Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Tuesday - Zeebrugge to Basel

Tuesday, 21st June

Zeebrugge - Luxembourg - Saarbrücken - Strasbourg - Colmar - Mulhouse - Basel

Plan: No stops until we reach at least 100miles
NBF: Numb Bum Factor

At Zeebrugge

Aimee catching some sleep before the ride
8am wake up and wait with gear in the bar area.  Aimee was a little tired and rested her head until vehicle passengers were called for.

The camera was not used for this day of the journey as somehow I had broken the lens window.  Condensation had appeared so the quality was diminished.  :o( 

Bike held surprisingly well for our tying down efforts with rope. While preparing we got chatting to another group of bikers heading for the Alps then to Croatia. Tied a plastic bag on the right side mirror while chanting 'Right-side, right-side'. Or as Aimee advised me to chant the mantra 'Aimee is always right, Aimee is always right',  Aimee's sense of humour can be quite intense!

To Luxembourg

Service station in Luxembourg
On the journey off the ship it is always a nervous one, especially in a new land!  Sticking to the right side was a little tricky for the first 2 or 3 miles where we stuck to the slow lane.  I suspect the biker behind us were under the same experience as they were hanging back in the slow lane too, they broke off at the junction to Brugge.

We hit the R0 Ring Road around Brussels, this road is pretty long before you arrive on the E411.  The countryside changes from rolling fields to tree as you head in to Luxembourg. 

Tactical map and routes
Arriving in Luxembourg we stop off at a service station for some food.  To use the toilette we were asked to pay 30cents each by a French speaking lady listening to stereotypical french music. Once finished we head to the bike where there are a British couple arriving on-bike who are also heading to the Alps, they arrived via Dover/Calais.  We exchanged journey experiences and they kindly gave us tips on passes to through the Alps.  We zoomed off and noticed lots of trucks being pulled over with about 10 police bikes whizzing around.

Distance: 110 Miles
Time: 1hr 50minutes
NBF: 3

To Strasbourg via Saarbrucken

Very uneventful, just pure roads no stops until we see a service station in Saverne outside Strasbourg.  Purchase fuel and pay from an outside cashier.  The cashier opens a drawer where you place payment, the cashier opens the drawer for you to claim your change.

We notice a cafe/bar opposite and park up for some food.  After a confusing balance of English and French we managed to order soup for Aimee, and Pomme Frites for me.  We notice the French are not really very customer service orientated, which doesn't really bother us as we live in Malta - we eat bad customer service!

Distance: 120 Miles
Time: 2hrs
NBF: 6

To Colmar

This part of the journey was full of rolling terrain, sunshine and trees.  We were determined to Get to Basel on time (19:00).  Our bums were getting very numb and legs stiff, journeys like this require regular breaks.  In future I would suggest break every 60miles.

We stop for fuel at Colmar which is near Freiburg, in the distance you can see mountains and trees.  We fuel up eventually, after I stopped at a locked fuel pump wondering why it was not working - fatigue can make you do silly things.  We head off for the final push Basel! However, I have issues getting out of the station area and do 1 lap of the complex to end up in the same place.  So, we try again and notice we were heading for the same area yet again.  To claim back some pride I decide to ride over a pavement and ride through the truckers yard heading back on the E25 to Basel.
Distance: 90 Miles
Time: 1hr 
NBF: 7

To Basel

Okay, this was an interesting ride.  Through Mulhouse and heading to Basel we get lost and drive off and back on the E25 to circle ouorselves to find the correct direction.  Finally we pass through the border where we hit a jam entering the Basel centre.  Note that we did not book any hotels and it is now 19:30.  

Keep right, keep right!  Riding in the city was testing my right side riding skills which were wobbly.  Aimee was very helpful be constantly shouting out "Right Side!" before I set off or made a manoeuvre.

Distance: 70 Miles
Time: 1hr 10 minutes
NBF: 9

The Hotel

We struggle to find any hotels in the area we thought was the centre.  A local directed us to the Airport Hotel, we stopped and wandered in past some Harley Swiss/German bikers.  I gave them a 'No trouble here nod' and hoped it was the correct type of nod to use.  Inside the reception area we were told there were no rooms, tired and sweaty we looked on and continued into the centre which is to follow the Bahnhoff signs.  

We find a Hotel named Palazzo where the price was CHF280, excited I exclaimed '"great I will bring the bike" and head back around the corner to collect Aimee and the bike.  Park up and notice next to the Palazzo is Hotel Wettstein, so find out a price which was CHF240.  We decided to stay at Hotel Wettstein, during the booking I notice out back of the reception is quite large and the lady from the Palazzo appeared with a frown.  It appears these two hotels are owned by the same company.  Lucky we decided to check the price of the other hotel.

We park up the bike in the garage and head to the room.  Very nice room which is why we were paying CHF240 I suppose.

Enjoying some food in Basel
After a brief chill out of getting naked and playing starfish on the bed (innocent act of laying on bed after a hard days riding) Sound any better?  Anyway, we get dressed and head out to get some funky Swiss cash and get some soft drinks with food.  We find a nice shop run by German speaking Turkish family.  We notice that everything from books, to cardboard is sat on the street ready for collection.  The city is very clean!

We head back to the room for sleep!  Tomorrow we are riding the Alps!!!


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