains and the prospect of a good winding road all the way towards Paris. We loaded up and joined the road towards Grenoble leaving our awesome “I feel like a am on a ski holiday” hotel behind.
The road was fantastic. Good smooth tarmac, winding roads, tunnels cutting through the mountains and turquoise coloured lakes. We had about 1200km to go until London and only 2 days to do it in as we had to meet up with some friends.
The road from Le Sauze to Grenoble was a lot bigger, wider and busier than the one the previous day. We tried to stay on the more direct roads to safe some time. There where however a few times when I saw on the GPS that there was a mountain pass alternative to some of the tunnels. I took them.
The passes where 1st gear hairpins and barely wide enough to accommodate the bike and the panniers. As you passed over these small mountains the view is absolutely breath-taking. We where however running out of time and would be short on daylight if we didn’t get a move on. It was lunch time and we had only done 100km. 🙂
We got a move on and joined the more direct route from Grenoble towards Lyon. It was a wide and smooth road with great scenery. The wind turbines whirling away over the lush green countryside of eastern France. We still passed quite a few of the smaller villages and decided to stop for a coffee before we joined the motorway north.
We stopped at a filling station about 200km before Paris in the middle of nowhere and decided to get something to eat while I filled up. Like all filling station here, you have to fill your own fuel and pay the fuel in store. Deidre found a small cafeteria that sold pre cooked food and we decided the make our own “boerewors” rolls. I have been dying for one the last couple of weeks. I ordered 4 small sausages, 1 bagguete and 1 plate of fries. I pushed my little tray towards the till and greeted “bonjour” and waited for the lady to give me my outstanding bill. She turned to me a said “46 Euro pleez”. I calmly said “Excuse me, how much?” I quickly converted the amount back into Rand and realised that it was 60$… I sarcastically said to her that her till must be broken and asked if she was sure that any person in the world would pay 60$ for 1 piece of bread, 4 SMALL sausages and a plate of cold chips. She just kept looking at me and shrugged her shoulders. I then simply looked back at her, shrugged my shoulders and said to her to take the tray and carefully place the sausages back where she found them because there is no F*#$ing way I was paying 60$ for 1 piece of bread, 4 SMALL sausages and a plate of chips. She understood and I walked towards the bike totally disgusted!
After the whole episode we decided to call it a day and find a Hotel in the small town of Auxerry. We drove around like always and couldn’t find anything for under 80 euro’s. It’s a joke some of these places, I probably wouldn’t stay there for free if I had a choice…
But Deidre found a small hotel, nice and in the middle of a vibrant square for only 45 euro’s. I excepted and parked for the night. We enjoyed the evening drinking wine and chatting till early hors of the morning.
The next morning was pretty uneventful. We decided to skip Paris and head straight for London as we couldn’t see Paris in only one day. We will do Paris on the way back from London.
We reach Calais so 500km later and opted for the ferry-boat across from Europe to Britain. It was 50 euros and would take 90min. Sweet!
When the time came to load, we got the bike on and enjoyed the sail across the english channel. I looked forward to driving on the correct side of the road and I reflected on the fact that in 132KM I would have been on my most Northern part of the trip, from here on is south all the way. Now the sun sets on my right, it comes up on my left and I will in a short time will be enjoying the warm waters of the Indian ocean, leaving the cold and dark Atlantic behind. I missed Africa!
We arrived 90min later on mainland UK and hopped on the M-Something towards London. All of a sudden I forgot to drive on the left, I understood the signs and every time I read a road sign I thought I was British. (Try pronouncing Knightsbridge and using it in the following sentence: “O Darling, would you like to meet me for cream tea in Knightsbridge late afternoon at half six?”… see what I mean? All of a sudden you should like a Pom)
Let me rephrase. I had to enter and exit this toll gate as fast as possible as it was peak rush hour friday afternoon. All the people use chips in their cars so that they don’t have to stop at the toll gate and simply drive through. So I always try to be quick so that I don’t cause a traffic jam… So what did I do? I took the car only, high-speed toll lane where only people with chips can enter. I am sure I made afternoon traffic report because when I looked back within a minute there must have been a 1km que just on one lane. I felt like a real “doos”…
I pressed info, waited for the guy to cross the highway and open the boom for me. It was so embarrassing!
So on we went and looked forward to the much-anticipated “braai” that I asked Reinhardt for.
It was a great reunion as I last saw Reinhardt about 3 years ago back in SA. We had quite a few beers and called it a night with a full itenary already in place by Reinhardt for the next week.
So day one we where off towards Epic forest. Had a cycle in the forest and enjoyed a great lunch at a small pub in the middle of the biggest city forest in the world.
That afternoon Reinhardt organised a braai with some local mates of his. It was a good evening and once again Reinhardt was on the braai and making sure that he showed the Aussies what a real braai looked like!
After our goodnight, our hosts was keen to take us around London and show us some sights. First up was Camden Town, the heart of the Punk! I loved it. The streets are lined with food stalls, clothing markets and mohawks.
The next morning we where up early and joined the city of London on their very well-functioning underground train system. The Tube. Look, it bloody expensive, but I later found out that it is the easiest way into London. More on that later! So off we went on the 45min tube ride into London. First on the list was the London Eye.
Armed with our map book, tripadvisor app (best app I have ever had) and SA attitude we took on streets of London.
After the Eye I stopped of at the Egypt embassy and Sudan embassy to see if they will give me a visa for my trip down. The answer was YES, the total paperwork: 1 Page and please come back in 2 days… Sweeeeeeet! How easy was that!!!!
After some sights we where summoned to meet the hosts at Bodeans. They apparently have a burger that’s was voted number one sandwich in London! It turned out to be one of the best I ever had!
After filling up we headed towards Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus… Its not a Circus, its a roundabout with lots of shops and tourist!
I also took the bike in to London today to try to avoid the tube costs but the traffic and drama off finding parking had me sold on the tube.
We as South Africans like to complain. We have crime and and… But one thing we don’t have is good for nothing, useless youth that believe rich people are evil. So to state their case they protest in the streets…
The next day was chilled checking out the home of cricket and the pub where Shakespeare had a few beers back in the day.
So as you can see we needed a break from this hectic schedule in London we opted for the v=cricket match in Cardiff between South Africa and West Indies.
We won that game. Thats all I need to say. We ran back 3km to catch the high speed train back to London. We made it just in the nick of time.
Today I just spent getting all the parts in order that I bought for the trip down Africa. I also have been given a new helmet by Nitro. I have always used Nitro products and absolutely love it! So Vicky from Nitro in England sent me a new one! Also… I got a brand new pair of boots from Motorcycle Superstore in the USA. Its comes at a good time as my helmet en boots are shot! Thanks Guys for you new gear!
So for know I am just waiting for the gear to arrive and then Deidre and I are off to Paris.
See you in Paris!