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  1. #1
    'roid monkey wannabe AnnaMossity's Avatar
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    So I'm going to England (and elsewhere in Europe) from Canada 4 the first time...

    Got any advice? Is a money belt necessary for Western Europe or is a zippered front pocket enough? Am I likely to find much stealth camping opportunities? I want to go to France, Spain, Italy and potentially Holland and Switzerland as well as England of course

    How much is it likely to cost me (in CAD) for a day's worth of food? I plan to buy almost all meals from the grocery sto' so no fancy restaurants but I'm a big guy who likes to eat and eat well too (MEEEEEAAAAATTTTT).

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    I didn't feel the need for a money belt in Italy, France, Ireland or the UK. I carried an ATM card, you get good exchange rates that way and you don't have to worry about banks being open, etc. I also had one credit card on me and a spare hidden in my panniers, just in case something went wrong.

    I never felt comfortable with stealth camping so I didn't. As a foreigner I felt an obligation to create a good impression of my country, and I don't think stealth camping is a good way to do that. It's hard to generalize for a whole continent, but in general Europe has a lot more private land and a lot less public land than North America, so it's harder to stealth camp without trespassing. France has lots of municipal campgrounds, and the more scenic areas have lots of cheap hostels. Italy has lots of campgrounds along the coast, but not nearly as many inland. Where in Italy do you want to go? Scotland has great hostels, England and Wales have good hostels.

  3. #3
    'roid monkey wannabe AnnaMossity's Avatar
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    Markf:

    Yeah I guess if you are from the US a lot of people have prejudices so you are wise to be careful.

    How much are campgrounds typically in the various countries? In Canada they've started charging nearly $40 a night for some places, I'll NEVER pay that kind of coin to sleep in a tent, lol. If I have to sleep in a bus shelter, I'll do it

    But anyways I have NO plans whatsoever for where to visit, it's all going to be on a whim. I want to see London and maybe Paris, maybe the beaches of Normandy in France and the alps perhaps but other than that, who caez? It's probably all interesting compared to Canada.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    Markf:

    Yeah I guess if you are from the US a lot of people have prejudices so you are wise to be careful.

    How much are campgrounds typically in the various countries? In Canada they've started charging nearly $40 a night for some places, I'll NEVER pay that kind of coin to sleep in a tent, lol. If I have to sleep in a bus shelter, I'll do it

    But anyways I have NO plans whatsoever for where to visit, it's all going to be on a whim. I want to see London and maybe Paris, maybe the beaches of Normandy in France and the alps perhaps but other than that, who caez? It's probably all interesting compared to Canada.
    I never paid $40, US or Canadian, but for one person the cost of a campsite frequently approaches the cost of a hostel bed.

    For London, cycle into town from Heathrow Airport along the Grand Union Canal tow path, and stay in Earl's Court or Holland House hostels, both are quite good. Earl's Court Hostel is in a very posh neighborhood, beautiful old townhouses and Aston Martins parked on the street. Holland House Hostel is bigger, better bike storage IMO, and located in Holland Park so it's less of an urban location. Along with the Alps, the Pyrenees are worth a look, especially if you want to continue through to Spain. When are you going? France, Spain and Italy are pretty hot in summer. Are you going to use trains to get around or just your bike?

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Have a look at my website: http://www.machka.net/ ... especially this trip: http://www.machka.net/pbp2007/2007_PBP.htm

    I second the recommendation for Earl's Court Hostel ... I've got a few pics of that hostel in the account above.

  6. #6
    'roid monkey wannabe AnnaMossity's Avatar
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    Yeesh, that's disappointing to know there's not much of a diff between rates for hostels and camping. Do the campsites usually have showers? I don't like staying in hostels though you make Earls Court sound good. I'm actually flying in to Gatwick on the 20th. I've been told it's a scary highway leading in to London...too bad but I think I'll ride anyways. A big guy with a big bike and four big bags on a train in England sounds like a recipe calling for sardines. Yeah I've heard it's hot in summer but W/E I'm resilient. I'll be bringing some cotton clothes which can be soaked in water to mitigate the effects of heat (as you have undoubtedly done) so I'll prolly be okay. The lack of itinerary also makes it easy. I'd like to avoid taking any kind of rapid transit since I'm wanting to avoid spending lots of coin, doesn't seem logical to rush anywhere when you've got no destination in mind.

