First Week on the Orient Express
It’s our 2nd rest day, and I am strolling around Freiburg’s old city listening to the sounds of church bells, and suitcases rolling over cobblestones on the narrow city streets. It is Sunday morning, and most everything is closed accept the cafe’s and ice cream shops and it’s another sunny day. In fact it has been only sun since we left Paris, and as smooth of a start to the tour as we could have hoped.
Our route thru France has changed a bit since I was last leading this tour. I was happy to see much less of the busy roads and much more of the beautiful French countryside. This year’s adventurous bunch have been exploring even further – taking detours and pit stops, and finding even more interesting routes that we will have to incorporate for the 2015 edition.
Last Sunday, we left our hotel in Paris and rode along the separated bike lane that runs right in front of our hotel. We followed this – cycling as a mass group – thru the city, around the roundabout at Arch de Triomphe, and across the Seine to the Eiffel Tower where we marked our official ‘start line’ with a group picture, and a pee break. We then set off east, headed for Istanbul, but with our first stop in Chenoise – a tiny little village less than 100 km from central Paris. But it couldn’t have felt further from the city – set on a farm, our camp was a delight, with sheep and cows and donkeys grazing next to our tents pitched on rich green grass in the shade. And to celebrate our first day on the road we had a little wine and cheese party and spent the afternoon laughing and drinking and organizing our camp into the system that we will have for the next 6 weeks.
From Chenoise, we had a stop in Troyes with its narrow alleys and buildings that sag and bend in all directions by the weight of hundreds of years. From there it was 4 days of cycling to Freiburg that saw us cycle both our longest and hilliest stages yet. We are now relaxing in Freiburg – our first stop in Germany – and preparing for the week of riding ahead to Ulm and Regensberg by the end of the week.
We have been and will continue to be posted pictures to Facebook and to our Instagram and Twitter account using the hashtag #oe2013. So look us up and follow along with us.