Slow Starts & Great Cities

I remember killing myself laughing a few years ago when I got onto an interstate and my GPS told me to follow it for the next 700 kilometres. When going across the US or Canada these are the kinds of trips that you take. This is most definitely not a trip like that.

London is not a fun place for being on a motorbike. It took forever to get out of the city which was not helped by the many wrong turns that I ended up taking. My Garmin GPS is a god send and I don’t think I could do this trip without it but it doesn’t know all of the mini roundabouts so on a few occasions I turned at a roundabout that was too early and ended up in a new place. I am starting to get a handle of the traffic though and the trip outside of the city was amazing. No straight roads anywhere and it does take a very long time to get places but fun nonetheless.

The ride was only 100 miles and even after being in no rush to leave I still made it to Harwich by about 3 pm. The town is wrapped around a bay that seems to split it in two. On the one side is the downtown with a bunch of nice little pubs and restaurants as well as a bunch of historical plaques. From that side you can look across to apparently the largest container port in the U.K. For most of the afternoon I spent it watching the large container ships come and go.

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Harwich wouldn’t normally have been a stop on my trip if it were not for the ferry that left from it. A nights sleep as I traveled across the English Channel sounded like a good idea to me. It is the largest ferry I have ever seen, it had two decks of rooms for you to rent for the night and 9 decks to fit the cars, motorbikes and trucks making the trip across. We landed at approximately 8 am in the morning and I arrived refreshed for my very short ride up to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is an amazing city. There is so much energy and so many different people moving about that it is overwhelming at the start. Once you get used to it though it is a fun place. The first thing that you have to look out for are the bikes. The bike lanes seem to take precedence over everything else even sidewalks. There were many times where I was walking and the sidewalk seemed to disappear and only the ring of a bell behind me told that I was out of my place.

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To get my bearings I arrived and directly parked my motorbike at the hotel, got a transit pass and went walking through out the entire city. I used this to figure out what I wanted to do and with that done I spent some time sitting at a couple of pubs and watched the world go by. Its amazing to watch a Saturday night here. Other than the pure volume of people from different places you do recognize that this is a popular destination for Stag parties and Hen nights (not certain if we call it that in Canada but I realize I don’t know what we call the female equivalent… someone please tell me). They go all out here particularly with the dressing up and I feel like my friends have gotten off easy. I have seen at least one guy dressed up as a lobster and another as a stereotypical Swiss lady. Not to be left out the most memorable group of girls were the ones who had rented a boat, had the bride to be dancing at the bow in a white dress to the Spice Girls as they went around the town.

My last day in the city has been filled with a canal boat ride around the different waterways, a Heinekin Experience Tour and the Anne Frank Museum. The beer tour was nice and ended well with an interactive movie and games to play along with more drinks but after the Guinness Tour I am sad that my Dad wasn’t here for this one as I am sure he would have loved to have been along.

As for the Anne Frank Museum… that needs a post all on its own.

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