My wife and I decided to visit Europe this year as we hadn't been since '05. Our original planned route took us from Manchester down to Dover, across to Dunkerque, on to Reims, then East, turning South, eventually to arrive at Cannes/Monaco. We had 7 days to do this.
We left Manchester on a fine sunny Monday morning around 0700 for the 6 hour journey to Dover (including breakfast and fuel stops) and made excellent time until we hit the end of the M6 where it meets the M1, i.e. our main route South. The motorway had been closed due to a serious accident, and there were 10 mile tailbacks. We filtered for miles, came off for Coventry, and made a hasty path round that city, rejoining the M1 further South. So far, so lucky!
Then we found the London orbital motorway, the M25, was blocked likewise, so we had a heck of a time geting to Dover, but we made it with minutes to spare!.
On to the "wrong" side of the road at Dunkerque, and off to Reims without a further hitch. First day, and 499 miles later, a welcome beer in the Ibis hotel and an early night.Tuesday saw us off to Geneva in Switzerland, which we made in a little over 5 hours. We unpacked our kit at the next Ibis, and walked into town for a nosey round the very expensive shops. The evening provided a fantastic firework display all along the shore of Lake Geneva, and we went to bed tired and happy. Wednesday, and we headed the 75 miles round the lake to the hilltop fort town of Gruyeres, famous for the cheese. In this wonderful town is the HR Giger museum, he being the Swiss artisit who created, amongst many other fine and terrifying works, the entire set and creatures in the "Alien" and "Species" films. This was a highlight for me, as I was captivated by "Alien" on its release in 1979 and have been a fan ever since.
Thursday saw torrential rain, so much so that I had to stop the bike and take shelter from a thunder and lightning storm in Geneva, only 5 minutes after we left the hotel. Unluckily for me, I musn't have zippered up the Rukka jacket properly, and the massive flood found its way in. The 400km to ride to Bregenz in Austria with wet 'bits' was not nice!! The rain did not relent all day, so all in all, a real 'washout' . The evening perked up, and we went to see 'Tosca' performed on a massive stage out on the lake the 'Bodensee' which separates Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This made up for the poor weather earlier, and we slept well that evening.
Friday saw us on the move again, another 500km, this time back in a North Westerly direction. Our initial plan to go south was scuppered by reports of more thunder and lighning for the next few days in our intended destination. We stayed a night in Metz, enjoying a lovely meal and some decent local wine.
Saturday saw us 350km further North, in Amiens. We walked the City in the evening, and watched as the lights came on in the 12th century cathedral. Sunday, and we followed the route of the WW1 battle sites and the many cemetaries and monumnets littered around that area of France collectively known as "The Somme". The weather was beautiful, and very hot.
My Grandfather's Brother lost an arm and an eye on 1st July 1916, so I paid a little tribute to his suffering, and to all his "Pals" who never made it back as I visited the incredible memorial at Thiepval where the 73,000 names of the servicemen whose bodies were never found after the battle of the Somme are engraved on the panels within the immaculately kept monument. A truly saddening and sobering place. Likewise the memorial to the Newfoundlanders a couple of miles away at Beaumont-Hamel.
Monday saw us in the rain again as we headed the final 200 km back to Dunkerque for the 2 hour crossing back to Dover. More accidents and roadworks saw us arrive home at 7.30 pm, 12 hours after setting off from Amiens. In total we covered over 2450 miles/4000km in 7 days. The LT never missed a beat. The trip computer doesn't work, so I roughly worked out I got 45 to the gallon, and she used zero oil.