Crossing the Atlantic
After a winter break of 3 months it's time to get back on track. We are cycling from Maastricht to Southampton where we will embark the Queen Mary 2. This Ocean Liner will take us to New York. We are glad to be on the move again. Our bicycles seem to be thrilled as well. They’re riding on sunshine.
Saying goodbye to our family is hard. And this second time feels even harder, especially after the loss of Linda’s grandmother and our friend Jos. When we are on the other side of the Atlantic, we won't be home for a long, long time. The first days are quite emotional now and then. We want to be on this adventure and we know we can rely on each other, but we are sure going to miss our family and friends. We need to get back into the routine of being on tour again.
During our tour from Maastricht to Dunkirk, Dover to London and London to Southampton we arranged several homestays through the Warmshowers community. This feels a bit like family to ease the pain of missing home. Our hosts are very friendly, helpful and kind. It’s nice to meet new local people.
We feel sorry for the English people, because making plans for a bicycle tour through Europe has become very difficult because of Brexit. They are allowed to stay in the Schengen countries for only 3 months in a period of 180 consecutive days.
Spring is in the air
The weather gods are in favor of us. Sun shiny days all over. Perhaps we owe this to Mr Blue Sky and Mrs Sunshine. We see a lot of lambs and some trees are already in bloom. Spring is coming.
In Genk we are on this route called “Fietsen door het water”. This short track through the water is fun. Birds can be seen in the water at eye level. If we could we would cross the Atlantic Ocean this way. While cycling along the Albert Canal we amuse ourselves with the names of the ships passing by.
When we arrive in Antwerp, we are greeted by a garbage man at the back of a garbage truck. “Welcome to Belgium” he shouts twice. What a warm welcome! It reminds us when we got into Romania. A woman greeted us the same way while she handed over a bag of pastries.
By bicycle we get a nice high speed impression of Bruges, a breathtaking city. There is so much to see. Beautiful old buildings with various colors. It reminds us a bit of Bergen in Norway or Sibiu in Romania.
Ferry to Dover
In Dunkirk (France) we take the ferry to Dover. One of the custom officers jokes that it looks like we are carrying the luggage of 5 people.
The White Cliffs of Dover are beautiful. It's special the way the shore on this side of the Channel of the North Sea is totally different compared to Dunkirk.
To see the inside of the Canterbury Cathedral we attend a service. The Evensong is sung by a choir of 18 girls. The singing is beautiful in such a huge cathedral.
On our way from Canterbury to Rochester we are on the national cycling route 1. We have to pass more than 10 motorcycle barriers. However, they are so narrow that we have to unload and load our front panniers and handlebar bag every single time. At one barrier we even have to unload the entire bike. Not the most enjoyable activity. Having a look at the Castle of Rochester is a nice treat after these obstacles.
We take a look at the famous tea clipper Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Observatory. The latter is known as the home of the Greenwich Mean Time. The Greenwich meridian is visible as a copper beam on the terrace in front of the building.
We are doing a big tour through London city by bicycle. The first thing we see is the Tower Bridge. It is absolutely spectacular! The Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower are also very impressive.
On the cover of…
At Abbey Road we recreate the famous Beatles photo. A work of art on this busy intersection. Luckily we get help from another couple who is doing the same photo shoot.
Friends on wheels
In Soho we visit the Rapha store. The bicycles can be taken inside. We are offered a cup of coffee when they hear about our world bicycle tour. Always nice to make a pit stop at a safe haven.
We also meet the people of bicycle cafe Look Mum No Hands. They are impressed by our tour. Mr Blue Sky and Mrs Sunshine are welcomed inside again. We love the good vibes and enjoy a nice fruity drink on the house.
One last day in the UK
We are on our way to the docks of Southampton. Tomorrow we will embark the Queen Mary 2 for the transatlantic crossing to New York. We are very excited!
We prefer to cross the ocean on a freighter or sailing boat, but due to Covid freighters are still not allowed to take passengers in 2022. It isn't the right season to look for a sailing boat heading our direction.
We are told the Queen Mary 2 is an Ocean Liner in stead of a cruise ship. She gets you from A to B at a fast pace. We wonder what it will be like. A totally new experience during our low budget world bicycle tour.
New York, here we come!
As we’re checking in on the Queen Mary 2, Linda tests positive for Covid-19. We can't embark the ship. Not even when we go into quarantine in our cabin.
This is such a disappointment. We are stuck in Southampton. We can’t reschedule the ship yet because we need to have a negative test result 2 weeks before embarkation. We don’t know when that will be.
We know we can’t embark the next ship on April 3. Even when we test negative on that date. The one we are now hoping for leaves on April 17. So we are stuck for at least 4 weeks.
This delay means we probably get stuck in snow sooner this year in Canada. All Warmshowers hosts we’ve arranged in New York need to be rescheduled, if this is possible. But this delay may pay off later on somehow.
At the ocean line operator’s expense we go in self-isolation in a hotel in Southampton. We are offered a nice apartment with a kitchenette in Room2, this eases the pain a little bit, but we would rather have been on the Queen Mary 2 right now.