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May 1, 2001

Dist so far: 319km (199miles)

Dist so far: 319km (199miles)
Lbeck, Germany
After saying goodbye to Nina at Vordingborg station on Sunday, I decided to push on to Germany instead of spending another night in Denmark. It was a lovely day, the land was flat, and I was happy to arrive in Germany just after 8pm. I carried on into Burg, and spent the night in the youth hostel there. Yesterday I covered 98km before finishing up in a town called Travemunde, close to where the old border with East Germany was. It was an old trading port, and I took my last look at the Baltic Sea before I cycled onto Lbeck today. It would normally have been quite exciting to arrive in a big city such as this after cycling through the countryside for days, but as today is May Day, everything is closed here.

May 7, 2001

Wow. Well, this is the

Wow. Well, this is the first time I've got near to an internet connection since I was in Lubeck. I've just arrived in Arnhem in Holland, and I haven't worked it out today, but I guess I've done more than 900km (600miles) so far. I managed to get across Germany, and I crossed into Holland last night. Now, they're about to kick me out of the library, so that's all I've got time for right now!

May 8, 2001

Dist. cycled 940km (587miles) I'm

Dist. cycled 940km (587miles)
I'm writing this from an internet cafe in Amsterdam after deciding to take a break from cycling and have a day trip up here by train. I'm just about to head back to Arnhem where the bike is, and I'm staying again. I was hoping to find some cycling maps today to cover my trip from Holland southwards, but didn't have much luck. After spending over 2 hours searching for the map shop, the staff were unable to help me due to them being stoned!

May 11, 2001

Liege

Dist. cycled 1151km (719miles)
Liege, Belgium
I've been pulled into what seems to be some kind of all day bar / club in search of internet access here today. Of course I'm having a beer as well just to fit in, and it's the trendy type of place where they don't give you change but keep it as a tip. Wouldn't happen in Scotland.

Yesterday I was going to stop in Maastricht, but although it seemed to be a pleasant, old town, when I smelt the border coming up I just couldn't stop. Actually I skipped the real border & took the bike through some barriers and down a blocked off road into Belgium. Liege is in the south of the country which means that they speak French, have better food, but most of all that the computers use French keyboards! This means real frustration when you're trying to type; half of the keyboard is like a qwerty, then someone has mixed up the other half of the keys. Can someone please tell me why?

It's turned into a bit of a pit-stop here actually. I've dropped the bike off to have it's freewheel replaced (it started to grind after 1000km) and I've spent the rest of the day hunting around (as usual) for maps and trying to plan my route from here into France. It looks like I'll follow the rivers and canals down there, and then I hope to pass through the champagne region for some tasting. The weather has been hot and sunny (about 27�c) which is good, but hard to cycle in.

May 16, 2001

Epernay

Epernay, France
Dist. cycled 1488km (930miles)
I crossed over into France on Sunday afternoon, and cycled into the Ardennes to be faced with mountain after mountain. It was very hard going, and covering much less distance than I expected to, I soon fell behind schedule. It started to get dark, and I cycled on, waiting for a campsite or hotel to appear, but none did. At dusk I found myself on top of a steep hill looking out into the face of an oncoming thunderstorm. The wind was almost knocking me off the bike, and people were outside in the village trying to tie things down. I stopped to ask if there was anywhere I could get a room or somewhere I could pitch my tent, but the nearest place was about 15km away. I started pedalling towards that town, but without warning the road merged into a motorway and I found myself cycling down it in the dark and the rain. I pulled off into a village and took shelter under a tree for 45mins while the rain got heavier and the lightning flashed around and I felt thoroughly exhausted. In all my years of travelling (and often pushing my luck) it was the first time I'd got stuck late at night without somewhere to stay. Finally the storm eased and I eventually made it into the town, only to find that the camping site was being redeveloped into a housing estate! It was midnight by this time and everything was closed, including the hotels, but after lots of banging on a door I eventually managed to get an old woman out of her bed and I checked into a room.

I cycled onto Epernay yesterday, and stopped for some champagne tasting on my way. It was definitely the way to cycle; lots of champagne houses scattered around the hillside for thirsty cyclists! This morning I went on a tour of Moet & Chandon, who are based in town, and saw a little of their 14km of wine cellars prior to doing some tasting. In fact, it was too much champagne to be drinking early in the morning, but I've recovered from it now.

From here I plan to cycle on to Paris to finish this trip, and fly back to Denmark for Nina`s birthday next week. Then I quite fancy cycling up to Finland, but that's another story...

May 25, 2001

Copenhagen, Denmark Total dist. cycled

Copenhagen, Denmark
Total dist. cycled 1656km (1029miles)
Well, after two more day's riding, I made it into Paris where after spending the weekend I caught a flight over to London and then to Denmark. Sorry for the lack of info over the last days, but my ass has been recovering from all the cycling!

One day in Paris I decided to take the metro over to the Eiffel Tower instead of cycling. So, as I was sitting on the train, it stopped in one of the stations and there was a mumbled announcement in French outside as people were getting off. The train then carried on, but I seemed to be the only one left on it. Then it entered a tunnel and all the lights went off and I started to think that maybe this wasn't normal. The train continued to speed through several stations without stopping and in darkness until finally it came to rest in the middle of the tracks at a station close to the Eiffel Tower and the engine was turned off. I tried the doors, but of course with the power gone, they wouldn't open so I banged on the window to some people in the station. They waved back and nudged the people next to them, but no-one went off to tell anyone. Pretty soon, the train engine started up again so I opened the door and stepped out onto a maintenance platform that ran along the middle of the tracks as I couldn't get over to the platform without crossing 3 sets of rails. I started to walk down towards the front of the train to talk to the driver, but as I did the train started moving again and sped off leaving me standing in the middle of all the rails! By this time everyone on the platform was watching me, but I was trying to figure out if they electrified the rails or an overhead cable on the Paris system. The station curved, making it difficult to see if there was a train coming, so I listened for a few seconds before making a run for the platform and jumping over the rails to avoid electrocution. On my way out of the station I decided not to try public transport anymore and go back to cycling.

And that brought the trip to an end. It was a terrific experience to cover northern Europe purely by cycling and one that I would certainly reccomend. One of the best things was travelling through so many small towns and villages at a pace that enabled me to really take things in and visit places that I would never have gone to had I been travelling by car or train.

May 26, 2001

Summer seems to have arrived

Summer seems to have arrived in Copenhagen while I was away. When I left it was grey and cold, but now everyone is wearing shorts and sitting around in the sun drinking Carlsberg. Nina is away for a few days working on her degree project, but I meanwhile have guests. Two guys who I met in the youth hostel in Paris, one of whom lives in Hong Kong, the other in Canada are staying in the apartment over the weekend. The other news this week is that Andrew and Cathy in Glasgow have just had a baby girl, so best wishes to them (photo 1,2).

May 30, 2001

I'm sitting in a cafe

I'm sitting in a cafe in Copenhagen writing this on my Palm as I seem to have worked out how to upload it via my mobile phone. Hopefully this should make it easier to keep things up to date when I'm travelling as I had major problems finding internet access last time. I've been working on the website quite a lot lately. I've uploaded the photos I took in Guernsey but most of the pictures from Scotland were taken on my previous digital camera (an Intel) which gradually lost quality after six months or so (or maybe it's full of beer?) and weren't good enough. I've also migrated the site over to another server so if anyone experiences any problems then email me. There's a brand new video page and due to requests I've started to add links on the left of this page to pics and info on people who may get mentioned. If I haven't got around to adding you yet or you've got a better picture or any other suggestions then email them to me.