We returned to Oslo overland as planned, weaving together visits to family and friends as we went. We did this without dismantling our bicycles. We’d expected it to be an adventure in itself, and it certainly was. We took a total of 23 trains, 1 bus, 3 ships and 1 smaller ferry, arriving in Oslo with 1-2 ribs broken in England and aggravated old bicep tear.
2019/10/22: Toulouse to Dieppe
TGV Innoui to Paris, 5 euros per bike, reserved space on easily accessible rack. Seats reserved beside bikes. Death-defying 15 km commute across Paris from Montparnasse to St. Lazare station. Intercity train to Rouen with bikes vertically on hooks. No charge for bikes but hooks allocated. TER (regional) train to Dieppe. Bikes leaning in luggage area, panniers removed.
2019/10/23: Dieppe to Newhaven
Evening crossing, 4 hours. Loaded bikes lashed down on lowest car deck. Disembarked in dark and rain, cycling on left in search of a B&B.
2019/10/24: Newhaven to Canterbury
Cycled 39 km in increasingly heavy rain to Eastbourne. Margo yelling “LEFT, LEFT, LEFT” as Chris drifted to right on bike path. 2 trains to Canterbury. No charge for bikes, rack space available, panniers removed.
2019/10/26: Canterbury to Lincolnshire, no bikes.
Bikes and panniers parked in hotel’s garden shed. 3 trains and one bus north to see friend. Bus segment due to unusual flooding on rail line.
2019/10/28: Lincolnshire to Canterbury via Horsham, no bikes.
Driven to Doncaster to avoid flooded rail line. 2 trains to London. Buy additional tickets to Horsham to see cousin, out and back from London. Fast train back to Canterbury, retrieve bikes. Glad we bought National Rail Senior Railcards!
2019/10/31-11/01: Canterbury to Cambridge
Cycled 74 km to Gravesend, some on trail suitable for MTBs, then under and over busy highways. Night in B&B. Ferry across Thames. First attempted route was closed. Second attempted route ended at a garbage dump. Onto “A” road with terrifying traffic, roundabouts, and honking. Train from Brentwood to Cambridge via London. Rode at walking speed through Cambridge city park to C’s old friends. Unfortunate fall onto a bent metal fence rail while stopping. OUCH!
2019/11/03: Cambridge to Harwich
Bought more Ibuprofen and Paracetemol en route to train station. Direct train to Harwich cancelled, replaced by three, meaning two extra changes. Platform and train are never at same level. This means each loading of bikes requires strength difficult to muster with broken ribs. One of us loaded bikes, while other stood holding a bike. Bought tickets and pedalled onto boat to Hook of Holland. Given bag of ice for ribs.
2019/11/04: Hook of Holland to Hannover
Rolled off to peaceful Dutch bike infrastructure. Pedalled 30 km gingerly to Schiedham. (Maximum elevation 3 meters.) Helped to use ticket machine by cleaning woman with impeccable English. Train to Rotterdam. Bought more tickets. Ticket seller made us lattes using staff coffee maker. A relaxed and welcoming country! Made us want to come back to Holland with bikes in better weather! Conductor at departure evicted oblivious youth with headphones from bike alcove. Train to Amersfoort. Train to Hannover, Germany. Found hotel. Walked back to station after supper to buy tickets to Kiel.
2019/11/05: Hannover to Kiel
Positioned ourselves correctly on platform according to bike access diagram. Train arrived. Diagram was incorrect – we were at wrong end!! Moved as quickly as injury permitted to other end. We delayed train’s departure, and took a later train from Hamburg to Kiel. Still made boat departure. Lashed bikes in hold. Asleep in our cabin by 2 p.m. sailing, and did not wake till following morning.
2019/11/06: Kiel to Oslo
Made good use of buffet breakfast. Minus 5 Celsius in Oslo. Rolled off boat carefully at 10 a.m.. Chatted to customs officer who clearly thought we were very odd. In the distance, we saw a familiar figure waiting for us with a minivan. Olav to the rescue!!! The non-injured and less-acutely-injured loaded everything into the vehicle.
Oslo may not quite be home, but it’s a very welcoming base camp.