September 09, 2003 GMT
A week in County Kerry

Saturday the 23rd - another beautiful and sunny day in Ireland. Uncle Brian and Marge take us out on a tour of the area so that we can get off the bike for awhile and not have to worry about finding our way. Uncle Brian is an excellent tour guide and knows everything there is to know about the area historically. We start off heading down the coast to Fenit and take a 2 hour boat trip around Tralee Bay. The weather was now hot and we were sun tanning on the boat !! We got to see where we would be taking our next tour as it was across the water on the Dingle coast.
We get back on shore and head for a tour of the beaches of Ireland. They are fantastic!!! We hit Barrow, Banna and at least 3 other beaches that could have been in California. We end up at a lovely pub to have a drink and dinner and back to the house.
Our beautiful and wonderful cousin Daire and her soon to be husband John come over to take us out on the town. The Rose of Tralee festival is going to be on all week so that means one BIG party. What a great time to hit the town.

We start off with the Roses being paraded down the street. (the roses are young ladies that have been chosen to represent their city in the festival). The crowd is 4 deep on the road and the crowd is happy and ready to go. Once the parade is over we head to a local bar right downtown. We luck out and get seats in the pub as it is jammed packed and start drinking and getting to know each other. We also get to meet some of their friends including a great lad named Kevin.
One of the benefits of being in town during The Rose is that the pubs are open very late. So at 12:00 we decide to go to another bar that is just down the road. We leave the pub and the streets are still packed full. The night is warm and alcohol is flowing freely everywhere. We end up at a place called the "hole in the wall". Now to get to this place you have to go down a long dark alley that has a big gate across it. As good Canadians that try not to get into trouble this isn't quite what we are expecting as I am saying "are you sure we need to go down this alley?" Yes we are....... this is a local hang out and we are the only tourists in sight. It's great fun and John tries to enlighten Patrick on how to tell a good Guinness from a bad one. In reality this means drinking many many Guinness’s all night long. I unfortunatly am drinking Smirnoff Ice and feeling no pain....We are a fantastic time full of great craic (our new Irish word for the day meaning fun, laughs and great atmosphere). Someone finally looks at their watch and we realize that it is 4 A.M. We fell like we are 17 years old as we sneak back to Uncle Brian's and Marge's and try to sneak back into the house quietly.....Not a bad Saturday night.....not looking forward to the hang over Sunday morning.......

Posted by Patrick Harkness at 04:10 PM GMT
County Kerry

Sunday
not able to move very quickly need water please.........

we get some newspapers and sit outside in the sun with Marge. I say my usual, I am never drinking again.......

Posted by Patrick Harkness at 04:13 PM GMT
County Kerry

For the next few days we use Uncle Brian's and Marge's as our home base. We start the week going up to Brandon Point. It's an overcast day with some light rain but not too bad for a touring day. The roads are quite bumpy and the visibilities around the corners are not great. We come to one spot in the road where we come to a very fast stop as a heard of sheep are being moved, through the main street of the village, by sheep dogs and 2 guys in a truck. I was able to get a picture.

pilg6095911[1].jpg

We move along to the Dingle Peninsula which is an extremely beautiful ride. There isn't a lot of traffic as we are coming to the end of high season so after passing a few big tour buses we are just cruising down the road. The scenery is breathtaking and I highly recommend going around the whole peninsula not just going into Dingle. This takes us the full day and we end up back in Tralee after 8:00.

Tuesday is a rainy day, the first in quite awhile. I spend the day in town doing housekeeping items. Patrick though and his new best friend John, are on their way to a little known golf course called "Tralee Golf Club" some of you may recognize the name. Patrick was so excited the night before he could barely sleep. His luck was with him as his tee off time was at 3:00 pm and that is when the clouds started to disappear and the sun came out. He played an excellent round despite using clubs that were made before he was even born. Our dear friends John and Kevin were amazed at Patrick's golfing ability as he beat the pants off them.....and I thought it was supposed to be a hard course ??!!!

Many many thanks though do go out to John, Kevin and Daire for getting Patrick on to this golf course. It was not something we would have been able to do on our own.

