Week 1 London, overview

Full week of traveling and sight seeing and I keep asking myself daily, How did I get here? So far Paris, London and Brussels so far plus a few small towns along the way.

Minneapolis to Philly on Monday after noon, change planes to go to Charles de Gaul airport in Paris. I have tons of notes but the sort and sweet is the plane ride over was OK. A spare seat next to me but that was taken up by a nervous and occasionally very stinky passenger. I watched most of two movies or was it three, not getting really any sleep at all, maybe an hour or two before the lights came on and we were landing. Still traveling (again) with a bike box with no bike that of course cost extra money. There is always a rule that just tries to discourage bike travel. Like, you can travel with a bike in a bag/box but no clothes or anything else can be in with the bike. Oh well, I’ve learned not to argue. Just shut up and pay the fee. All bags collected in Paris, call in to Bushy (My long time best friend from Australia and master travel planner who has put lots of effort into booking all the stays and transport) who got in early and was waiting at the hotel. Cab acquired and 20 minutes late after a slightly harrowing cab ride I’m unloading and saying hi. Very friendly, quiet country hotel that used to be a farm, actually still has an active farm attached. Unload and freshen and then off on the train to a main transit stop in Paris, Gare du Nord, where we will need to come on Wednesday to take the Eurostar high speed train to London for a few days. Off the train to an amazingly busy and active area of Paris that I’m sure is nowhere near central city.

 

Highlights for now and fill ins later, almost time to walk to another new dinner spot in Brussels.

Wednesday, Eurostar train to London, fast and easy. Raining and cool, rain and windy when we got there, same all days we were in London except Saturday the day we left when it turned sunny and started to warm up.  Check in at the Ibis International Hotel at/across from Euston Station for a few days. Connected with Sam at the Olympic Velodrome to pick up my Euro bike. They have Tuesday and Wednesday night leagues, Wed. is Vets night. Sam’s car breaks down while he is taking us back to the hotel so we get a cab and leave Sam waiting for a tow truck. I looked under the car and it looked like a front drive axle failed which meant no roadside repair possible. We had to push the car off the road because it stopped in a bus stop area on a narrow road and was causing traffic chaos. Sam said he didn’t get home until 2:00 A.M. after that. Attack at Westminster earlier in the day by some crazy maybe lone terrorist who kills 5 and drives into lots more before he is shot dead. City goes into high alert. We were miles from the event.

Thursday, Big Bus tour of London, slow moving because of traffic diversions caused by Tuesday’s attack and closure of Westminster area as a crime scene. Normally the bus would go through the Westminster area. Would have been nice to be on the open air top area viewing but it’s still windy and cold. Glad to have brought a winter coat.

Friday, more tube travel (Starting to like and get comfortable with this) to Greenwich and the Observatory where Greenwich Mean time starts. Tried to catch up with Sam for a meal but no luck. River boat cruise from Greenwich/Cutty Sark museum area to Westminster area which is still on high alert but is open to the public again. Walk to Victoria station and get the tube back to Euston Station and the hotel. Dinner out at a local pub on a wild Friday night, tap beers and delicious steak and ale pie with mashed and veges for dinner. Even Bushy said the pie was great.

Saturday, walk to St Pancras Station, (same as the one we came in to on Wednesday) to get to Brussels using the Eurostar train again. Easy ride to a main station in Brussels and them a grab a metro train to another part of Brussels where our Air BNB is located. Another 8 to 10 block walk with lots of people staring at the bike bags and we find our home. Owner only speaks French and Spanish, we are in language trouble again. I have to use my very rusty Spanish skills to help out. We’ll be OK. Haul luggage to the second floor apartment and then time to assemble both bikes on an outdoor deck in the sun . Done. Time for a walk to a lunch stop and some groceries for tomorrow.  Blog time and now time for dinner and an adult beverage.  As we walk around, I start to notice we are in an upscale part of town. Lots of fashion shops around. Lucky for us, no bike shops. The lodging is off this are about 6 blocks no there area is deceiving. Back from dinner at Boston Pub, nobody there spoke English, either the Aussie or American version so lots of laughs all around.

Sunday, yet to happen, big day planned getting to Ghent to see the start of Ghent Welvegem pro race and see some more plus ride the bikes back from Ghent to our lodging for the week, should be…..