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European Voices -the Freedom of Movement Tour part 2 – the Celtic leg

Europa United catches up with Chiara Ginestra and Alexander Colling who have decided to embark on an amazing journey across Europe on bicycle to discover the wonderful right of  freedom of movement within the European Union. Part two sees the guys arriving in Dublin via Edinburgh and on to Cardiff.

We left Edinburgh with little pomp. It had been an exhausting few weeks and the day before we removed all of our possessions we weren’t to take with us to twenty five square feet of storage space. On the morning we set off we cleaned and tidied the flat and dropped the keys through the letterbox then spent a frantic quarter of an hour adjusting our bikes and their excessive loads and getting used to the weighty handling under a typical Edinburgh drizzly downpour. We assured ourselves it would get better and that the wind was on our backs. The drizzle was an unwavering companion throughout the day and we arrived at Glasgow rather soaked.

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Bagged and tagged

The next day was slightly better as we cycled to Ayr. The cycle paths on this section were wide and smooth and much of the route was downhill, again with the wind on our backs:

A ferry at 15:30 necessitated an early morning departure from Ayr the next day and we enjoyed some nice views, a little sun and some deserted roads on our way to Cairnryan. Once in Belfast we became aware of a loose pannier rack, which was quickly mended, and we cycled to Holywood to stay with our Couchsurfing host there.

Due to ill health we hadn’t cycled much since then, but had to catch trains to keep up with our schedule. We were hoping to be fit and ready to get back in the saddle for longer than ten miles in the next few days.

A big blue Dublin

Dublin is a haven for cycling. The cycle lanes are wide, extensive and respected and not full of parked cars. Intersections are easily tackled and one feels like one could keep riding without stopping for miles around the centre. The city reminded me of cycling in Berlin where the cycle lanes make sense and work well:

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Alive alive ohh – welcome to Dublin

After Dublin we headed to Rosslare and crossed on the ferry to Fishguard in Wales. The next day we went to Cardiff and the day after to Bristol. The trip has so far been quite an amazing experience. Two people loaded up with panniers and dry bags attract attention and we have had many interesting conversations with people on the road.

Sorting things out

The first week has also been one of adjustment. We have weeded out kilograms of things we don’t need in our luggage, adjusted our saddles and handlebars a multitude of times and were finally getting the hang of where we keep things, of packing and repacking, loading and unloading our bikes.

We want to document the international borders we cross during the trip. So far we’ve managed two: UK-Ireland and Ireland-UK. My main impression so far is how much more difficult it is to take bicycles on trains that to cross international borders!

Many people have asked us about accommodation. We are doing this trip on a very tight budget, so we’ll aim to find hosts through friends, family, Couchsurfing and Warm showers where possible. We are carrying a tent for the warmer climates of continental Europe and for emergency situations. We do expect to spend some money on accommodation such as hostels and bed and breakfasts but we will try to keep this to a minimum. We are so grateful to everyone that has hosted us so far: Pat and Ken, John, Pia, Cian, Sylvie (check out her amazing drawings at youtookthatwell.com) and Bryn, Davva and Robyn. Your kindness and hospitality makes this whole trip possible for us. Thank you!

Our plans for the next few days are to get well and head towards London before we go across Dover to Dunkirk and beyond. If you’re in able to accommodate two weary cyclists then please let us know via our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/fomtour.

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