Posts Tagged With: We made it!

Day 28: Arnhem to Amsterdam

99 km today, about 400 meters climbing, but mostly a down gradient all day.

I woke up very excited, as tonight I am going to see my daughter Shellbe who flies into Amsterdam this evening. It is nearly a year since I last saw her 😀😀 She lives in London.

When we set out it was once again looking like rain. The first 30 km was a slight up gradient on a bike path, but in one direction. It was great to ride a few km without having to check which way you needed to be going. The only delays were the traffic lights. We went through a small few towns and stopped at a patisserie and chocolatier at about 40 km. I had a really nice strawberry tart.

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Food stop last ride day

The bikes have the right of way when you are following a bike path across a road, unless there are lights say otherwise, which takes a bit of getting used to. I hesitated a few times as I was not sure that cars were going to stop as they seemed to be going quite fast, but they always did.

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Checking out a thatched roof.

At the lunch stop I took a photo of Esther, Gergos wife also from Hungary, and their son Lawrence who is nearly 3. Lawrence was happily playing as small children do with water, puddles, and sticks while we waited. Also took a picture of Gergo and Judy from NZ.

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Esther and Laurence

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Tour leader Gergo and Judy at last lunch stop.

We got to the lunch stop at 70 km at about 11am, to find that Gergo had now decided that we would all meet here and convoy in together. It would have been great if he had shared this earlier this morning, as there were a number of places we could have stopped along the way, instead of waiting an hour and a half on a piece of grass with nothing but the road to look at, while we waited for the rest of the riders to arrive. This was not helped by the darkening sky and the feeling of impending rain.

As it turned out, most of the other riders in the end ignored him and just headed off, but about 12 of us waited and went in the convoy.

We went through another star shaped town Naarden (like Palmanova) it was very picturesque with the canals and boats and wharves.

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Rode as a convoy from lunch to the finish. Passing through Naarden Vesting.

Then back on a bike path where it started to pour down (I was trying to ignore my irritation that if we had not waited an hour and half to convoy we would have been at the hotel by now). As we came up to an underpass there was a group of about 100 children and teachers sheltering from the rain. Just as we got there, they decided to no longer wait and about 30 took off in front of us. The next 5 km was spent trying to pass young boys who were serving all over the path.

 

We had to go up over a really big bridge – Nescio Bridge – made just for bikes and walkers and then road the last few km into Amsterdam. Getting through the outskirts of the city took awhile as there were lots of students going home from school. Thankfully by this this time the rain had stopped.

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Nescio Bridge (photo from website)

We arrived at the Mercure Hotel at about 3pm. The bikes had to be left outside in an open area, which a number of us were not that thrilled about. We managed to move the hotel bikes around and at least managed to get our bikes locked to the bike stands. The hotel bikes, like the white bikes at the Muller Kroller, they were really heavy, at least twice the weight of my bike.

Then checking in: what a mission! The biggest and busiest hotel for the trip. The person behind the counter was not helpful or friendly:
1. He insisted there was no booking for my daughter – I had to go and dig out the paperwork. When I took it back to another person they found the booking without the paper work.
2. When asking if we could stay in the same room the next two nights we were told “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow until tomorrow”!!

Not quite as frustrating as Janice from Townsville who had her partner Philip joining her here, who was told her and Philip had been put in a room with Cathy. This was sorted out by TDA quickly, but the person behind the counters attitude was not helpful.

We had a get together at the hotel on arrival, with some bubbles and snacks to celebrate our arrival and finishing the trip, then off to get cleaned up and ready for dinner.

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Arrived at finish hotel Mercure Amstel

We met down in the lobby at 6pm to taxi to the finishing dinner at D’Vdff Vlieghen in central Amsterdam. The traffic was chaos.

I am unsure by what manner the finishing venue is chosen, but this was not a good one – we were cramped in, and apart from one long table of about 12, everyone else was sitting at tables of 3 to 4,  and there was no room to move around and interact. So it didn’t really feel like a finishing dinner, more like just a normal riding day dinner. Brett and I sat with Graham, with a seat saved for my daughter Shellbe.

The menu was an entree of smoked fish, a piece of chicken with an onion (no carbs, no salad or veges), and a piece of chocolate slice and ice cream. Plus red or white wine. Luckily they had bread rolls, otherwise there would have been a lot of hungry riders.

My daughter Shellbe arrived halfway through the meal, I was delighted to see her again.

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Mum and daughter find each other

After the meal Gergo advised us that it was up to the riders to get themselves back to the hotel – about an hour walk, or 15 minutes in a taxi.

We caught a taxi back with Graham, and then sat in the bar catching up on the news with Shellbe for awhile.

