23 Jun 2014

Europe 2014: Day 2 - Sint-Gillis-Waas to Bad Driburg

After a huge buffet-style breakfast we left the Fruitoff Tack around 11am and headed toward Aachen for a quick stop at FC Moto so Zev could buy a new helmet.

Mrs and Mr Tack, owners of the beautiful Fruithof Tack.
Ready to point the GPS to Berlin.
Belgium is full of speed cameras—there is one at nearly every traffic light. At a cost of several thousand Euros each, I’m not surprised the country has financial difficulties! Even more annoying are the 70kph speed limits off the motorways—most EU countries have 90–100kph speed limits on these types of roads. Cruise control is a very good thing on a bike...

Around lunchtime we stopped for another high end dining experience in a Carrefour car park.

Shut up. I haven’t had my Carrefour chocolate covered waffle yet.
The most amazing disabled sign I’ve ever seen—so loungy, and with curious alien shaped head.
We arrived in Aachen just after 4pm and discovered that FC Moto closed at 4. So no new helmet for Zev. I’d assumed a shop like this would be open until at least 5 or 6pm on a Saturday so this was somewhat of a disappointment. I programmed Berlin into the GPS and we set off again.

However, the B-roads afterwards made up for this. I’ve mentioned on a previous trip how well-engineered German roads are, and with 100kph limits you can cover ground effectively. The roads wind through fields, forests and little towns, all with quite spectacular scenery and very little traffic. It was almost like we had the countryside to ourselves.

We stopped for a quick rest at a park.

Zev here with a smile. These foxgloves would make a lovely spot
of tea—if you wanted to bump someone off, that is.
More than just a fern. It’s a German fern.
I’m no sculptor or art critic but bloody hell what a ghastly work this is...
Afterwards I hit the autobahn for an hour to make up a few miles. With the panniers and top box fitted BMW recommend a top speed of 180kph/110mph which is understandable considering they are as aerodynamic as bricks and can therefore potentially induce oscillations in the chassis (weaving) at very high speeds. For the record, at this speed the R1200GS gets 35mpg according to the computer—therefore you can empty a tank in less than 2 hours! And the engine howls (around 6,500rpm) with the exhaust flap wide open. Some of the sections of the clip are sped up 8x and apologies in advance for the crap audio.

One autobahn moment made me laugh—there were two people on a 4-cylinder Japanese adventure-style bike who were riding around 160kph/100mph when we passed by. About 10 minutes later, I heard what sounded like mosquito trapped in a hairdryer and they passed us again at around 12,000rpm. To the rider—if you read this, sorry you felt you had something to prove :)

We excused ourselves from the autobahn and headed back into the countryside, stopping to refuel in a little village which was decorated with bunting over the road. Almost immediately after we rode through, they closed the road and a marching band appeared out of nowhere. We’d inadvertently taken part in this town’s festival.

Zev here. I’m avoiding eye contact with Grandma and her
hot wheels behind me... I don’t know what her game is...
While refuelling we were serenaded by a marching band. Reason 117 to love Germany.
Continuing on we came across vast fields of bearded grass. I suspect this is grown to feed livestock during the winter months—but whatever the reason, the colours seemed to be part of an augmented reality.

And reason 118 would be the golden fields.
No. You’re wrong. This is not an HDR photo—these colours are real.
The great divide between young and old.
Yes, the temptation to ride the motorbike through one of these fields was almost overwhelming, but the idea of spending the rest of my holiday in a German prison put a damper on it.

Around 8pm we started to get tired and hungry. As we descended a hill we saw a glowing ‘m’ poking through the treetops so we gave in to all sense and shamefully stopped for Happy Meals. Bellies full of questionable content, I found a potential hotel nearby.

We arrived and the hotel was locked up tight—in fact the whole town of Bad Driburg was devoid of people and traffic, very strange for a Saturday night during the World Cup! After a few minutes a woman opened the door and said they were closed, but that she would call another hotel nearby.

Success! We had a nice room in an extraordinarily 70s-kitsch hotel on the top of a hill—the Waldcafé Jäger. They let me park the bike in their beer cellar, possibly the most unique parking space to date. Sadly, however, their WiFi was broken—I like to get an idea of where I’ll be travelling the next day as I wind down for bed. But such is life.

Europe 2014 quick links

Day 1: London to Sint-Gillis-Waas
Day 2: Sint-Gillis-Waas to Bad Driburg
Day 3: Bad Driburg to Berlin
Day 4: Berlin
Day 5: Berlin to Prague
Day 6: Prague
Day 7: Prague to Wemding
Day 8: Wemding to Ammerschwihr
Day 9: Ammerschwihr
Day 10: Ammerschwihr
Day 11: Ammerschwihr to Eschdorf
Day 12: Eschdorf to London