Day 42, 28th June 2011, Zeebrugge to Kapelle

We caught the overnight ferry from Hulle to Zeebrugge in Belgium.  I thoroughly enjoy these ferry trips.  I settle in with my book in the lounge, and drink coffee or beer as the time dictates.

Knowing that we were moving to an impoverished coffee zone in Belgium and Holland, I started the morning with two huge cups of Costa coffee on board.

We got off the ferry around 9.00am, to an overcast, warm and sultry morning.

We did not have good enough maps, so simply kept the coast on our right on the grounds that Holland is that way.  TomTom is not good at this sort of navigation, as it doesn’t always get you on the right car-free tracks.

We ended up back on the North Sea Cycle Route, and by now I think we must have ridden close to half of the 6000km route.  The only major sections we have not ridden are those in the far north of Scotland, and in Norway north of Bergen.

It was so peasant to get away from the traffic, which has been such a feature of the last week, and so pleasant to be in full-on bike culture, where the whole road system is designed to integrate bikes.

We entered Holland rather sooner than I expected, and our navigation picked up, as we have good maps for this country.

We came to a ferry on our route and as we saw the ferry port the ferry pulled in, as they usually do.

We rode through the afternoon in hot humid weather, with a bit of a head wind, but the ordinary conditions were made up for by the quality of the route.  The signing on the Dutch cycle route LF13A was impeccable, and almost all of the route was on very high quality sealed paths, on the top of dykes, farm access roads and a lot of custom bike path.

Around 4.30, we picked a large town, and decided that it would be the destination for tonight.

We arrived about 6.00 but unfortunately there was no accommodation there.  We asked around, as it started to drizzle, and found that there was no accommodation for at least 35km in our direction, and we were told that there was a severe weather warning. We were told that the nearest accommodation was around 10km in the direction we had come, and were strongly advised to go back there, so we did.  There was a lot of lightning and thunder around at the time.  We bought a minimal meal in a supermarket just in case, and that will now do for breakfast.  In all we rode 106km, but we are not that far from Zeebrugge.

We founds the motel and got a room and by 8.00 were eating a really rather good dinner at their restaurant.  The storm didn’t come here, and the thunder turned out to be bird-scarer guns.

The contrast with the UK could not be starker.  The riding conditions were vastly superior today, but if we had arrived in a town of the sort we had targeted in the UK there would have been at least three pubs, and perhaps a half a dozen B&Bs.

Such is life.

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