A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

Home Travel StoriesCochem And The Blue People 2019

A Long Day And Night

Ride Date 13 September 2019

By Ren Withnell

Oooh! Friday the 13th. I'm not superstitious, touch wood, stroke my rabbit's foot.

It is time to leave Laura and Stephan and Cochem. Admittedly it's already passed 1100 before my tent is packed and Sharon has loaded up "Tour-A-Plank". Sharon and Laura hug goodbye, Stephan and I uncomfortably do the same, sort of, without really touching, man style. Man hugging seems to be a thing these days. I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with it and it's just me being old fashioned, but I still prefer a handshake. 

Stephan and Laura hug, posing for a shot before Sharon and Ren depart.
Thank you to our hosts! Stephan and Laura

I smile as we ride out of the campsite, yes, that went well. Ah, but the road we want is closed. Damn. Fear not for I am still using sat-nav, modern technology will make all things well. Actually, it's no wonder men hug these days, we've been de-bloked by sat-nav. How will our ladies be impressed with our amazing navigational skills? How can we look all butch and rugged by just knowingly "getting there"? 

Of course this is ridiculous old school misogynistic thinking. And yet it is there, in my mind. A childhood of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood films where men were manly and heroic. You never saw cowboys out on the prairie asking for directions or getting lost, they just looked at the sun and the earth and they knew, they just knew where they were going.

History and Hollywood forgets the tens of thousands of men who died because they were lost without food and water. There's no blockbuster movie about blokes riding around in circles for weeks because they were too damn stubborn and stupid to ask for directions. 

A Germanic spired castle behind trees and building in Murlenbach
Not much chance of dying of thirst at least in Mürlenbach.

I digress. Right where am I? Actually the problem isn't where I am, that doesn't matter, it's where I'm going I'm unsure of. Come on boy think. Friday today, we catch the Chunnel on Monday. So we have today and tomorrow and Sunday to get close to Calais. 3 days to do 300 miles? Should be a doddle? Hmmm, we'll see. But where should we go tonight?

Sat-nav is leading us west, I have a random town in Luxembourg loaded. We could have an easy ride to Bastogne. I know the campsite there, I know there's shops in the town. But that will leave us with 2 longer days for tomorrow and Sunday. Upt'North mentioned Charleville-Mézières which looks nice. Bit more of a drag, that means less off a drag on the remaining days though. We'll wait and see.

Sat-nav seems to have the same settings as Stephan's "interesting route", but this isn't even a Google maps option. I wonder if it's trying to be all smart-ass artificial intelligence by noticing our "interesting route" of the previous days? Who knows, we are seeing ever more of the pretty Germanic countryside though.

I need tea. Waxweiler presents itself as a good place for a stop. Google maps suggests Imbiss Kanalentreff so we park nearby. It's an odd place by my staid English standards, it also looks closed but it's not. Within I feel like I've stepped back to the 70s with wood panelling, browns of all shades and vinyl seat pads. In spite of this it is clean, well kept and oddly familiar. I'm taken back to childhood holidays in sepia tones.

Inside of the cafe with wooden panels, table, chairs and an old glass counter
Cafe, just as I remember from my youth.

I was only planning on a brew but Sharon has other ideas. A stout and sturdy lady takes our order without a smile nor a frown. I imagine she's confused, this isn't a tourist town and 2 random British bikers, one with questionable German, have just ordered 2 colas and 2 hamburgers. Well at €2 for a hamburger it would be rude not to?

This cafe is plain and old school, our host's manners are neutral at best yet she pours all her efforts into creating 2 burgers on 2 buns with lettuce, onion, tomato and a multitude of sauces. I'm sensing a frustrated Chef de Cuisine who never achieved her potential. Damn tasty too. I thank her - "Danker shern, est vas zer zer gut danker" which raises a brief smile from her.

Poor Sharon. I'm loving these corners on my motorcycle, especially as the roads are dry and not too busy today. I think Sharon is all cornered out though. Since Wednesday at a guess I'd say we've done the best part of 300 miles and 3,000 corners. She's tired, I think she'd be happy to see a motorway right now. Onwards, sweep another curve sweetie. 

