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|06/07||Phoenix AZ and Paris, France
DAVID, Phoenix -- Got up early this morning. Showered and had breakfast in the lobby.
Called the Toronto Airport lost and found to see if they had my fleece jacket. They referred me to Air Canada. Called Air Canada to see if they had found it. They said if it is found, and if it is tied to the reported loss, they would call Christa. Don't bother calling them.
Had to mail Lisa's old seat, the shirts from South Africa the journals and a film disc. Got packages ready to mail. Went to the post office, wrote post cards and mailed everything.
Went back to the motel. Confirmed that the meeting was here at 2 o'clock. Got ready for the meeting.
Met from 2 to 7:30. Broke for dinner. Resumed meeting at 9. Left for bed at 10.
LISA in Paris -- I'm writing this about 6 days after the fact, since David had the Pocketmail with him. So this day is kind of a blur. Actually, it was kind of a blur even while I was living it, due to the fact that I got NO sleep on the plane, and the day started when it actually should have been midnight.
Anyway, after checking into our hotel and bringing up our bags (a process that took close to an hour and a half -- remember, this is Odyssey) Joan, Larry and I went to pick up the car that we leased for Europe. We'll have this one for 3 months. Of course these things are never simple. This time, things went really smoothly at the car dealer. The problem was, it took about 2 hours to get there! As I say, it's all kind of a blur now, but the afternoon involved a bunch of subways, a bus and a cab.
And then of course making our way back across town in the car through Paris traffic.
The hotel we were in wasn't exactly in the area one thinks of first when visualizing Paris, but it was just a couple of blocks from the Metro, which was great. It was inexpensive (especially for Paris), so I decided to just stay there for the next few days (by myself, and then with David when he gets back). The riders are supposedly leaving tomorrow, but not surprisingly, many are staying in Paris for at least another day or two.
Too tired to do anything else. Went to sleep right after dinner, looking forward to a more interesting day tomorrow.
Love to all,
David and Lisa
|06/08||Phoenix, Arizona and Paris, France
DAVID, PHOENIX to Paris -- The presentation for the Phoenix Sky Harbor noise insulation program went well this morning. After congratulations all around, I headed to my room to pack.
I left the motel with Carol Gustafson, the CSDA Program Manager for the Los Angeles noise insulation program. She is going to keep the car so she can visit a great aunt that she hasn't seen in years.
I shuttled to the airport and caught my 1 o'clock flight to LAX. It left at 1:35, arrived at 2:30.
At 3:40 I got on the 777 direct to Paris. Departure was delayed about 20 minutes late due to some late-arriving connecting flights. At 4:40 we took off.
I was in the 39th row of 44 nine seat across rows. A 12 year old French girl sat next to me. She didn't talk much.
The flight had nice amenities. Free headsets, unlimited access to seven movies and unlimited free drinks of your choice were offered. We had order-from-a-menu dinner and breakfast plus snacks. The flight was quite rough, however. Seat belts were required most of the time, and the plane was jumping up and down and bumping side to side for every meal. Every time I had any liquid in a cup, it was slopped over the edge due to the plane movement.
The flight route took us over the lower end of the Sacramento Valley, Wyoming. North Dakota, the Hudson Bay, Greenland and the British Isles on the way to Paris. I dozed sporadically.
LISA in Paris -- Woke up just in time to catch the end of breakfast with the group. Actually feeling really good and well rested. I've always heard that after an overnight/jet-lag inducing flight you should force yourself to stay up to get back on a regular schedule. That's what I did this time, and it seems to have worked.
I decided that today I would kind of just bop around Paris and save the "famous stuff" for when David arrives. I happened to be chatting with Bobbie Fisher after breakfast, and she was heading into town, so we went together. We walked from the Louvre down the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe, where she was meeting an old friend, so we parted ways. The Louvre is huge! I had always heard that it was big, but it was bigger than I thought. Hard to believe there's so much art in the world! (And of course that's just one musueum!)
I was a bit disappointed in the Camps Elysee. I'm not exactly sure what I expected, but since I'd always heard of it, I expected SOMETHING other than what it is -- a big wide boulevard over-crowded with pedestrians, cars, over-priced sidewalk cafes and not-particularly-interesting stores. And the one measley perfumerie I saw on that street didn't even have tester bottles out! An outrage! But we did have a pleasent walk. And although not my favorite street, a walk along the Champs is a must in Paris.
