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Trip Log
Day 2 and 3 – Antwerp to Germany.
Diamonds, Lunch, Rain and Gear

Such a f***up with the hotel last night. I have stayed in Antwerp previously and last time, I stayed in a clean and pleasant hotel. I thought I booked the same hotel but when I parked and walked to where I stayed previously it was shutdown and gone. What the **** do you do when you think you have a booking and a girl in the room and no f***ing hotel exists. I had ridden for almost eleven hours the previous day but the final forty mins looking for the hotel and carrying the two heavy bags were the least pleasant. Of course her mobile was not working either so no idea where she was. Anyway, I eventually I found the actual hotel I booked. It was just outside the train station and was a very plain hotel. Having said that, we stayed in it for about 6 hours so it was ok. No medals for impressing the girl with a 5 star, more like 1 star. Not my finest hour.

We looked around at some of the diamond shops, lads if you want to buy a ring for a young one, this is place to come. Antwerp is a wonderful city. It is sort of New York of Europe. It has the best bits of France – good coffee and style, and the best bits of Holland, sexy looking women and 80’s faded denim and backcombed blonde hair, think of Bonnie Tyler. It feels like the ideological soul of modern Europe. One of the things l like about it is that there is no such thing as an Antwerpen looking person. He might be blonde and blue eyed, black or olive skinned Mediterranean, he might be Jewish, even ascetic Jewish, or Asian. All are welcome here, even Irish. I like that.

Had lunch in a small café named DelRey, very nice place if you are there. Have a look at the following photos.


Not quite a cup of scald

Put the mot on the bus at 18:00, she headed back to the airport and I got my gear all loaded up. Some Belgian guy was salivating over the CRF in the car park. He was telling me he has a Cross Tourer but he really wanted a Twin. I thought he as going to ask me for a spin on it there and then. I put on all my gear, including the rain gear because it was wet out. As you know by the time I had it all on, I was sweating. When I got to the barrier, I realised that I could not pay there. I would have had to go back up stairs to pay. With a little trepidation, I jammed the bike through the gap in the barrier and rode off (sorry Robrecht). About 30 KMs up the road I heard an police siren and for a moment thought “aah s*** they can’t have chased me to here for one bleedin’ car park”. Needless to say, it was not me they were after.

The plan for today was just to ride up to a place named Valkenswaard. In 1997, after my Dad died, I was chatting to the doctor and I told him I was pissed off and thinking of taking out a loan and buying a bike and f***king off to Europe for a few weeks. He just said “do it”. So I did, I bought a one year old red VFR750 and what a great bike. In ’97, I rode it to Germany and stopped half way in a hostel in a small village named Valkenswaard.

For this trip, I booked a bed in the hostel again, €25 for a night including breakfast. It was strangely emotional riding along and then turning off the highway, the same way I did 19 years ago.

It was raining most of the time but I had Hein Gerike waterproof jacket and trousers on. They are a bit uncomfortable after four or five hours because they are not breathable but I have to say, it is great to just know you are bone dry when you take off all your gear. Ninky Nonk suggested to bring a spare pair of gloves and I have to say that is a nice idea. I have my summer gloves and also the heavy winter gloves. It is nice to ride in the day time with the summer gloves and then switch in the evening time when it gets cold.

First Beer of many

I checked into the hostel and left everything in the room. I rode the bike back down the town for dinner. Had a beer or two in a four or five different pubs and eventually made my way back to the hostel. I was riding gingerly on the way back, not because I was nervous of dropping the bike but because if I did, it would **** up the rest of the trip.

I was wondering why I felt a little hung over the next morning but then I remembered that I had also had a large beer when I arrived in the hostel, and also when I returned at 23:30. The bar man gave me the late one on the house. Nice guy, thank you Vincent.

Day 3

On Friday morning, I had to work a little and had emails and a skype call to do. This meant that I was late leaving Valkenswaard and after the beers the previous night, I did not feel too hectic. Was nodding off on the bike while riding along. Eventually I could take it no more, so around 14:00 I turned off the highway and just hit the Garmin button to find lodgings. It asked did I want BnB or hotels or just any option. I was so pissed off with being sleepy, I just picked anything will do. There was a hotel 3 KMs from where I stopped. I rode to the hotel and checked in, a bit embarrassed by the fact that I only rode for an hour or two. When the pretty girl asked had I come far I mumbled yes, from Ireland and left it at that. Well she did not ask for a breakdown so it was not really a lie.

German Hotel

Turns out the hotel was a class place with a sauna and steam room and not a sinner around. Food was great, some kind of a buffet for lunch and not sure why but they never charged me for the lunch. There was a conference of some sort and a crowd of aul’ ones and aul’ lads, so perhaps they thought I was with them. Anyway, grand lunch, thank you Hotel Mecure.

Dessert with dinner.

I was a bit gutted when I landed into the hotel today because I planned on doing 600 KMs but hopefully tomorrow will go better.
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