I cycle to the station and not wanting to have my bike and belongings stolen by the thousands of people waiting around the station, I took my bike into the ticket office and bought a one way ticket to Saint Omer via a healthy workout of the stairs of death! Note: Calais railway station has no lifts to the platforms. I looked for a lift, I wished for a lift, I’d even prey for a lift, I even asked for a lift. No lift! Only a groove in the side of some very steep stairs, which my bike wouldn’t go in as my panniers made it too wide. I tried to use my brakes to control the decent, this of course failed and the bike and myself shot down the 40 stairs to the bottom, injury to elbow and my pride.
I stood waiting for the train and within 5 minutes the platform was crawling with police, I counter 24 of them, was there a football match in Calais tonight? It turns out they were there to catch illegal immigrants (big problem). As hundreds of people got off the train the police pulled some from the crowd, when the train emptied some of the police searched the train. I switched on the GoPro but a copper gave me an evil look, so I switched it off.
The journey to Saint Omer was comfy, efficient and quick, only problem was steps upwards and lots of them. Some guy offered to help me get the bike and panniers up them. I accepted, he picked up the bike and almost ran up the stairs. Well I’m definitely unfit.
Mum was at the station and was worried due to the storm, she had booked me in the Chic ò Rail hotel and restaurant for 2 nights to rest up and get dry. This was also the point mum and I would go our different ways, mum exploring northern France and me to Lille and Brussels.
The hotel room was a picturesque French attic up 2 flights of steep stairs, warm and comfy. I arranged to meet mum in the restaurant after I grabbed a hot shower and changed into non damp clothing. I ordered a beer and a steak with Camembert, the waitress put a bib on me, either something had gone wrong in translation or this was going to be an epic meal. Turns out an epic meal.
I put all my stuff on charge and fell asleep in my room, I woke after having some strange dreams that involved steps.
Aug 12th Tuesday. One week in.
I woke at 07:00, headed out at 09:00 into Saint Omer town center, fluffy clouds in a blue sky. Walked along the river bank and to the towns square where we found the Spey river cafe and stopped for coffee and croissants, the cafe only had one croissant left but the waitress sent me to the bakery for mine and served mum, as we sat in the cafe it went dull outside, the wind picked up and it poured down, luckily it was just a shower and stopped after 5 mins.
We explored Saint Omer, had a look in the Nostra Dam Church, went back to the cafe for a drink then had a nap at the hotel. I woke showered then went to a launderette I spotted earlier, after the laundry was complete I had a crêpe with apple and a coffee, mum just had coffee. We grabbed some supplies from the supermarket and went back to the hotel.
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