After Bobbie left, I continued to walk around, ducking into little shops now and then. Had lunch at a sidewalk cafe, of ccurse. It's true -- they're all over Paris, and most actually do seem to be pretty good. Hard to get bad food here. I forgot to mention, it was an absolutely perfect day, weather-wise, which cast a sparkling glow (literally and figuratively!) on everything I did.
I had heard that somewhere in Paris there's -- get this -- a perfume museum! So after lunch I set off to find it. Stopped at a tourist office to get the address, then took the metro. (By the way, the Paris Metro is wonderful. Goes everywhere. Lots of lines that can seem confusing at first, but fairly easy-to-use maps. I figured it out pretty quickly, and it was a convenient, inexpensive means of transportation.)
The perfume museum was small and intersting (to me, anyway. But hey, it's a museum so other people must go...). It showed how they made perfumes from the 1700s to the 1900s.
Most impressive was a large 3-sided piece of furniture with a vast array of vials, each with a different scent. The descripive information compared it to an organ, which the perfumer "plays" from different sections and combines notes to create chords. Also had displays of beautiful perfume bottles through the ages.
Next walked down Ave. de St. Honore, a pleasant street with many small shops, including many famous designer shops. Not anything I'd actually buy (particularly on THIS trip!) but a pleasant walk.
Compliment of the day: in early afternoon, when I was making my way back to the Champs Elysee to catch the metro for the perfume museum, I needed to ask directions. I asked in French (I've been trying to speak French as much as possible, and directions are one of the easier phrases). Well, it was obvious I wasn't from Paris, because EVERYONE here knows where the Champs Elysee is. But the woman I asked did ask me (in French) if I speak English or French! The mere thought that French MIGHT be my native language is quite a compliment indeed from a French person. Speaking of the language, most people have heard how snobby the French are about their language, how they won't help you, etc. I've actually experienced very little of that; on the contrary, most people seem very happy to help. But admittedly, I do speak enough to at least try to communicate, and I think they really appreciate that. It might be different if I couldn't speak or understand at all.
Had dinner and took metro back to hotel. All in all, a really enjoyable day, although of course I missed David!
Love to all, David and Lisa
DAVID -- I arrived about 12:30, picked up my bag and headed for an exit. (It turned out there were several to choose from.) On the way out I had a fleeting thought of how nice it would have been if Lisa could have met me.
I passed through the final security and stopped. There were signs pointing many directions with destinations that I could not read. I stopped in front of the biggest, most informative looking sign and pondered the choices -- several busses, several train lines, and taxis. I had just decided to take a taxi when there was a tap on my shoulder. It was LISA! WHAT A PLEASANT SURPRISE!
LISA -- I had been thinking that it would be a nice surprise if I could meet David at the airport. I figured he'd be really tired after an 11 hour overnight flight and a nine-hour time difference. Not to mention he'd be landing in a strange city where he can speak about three words of the language. Not to mention I was anxious to see him!
When I discovered that the Metro goes to the airport, I decided that's how I would go.
I had asked someone at my hotel about how long it would take to get to the airport via the metro, and he said about a half hour. Well, what he apparently MEANT to say was that it would take about a half hour once you transferred from the Metro to the RER (another rapid transit system going out to the suburbs) and assuming you got on the correct RER train the first time. (As I mentioned, I quickly became quite adept at the Metro, but the RER is another matter...) To make a long story short, it took about an hour and a half, and by the time I arrived at the airport, David's plane had landed, and the passengers were already through customs. I was beginning to despair, because since he didn't know I was meeting him, he was probably in a taxi by now. And once he arrived at the hotel, he'd have no idea where I was or what room I was in. And he wouldn't even be able to get my room number from the desk, since it wasn't registered in my name. (A holdover from the first night with the Odyssey group, when I shared the room.) I was beginning to think this was going to be more or less a repeat of what happened when we landed in Washington last month! So I was feeling pretty unhappy about the whole thing, when I happened to turn around and my eye was caught by a handsome man trying to figure out where to get a cab. David, of course! Was I happy to see him!
