Our preparation for our 2017 four month travels began in mid-January. We needed a visa which was easier said than done. You’re only able to stay in the EU countries for 90 days without an extension visa. Our plans crystallized about two and a half weeks before we were scheduled to leave when our friend Jane Foster with whom we planned to ride with the first 6 weeks had a back injury, and her doctor advised her not to get on a bike for at least two months. We were very disappointed but immediately made plans to take the train from Munich to England for 35 days and get the days we needed to be out of the Schengen countries done at the beginning of our trip instead of at the end. We made train reservations with our bikes from Munich to Dunkerque, France and a ferry from there to Dover. It will take us three days with 7 train changes.
Sunday, May 28, 2017 Grand Junction-Munich (Hotel Monaco)
We dropped Lexi, our new 9 month old lab mix, at friend Palea’s and took a flight to Munich where we arrived at about 10:30, a.m. local time the next day. Before leaving the Munich train station, we stopped at the Euraide counter to pick up our tickets for our long journey to England beginning Wednesday then walked the short distance to Hotel Monacowhere we were warmly greeted for our 6th visit. The hotel is quite small, but has an elevator, is very close to the train station and famous Marienplatz walking street, all of which are a must for us.
We had partially assembled both bikes when Ed realized that his front skewer and crank set dust cover were missing. (It would have been nice to blame it on someone else, but ….) We were able to find a replacement skewer and pick up a few other odds and ends before heading back to the hotel and completing the resurrection of our bicycles
Tuesday, May 30, 2017 Munich. Hotel Monaco
We awoke to another warm, sunny day. Breakfast at the hotel was complementary as we promised to put a link to the hotel’s web site on our blog. We downloaded Rick Steeves’ walking tour of old Munich onto our phones. We walked to Marienplatz and followed Rick’s tour which included the new Munich synagogue. Lunch was at the outdoor market place. Almost all of central Munich was heavily bombed during the Second World War including most of the area Marienplatz. Many of the buildings were rebuilt to appear as they did before the war, with a few more modern ones thrown in.
We entered the first obligatory church,
then walked back to the hotel and changed into bike clothing for a shakedown ride to English Garden, a huge and lovely park with a river and off shoots running through it. The bikes worked well despite TSA opening both boxes. We stopped at a version of the Hofbrau House, (Munich’s most famous beer hall) and had a beer and a pretzel. Then back to the hotel, dinner at the Augustiner Beer Garden, another Munich icon. As the little hand on the clock reached 9, we were ready for bed and collapsed shortly thereafter.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 Munich-Nancy
We purchased breakfast at the train station as we began the first leg of our train trip across Europe. Our first conversation with a German national on the train drifted quickly from skiing in the U.S. and Canada to “A personal question. What is the political climate in the United States?” Seven hours and three train changes later (including one that we made by the skin of our teeth), our journey ended in Nancy, France, in mid-afternoon , as scheduled. We scoped out the route back to the train station as we have a very early departure and took in our first and only church in France.
Thursday , June 1, 2017 Nancy-Dunkerque, FR
Up at 5:15 a.m. to catch the 6:32 train to Chalons, then on to Paris East, where we had to change train stations (only about ½ Kms. ride) then on to Amiens, then on to Lille and finally on to Dunkerque arriving after 4 p.m. Many of the towns in France along our route looked shabby with weeds, graffiti and trash; however, the cultivated fields were green and healthy.
Friday, June 2, 2017 Dunkerque, FR-Dover UK
We had come to Dunkerque to visit the museum of the battle of Dunkerque and the evacuation of more than 338,000 British and French troops; however, it was closed for renovation. We took an earlier ferry to Dover. The white cliffs were welcoming and majestic.
We rode from the ferry terminal a short distance to central Dover which is much smaller than we had expected. We took in a museum at the Visitor’ Center which included a large portion of the oldest boat in the world found in the water just outside the harbor. It dates back to 1500 B.C.
We checked in to our lodging
ditched the bikes and panniers and walked around this very old village.
The impressive castle on the hill sits alone and has a commanding view of the town and the channel.