A stop in Bissen to drink some orange juice. Somewhere west of Bissen I take a wrong turn and end up on a road heading north according to my compass. At least this road is straight and sat-nav seems happy to flow with this. In my mind while time is slipping away I think we can make it to Charleville-Mézières but I am concerned Sharon is tiring now.

Another stop at a roadside cafe near Tenneville in Belgium provides chips and brew and I consult the maps. About 60 miles to Charleville-Mézières, can you make it sweetie? She says she can. Looks like we're taking Upt'North's advice.

A big main road, an ordinary cafe and regular houses in Belgium
Life on the road is certainly NOT all beautiful scenery.

It's 1830 by the time we finally locate the campsite. It is large and smart and even better it's only walking distance to the town centre. But there's no-one in reception. A quick call to the number in the window and a lady, upon spotting my poor French, informs us in English of the entry code and that we can pay in the morning. Sorted.

We pitch up near the entrance and flop down inside the tent, we're both worn out. Alas we cannot rest. We need food and we really ought to go into town and see what the fuss is all about. The only problem is by the time we've mustered our efforts and got our poop together it's already getting dark. It's been a long day.

We cross a broad river in the fading light upon a steel suspension bridge. I'd guess this hails from the mid 1800s, industrial revolution and all that. It hails from a time when the wealthy had money to make functional things nice things. The bridge is simple yet ornate, not showing off yet perfectly proportioned. Regular readers know it takes a lot to impress me.

The iron and stone suspension bridge, illuminated in the dark evening
They made 'em proper back in't day.

As does the town, kudos to Mr North for his recommendation. It feels very very cosmopolitan and French with a grand square, period buildings, bars spilling out onto the streets with the young and the beautiful socialising, a fountain, draped tricolours hanging from the town hall and flower arrangements. I can see revolutionaries around the guillotine and of course "The Black Fingernail"...

the building in the town square are beautiful and cleverly illuminated
The town hall with draped tricolours an French style
I feel so French I could drink wine, eat cheese, sell onions and ride a bicycle.

We grab some food from the one remaining open supermarket filled with student types then nibble a while sat on the fountain. Of course nothing is perfect. 2 cars screech through the square at speed, perfectly French. Also the young and the beautiful are not averse to getting shirty with each other, much like home. I'd forgotten - it is Friday night after all.

Back at the campsite and in the tent we finish our meal. It certainly is Friday night and a bunch of youths are having some kind of party in some kind of building at the entrance to the site, the entrance we are close to. Hmmm, I'm beginning to wish we'd gone to the far end of the site. We are both very tired, we doze on and off through the noise which eventually eases off sometime around 0100 at a guess.


If you'd like to share your adventure contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Prologue And Excuses It's the whys and the wherefores and the excuses for making this trip. You don't need a reason to travel, but it makes it easier to justify the expense and effort.
The Trouble With France Is It's Chunnel Time and Sharon's made a new friend. Finally in France Ren is finding the going frustratingly slow.
Kicking The Saddlebags Ren is having one of THOSE days. He's a very naughty boy and he needs to take a chill pill. It's them bloody foreigners fault.
Calmly Into Cochem After the previous day's temper tantrum and failure it would be fair to say this day is a better day.
Riding With Friends Cities aren't really Ren's things but with a little local knowledge he can cope. It's the countryside that gets him thinking.
A Long Day And Night A long day on the road then a night out in the town? That'll be two tired travellers then.
Trouble, Tired And Transport There's trouble this morning so it's not the best start. Throw in a grumpy Sharon and a scowling local and you have another day on the road.
Familiarity And Food As the end of the trip draws near the surroundings become familiar. But will the Dynamic Muppets survive without sustenance?
UK And The Epilogue After an early start the Muppets return to good old Blighty where they catch up with BAT reader Ross. Poor Ross, he doesn't know what he's gotten himself into.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
I was getting a bit sweaty reading this one. No one usually listens to a word I say.
Glad it was an OK stop.
You never know when you stop somewhere how it will workout; ride into a French town for a quiet night and find their's a medieval festival in full swing, been there got the T.
Pull into another town to find a music festival takes place, "tonight only".
Upt'North.
28/10/2019 7:30:57 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Ahh Upt'. The town is so French it is almost a cliche of itself. I could imagine Sharon living in one of the apartments above the shops, shutters open, leaning out of the window watching the world while wearing a cotton shift. Then I remembered she can barely speak English so she's no chance of learning French.

