BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Friday, 6 July 2012

Sailing. We are sailing...

With apologies to Rod Stewart

Late 27/6/12

We arrived in Harwich about 9.30 pm to look for our ferry. I was expecting something like the Isle of Man ferry but this was huge. It was a bloody ship by comparison.

Nice little boat eh?

Stena Line calls them Superferries. We rode through passport control, which took all of about five minutes, and trundled up the on ramp onto deck three to park and tie down the bike with 96 others. That was the easy bit. The hard bit was carrying all our gear up to our cabin on deck eleven. We walked into our cute little bunk bed cabin and were surprised by just how nice it was. The ship is only a couple of years old and everything is still new and built with quality in mind. It was a pleasant surprise. You can see more on Stena Lines here:

Suzanne and I then wandered down to the lounge area to look for Leigh, one of my Welsh Isle of Man mates, and his wife. As I was walking through a woman said "Excuse me, are you Simon?" It turned out to be Leigh's wife Annmarie. I don't know how many people were on the ferry, but she picked me first go. Leigh was off getting drinks and told Annmarie to look out for a guy with spiky hair. I reckon he said look out for an old man with not much hair but he wouldn't have it. We all settled in immediately and had a few drinks and got to know each other. It looked like it was going to be a fun night. We had the best barman you could imagine. He was like a Dutch Manuel from Fawlty Towers. He even looked, talked, and walked like Manuel. He had everyone cracking up as he looked after us. It was about midnight we were warned that the Dutch Police breathalyse all riders after they come off the ferry. I hadn't even thought about being over the limit in the morning. We called it a night, headed back to our cabins and floated off to sleep.

If this is Holland, where are all the Dykes?


We docked next morning at The Hook of Holland and the entire ferry had a 6.30am wakeup call over the P.A. system. I heard a groan from the bunk below me. I don't think Suzanne was very impressed. At least they were gentle with the announcements.

Leigh has just bought a BMW R1200 GS as well, so we made a fine sight heading off into the streets of Holland both loaded to the hilt. First stop was passport control again, another five minutes and we were on the road. I had never ridden on the right hand side of the road before and I think it's a hell of a lot easier than driving. Maybe because the seating position is the same no matter which side you ride in, or maybe I just feel more comfortable on a bike. We made it about fifteen minutes down the road and sure enough, Police breath testing motorcyclists. Needless to say we breezed through and were soon on our way to Harderwijk, our overnight stop.

A couple of hours later we were in the middle of this beautiful little Dutch village. We were too early to check into our hotel so they let us unload all our gear in their conference room, then directed us to a garage where we could park our bikes. So for 75 Euro per couple we got a room, free Wifi, free undercover parking where no one could see the bikes, and breakfast was included. You don't get a deal like that in Perth.

We sat in the sunshine and had a few drinks while we formulated the afternoon's plan. We came up with "We'll go for a walk and a look around". It was a bit of a complicated plan but I think I had it sorted. This place is just beautiful. Suzanne found a shop that sold Grimace face and body paint and in a fit of enthusiasm bought paint, brushes, sponges, etc. 

Suzanne discovers a supplier in Holland.

Then we found Nicky's Bar for a rest as we were very tired after out two hour ride. : ) Suzanne practised painting Annmarie in the bar and lots of laughs were had. Jan who was plying us with drinks was pretty relaxed and obviously enjoys his job. We probably stayed a little to long for our own good.

Suzanne and Annmarie getting into the swing of things while Leigh looks on.

Then it was back to the hotel for a quick freshen up and off to dinner. We had more food put in front of us than any of us could eat. Giant plates of Carpaccio, followed by enormous racks of ribs. We took a decent sized doggy bag home with us that night.

Harderwijk was so nice that Annmarie is in going to organise Christmas there this year, and Suzanne wants to go back and spend two weeks there. Who knows what will happen?

Tomorrow we head to Assen for the Dutch TT. We're meeting up with a bunch of Leigh's Dutch mates who go every year and from what I've heard it could be just a little bit of fun.

I’ll let you know.

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