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Having a drink with my daughter Shellbe 

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 80: Celebratory dinner in Lisbon

We stayed at Hotel Mundial, it was very nice hotel – bit of an upgrade for the riders on the last night. There was a doorman, bathrobes and a very nice looking bed that I was looking forward to getting into, but first it was time for some serious celebrating!

As mentioned yesterday, we had some wine at the park then was time to get changed, sort out our stuff and box bikes etc. At 7:15pm we all met in the lobby and caught taxis to the restaurant. I have lost the bit of paper I had written the name on but it was very nice.

Walli, who left us in Venice, had very generously contacted Christiano and organized to pay for the wine for dinner. A number of bottles of nice red wine were drunk, along with a toast to Walli. Walli had also sent a poem to be read out, which you can read below.

We had a great night, it was good to chat to the tour guides in a setting that there was no organizing they had to do for the next day. I had thought about going to a Fado club afterwards, but when it came to it I was too tired so will have to miss it this time round, and make do with going to the Fado museum tomorrow.

It will seem really strange not to see the other tour riders after having spent 11 weeks together, but some of us will keep in touch, and others our paths may well cross again in the future.

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Ode to Trans-Europa

To each of you my sincere congratulation
Reaching today your final destination;
You have achieved your ultimate goal
Arriving in tact – stronger in body and soul!

At this celebration forgotten are the pains
And the detours, and hills and other complaints,
But not the friends who shared your bliss
All the way to Lisbon or just to Venice!

The memories will last all the days to come
To cherish forever and to recount at home.
Another thought is sneaking in on the side:
Can we get together somewhere for another ride?

Cristiano scouted and led with detailed instructions
Every turn was flagged giving orange directions.
Ciaran and Gergo assured safe arrival at camps
Miles’ delicious meals caused no stomach cramps.

For weeks you had your tires sharing the road
Also no toilet seats, nor tissue, cold showers, nor soap.
Your tents were firmly pegged to the grounds
You know who is snoring and making other strange sounds.

But now comes the time to go your own way,
Perhaps we will meet again somewhere one day.
Now lift your glasses and with great cheer
Make a toast to life …
………………………..and wish Walli was here!

She can’t make speeches in public for fear she’d cry
Though poetic emotions are not hard to come by.
Alas, she has been reading the blog by the minutes
And decided to be with you this moment in spirit(s).

CHEERS, A VOTRE SANTE, NASTROVJE, PROSIT !!!!!

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 80: Benavente to Lisbon – 55k

6,288km down: 0km to go!!

We had a great meal last night in the hotel restaurant, we were all pretty happy. We also got given our tour shirts so we could wear them into Lisbon. Plus Gergo had put together a slide show of photos from the tour which was pretty good.

Today was a late start as we did not have to be up for breakfast until 8am so I enjoyed sleeping in. We left the hotel about 9am and rode 17k, then all met up to ride in a convoy for the remaining 33k.

Leaving the hotel in the morning wearing the tour shirt

The drivers in Portugal are really nowhere near as cyclist friendly so the convoy was pretty slow, as we were very cautious. It was actually much better once we were in the city, even with all the traffic.

On the way we passed another bullfighting ring in a small town. Bull fighting seems to be a bigger thing here than Spain. They have female bull fighters as well. In Spain the tide is turning against bullfighting, over 50% of Spanish people think it should stop. It would be interesting to know the percentage here in Portugal. It seems to me to be unfair that the bull is predetermined to die. I prefer the method in St Gilles in France, where the bull wears carpet on his horns and when it is over it gets to go back to the farm.

Bullfighting ring on the way from Avis to Benavente on day 79

We arrived in Lisbon about midday. We had stopped 12k out and had a sandwich. This morning when we had breakfast in the hotel we were told we could make a sandwich. It seemed really strange taking food from the buffet and putting it into a plastic bag.

When we got to Lisbon we stopped at a park across the road from our hotel and had some sparkling wine and photos. In total we have done 6,288k! An awesome effort.

The park in Lisbon where we celebrated, across the road from our hotel

Opening the sparkling wine on arrival in Lisbon

Then it was time to box up my bike, sort out my stuff, throw away quite a bit, and get things ready to pack. Tonight we have a celebration dinner at 7:15pm.

As I fly out tomorrow I have not got a lot of time to look around, so am going to head out to look around for a couple of hours now.

The TDA Crew: Gergo, Esther, Cristano, Ezther, Miles, TJ (Miles’s wife, only with us part of the time) and their son Kaia

The seven full tour riders: Brett, Michel, me, Dan, Danya, Jan, Scott

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments