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  1. Deep thoughts and mild arachnophobia in the heart of Europe

    posted by Colm Hanratty | 0 Comments

    Deep thoughts and mild arachnophobia in the heart of Europe

    Jun022010

    I have firmly decided that cycling is the finest form of travel there is. It’s the best way to engage with the landscape. Most forms of transport tend to involve looking out a window of a stuffy vehicle cut off from the smells and sensations that let you know that you’re actually there. As far as I’m concerned, looking out the window might as well be looking at it all on television.

    These are the contemplative thoughts that were running through my head on the first evening off the ferry at France’s Le Harve port. We had found our way onto a country road, cycling through Normandy’s farmland breadbasket, heading for Paris on the longest day of the year.

    The first night we passed was in an abandoned fort of some kind, and the following day we woke with a face covered in spiders. Later, worse still, we had to defecate in corn fields. It was these moments that were to set the scene for the rest of the trip.

    A few days passed and the kilometres rolled by. Over these initiating days I encountered my first badger and indirectly played a part in the death of a dog. Then eventually we found ourselves looking at the twisted arteries of roads leading into the city of Paris.

    In a judgement that was made with something between extreme stupidity and extreme fatigue, we decided that the best route into this bustling metropolis would be via the four-lane wide motorway. This resulted in us, for the first time on the trip, being faced with our own mortality. A decidedly grim yet exhilarating few hours past and we arrived into Paris extremely exhausted.

    It was at this point where we embarked on a fruitless, five-hour furore of searching for accommodation for under €200 a night. After a while we gave in to defeat. Understandably upset, we began to prepare for an undoubtedly grisly night outside Gare de Lyon.

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