Sunday, April 19, 2015

If Its Saturday This Must Be Belgium.

Friday after breakfast took the tube into the city and spent the morning wandering around the Tate Modern.  And for the record the Bankside Power Station is not the same as the Battlesea Power Station about which I was recently corrected.

Opted to spend the extra for the just opened Sonia Delaunay exhibit which was worthwhile although for someone so immersed in textiles you would think you could buy a nice art tie but it was not to be.  The amount of ongoing construction in downtown London is impressive as is some of the inventive and on occasion even whimsical architecture that has been erected recently.

Met up with my pal Morgan who is doing a college term abroad this Spring and had dinner at her favorite Indian restaurant.  Not sure if it's her favorite because of the delicious food or the rumor that it is David Beckham's favorite place to eat.  During the course of our conversation we agreed on a code word I would use in a blog posting if/when kidnapped so she could run over to my parent's place and stop all incoming news so they wouldn't worry.

On Saturday the acclimatization ended and the journey really began.  First stop was in Chilham to meet up with Paul who had done some shopping for me.  Had coffee and sandwiches with his wife and him, trading life stories and tales of adventures past, present and future.  He has me all intrigued about shipping a bike to Irkutsk Russia then riding back West through Mongolia and Khazakstan - something he will be doing this July.  His wife took a keen interest in some of the parts on my bike - turns out she went and did some shopping for Paul after I left.

After packing up it was time to head out to the Chunnel shuttle train.

The Chunnel car shuttle experience is one oompah band short of being a bad joke... Worst dinner party in the world organized by the French, catered by the British with entertainment from the Germans.  The check in procedure at the car shuttle train through the Chunnel was straight forward enough but the explanation of what happened on the other side of the gate was less than helpful.

Given a card with a big letter E on it I was told to head down to the service area and things would all be apparent.  Well things were not all that apparent as it turns out - at least to me.  A big scoreboard showed a series of trains each accorded a letter of the alphabet, time of departure and state of boarding.

When I arrived at the services area train B appeared to be boarding with train C soon to be called.  all others were holding.  By the time I got back to the bike after a quick visit to the facilities and exchanging all my remaining British pounds for Euros train B had departed, train C had been cancelled and train D was now boarding???  I also probably lost 5% depreciated value on the currency I had just acquired too but that's a different story.  I no more than bent down to check tire wear than train D was gone train E (my train), had been cancelled and train F was now boarding!!!!  And throughout this there is a continuous scrolling text on the big scoreboard stating that Eurotrain could not allow anyone to line up for a different train other than the one assigned on the ticket.  Whatever, I left the services area and headed through passport control to the line up area where I was immediately directed to line #1.  Few minutes later the lane light turned green and all the smokers who had taken what they all must have thought was an extended opportunity were sent scrambling back into their cars.  And onto the train we drove.

A quick 35-minutes or so later I was riding in France heading North out of Calais towards Liege Belgium, my destination for the night.

A quick aside here but just a note for those of you that might be paying too close attention to the tracking page.  The posted speed limits in Western Europe are significantly higher here than on similarly classed roads in North America.

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