VergesRome Architects | New Orleans Architectural Firm


Bicycle Touring in Europe with MargAnn W. Turnipseed

In 1977 a book titled Bicycle Touring in Europe inspired MargAnn Wright and Don Turnipseed to buy lightweight bikes, outfit them for touring and camping, and depart for Europe. Their three-month bike journey took them from Luxembourg through Belgium, England, the Netherlands, and back through Belgium.

“We met travelers from around the world, including many cycle tourists inspired by the same book!” says MargAnn. “We carried everything we needed with us, took our time, and embraced whatever experiences each day brought. We met kind locals curious about our mode of travel and enthusiastic to learn we were from New Orleans. Other than bicycling through Brussels traffic, which was terrifying, we always felt safe and valued as American friends, and in turn we strived to be respectful visitors. Not having mobile phones or internet back then, we relied on phone centers and mail to communicate with family back home. I crammed so much info into my postcards my family needed magnification to read them!

“We mapped our routes daily and kept journals, pleasantly surprised to find great pubs at most organized camping sites. Crossing the Channel to Dover, and traveling by train to the north of London, we set out on a month-long circular tour of southern England that included Canterbury, Stratford-upon-Avon, Worcester, Bath, Salisbury, Andover, and a return to Hammersmith London to stay with new friends from Australia. Our cheap two-man tent couldn’t handle the frequent British rain, compelling us to upgrade to better quality at a camping store in the city of Northampton. Joining the Camping Club of Great Britain gave us access to diverse camping sites including a racetrack in Stratford-Upon-Avon, a nature/ wildlife reserve with screaming peacocks, a country horse farm in Inkberrow complete with friendly foxhounds, and backyards of ordinary British homes. We often enjoyed fresh milk delivered directly to our tent. Arriving at Stonehenge on the day of the Summer Solstice was memorable – on many levels! Preparations for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations happening later that summer were evident everywhere.

“We rode from Zaandam, Netherlands, to the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague, returning in the early morning hours on safe dedicated bike paths. In Gouda, we learned how to correctly pronounce the name of the cheese and we’ve loved delicious Oud (Aged) Gouda ever since! The proprietor of our Brugge, Belgium, campground invited us for a day at sea – from Blankenberge, Belgium, to Scheveningen, Netherlands and back – on his racing sloop, The Old Chap II, with his crew that had recently sailed the annual North Sea Race. Throughout our cycle tour we enjoyed delicious breads, cheeses, Dutch Chocoladevla, and drank mostly beer, with enduring fondness for Belgian beers including Belgian Trappist ales.

“Don and I returned home when we ran out of money! We married the next year and I do think this trip – supporting and challenging each other to achieve what we never imagined possible – has helped us navigate 45 years of married life.”