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25: Back to newcastle

When I get up it's drowsy, the roads are wet, so with the events of two days ago in mind I immediately decide not to ride the scenic route along the west coast that is programmed in my GPS, but take the shortest and straighest way to Newcastle. An unproblematic (although boring) ride will probably get me 'going' again much quicker than the twisties along the coast.

Breakfast comes without black pudding, but still is ok, and I quickly pack the bike and check out after it. The weather sucks, but even through the rains it is clear to me that Argyll is a beautiful bit of Scotland, although I don't really enjoy it - the road is boring, getting more and more crowded with every mile closer to Glasgow, and the weather sucks. Oh, I said that already.

Just before Glasgow I stop at a BP station to fill up the bike. I decide to trust the international standardization of shops like BP, so I order my first coffee (a large capuccino, actually) since I decided to stay with tea the first day of the trip. Some times, large international companies are good to have around, because the caffee tastes just as expected. I can't help joking to myself about how nice it's to be back in civilization again (really, joking - give me tea in the highlands any day).

The trip is uneventful. To my surprise, the GPS takes me across to Edinbourgh instead of down over the M1, but that's more or less the only real even that takes place. The road down to Newcastle is wide, mostly straight, and full of speed cameras - I take it easy, because I will arrive at the ferry terminal too early anyway (another nice thing of a GPS on the bike - no need to hurry if the thing tells you all the time you'll be hanging around the ferry terminal for almost two hours).

At the terminal, we have to park in front of the checkin because it hasn't opened yet. I walk around a bit to stretch my legs until we're summoned to get rolling. After obtaining the boarding card, another wait because Customs is still closed. I walk into the ferry terminal (a perfect facsimile of an airport terminal, with all the charm and warm atmosphere associated with it), grab a Coke and a Mars bar, and hang around eating, drinking, puffing a cigar until the Customs people open up. The next wait is then on the pier - as in Amsterdam, the luxury class passengers are allowed to get in (and thus also off) first, but the bikes are let on fairly quickly. I'm the first bike to board the boat (jay!), quickly strap and tie it down and make for my hut. A change of clothes and then a change of currency later I'm in the bar with a pint of Guinnes and a big cigar. I am planning to make this my big night out, but I notice that I'm also more tired than I would normally expect (riding all day with my trauma might have contributed to that) so I retreat to the hut until it's time for dinner.

I remember DFDS' "Around the world" buffet from last time: it is a sampling of dishes from all over the globe, you can eat as much as you want, and to finish it off they have an icecream buffet as well... I eat (especially a lot of mexican and asian dishes) until my belly hurts, and then make off for the bar for a double espresso to help wash down a double amaretto. After a short stroll around the ship, which is more like a luxury cruise ship than a ferry, I feel tired again. An attempt to kick myself into action with a gin-and-tonic fails, so I decide not to party but go to bed early and read a bit. The North Sea is flat like a billard sheet but my hut is on the wrong side of the boat to admire the lights of the offshore industry along the English east coast, so well before midnight I hit my bed and I'm quickly asleep.


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