Road Trip to Belgium

Discussion in 'Road Trips/Touring' started by cedarbrook63, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. cedarbrook63

    cedarbrook63 Junior Member

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    Took a road trip from England across the English Channel (well, under it actually) to The Groenedijk Bikers' Loft Motel in Oudenburg, Belgium.

    A buddy of mine with a 16 year old Kawasaki Vulcan and I on my 1200 Sporty hit the road in Gloucestershire after work last Friday and headed down the M40 to the M25 where we hit about 10 miles of seriously solid motorway traffic. We had to filter through it all which was a pain in the behind - don't ya hate it when cars deliberately move to stop you filtering. Maybe it's not legal to filter in the USA - not sure :bigsmiley30:.

    We stopped overnight in Ashford and then in the morning first thing after the Full English Breakfast (artery declogger is an optional extra :D) we took to the road again in the morning. We got to Folkestone and then put the bikes on the train heading for the Channel Tunnel.

    The bikes are ridden into large carriages which can hold cars, coaches etc. and you just stand around and chew the cud with your biking fellow passengers. The journey takes just over half an hour and you don't even realize you are under the English Channel heading for France. Once in Calais we rode up the coast a bit and had a coffee in a nice little Norman coastal town called Gravelines. Then onto our base for the next few days - Groenedijk Oudenburg in Belgium - about an hour up the road from Calais. That's the funny thing about riding on the continent in Europe - within an hour you can ride from one country though one or two others with language changes and culture changes but all one currency (in the West) the € - and sinking fast!:bigsmiley30:

    The hotel is called the Bikers Loft - a great place for a few days using it as a base or a stopover on your way onwards toward Autobahn or Autoroute of if heading back home to Britain.
     

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  2. cedarbrook63

    cedarbrook63 Junior Member

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    The first picture above shows how the bikes are stored inside the motel. The rooms are fairly basic but very clean and are situated around the periphery of the building. The bikes are all parked safely indoors out of the elements and outside your room!

    Adjoining the motel is a very interesting motorcycle museum whose very enthusiastic owner is constantly on hand to give you a tour.

    There's a great bar and a self-service cooking area with unsophisticated but very satisfying tucker which you put in microwaves or fryers yourself.
    On the Saturday night, there was a great band and James and I chatted and drank the night away in the company of some great folks from Holland, Sweden and England. There's even a greenhouse built inside the bar (smoking indoors in public areas is against the law) with a big duct to an extractor fan so all our friends who smoked could sit in comfort inside the greenhouse INSIDE the bar with their drinks and still be part of the action while enjoying their cigs or pipes.
     

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  3. fin_676

    fin_676 Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

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    I prefer to use the ferry as i can go outside for a fag but the motel looks like my kind of place ill have to look into exactly where it is might be a handy stopover for me often looking for somewhere not too far from the north sea for a stopover on the way home

    Brian
     
  4. cedarbrook63

    cedarbrook63 Junior Member

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    Next day we headed into the beautiful Flemish city of Bruges - famous for its canals, architecture, mussels and of course - beer. I love a good beer but I never touch a drop when I am riding - just a rule I made when I went back to motorbiking and one I stick to. Wasn't a problem at the Bikers' Loft in that they had a great selection of Belgian and Dutch beers and the bike was safe inside and staying put. Incidentally, the most lethal beer is brewed by Trappist monks at monestaries in rural Belgium and it's serious stuff.

    But I digress - Bruges is a very beautiful city but unfortunately when we journeyed there - it was absolutely bucketing down with rain. Really horrible weather. Luckily the day brightened up and after having a good look around and some delicious Moules au Vin Blancs (mussels in white wine - curiously titled in French on the menus in this very un-French part of Belgium - there's a line roughly east-west across this culturally bipartheid little land with Flemish/Dutch speakers in the northern chunk and French speaking Walloons in the south). After lunch the sun had emerged so we road north to the coast of the North Sea on some lovely winding roads across amazingly flat countryside to Knokke, then down the coast to Zeebrugge and then onto Ostend before turning south for the short journey back to the Bikers' Loft.
     

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  5. cedarbrook63

    cedarbrook63 Junior Member

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    Next day we were up and away after a good breakfast of bacon and eggs and about 70 minutes later we were at the Tunnel ready for the return train.

    We rode the whole way back (about 300 miles stopping only for fuel every hundred miles or so). I was getting just over 10 miles to the litre which is about 45 miles to the Imperial gallon or 38 mpg US. That's hacking along at around 80-85mph on the motorways so I was quite happy with that.
    I was also really pleased at how un-wrecked I was at the end of my ride home. Hobbit had predicted great pain and stiffness after that sort of ride on a Sporty and a man like him should know but I was very pleased to find that it was not the case. Having left the Loft at 9.15am UK time, a wait of almost about 45minutes for the tunnel train, the train journey of about half an hour, and two stops for gas along the way - we were back, almost 300 good miles later by 2.15pm.

    A great ride out for my first trip to Europe. Our mod Brian is an old veteran of such travels and now I can see the appeal :D.
     

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  6. NEWHD74FAN

    NEWHD74FAN Experienced Member Retired Moderators

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    CedarBrook, thank you for the nice pictures.:D Regarding "filtering" here in SoCal. we made it famous by calling it "lane splitting"...kinda like the stop and go when making a right handed turn at a stop light or sign (opposite of direction of England of course)...if you roll through the stop it is called a "Hollywood Stop...!" Guess we are rather famous (infamous) here in California so maybe I'm an outlaw and did not know it LOL~~~:bigsmiley18:
     
  7. cedarbrook63

    cedarbrook63 Junior Member

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    As a p.s.:

    The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted the out-of-character Zumo on the Sporty - ugly as sin I'll grant you but boy was I glad to have it finding my way around the French and Belgian countryside. Unfortunately I couldn't get the bluetooth to synch with my ear piece so she weren't talking to me but I could glance and read what it wanted me to do. Great piece of kit especially for someone whose sense of direction is not his greatest attribute :lolrolling.

    You're right Tank - I was glad I didn't have to ask for directions, my pronounciation is probably just the same as yours!
     
  8. cedarbrook63

    cedarbrook63 Junior Member

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    I was a bit concerned about remembering to ride on the right but it's funny how naturally and quickly it comes to you. Having said that the Zumo led me into a one way street in Bruges which was a bit embarrassing - just a small time lag in the display updating on a roundabout - overall though it was a great help.
     
  9. jaceddie

    jaceddie Junior Member

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    I was in Belgium around 1969, and what I remember about the roads was there were 3 lanes. The middle lane was the passing lanes for both sides and it was first come, first served. Quite scary for a 21 year old kid.
     
  10. ultrat

    ultrat Senior Member Contributor

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    wow cool trip......