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Armstrongs begin European adventure

By By Chris Whitaker / staff writer
May 31, 2002
A 1,500 mile journey has begun for Andy Armstrong, a retired history teacher from Newton, and his grandson, Eric, a Florida student. They are in the early stages of bicycling across nine European countries.
The two flew from New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon for Miami and then to Paris. They arrived safely at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris about 10 a.m. (3 a.m. Central Daylight Time) on Thursday.
Before flying out of New Orleans, they met their first obstacle when a customer service representative at American Airlines told them it would cost $150 to ship their bikes. Eric, 15, had called beforehand and been told the bikes could travel at no additional charge. The airline representative checked and it was free.
Other passengers on the plane saw their shirts, which listed the nine countries they will visit and carried the words "Biking Europe, June 2002."
On the flight over, breakfast was served at 2 a.m. When they arrived in Paris, they deplaned and went in search of an ATM machine, eventually finding one in the airport terminal.
Armstrong said they finally found someone who spoke English and was able to give them directions out of the airport.
They ended up in Goussainville, France, about 10 miles from the airport, where they found a hotel for 29 Euro, or a little more than $27.
He said they rode almost two hours, passing fields, old buildings and homes. The sun was still shining bright and the temperature was in the 60s at 5:15 p.m.
Armstrong said they plan to get up about 8 a.m. and head towards Brussels, Belgium. He said they still have to get their bodies used to the different time zone.