But... I'm not done with you and your recommendation just yet. You'll have to wait for the next enthralling instalment.
28/10/2019 9:31:56 PM UTC
Snod said :-
Ah yes the Germans do love a bit of brown, a lot of the food is brown too.. All perfectly acceptable though!

And don't worry about appearing manly, Sharon knew what was up the moment you caressed the starter button instead of stamping on a kickstart.
28/10/2019 10:34:48 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
...oh dear... yes of course Snod, you are quite right. I am barely even male let alone manly am I not. Sat nav, electric start, fuel injection, computerised ignition and even a fuel gauge!! Come here and give me a big hug while I cry on your shoulder.

I think we're touching on a serious and modern subject which I will mention just lightly, mental health. There are occasions where being a manly man is the right thing and we should be able to laugh and joke about it, but there are times even the manliest of men need to talk and let off steam.
29/10/2019 8:56:50 AM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Yes, definitely similar young Ren me lad. North Northumberland as pretty as Germany who'd have thought it. Could be a new feature..... "Why be Arsed to go to Europe by Ren me Lad".
Upt'North.

Posted Image
29/10/2019 9:00:54 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
It's funny you say that Upt' Stephan enjoys his motorcycles but his attitude to world travel is along the lines of "why go to Peru to see a mountain, we have mountains here". And I do know what he means. Take Trier, it has it's own unique items but generally it is a city much akin to many other cities I have seen.

So the new feature could be "Why go anywhere other than Blighty!"

Beautiful mountains - Scotland and Wales.
Flatlands like The Netherlands - East Anglia.
Horrible cities - London, Manchester
Nice Cities - (struggling here) Bath, Bury St Edmunds, St Davids.

...Desert...? Erm, errr, ahem
...Sunshine...? Erm, errr, ahem
29/10/2019 12:26:54 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
We haven't been too far on the bike this year but it has included two longer breaks in Scotland and many day rides in the Borders, East Lothian and North East England. About 5000 miles in total.
This was partly due to the fact we couldn't be bothered or agree on a plan of action and we really wanted to get up to the Highlands and the Cairngorms when the weather was good. Thankfully that worked out great.
Our last ride was Sunday to Jedburgh and Kelso, we both said in unison, "Why would you ride anywhere else". The scenery was beyond reproach and the weather although nippy was very acceptable behind a barn door fairing.
All that being said, when we got home an email informed us that the Santander sailings for 2020 were up for grabs, that's got us thinking. Never taken the ferry to Northern Spain although we've ridden there from the NE. Seems like it's no more expensive to go from Blighty to Spain than Blighty to Amsterdam.
Now there's another thinking man pose to gander at.
Upt'North.
29/10/2019 1:51:34 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
DO IT!!

Ferry to Santander or Bilbao. You don't need the expensive Pont-Aven (which keeps on breaking down) use the Economie Baie de Seine it's fine. Once you're off the owd dingy you're straight into the Picos.
29/10/2019 2:18:16 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
"Why go anywhere other than Blighty!"


You might guess what I might say. Go to France and the answers are, in no particular order, the food, the empty and delightfully roads, the scenery which, whatever you say about the UK beats it hands down......
31/10/2019 11:37:47 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
It all depends on where you are in France. There a beautiful places, there are ordinary places and there are rough places, just like home. There's certainly more space in France, we have similar population sizes but France has more than twice the land area. As for the food? Well yeah, but ya can't get a good pie chips n gravy there.
31/10/2019 12:20:00 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
If you go for it Upt, let me know, maybe the gods will smile on me and I can meet up with you.

Though the way my luck usually runs it will take more total hysteria on their part than smiling.
1/11/2019 9:12:42 AM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Will do Borsuk me o'd mucka.
Upt'North.
1/11/2019 9:32:34 AM UTC

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