DAVID, again -- We took a taxi to the hotel. I took a nap while Lisa had lunch. (At least that was the plan.) Then we headed out to see some of the city.
We took a subway into town to the Hotel De Ville (city hall) stop to begin our walking tour. (By the way, the Paris subway system REALLY IS a fantastic, thorough system that covers the whole city. And, like the New York subway, one reasonable fare -- about 55 Francs -- gives you access to the whole system.)
Our walking tour started with a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral. After examining in awe the huge front of the cathedral, we walked around the whole thing. We decided to do our visiting tomorrow due to the late hour.
Next we stopped in the memorial to the 20,000 Parisians who were deported to the concentration camps in WW II. It was very striking. It is designed to replicate the holding cellars that the Nazi's used. It had a narrow, single file stairway leading down between walls. The enclosed yard area allowed sight only of the sky straight up, and just a glimpse of the Seine through steel bars. Then the path led through another narrow, single file entrance to the dark, close holding cells. Quite dramatic!
Then we walked over a bridge to the Ille de St. Louis and the "left bank" area. We walked through and decided to come back for dinner.
Next we went to visit the Sainte Chappelle, but it had just closed.
Then over to the Conciergerie, where political prisoners awaiting the guillotine were kept during the Revolution, but it was closed also.
We walked over the Pont Nuef ("new bridge," now the oldest in Paris) to the Samaritiane, a large department store, to catch the view from the roof. As we entered, we saw a large perfume department. Lisa planned to stop there on the way out.
Though the building is only about 12 stories high, it did offer a good, all around view of the city from it's location in the center of the city. Unfortunately, we only had about ten minutes before it, too, closed. Also unfortunately, the large fragrance department that we spotted on the way in was closed when we came down from the roof.
Since everything was closing, we decided to head back to the left bank for dinner. Our Europe book recommended a few restaurants there. It also recommended Berthelou's ice cream parlor as having the best ice cream in France.
As we walked through the left bank area checking restaurants, we found the ice cream shop. More bad news -- it would be closing in five minutes. But, not to be thwarted, we decided to "have dessert first." It really was delicious ice cream.
Then we went to our restaurant. Outside, it had menus posted in both French and English. When we sat down, (speaking English), the waiter gave us French menus. That was okay for Lisa, but I asked for a menu in English. The response was no, better that I learn French. (Unfortunately, that was the haughty attitude we experienced in most of the nicer and/or touristy restaurants in Paris. It made me wonder if waiters had to go to a special school to learn how to be obnoxious.) After insisting, I finally got a menu in English.
After a tasty dinner, we walked to the end of the Ille de Saint Louis and got another beautiful view of the Seine. Then we caught the subway back to our room.
Love to all, David and Lisa
Last night was the fiercest lightning and thunder storm that I have ever experienced! We saw multiple flashes that seemed to be right outside our 5th floor window. The room would light up -- brighter than a hundred flash bulbs all going off together. Then the loud crash of rolling thunder that vibrated your bones. Quite a display!
Then, as the lightning slowly moved off, the rain came. And what a downpour! It was, literally, like standing in a multiple-head, full-flow shower.
The storm drifted off. We went to sleep.
This morning we headed right over to the Notre Dame. We stopped on the way for brunch, then (like good Odyssey riders) we got in the first line we saw.
While Lisa held a spot in line, I checked to se what the long line was for. It turned out to be a line to climb the stairs to the top of the tower and get a view of Paris. Since we'd already been to the top of several things and gotten views of Paris, we decided to pass on this one.
Instead, we toured the cathedral proper. It's big -- took 200 years to build -- and has many, beautiful stained glass windows. It was not extraordinary when compared with the many beautiful cathedrals we have already seen in Europe. Actually, we found the tableaux and the architectural elements on the outside to be the most interesting.
From there we went to Sainte-Chappele. This cathedral is a triumph of Gothic architecture that is a cathedral of glass like no other. It was speedily built from 1242 to 1248 to house the Crown of Thorns, purchased by King St. Louis IX France's only canonized king. The crown cost more to purchase than the cathedral cost-to build. It's architectural harmony is due to the fact that it was designed and built under the direction of one architect in only six years -- unheard of in Gothic times.
