Monday, 28 May 2007

Day 5 - Paris

OK, who switched qll the keys qround on this keypqd?

Well, I have got off to an excellent start.

I left my sister Aoiffe in Aylesbury last Thursday in glorious sunshine, but thankfully by the time I passed through central London it was much cooler. My map wasn't up too much so I had to follow my nose through Westminster and it went in roughly the right direction. I arrived in Croydon at 5 ish and spent an enjoyable lqst evening in the UK with the wonderful hospitality of Tim and Pauline Wainwright. Having had a tour around the immaculate garden we ate dinner on the patio in lovely warm weather.

After breakfast qnd armed with a list from Pauline of the sights to see in Paris, I set off with Tim for Newhaven. I was thankfully guided through the tricky route away from Croydon and after a couple of hours Tim turned back as we was riding a 600k Audax the following day. He recommended a cafe at Ditchling which I used and whilst leant against the wall it was spotted by a tandem couple. They were Simon and Danni riding from Big Ben to the Eiffel Tower for charity and we were on the same route to Newhaven, but they were on the 18:00 ferry whereas I was about to discover I was aiming for a non existant 15:30 ferry. I set off first but they soon came steaming past me and we met again at the terminal. Not only did my ferry not exist, but as it was a BH W/E the next one I could get was 18:00 the following day. We said our goodbyes as they boarded the ferry and I spoke to a young girl, 11 year old Leanne who with her father Tom were touring for a few days in France. About an hour later I enquired at the other terminal and they managed to find me a place. I chatted with 2 more cyclists as I got on and as I left them I heqrd my name being called. It was Leanne and she directed me to Tom, Simon and Danni. The crossing was a nice sociable mix most notable for the amount of texts coming in on Danni's phone, lqst minute sponsors she assured us. We got in at 23:00 and I took up S and D's offer of floor space qt their hotel, which was out of town qnd tricky to find but Simon's maps and Danni's map reading were spot on and we got there without a single mistake, but by having to go the wrong way down qll the one way streets.

I decided to stick with S qnd D the following day and there route was top notch. The first 40k was along a cycle track that had been a railway line, so there wasn't even a hill. At the town qt the end we had a coffee and bought a picnic lunch. We sat at the deserted roadside qnd had our bread, cheese, pate, salad and followed it with delicious fresh cherrys which resulted in a game to see who could spit the pips the furthest. I was crap qnd came last. The afternoon was spent on tiny little lanes with very little traffic to speak of. Navigation was again spot on and the black clouds behind us never caught us. We checked in qt the hotel in Gisors and then went out in search of a resturaunt. Our chosen one said they were full but S was convinced they didn't like his flip flops, but they recommended another. It was way out of town down an unlikely residential road and S and D's stamina for the hunt was far greater than mine. It was worth it though as the food was good and we were later joined by D's husband and two childen and they were accommodated without any problems.

I decided to join S and D all they way to Paris. Their route continued to be excellent on tiny lanes, but they couldn't be held responsible for the weather and rain set in from midday onwards. I had a go on the back on the tandem, the first time I have ridden one, but Danni didn't appreciate the saddle on my bike. The route into Paris was tricky and having seen the Eiffel Tower from 50k out we didn't see it again until the last 1k. We picked up a local cyclist on his way home and he took great pleasure in showing us the route and we were soon underneath the tower waiting for S and D's families to come down. The wait made us all cold and after the tandem had been loaded into the car we went out seperate ways. S and D and their families were wonderful to me and wouldn't let me pay for anything, hotel room, meals the lot. I think I bought a coffee at some stage. I don't think I really said thqnkyou properly, so I will say it here, thanks, you are very kind and generous people. I knew I would meet and ride with people along the way but I never expected to get on so well with 2 people so soon after I had left, they were great fun and great company, but they declined my offer to join me all the way to Australia. Once we left it was hard to warm up again and I installed myself in a grotty little hotel in the centre of Paris.

Today has rained too, and a wet B/H in Paris is no fun as everbody heads for the museums qnd the Le Lourve was more like a busy railway station than a gallery. The queue for Notre Dame went way to the back of the big large square it sits in. I seemed to time it badly all day as it only seemed to rain when I was outside. Paris is fantastic though and I could easily spend a week here, but I will go after tomorrow and save the rest for qnother trip.

If the French think their cuisine is so good why are there so many Macdonalds in Paris? Actually their food is great, so why do people eat that stuff?

Thanks to you all for your comments. I was surprised and pleased to even see one from Caroline. I enjoyed reading them all but please forgive me for not replying to them as it would tqke and age, especially on funny keyboards.


aoiffe said...

You must have kissed the blarney stone sometime in your life - no matter where you go you seem to join up with the nicest of people. It's great to hear that you have got off to such a good start.

In the hope that you might login again before you leave Paris - do you know where you are headed for next, other than in the general direction of Switzerland?

Paul said...

Good to hear that you're not alone, and that there re plenty of other crazies to keep you company.

I have arranged a little something for you in Ukraine - her name is Anna and she is very attractive and is very much lookng forward to meeting you. I expect she´ll leave a comment on here before long.

Until next time.

Paul said...

I've decided to plot (sort of) your route on Autoroute. Should make a nice little memento for when you return.

Just one thing - how come it's taking you so long?

Paul said...
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