    So, are there nice passes and mountain roads in the Alps or are they all thin windy roads through a moonscape like Col d'izoard and other Tour favourites?

    Machka: Thanks again for the beta...is there ANYWHERE you haven't been ?

  7. #7
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    London would be hard to camp in or near as for most parts it's 15 -20 miles from the center to the closet countryside. Hostel or couch surfing e.t.c will be the only way. London has a good bike culture so if your into that it's there to find. The forum in my sig can be useful for that if you can wade through all the usual forum bull poo.

    Riding from Heathrow, it's either the Grand union canal (map link, google for routes out of heathrow on a bike) to an easy slow route, Uxbridge road for a medium route or the A4 for a just get there route.

    South of the UK is fairly easy to stealth camp in many areas due to lots of small woods. There are some part though without much cover, many part of the north have this too, but in my experience the woods are bigger but less often.

    There are regular bridleways (bike, horse and foot), blue arrow and byways, red arrow (horse and trap, horse, bike, foot and sometimes offroad car access) all over the countryside to get you away from the road, and countless footpaths, yellow arrow (not allowed to cycle along but you can push your bike along) again to get yourself off the road and down towards a secluded area. Just look out for the signs as you ride along a road, if a track does not have a sign with either one of the coulored arrows or a sing saying footpath, bridleway .e.t.c. unless you have a map showing it as one you probably have no right of way down that track. Places like Dartmoor have free camping rights, google again.

    Campsites in the UK have cost me from £3.50 up to £12 (end of a day can't be arsed to find anywhere else).

    Scotland you have diffrent camping and access rights. Google.

    Bike on train in the UK and France (non TGV service) are generally fine out peak hours in my experience. You will have to remove your panniers for storage to make your bike smaller. Occasionally I have had to wait in the uk for a space to be available in the bike areas as they were full, but you can book a space if needs be. I hear heading out to the Western Isles in Scotland and right up to the North towards Wick this can be a problem because of high number of cyclists so best to book.

    My experience of France is that it's similar to England, some areas are easy to stealth camp others offer little cover but there are lots of campsites, summer prices I have paid vary from 5 Euro to 12 Euro per person. Never camped in Spain or Italy, only ever stayed in cottages e.t.c.

    Never camped in Holland so can't help but Amsterdam has excellent cheap hostels and hotels, nice cafés, nice coffee shops e.t.c for that side of things but if you go defiantly checkout the Sex museum (cheap about 5 Euro I think), quite good fun and it's not just all porn, van gogh gallery, expensive but really worth it, amazing and the Jewish museum, interesting to see the full history of the Jewish side of the war. I hate religion but I still found it very interesting because it's all to do with the political and prejudices rather than any over the top zealous religious preaching.

    Never been to Switzerland, all I've herd is that it's beautiful the people can be pretty unfriendly and it's expensive.

    I have been told by many people Barcelona has a very bad pickpocket problem so be aware. Otherwise normal tourist rules apply, don't open your wallet bulging with cash, have two wallets e.t.c.

    Contrary to marf's comment I've never been to the US only to Canada and only to Alberta and personally found public land and rights of way very hard to come across outside towns, everywhere had no trespassing signs when looking for a place to go for a short walk. We could find big open places miles away but never any just round the corner places. So it looked like it was good for drive ages to go on a big multi night trek, but bad for a afternoon wonder. So I guess the idea public access is diffrent in each country, lotts of righs of way here but less open access land apart from in national parks.

    P.S It should go without saying any wild camping should involve taking away any litter and leaving no trace. If you can carry it in you can carry it out.
    Last edited by TheBrick; 06-09-09 at 02:37 AM.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member cyclemanic's Avatar
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    my advice about cycling in the uk would be to avoid the A (main) roads as much as possible, coming over from canada will be a bit of a shock, most A roads are very narrow & with no shoulder to ride on so can be a bit hairy to ride on when your not used to it, having said that most car drivers are pretty good its the buses/coaches i don't like.
    stealth camping is always hit & miss where ever you are, you can be sure when your not looking for somewhere you will find the best place ever & when you are looking there won't be any suitable for miles.! If you stick to the country lanes & can't find anywhere you can always tap on someones door & ask. as others have said uk campsite prices vary a lot depending where you are, more tourists = more £.