The cathedral, with it's high gothic ceilings and spacious stained glass window-walls, fairly glows in the sunlight. There are 15 separate panels of stained glass (6,500 sf. of stained glass -- two-thirds of it 13th century original) containing 1,100 different scenes, mostly from the Bible. It is a magnificent room.
Immediately upon leaving the Palas du Justice (which surrounds the cathedral) we came upon a large, wall clock. Built in 1333, it is the oldest public clock in the city -- and it still keeps good time.
Next we poked our heads into the lobby of the Conciergerie. This was used by kings to torture and execute failed assassins. It was used for similar purposes by leaders of the Revolution. During one eight-month period, 2,600 prisoners were kept here on their way to the guillotine. The list of those made "a foot shorter at the top" by the "national razor" includes Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, and the chief revolutionary, Maximilien Robespierre.
On the way out, we passes by the "babblers," the towers where prisoners were kept while awaiting their fate. They were so named for the painful sounds that leaked from them.
Next we crossed the Pont Neuf, or new bridge (now Paris' oldest). Built around 1600 by Henry IV, it has 12 arches spanning the Seine at it's widest part. (The turrets between the arches were originally for venders and street entertainers.)
Then we walked over to the Samaritaine department store for an unhurried view from the top and a visit to the perfume department. Lisa said the big, fancy perfume department was "just like any Macy's in a mall."
Then over to the Louvre. A HUGE building that we declined to visit due to lack of time. We agreed, that it will be a focus in our next visit to Paris.
We passed many sidewalk cafes along the Champs Elysees, holding out for one on the Etoile (meaning "star" and referring to the intersection of 12 roads at the Arc de Triomphe) as Lisa remembered from her previous visit. But, none were there. (She thinks it must have been at another traffic circle that she visited on Thursday.)
The hour was getting late, so we headed down Kleber Avenue to the Trocadero (popular with roller bladers), stopping for dinner along the way.
Then over to the Eiffel Tower where we planned to have a drink at a restaurant on the second floor (the 400 foot level) while we watched the lights of the city come on. As we approached, we saw that thousands of people were milling around the area. We were concerned that the lines were going to be too long. When we got to the street at the base, we found a fence around the park at the base with no one inside. We joined the throngs that were going all one direction around it, thinking maybe they were going to the entrance.
After turning a corner and walking awhile, we asked one family where everyone was going. "To a concert" we were told.
We spotted a Pattisserie for some French pastries for dessert. There we asked another man about the concert. It turned out it was a free concert by Johnny Halliday, a very popular French singer. The concert was going to be in the park at the foot of the tower. That's why the tower was closed.
We opted to pass on the concert and hop the subway back to our hotel. (We did watch a little of the concert on TV, though.)
Love to all, David and Lisa
|06/11||France, Paris to Saint-Aubin du Carmier
This morning we walked to breakfast. We found that a large farmers market and some smaller flea-market-type booths adjacent had been set up on the wide sidewalk of the main street where the subway stop is located. After breakfast we bought a couple of oranges. They were far and away the cheapest food we've bought in Paris.
We went back to the hotel to pack our stuff and we found that the room was locked. Uh ohh, at was 12:10. Checkout time is noon and the door lock resets itself at noon.
We found a maid and asked her to let us in to get our stuff out. She said no, she would get in trouble. We went down to the desk to plead our case. The desk clerk said to find the maid and tell her "David" said it was okay. We did, and got our gear out.
Then we went to get our car, only to find the parking lot time also recycled at noon. According to a different clerk, we had to pay for another whole day. We pleaded our case, he made a phone call, and they let us out.
Then we left Paris to drive to Saint Aubin. We took the main highway -- a toll road. It took us 2 1/2 hours and $20 to get to where the riders rode to in 4 days.
When we arrived, we found a note from Larry and Joan that they found a motel and were there now. No time was listed though, so we didn't know where to find them. We opted to go to dinner thinking we would find them there. No luck, but we did hear that they did not ride, but had driven Ken's car today.
