We have had a lot of new adventures and changes happening so far this year and we always say we’ll get around to updating the blog but then things get so busy that we never do. Well, I’m setting a new goal for myself to update our family blog AT LEAST once a week. So here goes!
The last grand adventure we went on was our bike tour through Europe. We ended up cycling 546 miles through five different countries, taking several trains and a few ferries along the way. I’ll break the trip down into a day-by-day series of posts over the next few weeks, so you can read about our (mis)adventures, look at the routes we took, and see some of the wonders we saw. I’ll start at the beginning.
Day 1 - Cambridge to Canterbury (by train) – Canterbury to Dover (by bike)
We started our journey by taking the train from Cambridge Station to London, Liverpool station. We arrived at Cambridge Station about five minutes before our train was supposed to depart. Unfortunately, our train was on the far platform. When we reached the elevators, we discovered that they were out of order. Danny was pretty sure that there was no way that we’d make the train, but we decided to try for it anyway. We uncoupled the trailer and right as we started to lug one of the laden bikes up the stairs, a swarm of train employees appeared out of nowhere and helped us carry the bikes to the platform. We made it just as the doors shut (the train was definitely late because of us). We were truly blessed to have those people help us. Once we arrived we cycled through central London to St. Pancreas to catch our next train to Canterbury. (Cycling in central London wasn’t as bad as you’d think!)
Danny ran and picked up some lunch to eat on the train while the girls and I waited at the station.
It was about an hour train ride to Canterbury West Station. When we arrived in Canterbury we were eager to get on the road and start cycling. We were blessed with perfect weather unlike the first day of our last bike trip with torrential down pour. From the train station we made our way over to the center of Canterbury where the official start of our “pilgrimage” began. I say pilgrimage because the bike route we followed was once a trail that Christians pilgrims walked as they journeyed south to Rome called the Via Romea Francigena (this is a pilgrimage that is traditionally walked, but has been plotted out for bikes. Read more here).
We saw the Canterbury Cathedral and wandered around the bustling streets of the old city. We picked up some fresh English cherries and then made our way to the Augustinian monastery on the outskirts of town before continuing onward to the coast. After we left Canterbury we rode mostly along quiet country roads (not all of which were paved). We saw many cute old cottages including this adorable black and white thatched roof house with the most gorgeous red roses.
We were making pretty good time until we started to hit the hills right before Dover. We hadn’t really done any training with all our gear on steep hills so we were really feeling it, but the down hills made it worth the effort. On the big downhill before the Dover Castle, Danny’s phone flew out of his handlebar mount. Luckily I was riding behind him, because he was so enthralled with the hill that he didn’t even notice! I quickly stopped (which is hard on a loaded touring bike!) and picked up the phone. Thank heavens it was unscathed. But the look on his face when he realized it was gone was priceless.
We reached Dover just before dusk and went straight to Cullins Yard and ordered our selves a big bucket of mussels and fish ‘n chips. The last time we were in Dover, Danny’s parents took us to Cullins Yard and we discovered that Sophie is a mussel addict. A perfect meal to end the day. Originally we thought we’d take the ferry and camp in Calais, France, but due to the hills—and our mussel feast—it was pretty late. So we found a hotel right next to the ferry and got ready for an early morning… (to be continued...)