    food costs are pretty expensive in the uk compared to canada, even if you eat from supermarkets it can still be, i did 4 months touring uk last year (also done x canada) & after a few weeks relised i could get a half decent pub meal or take away for about the same price as if i bought it in the supermarket but then of course you end up having a few beers which adds to the cost. i think i averaged about £10 a day for food but you can easily spend £20+ just depends how well you wanna eat. I haven't toured the rest of europe yet so can't compare prices, but i have met lots of european cycle tourists who have said how expensive the uk is for food. I'm pretty sure stealth camping in Switzerland isn't allowed but as long as you follow the pitch late-leave early rule you should be ok.

    good luck anyway & have fun
    may the force be with u!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    Yeesh, that's disappointing to know there's not much of a diff between rates for hostels and camping. Do the campsites usually have showers? I don't like staying in hostels though you make Earls Court sound good. I'm actually flying in to Gatwick on the 20th. I've been told it's a scary highway leading in to London...too bad but I think I'll ride anyways. A big guy with a big bike and four big bags on a train in England sounds like a recipe calling for sardines. Yeah I've heard it's hot in summer but W/E I'm resilient. I'll be bringing some cotton clothes which can be soaked in water to mitigate the effects of heat (as you have undoubtedly done) so I'll prolly be okay. The lack of itinerary also makes it easy. I'd like to avoid taking any kind of rapid transit since I'm wanting to avoid spending lots of coin, doesn't seem logical to rush anywhere when you've got no destination in mind.

    So, are there nice passes and mountain roads in the Alps or are they all thin windy roads through a moonscape like Col d'izoard and other Tour favourites?

    Machka: Thanks again for the beta...is there ANYWHERE you haven't been ?
    There is a cycle path leading out of Gatwick Airport, it will get you a good bit of the way to London. Check the Gatwick Airport website for bicycle access to and from the airport, and check London Cycling Campaign for cycle routes around London. They give away cycle maps at a lot of tube stations, which is nice. London traffic is pretty intense if you don't know exactly where you're going. Gatwick Airport is a long way from downtown London, it might be worth your while just to cycle to a nearby hostel and crash for the night when you first arrive. There are two or three small hostels pretty close to LGW, Tanner's Hatch Hostel in Dorking is one of my favorites. Check the YHA (British youth hostel website) for details.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    How much are campgrounds typically in the various countries? In Canada they've started charging nearly $40 a night for some places, I'll NEVER pay that kind of coin to sleep in a tent, lol. If I have to sleep in a bus shelter, I'll do it
    I cycled though northern Italy and southern Austria in 2003. There were plenty of campgrounds. The average price was 15 euros.

  11. #11
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    Got any advice? Is a money belt necessary for Western Europe or is a zippered front pocket enough? Am I likely to find much stealth camping opportunities? I want to go to France, Spain, Italy and potentially Holland and Switzerland as well as England of course
    Although a money belt may not be necessary, try to avoid flashing cash and keep it in a zippered or Velcro'd pocket. I keep everything of value in my handlebar bag and take it with me when I leave the bike and snap it inside my hammock at night. As to stealth camping, there are many opportunities everywhere. I suggested my journal for information ion choosing sites. Remember it's not stealth camping if someone knows you are there. England, France and Germany and the Scandinavian countries are good for stealth camping, and Holland not so much.
    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    How much is it likely to cost me (in CAD) for a day's worth of food? I plan to buy almost all meals from the grocery sto' so no fancy restaurants but I'm a big guy who likes to eat and eat well too (MEEEEEAAAAATTTTT).
    As for how much it will cost on the ground, it depends on what you eat and how much. Love pub grub? Get to know Wetherspoon's (a chain of pubs in England) $10 will get you a beer and burger. Germany offers inexpensive food with large portions. Always remember to be where the natives are, not the tourists.

    I( usually cook my own food, and stealth camp with the occasional splurge at a B&B. On average you should be spending less than $50 a day on average.

