After a month housesitting in Sarratt it was time to say goodbye to the dogs and hit the road again. So it was goodbye England bonjour France….the weather was quite nice and sunny but as we headed south the heavens soon opened up and we quickly found shelter under a bridge and got our wet weather gear on.
About 60 miles out of Dover we took a break to let the weather pass over but with true English tenacity it hung in there, letting up only as we arrived in Dover. We were way too early for our ferry but when we checked to see it we could get an earlier ferry, it was going to cost an extra £60. So we decided to wait.
While we were waiting we decided a last Cream Tea was in order. As we were riding along we saw a sign for the White Cliffs with the added bonus of it being run by the National Trust (so we got free parking with our membership) .
The views overlooking the coastline, the port, Dover Castle, and the English Channel were stunning. There was also a nice cafe and shop where we had our last Cream Tea. Michele even picked up a few books she’d been looking for – the National Trust Second Hand book shops are a great place to pick up cheap books .
The area has war time tunnels in the cliff which they’ve opened up recently which look interesting, if you wan tto visit these it is best to prebook here if you want to visit them. There is also a trail which traces the history of the former prison and army barracks which were formerly on the site.
The weather cleared to a sunny afternoon and it was quite nice wandering along the cliffs. It was quite busy as many took the chance to enjoy the change in the weather.
Just on 430pm we jumped back on the bike and headed for the Ferry. There were a few bikes waiting and we soon got talking with a bloke from Manchester. After loading, we caught up with him and his mate spending the rest of the journey chatting away. They were stopping close to Calais before heading south to Spain for some sunshine.
Arriving in Calais there was no time to waste on the bike and off we went. Along the coastal route from Calais there were lots of caricatures of characters from the Tin Tin cartoon, it was really cool. It was a great ride through the countryside with red skies as the sun was setting. It’s so amazing that France is only 22 miles from England but they’re so completely different. The rich red fields seem to stretch on forever broken here and there with small groups of houses which look nothing like those across the channel. Surprisingly most of the villages and towns seemed almost deserted, maybe being Sunday.
Arriving in Lille after dark it seems quite edgy, with graffiti on trams and buildings, sleazy little bars, small groups of youths loitering on corners, poor street lighting and a strange feeling of menace.
The room we booked through booking.com turned out to be a nightmare. A narrow steep rickety wooden stairway led to the second floor room. I should’ve known it was a bit dodgy as the wallpaper on the stairway had been stripped off. Sure enough the room was in the same condition with wall paper removed from all the walls which obviously was part of renovations.
Mattresses were stacked on top of cupboards filled with all sorts of stuff. It was one of those times when the pictures and the description of the room were a complete fabrication. Looking around the room I soon discovered a plastic bin with a toilet roll on top. Yep this was the toilet. I wonder if they still empty it out the window…. Look out below!
Well of course Michele had to go, but not in the plastic bin. So back down the rickety stairs she went, to enquire where the toilets were. In the garden shed of course….. where else would you look?
The shower of course was on the ground floor off the tiny kitchen and shared with the owner. When she returned to the room, I was getting the gear together and had made the decision he wasn’t staying, phew ….No arguments from me.
Finding a room at 930 at night wasn’t as easy as we thought with some hotels clearly not keen on late arrivals and others charging ludicrous amounts for a room. As my phone was dead it was impossible to check online so it was back to doing things the old way. Turn up, ask a price and after a number we just didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. The solution was get out of the city and sure enough we found a Formula 1. We’ve stayed in Formula 1’s before and found them cheap and cheerful. Basic room, internet, shared facilities, basic breakfast you know exactly what you’re getting so we booked for a few days.
Tomorrow we catch up with a new friends locally before heading on to Paris via Rouen.