We ate dinner and headed back to camp. On the way, we ran into Larry and Joan walking to dinner. They confirmed where the hotel was. We agreed to see them later to discuss tomorrow.
We checked in to the hotel. Quaint and inexpensive. We had a third floor (attic) room with windows in the ceiling. It had a private bathroom, though. It also had two twin beads that must have been as old as the hotel was -- very soft, bouncy, and swaybacked. The only problem was -- MOSQUITOS. Can you believe it? Mosquitos came in our third floor, roof window.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|06/12||France, Saint Aubin du Cormier to Le Mont Saint Michel
This morning, at the grammar school again, we had a fantastic breakfast from the same folks that provided the fantastic dinner last night.
The ride was short -- only 50 Km's. The route was mostly rolling hills -- wonderful for tandems -- through farmland and pastures, with an occasional French village. The scenery was primarily green grass colorfully sprinkled with flowers, accented by the stone houses of the villages.
We finished by 11, reserved a room, had lunch, and headed for the Mont Saint Michael.
Mont Saint Michael, the "Merveille de l'Occident" (Wonder of the West) is an abbey church, a monastery and a walled city. It is set on top of a rock island that is about a kilometer around and 80 meters high. It was built at various times starting in the 9th century and finally finishing in the 17th century. It is connected to the mainland by a causeway that was built in 1879. The flood tides around this islet, occurring twice during the spring, are the highest in Europe. Mont Saint Michael is the second most visited tourist spot in France after the Eiffel Tower.
A variety of architecture is seen in the buildings ranging from the 9th century pre-Romanesque through 16th century Gothic Flamboyant.
It is a startling and impressive sight to come upon this huge, Gothic marvel rising above the sea in the middle of nowhere. Sort of like the Emerald City of Oz.
After our extensive tour we headed back to our bungalow to relax and do our laundry.
We did have a very nice, sit-down dinner in a local restaurant in the touristy support village of Le Mont Saint Michael.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|06/13||France, Le Mont Saint Michel to Saint Abine s Mer
This morning we went to breakfast in the campground restaurant and discussed the days ride. The plan was, because it was such a long day-- 170 km's -- we would all drive to the Omaha Beach on the Normandy coast, then ride from there if Larry could ride.
Then Larry told us he thought he had left his tape recorder at the last hotel, but he couldn't reach the owner to confirm it. Also, he said that his bottom was still sore so he didn't want to ride. So, If he could verify that the recorder was there, he wanted to drive back and get it. Perhaps we could ride the first few hours -- he thought it would take about an hour to an hour and a half -- then he would pick us all up, en continue with the day's plan.
Of course we agreed that he could take the car and drive back. Joan decided to go with Larry. I (David) realized I had a headache and was tired -- probably still hungover from the flight from Phoenix -- so I said I would rather take a short nap. (Lisa thought she'd go for a run, but ended up taking a nap also, then working on the journal.)
They left about 9. I slept. Lisa napped and did some journal entries. Larry and Joan returned about noon. They told us a story about how they had a delightful visit with the innkeeper and that she had given them a bottle of wine.
We finally got going about 12:30. We stopped for lunch, then drove directly to Omaha beach, one of the landing sites of American troops when the Allied troops counterattacked the Germans on June 6, 1944. The beach was, of course, calm and serene now. The only signs of the fierce battle and great loss of life here were the craters that still existed on the beaches, and the large monument. The monument was inscribed, "THE ALLIED FORCES LANDING ON THIS BEACH WHICH THEY CALLED OMAHA, LIBERATED EUROPE. JUNE, 6, 1944"
Next, we went to the American cemetery up the road. THAT was striking and poignant.
The cemetery has beautifully manicured landscaping with a memorial overlooking vast fields of Christian crosses and Jewish stars. The whole setting overlooked the end of Omaha Beach.
Although neither Lisa nor I have any direct connection to any men who either fought or died in the war, the cemetery is a striking reminder that "those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." To today's and tomorrow's generation, the primary value of this monument is probably there. We hope the value is recognized and heeded.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|06/14||France -- Saint Aubin-s-Mer to Fe'camp
Today, instead of riding the route the 127 Km's directly to Fecamp, the four of us chose to ride back along the Normandy Coast to Arromanches-les-Bains and Bayeux. At Arromanches, we saw both a circle-rama and Musee D'embarquement.
