The aim of this adventure was simple. I wanted to head off with my bike, as cheaply and as hassle-free possible, and tour the Swiss Alps.
After spending the hot British summer (erm what?) washing dishes and chopping onions I finally left my job as a kitchen slave and was almost ready to leave at the end of September. I still hadn’t planned my route to Switzerland…but discovered that conveniently one of my favourite bands were playing a gig in Paris on the Thursday that week, so I was able to plan my outbound journey around this by booking a train from Paris to Switzerland for the Friday. I just had to decide HOW to get from Readin to Paris by Thursday…it was already Tuesday…
– The Eurostar was too expensive; I wasn’t booking months in advance, it has a hefty £30 fee to take a bike, and I had to get to London from Reading on top of that.
– Cycling the whole way via catching a ferry was a nice idea in principle, but not in reality; I didn’t have enough time to make it there by Thursday!
So ultimately the most economical way was also the most logical way. This was the Cycle (to Portsmouth) – Overnight Ferry (Portsmouth to Le Havre) – Train (Le Havre to Paris) option, more economical than cycling the whole way seeing as the two-hour €25 train from Le Havre to Paris saves on atleast two nights camping & food in france.
The plan for the journey back was rather more open-plan though. From experience I knew pre-booking return travel on a cycling tour will more than likely turn out to be the least economic option, and the most hassle. Sure you may find an advance ticket cheap beforehand, but when you inevitably change your route and over/under-estimate some distances along the way, it doesn’t look so cheap anymore.