Coming Home - The land of the Belgians and Luxembourgeois - CycleBlaze

March 20, 2011

Coming Home

The next morning, I was up bright and early to get on the train back to Belgium. My plan was to ride the rails as far as they would go, changing in Brussels, to reach the furthest Western extremity of Belgium at De Panne. From there I could retrace my steps over the border back into France, through the town of Dunkerque, and back along the breakwater to reach the ferry port. An evening ferry would then take me back to Dover, and I would be back in Oxford before the day was out.

At the station I retrieved my tickets that I'd (somewhat unecessarily) pre-booked, and boarded the train into Belgium. The journey was fairly uneventful, and the change in Brussels was straightforward. I disembarked in De Panne in the mid-afternoon.

The role back to into France and Dunkerque was relaxed, and the route still looked familiar to me after my journey out. From the town, I found my way out onto the breakwater which guards the huge lagoon (Bassin Maritime) of the industrial port and its petrochemical refineries.

To reach this, I had to cross a series of small islands joined by lift bridges. I crossed one, and was about to leave over another onto the breakwater itself, when I saw the bridge in front of me begin to lift. No worries: I would wait for the ship to pass. To my horror an enormous cargo ship, loaded with containers, loomed into view and began to press through the gap at a rate of inches. I had only an hour to catch the ferry - so I turned the bike around and resolved to pedal back through the town and go to the port direct. But when I reached the other side of the island, that bridge had lifted as well! I was effectively trapped on the island as I watched the Pride of Shenzhen very, very slowly pass by.

It soon became apparent that I was going to miss the ferry. Once the ship had passed and we were "released" I pedalled slowly on towards the port - where they were very laidback and simply let me get on the next one. I got back to the Midlands slightly later than planned, but very happy with a successful and enjoyable tour.

Today's ride: 20 km (12 miles)
Total: 527 km (327 miles)

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