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    Senior Member Gotte's Avatar
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    I don;t want to sound necessarily melodramatic, but if I were you, I would treat the UK with more caution than the rest of Europe (I come from the UK, and so feel safe in talking from experience). The attitude of drivers towards cyclists is worse, the infrastructure worse, and certainly in the cities, but often in the towns around the cities, you and your gear will be less safe than on continental Europe.
    Don;t get me wrong, it's not south central Los Angeles, but a certain caution is advised. That will keep you safe, and hopefully ensure you have a good time in blighty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    But anyways I have NO plans whatsoever for where to visit, it's all going to be on a whim. I want to see London and maybe Paris, maybe the beaches of Normandy in France and the alps perhaps but other than that, who caez? It's probably all interesting compared to Canada.
    I would urge you to do a little research beforehand, rather than doing it ALL on a whim. There are substantial differences between the good parts and the mediocre parts. There are often lots of interesting things to see even in smaller towns. Take advantage of the information available in local tourist offices.

    The best advice I can give you is don't skimp on maps. Buy detailed ones and learn how to take advantage of the wealth of information they contain. Avoid main roads whenever possible. There are generally lots of minor roads available in Europe and these are usually far more enjoyable than main roads for riding.

    As for security, my experience has been that there's a lot more petty theft in Europe than in North America. I've never had anything stolen while touring or otherwise traveling in North America. I did have something stolen from my panniers in Spain (not on my recent trip, but 5 years ago). There was an attempt to enter my tent in a campground in France, and an attempt to pick my front pocket while I was riding the Paris Metro. Gypsy kids attempted to rob my friend while we were walking together on a Paris street. Sevilla and Barcelona in Spain have horrendous reputations for petty theft. FWIW, I never had any problems in the UK or Germany.
    Last edited by axolotl; 06-09-09 at 05:05 PM.

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    Stay off the A roads in England, and get out of the cities into the countryside. The west country is nice, the Cotswolds and cornwall are beautiful. Look for ALDI supermarkets. they are a discount chain and have some of the cheapest food you will find. Also +1 on wetherspoons. Its a $#it chain-pub, but their lunches are two for a fiver (used to be anyway) so you can fill up cheaply. in towns, look for the markets, and ask for old produce, I used to buy alot of food this way and would get deals like 10 avocados for 2 pounds etc.

    The UK runs the range from utter crap, tot he most picturesque place youll ever see, talk to everyone especially the old locals, listen. you'll have fun. its definitely doable on the cheap.

    the rest of europe? Been there, never lived there though. Youll figure it out as you go along. Sign up for couchsurfing, its a great way to meet people and find stuff to do...

    Oh yeah, the (budget) meat in the UK sucks. Unless you drop some serious coin... beans are a cheap substitute, so id get used to that idea too. I suppose you could poach pheasants if you bring a slingshot and dont mind killing things...

  15. #15
    'roid monkey wannabe AnnaMossity's Avatar
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    Hmm, okay well thanks for all the good tips people, especially about the stealth camping and cheap eats in the UK (Positron)

    I looked up some info and apparently England's got some pretty extensive bike paths and one that goes from Gatwick to London. Definitely going to have to brave London traffic to see the architecture though. I love megacities. Can't believe the ferry from Dover to Calais is only 10 pounds! That's as cheap as a ferry ride in Canada...and our ferries are heavily subsidized!

    Anyways it sounds like things will go well, Europe seems much more bike friendly than a lot of places.

    Has anyone been to Amsterdam though? On the map it appears to be about 250 km from Calais which isn't too far so I'm tempted to go there. I want to see what it's like with my own eyes. Lax laws on vice that is. Since I live in a city with problems similar to A'dam I'm really curious to see how liberalization has affected things for locals. Wonder if it's worth the detour, don't know if there's anything else worthwhile on the way after all.

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    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    Hmm, okay well thanks for all the good tips people, especially about the stealth camping and cheap eats in the UK (Positron)

    I looked up some info and apparently England's got some pretty extensive bike paths and one that goes from Gatwick to London. Definitely going to have to brave London traffic to see the architecture though. I love megacities. Can't believe the ferry from Dover to Calais is only 10 pounds! That's as cheap as a ferry ride in Canada...and our ferries are heavily subsidized!

    Anyways it sounds like things will go well, Europe seems much more bike friendly than a lot of places.