The circle-rama showed black and white footage from the actual D-day landings combined with color footage of the Normandy coast as it looks today. It was very dramatic!
The Musee D'embarquement showed with models, film and slides, how the Allies built a new harbor at Aromanches in only a few days. The man-made harbor facilitated the advancement of Allied troops into the mainland and the saving of Europe.
We then bicycled to Bayeux where we saw a xx long tapestry that was hand made in the late 11th Century. It depicts the conquest of England by William the Conquerer. It is interesting both as a depiction of history and as an art form.
When we got out it was getting late so we decided to skip the Peace Museum in Caen and head back to the car. We had a WONDERFUL 20 KM ride back to the car -- rolling hills, very little traffic (we saw more cows than cars), and a tailwind.
We picked up the car, got an ice cream to keep our energy up, and headed for Fe'camp. We got lost a few times trying to get around Caen and headed the right direction. After five tries, we got on the right road.
We got to Fecamp about 7:30 and we had a surprise awaiting us. Rather then the usual camping, Tim decided to put everyone up in three hotels. We found the hotels, then we found the restaurant where dinner was being served. We got in about 7:45. Dinner ended at 8. We got our room assignments, got chewed out (mildly) by Karen-Ann for being so late, and sat down for dinner.
Art and Lynn joined us. They just came in from riding. Then Tim and Kevin joined us. They missed the last bus from their hotel so they walked.
Art and Lynn told us about meeting two British Rangers who had landed gliders in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Art and Lynn shared some of their stories with us.
Tim and Kevin had met an American GI from Wisconsin who was part of the second wave that came into Omaha Beach on June 4th. He had lots of interesting stories to tell. There was lots of confusion, misinformation and general mess-ups. He said "They were always trying to promote us and give us more responsibility. I told them, Not Earl. Earl takes care of old Earl. That's why I'm still here."
We had a nice, basic room in the Hotel Normandie.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|06/15||France, Fecamp to Drancourt (St Valery sur Mer)
First, I'm severely chagrined, and owe a big apology to Lisa and her family.
Yesterday I said, "Neither Lisa nor I had anyone directly involved in the (W.W.II) war." WRONG! Lisa's Dad spent 3 years in England in an antiaircraft division. Their job was shooting down "buzz bombs" before they landed.
Lisa had told me in general and I had forgotten (or perhaps, not listened intently enough). And I had sent the Pocketmail message before Lisa had a chance to see it.
Now back to today...
What a shocker this morning! I walked downstairs with my backpack to find several riders in the lobby waiting for a sag to breakfast.
Pat and Phil (the couple we shared a lobby with in Baha, Mexico) were there. Pat asked if we could give them a ride. It turned out that Phil had just received word that his mother had died suddenly. They needed a ride to Rouen, a city about an hour away, where they would catch a train to Paris. From Paris they would fly to Washington DC where Phil lives.
We loaded all six people and their gear into the car to go to breakfast and the gear trucks. (Pat and Phil sitting in the back seat with their two bags on their laps -- filling the space up to the ceiling. Larry was in the back seat with several bags in his lap. And the funniest thing was Joan squeezing into the front seat on Lisa's lap.
At the Gear Trucks, we unloaded the bikes. Larry wanted to ride. Joan and Lisa would drive Pat and Phil to Rouen. I had to get out of the way because there was not enough room in the car for the rest of us plus Phil and Pat's gear, so they dropped me off at our hotel, then they headed to Rouen.
I went to our room and turned on the TV to see if any Euro 2000 soccer games were on. I lucked out. The Yugoslavia v Slovia game was just starting.
What a great game! It started out looking like Slovia was going to run away with the game. They had a 3-0 lead going into the second half. Then one of their lead players was ejected for pushing over a player during a break.
Now Yugoslavia was three goals and one player down -- and they came back to tie the game. It ended in a tie just as Lisa and Joan arrived wanting to use the bathroom.
We left right away to track down Larry. We found him at the checkpoint at about 1:30. He was all set to sag to the end.
We all had lunch together, then Joan, Lisa and I decided not to ride because of the time and the weather. We loaded up the bikes and headed out.
