Jour Trent et trois - France on a roll -- depending on charm - CycleBlaze

July 18, 2011

Jour Trent et trois

Today's Bizarre-o moment came at the bed and breakfast near Heathrow Airport in London when I heard the local ice cream truck rolling down the street. And what song were they playing? Well, the traditional happy, ice cream truck song----the theme song from the movie 'Bridge Over The River Kwai.' You know that movie. It's the WWII movie where the British prisoners of war are tortured and starved by the Japanese but still manage to build the bridge. It's based on a true story of British prisoners of war who were starved and tortured by the Japanese in WWII. Man, that is a GREAT summer vacation ice cream music if I've ever heard it! I wonder if the other song on their play list is the theme song from Shindlers List? Mmmmmm, ice creeeeam!

But that was near the end of the day...

The day started at the campsite, as you know if you had read my entry from yesterday, the one where I paid 20 quid for a patch of grass/dirt and a serenade by a drunken dufus in the campsite pub. Well, this morning I packed up my camping gear for the last time of this trip...sniff, sniff, snuffle, snuffle...and headed off towards the train station by way of the shore front, which was nice and pretty in the sunshine, that would have been awesome to ride in for more than the 20 or so kilometers I rode today. Still, it was nice by the seaside and I stopped for breakfast before setting off on the train.

The train ride was pretty nice, and practically empty. It was also unlike my first trip to Portsmouth where I was a nervous rookie. Back then my mind raced with all kinds of worries! "Can I get my bike on with all my crap? Will I make the right transfers, what if I miss a transfer, where are the stations I need to transfer at..."

But yesterday, NO problem-o...I made 2 transfers, one at Woking and one at Virginia Waters, just like I lived in England all my life, which I hadn't, as you know. Naturally I stayed away from transfers at Clapam Junction as there was a delay between Clapam Junction and Waterloo, so I kept my transfers on the southeast side of the route...

Of course I had similar fears on the French trains at the start and I was pretty uptight... "Did I get the right train? Am I on the right platform? Will I understand the station stops in French? Would they know I'm American? Of course they would. Would they care? Would I be robbed and pillaged and plundered? Would they care that my bike takes up more room then three of their unloaded bikes put together? Would I even get my bike on or would they yell at me for taking too long..."

On French trains you have to stamp your purchased ticket in stamper called a "composter", which is what the ticket validater/machine is called in France, and if you don't validate your ticket and the conductor finds out they cut your head off in a guillotine! Or, maybe it's just a fine, but still, I don't want either of those things to happen to me so I stamped my ticket on the composter. In fact my first trip I did miss the first train and had to wait an hour, because I could not get to the right platform in time.

However, by my last trip I was a seasoned European train veteran. When the French ticket guy was explaining about all the things I was worried so about when I was a rookie, such as "...and you need to go to platform 2, and you need to validate your ticket, and then you.....blah, blah, blah"

I said, "Yeah, yeah, I know, pal. Ou et la toilett?" Okay, I was more polite than that but by then I didn't need all those instructions. I guess that's what happens when you drift around a foreign country long enough.

So anyway, as I was saying. I made it to Stains, which is about 15 kilometers to the bed an breakfast and managed not to get hit by some crazy motorist driving on the wrong side of the road, like they do in England. And it was there I heard the ice cream truck and it's odd ice cream music.

And with that, the last of my riding was over for the trip. And you know what? You're never going to believe it! I had NO FLAT TIRES they whole trip! WOOOOO-HOOOOOO! I had started thinking about that later in the trip, but you can't think about it TOO much because that is the sure way to get a flat. I definitely couldn't TALK about it, because saying "I don't have any flats yet is a SURE way to get a flat." But now that the trip is almost over, at least the riding part, I can say it. I had no flat tires! I guess I didn't need to carry all those spare inner tubes, and pump, and patch kit after all. DOOOAH!

By the way, the bed and breakfast I stayed in was GREAT! It is right near the airport so it is convenient if you are flying in and out. They are also bike friendly, and held on to my suitcases while I was drifting around. They picked me up and dropped me up from the airport as well. They are called Heathrow Cottages and I highly recommend them.

In Portsmouth
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Oooooh, that's a ferry! I wish I was on a ferry, to France!
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Portsmouth
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This was in Stains, on the Thames river. I had lunch and this was my view, with little boats going by.
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Yeah! Stay off the verges!
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I got THIS little guy from some cops in Stains, where they had a little stand set up and were giving stuff out. They also gave me a pen that lets you write your name, etc on your bike and it only shows up with an ultraviolet light so if the bike is stolen you can identify the bike.
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This is the little spread that comes standard at the bed and breakfast I stayed at. Tres sheik! I love those little sugar cubes.
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Today's ride: 29 km (18 miles)
Total: 1,769 km (1,099 miles)

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