Awoke to a beautiful sunny morning in Bremen which boded well for the trip ahead. Fully loaded after breakfast and with a full tank of petrol on board, it was out on to the A1 for the 670 km, 6-6.5 hour trip to Ypres in Flanders. It is always nice to begin the day with such optimism for you never know what lies ahead. This leg would be a longer than yesterday taking me past Münster where I will be staying on the way back, on past Dortmund and crossing the Rhine on the northern side av Cologne before crossing the border into Belgium south of Aachen. Then it would be a straight run west direct to Brussels and the famed Brussels ring, hopefully hitting it before rush hour, then continuing west to Ghent before turning once again south and passing into Flanders and finally Ypres.
Oh such well laid plans!
Everything held together for the first 3 hours, but as I neared Leverkusen I noticed the traffic was beginning to thin out. It must have been my inattention or lack of German that I may have missed some important road works notices for with a sudden abruptness I come to a complete stop at the Leverkusen bridge over the river Rhine (closed for repairs). I was forced off the autobahn into the city centre. It was at this point I got into a fight with my GPS who was trying to force me back onto the closed bridge. In the end I won by turning it off. The only thing left was to find a road parallel to the river and head along it until I found a bridge to cross. I chose to head north towards Düsseldorf and after about 40km I finally found a bridge. Later I would learn that if I had headed south 10kms I would have been able to cross in Cologne. Grrrr!
Having lost an hour trying to get across the Rhine I finally turned the GPS back on. Everything seemed back on track although slightly off track and I settled in for a calming run to the Belgian border. While taking a leg stretch after having successfully got across the Rhine an hour before, I decided to check the map at the pit stop. Not good news! I was heading directly west into Holland. Grrr! Belgium and where I was heading was south west and the current route would add another 1.5 to 2 hours to the trip. This is where “Anders” on my GPS and I had a big falling out and he was consigned to the glove box and Iphone maps got his chance. Within 5 minutes he had me back on track although it would involve many country back roads to get me across country to the right autobahn. Another 40 minutes lost!
Finally I was back on track but those 2 hours lost meant I would be hitting the Brussels ring at peak hour, so it was peddle to the metal and see what time I could make up. From the Belgian border to the Brussels ring it was almost dead straight for 150 km. While making up time buzzing along at 140-150 kph, I was never going to beat rush hour on the ring so I found myself spending 1 hour on the ring to travel a piddly 20km. Grrr! Once clear of the ring and a stop to fill up with petrol it was back on the motorway and the final 120 km till Ypres.
Night had fallen by the time I arrived into my hotel Kasteelhof ‘T Hooghe at 7.30pm in the evening. Ten hours after leaving Bremen on what was suppose to be a 6-6.5 hour trip. It was a beautiful cross-timber hotel in the countryside about 4 km outside Ypres. Not much more to do other than get something to eat and a beer to wash away the road weariness and then some well earned rest.
I am here, so now I can enjoy what I came for! Night, night!