We decided to stop in Dieppe to buy a replacement bike rack. (Ours was damaged yesterday when we hit an unexpected bump too hard.) Then we headed directly to Drancourt.
We got to camp in time for dinner. I installed the bike rack and drat. It didn't work. The box said it would fit our car. The store manager assured us it would fit our car. But it didn't.
We ran into Al (of Steve and Al) and asked him about his rack. He has a Thule that looks like it would work on our car . . . and, he has an EXTRA Thule, still in the box. Larry and I decided we would buy the extra from Al and Steve and tomorrow, return the one we just bought.
Again, it's late to bed.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|06/16||Drancourt, France to Martin Mill (Dover), England
We found out this morning that Al and Steve were going back to the store where we bought the bike rack yesterday, so we asked if they would mind returning the rack we had bought.
No problem. So we gave them the rack and the credit card. Said we'd see them tonight.
Larry is driving today. Joan wanted to ride to checkpoint no matter how long it takes or how far it is. She said she'd sag to the ferry if necessary. She didn't want to have a time constraint.
Larry, Lisa and I agreed to try to catch the 3 o'clock ferry. We agreed that he should pick us up on his way to the ferry. That would be 1:30 to 2:00 o'clock.
The ride today was scheduled for 128 K's to the ferry and 8 miles after.
The early part of the ride today was along a WONDERFUL route -- a pastoral setting with many wildflowers along the way. We passed through occasional small towns -- not particularly picturesque as compared to the villages in Normandy, but nice.
Larry caught us along the quiet roads and reported the 3 o'clock ferry was full. We agreed we would try to catch the 4:00 o'clock ferry and that he would pick us up as discussed.
We stopped at a big, street fair and farmers market in one town. It turned out that we only bought oranges, but we met a person who runs a bicycle tour agency in England. His tours mostly come to France or go to Ireland. He said of Ireland, "Don't miss the Guiness beer. It's really thick and good, and unmatched in any other part of the world -- including England." We got his website address for future reference (about bike rides!)
We rode 90 K's before we stopped for lunch just before 2:00 in Bologne. We had some wonderfully tasty French Onion soup. Then, thinking that Larry should be along any minute, we settled in and waited.
Larry showed up about 3:30 ( very late) with (surprise? not really) Joan. We thought it was pretty late, but he thought we had plenty of time. We convinced Larry to take the main highway ratherthan follow the bike route.
Larry did some speed driving and we got to the Hovercraft terminal at 3:50 -- too late by 20 minutes to get onto the 4:00 departure.
We watched the Hovercraft load. Then it closed the loading doors -- all just like a regular ferry. Then . . . IT PUFFED UP LIKE A BLOWFISH AND SLID OFF THE PARKING LOT INTO THE ENGLISH CHANNEL! YES, it was sitting on PAVEMENT in a PARKING LOT!!!
While we waited for the next Hovercraft, Larry and I tried to put together the newly purchased bike rack that we got from Al. Unfortunately, the geometry was not a good fit for our car so we couldn't finish.
Our Hovercraft left about 5:15. We arrived at the Dover port about 4:45. (No, the Hovercraft isn't SO fast that we went back in time...the time in England is an hour ealier. Which means the trip across the Channel took only about 30 minutes, compared with almost 2 hours in a conventional ferry!) The Hovercraft travels about 50 knots over water.
Since it was so late, everyone decided to drive to the end rather than ride.
We arrived about 5:45 and immediately set about to get a room. The very kind lady in the campground office called all over for us to help us find a place at a reasonable price. It turned out that, because of the late hour, everything was booked save one resort. They had two rooms left at L50 (50 pounds) which is about $75 American. We took them.
We had dinner at a pub called the: "Ugly Duckling". They barbequed hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, lamb and ribs. They also had lettuce and tomato salad, steak-fried potatoes and french bread. All in all, a fine dinner.
After dinner we headed over to St. Margarets Holiday Resort for the night. We checked into our room and found that we couldn't turn the bathroom fan off nor the bathroom light on.
They got it fixed about 9 p.m. Then we could finally bathe. (I wonder if they'll give us a discount?) Hah.
Love to all, David and Lisa
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