Day 10 – Tuesday 2nd June
Distance: 24.26 miles; time: 2:50:16; Average speed: 8.6 mph; Max speed: 18.2 mph; Calories (according to Garmin): 1347; total tour distance 448 miles.
So today was my day for travelling home. I came down to breakfast early and was out of the hotel by 8:15am. I purchased my train tickets to Venlo in Holland (best part of 30€) which included a 4,25€ ticket for the bicycle. The train arrived and I couldn’t see the markings for the bicycle carriage so put the bike on the nearest one.
When the conductor turned up after a few minutes he asked me to move the bike to the bicycle carriage which was at the rear of the train. He said I’d have time to do this at Bonn so when we reached Bonn I got the bike out, and the panniers (I had taken them off to make the bike easier to manoeuvre), I then wheeled it down the platform dodging passengers who weren’t looking where they were going, but then the platform cleared and I was worried the train would take off without me so I hopped onto the nearest carriage, which was in fact the front part of the final one. There was more room here but when the conductor arrived again he asked me to move, which I did at Köln. The final set of doors opened to a huge area for bikes which was excellent, with a very low doorway; it would have been nice to be there at the beginning but I didn’t know where the carriage was.
The train journey to Düsseldorf was an hour and a half as the train stopped at lots of little stations along the way. Once we arrived at Düsseldorf I had 45 minutes until my next train, to Venlo, so I went to buy some food for lunch. Düsseldorf’s lift is too small for my trike so I had to drag it down the stairs. I took the panniers off and carried it up the stairs to the correct platform, retrieving the panniers after I got it to the top. This was much easier than manhandling a tail-heavy trike and I wish I’d realised this beforehand. In fact, wheeling it around with the panniers on the seat, rather than on the rack, was much easier; firstly because the weight was over the two wheels so it was lighter to wheel, and secondly because the panniers were so wide they kept the handlebars straight so it followed much more easily. My journey to Germany would have been much easier if I’d known that at the time!
The train from Düsseldorf to Venlo was the same sort as on my journey out, so the conductor disconnected the pole between the door. The bike area was larger than before, however, so it was easy to stow the trike.
I had 20 minutes at Venlo to buy my Dutch tickets (one for me, one for the trike) to Rotterdam which came to 30€. I had to change platforms but the station attendants led me and a couple of people with prams across a crossing point on the tracks, rather than up and down stairs. They also showed me to the right part of the train to Rotterdam which was very spacious.
Well, until thousands of young people got on at Eindhoven. They had been at the Pinkpop festival and had huge bags, tents and stuff. They had all their luggage strewn around the carriageway and were lying on it on the floor – also lying partially on my trike and bending the mudguard out of shape. I told them off but they pretended not to understand me, although a Dutch lady said to me after they got off at Breda that they had understood, they were just trying to look cool.
From Rotterdam I made use of my bicycle for the first time that day as a mode of transport. The lady on the train had told me that the cycle path to Hoek van Holland was very well signposted the whole way. She was partly – but not totally – correct. I had a route on my bike satnav as well but it was a different route (one I’d got off the internet) so wasn’t always helpful when I lost the way due to disappearing signage. But I had oodles of time as my Dad had booked my ferry crossing for me and embarkation was between 7pm and 9pm and I left Rotterdam at 2pm.
I faffed around in Hoek van Holland for a bit, buying a replacement mirror for my trike and some food to eat for the evening (the restaurants on the ferry are very expensive). I was one of the first onto the ferry and went straight to my room, having my first shower for 10 days without washing my clothes too. I went to sleep at 9pm, tired after all the travelling.