    Has anyone been to Amsterdam though? On the map it appears to be about 250 km from Calais which isn't too far so I'm tempted to go there. I want to see what it's like with my own eyes. Lax laws on vice that is. Since I live in a city with problems similar to A'dam I'm really curious to see how liberalization has affected things for locals. Wonder if it's worth the detour, don't know if there's anything else worthwhile on the way after all.
    I think much of Britain's trails are thanks to Maggie Thatcher, who as PM broke up BritRail. I'm not saying that's good, but the abandoned tracks make good bike trails..

    I think the reason the ferry is £10, is that the Eurorail to Paris is £50. That said, try the North Sea Route up the west coast through France, Belgium and in to Netherlands. There is a detour into Amsterdam. I will tell you that Brugge, Damme, denhagg (The Hague) and Haarlem, are all much nicer IMO.

    If you want weed, you don't have to go to Amsterdam. There are 'coffee shops' in most large towns. Please be aware that the Dutch are very good at tolerating, but not accepting, so if they view you as a druggy they may treat you differently than just another Canadian tourist.

    Have fun!

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    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell View Post
    Remember it's not stealth camping if someone knows you are there. England, France and Germany and the Scandinavian countries are good for stealth camping, and Holland not so much.
    Also, camping on someone else's land is legal in Scandinavia or Nordic Countries. I'm not sure what would qualify as "stealth camping" here.

    --J
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  18. #18
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell View Post
    I think much of Britain's trails are thanks to Maggie Thatcher, who as PM broke up BritRail. I'm not saying that's good, but the abandoned tracks make good bike trails..
    90% of the disused railways are to do with Dr Beeching in the 60's. Nowt to do with Maggy. Some are to do with her, such as those in south Wales where the coal industry collapsed resulting in nol onger used coal railways but this is the minority or disused railways.
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    Senior Mumbler steve2k's Avatar
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    I've just come back from a 4 day 400 mile tour starting in London and then going to Amsterdam, Germany and Belgium, here is a bit of a brain dump, sorry if it's random.

    You can cycle fom central London to Harwich (93 miles) where you can get an overnight ferry to Holland (it's about £50 for a single cabin on stena line). The route to harwich is quite good once you get out of central London, quiet country roads most of the time. Check out the "sustrans" website, they have lots of cycle path routes. Here's our route from London to Harwich. The ferry was excellent, clean, good rooms and plug sockets for charging phones/gps etc. If you get there early enough there is a big supermarket right by the ferry terminal, our ferry left at 23:45 and the supermarket was closed, so we ended up in a very friendly fish and chip shop where the owner made us a cup of coffee and we chatted while eating our chips. We also popped into a little shop open until 10pm to get simple things for breakfast.

    From Hook of holland it's only 50 miles into Amsterdam and you can do it all on cycle paths away from roads. Or if you head south it's about 100 miles to Brussels.

    Holland is a cyclists paradise, separate cycle paths, right of way, respect from car drivers (because they're cyclists too). Mopeds can use cycle paths, very few people wear helmets, most people listen to music or text while riding, cycling is like walking in Holland, people just do it, they don't make any special allowance for the fact they're on their bike. Apparently lots of cycle theft, but we saw none of it. Lots of bikes in Holland have child seats and it's great to see a family out for a day out on their bike; Mum with the 2 kids on her bike, and dad with all the supplies on his.

    2 pizzas and 4 beers in a restaurant cost us 25 Euros. We spent less than 20 euros in a supermarket for bread, cheese,ham,water,fruit and chocolate for 2 people for 1 day. Everyone speaks English, when we got stuck we asked people if they spoke English, they'd say "a little" and then rattle off perfect English, everyone from checkout girls in supermarkets to young chaps in cafes.

    Germany and Belgium also have cycle paths but they were on-road paths out in the country, they're not used as much as in Holland.

    We did the whole journey with a 1:300,000 map. As we arrived in each town we looked on the "welcome to XXX" map posted on the entrance to the town to see the streets and how best to navigate through it. And we used our big map to work out which town to head for next. People recommend picking up cycle path maps, but we didn't need to.

    We were pretty much racing from town to town (we did 4 countries, 450 miles in 4 days) and found ourselves slowed down in towns a bit, especially as there seemed to be lots of building work and diversions, but it's lovely to cycle around the towns and see non tourist places.

