After exiting the ship and spending a few days in Antwerp, Belgium, working on getting our land legs back, we finally received our motorcycles from customs after four impatient days of waiting and an unexpected $600 tab to cover european motorcycle insurance for two months. Spending time in Antwerp wasn't exactly a prison sentence though. This beautiful city, blanketed in history, art and architecture, was the perfect place to stay while wrapping our heads around what we were about to embark on. Our days were spent walking and exploring through courtyards and alleyways, sipping espresso while watching street performers entertain guests drinking vino on a cobblestone patio or simply laying next to a bronze sculpture soaking in the warm sun and watching the locals go about there business. Though, when the call came that our bikes were ready, we excitedly packed our bags, jumped into a taxi in front of the hotel we were staying in (Hotel O by the way) and went straight to the shipping yard where our motorcycles lay in wait of there rightful owners.
This was where our taxi dropped us off after we got off the ship. Thats the Cathedral of Our Lady.
The white building in the corner was our hotel in Antwerp. It's directly in front of the Cathedral.
Just one of Kayla, looking beautiful as usual!
Local street performer trying to make a few Euros
So there we were, excited, nervous and ready. We not only started our motorcycles, we were starting an experience we would never forget. And just like that, we were off. First destination, Paris. Knowing that with our late start and unfamiliarity of how to navigate European roads reaching Paris on the first day was a long shot, so we headed west to the small coastal town of Nieuweport, Belgium. Our first ride went relatively smooth. Finding our way out of town was simple and traffic wasn't to terrible. Fotrunately though we didn't have far to go, just far enough to get accustomed to different road signs and ways of marking street names. We landed in Nieuweport around 7 in the evening with a cold wind welcoming us to town. With us both still feeling a little Euroshy and not wanting to deal with looking for a campground at this time of day, we opted for a hotel room and a...how do I put this?, rather strange chinese dining experiance. An interesting way to finish our first day on the road to say the least. Day 2, our first full day on the bikes, was great. We started by navigating, not to well I might add, the endless curves of the Belgium back roads as we headed south to the french border. Once crossing into France, we opted to get some autobahn experience and get to Paris, which wasn't to far away at this point. As we approached the city we both spotted the Eiffel tower in the distance, exchanged a smile and a thumbs up, then immediately got off on the wrong exit. In all fairness though, it really seemed like the right one. What we exited onto was a 4 lane intersection, merging into one lane with cars fighting for a spot like Hulk Hogan in a wrestling match. We managed to get through it safely then retreated to the first gas station on the right. At the station, we met some friendly local biker types that informed us that yes, he had in fact taken the wrong exit but they would be happy to lead us to the correct one. Good thing to, otherwise we would probably still be ther riding around in circles. Speaking of circles, let me tell you about the roundabouts in Paris. Five lanes wide, no lights, signs or lane markers. Cars coming and going from all directions with no clear direction but yet it seems to work. I discovered quickly that the best way to approach one of these hair raising situations is to close your eyes, twist the throttle and put your feet out. Sort of a bumber car method.
Again, we decided to stay in a hotel for a couple of nights here, knowing it would be potentially our last for a while and that we were looking forward to a little sightseeing. We stowed our bikes in a secure underground parking garage and went off on foot. First destination was Notre Dame where we put our level of fitness to the test and climbed the 400 steps to the top of the bell tower...I need to start jogging or something. We did however, after only a few moments of being legitimately concerned of my legs cramping and falling down the spiral stone staircase to what would most certainly be the end of my trip, make it to the top where we joined other camera yielding samurai tourists in an attempt to capture on film what can only truly be captured with the human eye.
From Notre Dame we hoofed our way over to the Louvre to get a better look at this Mona Lisa painting everyone has been talking about. Normally I'm not one to get excited about old paintings but there is something pretty cool about walking the halls of the most famous museum in the world. You just know that some dude a damn long time ago wishes he was still alive to see how much his painting is worth now. Arc de Triomphe was next on our checklist. If you have ever watched to the Tour De France you know what I'm talking about. Its that famous arch on the Champs Elysee right smack in the middle of Paris that the riders pass by on there way to the finish line. Of course, we had to climb the 300 steps to the top of that as well to get a picture. Luckily though, this was the last item on our checklist, which was good a thing as the soles of my boots were wearing awful thin. I'm going to leave you on that, it's getting late down here in Faro, Portugal. I'll try to get you caught tomorrow if I can find WiFi again.
Kayla being clever, me being completely oblivious to the fact that there was this kid directly in front of me.