Wow, what an adventure
The Inn (A mostly awesome place)
The name of the Inn was the Bottle Kiln Whetherspoon. It seems like a traditional British Inn, where there are rooms to rent, and a pub that serves beer, and a selection of foods. My room was on the 2nd floor, room 104.
After checking in, the first problem was to find the room. I was told that I simply go up the stairs, follow the hallway, and my room was down the hall. Except, one problem… I walked up the stairs, and at the top of the stairs, there was a security door, which lead to a room, about 6’ x 8’, which sure did not look like a hallway to me. So, I looked around, trying to find a hallway, any hallway, and after 2 min, I gave up, and headed downstairs again.
This time, the hostess walked up the stairs with me, and showed me that the small room, had another security door on the other side, and if I walked through both doors, I’d come out in a hallway, where my room was located. So, I followed these simple instructions and found my room.
So, I’m sweating, I’m tired, and perhaps a bit confused from the lack of sleep, but I entered the room, and put my stuff on the bed. I walked to the wall, and started turning on light switches, but nothing worked. In fact, the light switches would light up, indicating that they are turned on, but nothing happened.
Once again, I questioned the hostess, and she explained that there is a card reader in my room, near the door, and that I’d need to insert my room key into the reader, and once I had done that, all of the lights would then operate. Well, of course she was correct, and the lights began to work, but this is a very good illustration of how all of us can be very arrogant, assuming that our way, is the right way, and sometimes the only way.
This pub did not seem to understand that, to an American, this idea of needing to insert your room card into a slot is so unorthodox, that there should be a sign somewhere in the room, to help a person understand it, without the need to visit the reception desk, and ask silly questions.
Over the 24 hours that I was at this pub, I really started to deplore this requirement of leaving my key in the slot. Over the years, I had become so accustomed to getting my key, and putting it in my pocket before leaving the room, that each and every time I tried to exit the room, I found myself looking around the room, wondering where I might have left the key, only to realize that it was in the damn card reader, located near the door.
In addition to the issues with the security key, the air conditioning thermostat has to be turned on, before it will work. Now, in all my years on this planet, I’ve never seen a thermostat that you’d have to turn on, but here was one, right before my very eyes. However, that’s not the end of the issues with the thermostat.
Once powered on, I was able to see the settings for the thermostat, and I tried to press the down arrow, to get the room a bit cooler. I must have pressed it 15 times, and nothing happened. I then pressed the up arrow, and the thermostat stated to change. Now, it dawned on me that they had limited the amount of cooling that they would offer to any guest, in any room. You were allowed to make it warmer, but just not cooler.
The tub, and the shower also had really strange systems for allowing water to flow, and to adjust temperature. In both cases, the knows were very contemporary, and the bathroom was quite beautiful, but I could not figure out how to turn on the shower and set the temp. This was complicated by how long it took for the adjustments to be realized as temperature changes, and partly to do with the fact that the knobs were not marked, and also had buttons on them.
Looking at all of this objectively, I can understand why they would want to save energy, but the idea that they would make all of these decisions, ,and do nothing at all to let a guest know all of the decisions that they had made “on my behalf”, was maddening, and it seemed to be a deficiency in their thinking. Nevertheless, this was an excellent test of my ability to roll with the punches, as I’m quite sure that my visit to Russia and China will also break my long-established norms, and cause me brief moments of discomfort.
Before we go on, let’s talk about breakfast. First of all, let me say that I love the UK. I find the people to be very friendly, the beer to be great, and generally, I love the food. However, I’ve never been a fan of anything that the Brits can produce, that they call breakfast. Whether I try the regular breakfast, or the American breakfast, these things don’t seem to resemble, in any way, my idea of breakfast. So, you’ll see a picture of my “American Breakfast”. It doesn’t look appetizing, and that’s simply because it is not.
Early morning wake-up
After yesterday’s long journey, I was completely exhausted, or, as would be said in the local vernacular, I was knackered. So, after arriving at the Inn, I had a brief dinner and went off to bed. Although I managed to wake up twice, and each time, I started to take notes in my phone, ensuring that I did not forget anything that was bothering me, I was able to get about 10 hours of sleep.
