Micha around Lake Constance in 2006
With a scant weeks' notice I was sent to a meeting in Paris and managed to convince my boss to let me go on my motorbike and take a week of holidays. This set the scene perfectly for me and Dani to resurrect our plans of a circumnavigation of Lake Constance. Unfortunately she got a job just before so we only had a weekend but it was great nevertheless and I spent the rest of the time visiting relatives around Bonn.
Some trip statistics:
The associated picture-album can be found here.
Day 1 - Wednesday 2006.07.19
A nice relaxed start to the trip as I had already ridden down to Canterbury from London the night before and stayed at my girlfriends' place. Had a lovely breakfast, dropped Dana off at Uni, and then made my way to the ferry terminal in Dover where I arrived well in time. I spent the time before boarding trying to find a (GB) sticker (failing) and adjusting the headlight of my bike (with a rather extortionately-priced beam adjustment sticker).
After tying down the bike I relaxed over a cuppa while waiting for all the trucks to get loaded up. Once we got underway just after 12:00 I wandered around taking pictures and enjoying the fresh sea-breeze. We pulled into the docks at Dunkerque a little bit late (about 15:15) and then I had to wait for another half-hour or so for the trucks to unload before I could get my bike out as it had been stowed right at the rear.
A rather longer-than-hoped-for ride down to Paris followed through the Parisian countryside. As I was running a bit late already I pretty much coasted down on the highways rather than taking the country roads. Lunch was in a little roadside servo. The highlight was coming into Paris, especially as the hotel was right next to Champs Elysee - first time riding on the continent and then right through the heart of Paris, fantastic!
I arrived at the hotel just in time to meet up with the guys, have a quick shower, and then it was off to dinner with Ubisoft at the Pompidou Center - a rather odd building for Paris. Dinner was very nice but I was glad it was on company expense!
Day 2 - Thursday 2006.07.20
The day started early with me riding my motorbike to the Ubisoft offices - enroute I managed to take a quick snap of my bike in front of the Arc de Triomphe. The entire day was taken by meetings which didn't let up till past 7pm - several hours later than was originally planned.
I finally got away, called Dani and let her know I would be late, and headed towards Germany along the highways. There had been several heavy thunderstorms throughout the afternoon which meant there was a lot of water on the road. Nevertheless I held off changing into my wet-weather gear until I ran into a shower, at this stage somewhat damp.
Around 10pm I was running low on fuel with no major service stations anywhere to be seen. I finally pulled into a little village where I found a 24/7 servo - in luck! - or so I thought.. There was nobody about and the fully-automated pumps refused to accept my credit cards. With my broken french I asked some people if there was a manned service station further in town to which they answered in the affirmative, although when I arrived there it was just as deserted.
I was already considering finding a hotel for the night when a lady pulled into the servo and helped me out - she paid for the petrol on her card and I gave her cash. Fantastic! Never let it be said the french are rude and inconsiderate to foreigners. I can think of a lot of places where a person (nevermind a lady) would lock themselves in their car and drive off rather than help a stranger biker-dude in the middle of the night at a deserted servo!
A quick bite to eat at a nearby McDonals (blech! It tasted even worse than in England!) and I was on the road again. Soon I crossed into Belgium and a scant 40 minutes later I was in Luxembourg. Only 20 minutes passsed before I crossed over into Germany, the highways improved, and I even passed a couple of major highway rest stops - finally back in civilisation, or so I thought.. by the time I needed petrol again the roads had descended into darkness again and the highway reststops had once more disappeared. It was now well after midnight and I liked my chances of finding a 24 hour servo in one of the nearby towns even less.
Continuing on, with my GPS not indicating anything major nearby I finally pulled off into Neunkirchen, as the exit-sign optimistically proclaimed 'City' underneath the name. This time luck was with me - not soon after getting into town I found a servo which was still open and manned. A quick fuel-stop later saw me back on the highway.
Finally around 3am I pulled into Heilbronn, where Dani was still waiting up for me. A quick hello, unpacking stuff from the bike, and I was passed out on the couch sleeping the sleep of the righteous (and worn out).
Day 3 - Friday 2006.07.21
Ride from Heilbronn to Sipplingen; swimming.
Day 4 - Saturday 2006.07.22
Day 1 of ride around Lake Constance - Sipplingen to Meersburg, Linday, Bregenz, and finding a hotel in Switzerland.
Day 5 - Sunday 2006.07.23
Day 2 of ride around Lake Constance - Rheinfall, Constance, back to Sipplingen. Then dropped Dani back home and continued on to my uncle Detlef in Bonn.
Day 6 - Monday 2006.08.24
Burg Eltz with my cousin Jenny and a nice evening with Detlef and Annelie.
Day 7 - Tuesday 2006.07.25
Slow start to the day, quick ice-cream with Carsten, then on to my cousin Rebekka's. Late night chatting over a bottle of wine.
Day 8 - Wednesday 2006.07.26
Another slow start (these are becoming habit!), then a quick stop-over at my aunt Ruth's on my way up to my grandparents in Dorsten. Afternoon ice-cream, late dinner, and sleeping on the couch.
Day 9 - Thursday 2006.07.27
Early start to ride down to my uncle Siggi for breakfast, swimming in the Baggersee, and then on to dinner at my uncle Helmut's.
Day 10 - Friday 2006.07.28
Visited my godmother Christa and her daughter for afternoon tea (and shoe-shopping) then went on to Ulrike's for the evening. Pub-dinner followed by a few (too many) beers and cocktails and clubbing till the early hours. Oh dear.
Day 11 - Saturday 2006.07.29
Reasonably early start with breakfast at Ulrike's, then off to Dunkerque for the ferry. I was told it'd take about 2-3 hours to get there - yeah right! Had to pretty much blast along the highways instaed of the more leisurely country-roads I was hoping for, but did make a brief excursion through Oosteende to check out the beach. Made the ferry with about half an hour to spare (you're supposed to be there at least an hour before..). Dave from the Estonians MCC helped me tie my bike down and then I pretty much crashed out on a couch for most of the trip back to England.
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Last updated: 2004.06.09