28 July 2011

The weather is fine and my bags are packed. A few trips downstairs and I can begin loading all my stuff on the Family Truckster. Pannier inner bags provided a bit of a struggle but everything is on now and I’m ready to go.

A quick detour west to meet my new travel companion Kalahari George – running a few minutes late but not a drama for getting to Folkstone for the train to Calais.

We arrive right on schedule and have no problems checking in. Before we know it the train is leaving and we’ll soon be disembarking in Calais.

We are headed to Leuven, Belgium (home of Stella Artois) mostly on motorways today.  A little boring but good for getting out of western Europe. Fairly uneventful but did include a stop to refuel ourselves. By mid-afternoon we arrived at our lodgings for the evening (a very good choice by Kalahari George).  Close to everything, very comfortable (see the first 6 photos below) and a knowledgeable host.  A good base to explore this university town and its amenities.

Exploring Leuven was thirsty work and we quickly found a suitable establishment to partake of some of the local amber fluid.  Another walk around town before dinner revealed more of Leuven’s architectural highlights.  Moules and Frites for dinner and then another gentle stroll back to the hotel before having an early night.

Total miles today 260 (418km), cumulative 260 (418km).

Update to original post: Kalahari George (KG) is a fellow Australian I’d never met before this day.  We were roughly the same age and we made contact via a Horizons Unlimited forum seeking travel companions.   It was his idea to do a London to Turkey motorcycle tour and I more or less asked KG if I could come along for the ride to which he kindly agreed.  We corresponded by email for a couple of months before embarking on the trip sharing tips, routes and places we wanted to visit.  He had a rough itinerary which included meeting up with one of his mates (yet another Australian travelling by train) at many of the initial European cities where he had planned overnight stays (including many hotel/guest-house bookings).  We loosely agreed that we would follow the same route to Turkey but with the flexibility to go our own separate way if either of us so decided and meet up again a day or two later if it should work out.  I had no pre-booked accommodation for the entire trip upon my departure from London but was confident that I had the tech packed to find lodgings along the way.  Camping was not an option for me as I’m not a big fan and and accordingly don’t own a tent or other kit.  On the first night I was lucky there was a spare room at the Guest-house in Leuven that KG had booked.