I can’t remember the last time I was able to get 10 hours of sleep, but I must have really needed it.
So, the morning comes, and it’s 6:00 AM. I spend time, taking a shower, and waiting for breakfast to open at 7:00. After a brief breakfast, I go back to the room and start to pack my gear. It was at this time that I realized that I also needed to load the GPS with all of the new routes and destinations for the next week or so. Unfortunately, because of a slow internet connection in the room, all of the applications on the PC were running slowly, timing out on Internet, etc.
So, I was eventually able to get the data loaded, but it took me an extra 15 minutes or so. In addition, there is no elevator in this hotel, and the distance from the room, to the car park was too long, and it included stairways and doors. Once again, getting all of my gear to the bike, and getting it loaded took longer than expected. And finally, because this is only the second day where I have had to put all of my gear into the two panniers, I’m still working out how to pack the panniers.
Long story short, I did not leave the hotel for the docks until about 8:15, for a 9:00 AM departure. I took off from the hotel, and headed to the docks, but it seems that the route that you have to take to board with a motorcycle is slightly different from the route that I had programmed into the GPS. This resulted in arriving at 3 different entrances to the port, all of which were wrong. As I entered the last of these three gated entrances, the guard said that I was at the wrong gate, and that I’d need to turn around, take the first right turn, and continue to the next gated entrance. The last thing he said to me was that I needed to hurry, as I had only 5 minutes to board the ferry.
I did not need to hear those words twice, and I kicked the bike into “Boarding mode” and headed toward the 4th and final gate. The woman at the gate could not have been nicer, but she also mentioned that I needed to hurry, and so off I went.
The exact path that you have to take to board the boat seemed to need to go up and over some big pallets and containers. The road was a very strange concrete structure that was narrow, and just plain odd. Check out the video for details.
I arrived on the loading dock, and rode into the ferry, where I immediately noticed two other motorcycles, parked, and secured to the deck. And so, finally I was able to answer the question about whether the ferry lines provide tie-down straps, or not. The answer is yes they do. So, I parked the bike, secured it to the deck, and took a quick selfie.
With all of these details behind me, I headed up to the lounge, and began the crossing.
The crossing is expected to take 7 hours, leaving Harwich, UK at 9:00 AM, arriving in Hook, Netherlands at about 5:00 PM. There is a 1 hour time difference between the UK and the Netherlands, so I’ve reset my watch for arrival time, and I’ll be ready to disembark, once we make land. I will then have to make my way to Amsterdam, where I’m pretty sure I’ll face traffic, and confusion, so the 45 miles, will likely take at least 90 minutes.
he ride to the hotel was about 50 miles, and took about 1hour, 20 minutes. Up to this point, my trip had been entirely in the dry weather, but that changed once I got off the ferry.
A light sprinkle turned to more substantial rain, which then came and went for the entire ride. The traffic along the way was generally light, but flowing, and the traffic in Amsterdam was not bad at all, although there is a lot of construction, and it’s almost impossible to tell where to ride a motorcycle, where to drive a car, where to drive scooters and bikes, and where to walk.
These 4 different modes of transportation seem to flow in and out of one another, coherently, effortlessly; Even mindlessly. Most drivers are pretty skilled, and quite relaxed, so you never hear a horn, or any form of alarm at all.
Evening fun in Amsterdam
Because of the late arrival in Amsterdam, I was somewhat limited in what I might be able to do, so I took the time to visit a local coffee-shop, and grab a piece of cake. And by cake, I mean that I purchased some local product, and then made a selfie, where I took the challenge of trying to get back to the hotel without any drama, or without getting lost.
I’m afraid that I failed, and I certainly got lost. So, be careful when you eat Cake in a strange city.
Below, you’ll find a short video that describes my attempt to get back to the hotel.
What will tomorrow bring
Tomorrow will be a day, filled with sightseeing around Amsterdam. I’m not planning on riding the bike at all, and expect to be able to visit any and all sites by walking, so i’ll get a chance to test out my new Crocs walking sandles.