    We stayed in hotels in Holland and Germany for 39 and 49 euros (we stayed with family in Belgium on the last night).
    We then got the Eurostar from Brussels back to London, it was about £50 + £10 to book the bike on the same train which is a very easy process.

    I live in England, and have spent a lot of time in Germany and France, but I have fallen in love with Holland for their cycling culture and the warmth of personality. If you've never been, I truly recommend it.

  20. #20
    'roid monkey wannabe AnnaMossity's Avatar
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    Stokell: My only interest in the vice aspect of Amsterdam is to see how the liberalization of laws pertaining to drugs and prostitution have affected the city. I used to be an advocate for liberalization but now I am not so sure after reading some disturbing studies on the ill effects of legalized prostitution. Because I live in a city which is a drug and prostitution Mecca I want to know what I'm asking for when I try to influence the powers that be to do something about the problem. In my city, all the policy makers/enforcers do is waste police and court resources prosecuting addicts and prostitutes and occasionally sweeping these undesirables under the rug for things like the 2010 Olympics. I have no plans to leave Vancouver in the near future (other than to tour) so I want to try to influence some positive change in this apathetic metropolis.

    Don't think for a second that I'd pollute my body with drugs. I rarely even drink so no stank weed for me

    Steve 2k: Man, you REALLY sold me on Holland! I think I'll ride up there from Normandy though rather than take a ferry (I'm trying to do this on the cheap and besides, this trip is all about seeing the land by bike) but it sounds really great. I gather the flatness of it all and the great cycling infastructure will make it easy to cruise rapidly through the area too Might have to try going to a rave there too, I hear they have some excellent ones

    Man I am so stoked now

    Woooooooot!

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    Senior Mumbler steve2k's Avatar
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    If you're in Normandy, then just cycle round; if you're in England, then you can choose between a ferry to Normandy or a ferry to Holland, I guess they're about the same price.

    If you cycle from Normandy you'll go though Belgium, which is also a cool place.

    Don't expect to zoom though Holland, most of the cycle paths are excellent but aren't as smooth as tarmac roads, and there are often traffic lights for you at road junctions. If there aren't traffic lights, you have the right of way, so if a car is turning right, and you're coming up on the junction, they will see you and stop. It takes a bit of getting used to; don't try it in England, you'll get run over and then beaten up.

    For comparison, we averaged about 12mph in Holland (incl. Amsterdam) compared to 14.5mph on the English roads (incl. London).

    I had completely forgotten that Amsterdam was known for drugs and prostitutes, we saw no sign of any of that in our whole trip. I just saw friendly Dutch people and bicycles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    Do the campsites usually have showers?
    Most - but not all - in the UK do.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    I'm actually flying in to Gatwick on the 20th.
    If you want a quiet and scenic route (i.e non direct and hilly :-) there is a Sustrans route from London to Gatwick. Parts of it are off road but I have done it on a hybrid bike - you don't need a mountain bike but it is a bit muddy in places depending on the weather. This isn't the route to take if you are in a hurry though.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    I'd like to avoid taking any kind of rapid transit since I'm wanting to avoid spending lots of coin, doesn't seem logical to rush anywhere when you've got no destination in mind.
    Trains in the UK are expensive. They do take bikes except at peak times though. There are discounts you can get if you are young, or travelling in SE England etc. If you do want to catch the train a bit then you might want to look at some sort of Eurail pass as well.

    When crossing from the UK to the mainland you have a number of choices (e.g. train, ferry, plane). Eurostar is OK if you can get a cheap ticket and they take bikes now days. Ferry is usually cheaper if you can get to the coast yourself. One trick I heard, and I haven't done this myself so decide for yourself, allows you to cross for almost nothing. On the channel tunnel car train, and possibly some ferries, they charge per vehicle and not per passenger. Apparently it is possible to hang around in the car park until a van driver comes along and then, possibly in exchange for some brewed beverage, you put your bike in the van and hitch a lift and cross on their ticket.

    I think some of the nicest places I have toured in Europe have been:
    * Western coast of Finland (Turku to Oulu)
    * East Germany (Berlin to Leipzig)
    * Wales (Sustrans Lon Las Cymru route)
    * Northern England (Tynemouth to Whitehaven on the Reivers Route and back on the C2C)

    Of course there is a lot I haven't seen yet.

  23. #23
    Primate Metzinger's Avatar
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    For the Dutch part of your trip, don't expect to find much in the way of stealth camping. Finding a secluded trailside place to pee is hard enough.
    Outside of the major cities, the pathways are quite suitable for higher speeds than those mentioned above. Do some reasearch on the route. Not all fietspads are created equal.

    Dutch drug policies, IMO, haven't created many problems for Dutch people. In the opinion of the Netherlanders I know, coffeeshops exist primarily for tourists. It's considered boorish to be stoned.

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    I found the UK to be much like the states where once you get to the rural areas, you can always ask people about where to camp for the night and they were friendly and at least willing to talk to me. Not being a fan of fish & chips I found the food at restaurants to be hit and miss (mostly miss) but the grocery stores are very much like ours. But generally speaking the Europeans I found were not as open and as quick to help as people are here in the states. Thats not to say they are unfriendly, just different in a way. But once you sort of tune into it all they are really lovely people. Once you get out of the large cities andinto the burbs you'll find that everyone seems to know everyone so it's like the land of Mrs.Cravits (if you remember Bewitched)

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    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    I cycled through the Netherlands back in the late 90's, and assuming things haven't changed too much, I agree with Steve. It really is a cycle friendly nation, and I didn't meet a Dutch person who wasn't nice to us.

    Downsides: well, the parts I did were flat, so the scenery, though nice, wasn't outstanding. Free camping is not an easy option usually -e.g. we got to Eindhoven late at night and since we couldn't find accommodations, we did end up free camping -up an embankment and in the middle of some bushes close to a major multi lane highway. And we were lucky to find that.

    I also had the same experience as another poster -asking if someone knew English usually resulted in a "a little", followed by 2 minutes of perfect descriptive English!

    I'm from the UK, and really enjoy cycling there -but as other people have pointed out:

    i. don't cycle on A or even B roads if you can help it.
    ii. meat is expensive, you're better off being a vegetarian
    iii. there can be some nasty stuff late at night in cities as there is an alcohol fuelled culture -better off out of cities where possible (since I left the UK in 1990 though have cycle toured there since, my family does tell me crime is worse in cities).

    On the plus side:
    -bread and cheese is very yummy there! You're very likely to see some little bakery in a town or village while touring.
    -street signs in the country side are fairly good -and if you do get lost, sooner or later you'll come across the next village which chances are has a pub and will serve lunch.
    -beautiful countryside and varied. From the west country to Herefordshire, to the Norfolk broads, to the Dales, to the Scottish Highlands, to the Peak District, to Wales....

    Personally my favourite country to cycle in was the Czech Republic -loved it! (caveat: never been to France.)


    edit: oh yeah, don't forget, you can have a lovely cheap lunch with a Marmite sandwich! Warning: spread thinly.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    Stokell: My only interest in the vice aspect of Amsterdam is to see how the liberalization of laws pertaining to drugs and prostitution have affected the city. I used to be an advocate for liberalization but now I am not so sure after reading some disturbing studies on the ill effects of legalized prostitution. Because I live in a city which is a drug and prostitution Mecca I want to know what I'm asking for when I try to influence the powers that be to do something about the problem. In my city, all the policy makers/enforcers do is waste police and court resources prosecuting addicts and prostitutes and occasionally sweeping these undesirables under the rug for things like the 2010 Olympics. I have no plans to leave Vancouver in the near future (other than to tour) so I want to try to influence some positive change in this apathetic metropolis.

    Don't think for a second that I'd pollute my body with drugs. I rarely even drink so no stank weed for me

    Steve 2k: Man, you REALLY sold me on Holland! I think I'll ride up there from Normandy though rather than take a ferry (I'm trying to do this on the cheap and besides, this trip is all about seeing the land by bike) but it sounds really great. I gather the flatness of it all and the great cycling infastructure will make it easy to cruise rapidly through the area too Might have to try going to a rave there too, I hear they have some excellent ones

    Man I am so stoked now

    Woooooooot!
    Last edited by Nigeyy; 06-19-09 at 10:05 AM.

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