Wednesday we head to Killarney to see the National Park and Ross Castle. You could easily spend 2 or 3 days here but we end up only spending a few hours. I thought the park was spectacular and very well kept. It reminded me of home. We meet up with our new posse of friends and head over to the Tralee Races. Drinking and gambling on the ponies..... a great way to spend the afternoon. Perhaps another late night and again we sneak back into Uncle Brian's like 17 year olds....

Thursday and Friday we spend doing the ring of Kerry, Valencia Island and the Skellig Ring. We both thought it was beautiful but we thought the Dingle ring was a little more scenic...don't tell the tourist bureau... the weather was good for us again. The roads are a little on the ...okay okay.... a lot on the bumpy side so you pretty much stay in the speed limit.


Posted by Patrick Harkness at 04:46 PM GMT
September 17, 2003 GMT
Last week in Ireland

So we have sped up our travels as the weather is no longer as warm as it used to be. We spend 2 nights in Galway with my Aunt Dolores and Uncle Seamus and meet up with some of my other cousins. It's a short trip as the rain has come and the temperature is down to 10 to 15 degrees.

We decide to do a quick jaunt through Northern Ireland and then catch the ferry to Scotland.

As soon as we cross the border into Northern Ireland we notice a huge difference in the road conditions. The roads are no longer full of pot holes and weird bumps that jump out at you. There is very good road signage and we actually make it into Belfast without getting lost and go straight to our B and B.

The cost once you hit any country with british pounds is huge so we just close our eyes to it. It's a very nice city, easy to walk around and the people are very friendly.

We have booked our ferry to Scotland and leave tomorrow, September the 3rd.

Posted by Danette Harkness at 11:24 AM GMT
Great place this...

After closing our eyes and trying not to calculate the exchange we paid 120 Pounds return for our trip from N. Ireland to Scotland. The Stena fast ferry is what the govt in British Columbia should have created, 50 mph, 1.75 hours, and there is a bar on board!!! Getting the bike on and tied down is simple, no need to bring your own tie downs as they are provided.

Had an easy crossing and zipped across to Stranraer in Scotland.

The roads in Scotland are easily the best so far, smooth pavement with lots of open corners. Loved the riding in Scotland.

Our aim for the day was to get to Edinburgh (Edinburra for those who are confused) get a place to stay then check out the town. The town itself is FANTASTIC, loved it. Easily the most friendly people so far on the trip. The whole of the old section of the city is a world heritage site. Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline high above on it's rock. The castle is worth the 8.50 pounds (dont convert dont convert) entry fee to look around and if you are there at 1 o'clock you will see the firing of the one oclock gun. Must have stolen the idea from Vancouver's 9 oclock gun. What's that? They have been firing it for hundreds of years?? Never mind...

Took the touristy bus tour to cover the city quickly as we did not have a ton of time. Also worth the £££

We sadly left Edinburgh after 2 days. For the golfers in the audience we passed Gleneagles (not in Horseshoe Bay) Troon and Turnbury in one day of riding. Spent the night in a nondescript town so we could hop the ferry back to Ireland.

Thoughts on Scotland:

Loved it, but very expensive for those using the Northern Peso.

Loved riding the smooth windy roads even with the kamikaze rabbits!!!

Edinburgh is great. Everyone should see it before they die.

The heather is purple in September, Tony was right!!

Patrick

Posted by Danette Harkness at 11:55 AM GMT
September 23, 2003 GMT
Ireland Roundup

Let's see, We are back in Ireland for a quick chat with the various family members to say goodbye to all. We are finally moving on to the continent and will stop freeloading.

So to sum up for Ireland:

Gas is easy to find but only the 95 octane. High test is hard to find. Prices from .85 to .95 euro. ( same price in Scotland just in pounds YIKES!!!)

Eating in the gas stations is easy cheap and shockingly very good. Most have a deli/hot food service.

Pubs are great. 'nuff said

Now to the roads..... 95% of them are narrow bumpy and have no sight lines around the corners. Bring all the suspension you can cause you will need it. Being on the wrong side of the road adds to the fun.

As a Canuck converting from the Cdn$ Ireland, particularly Dublin, can be expensive. To conserve your cash try staying outside of the bigger towns in B&B's
Although this is no gaurantee. We are not camping but that would obviously be less expensive again. We do have a camp stove with us so we can cook simple meals and make coffee in anyplace we stay.

We are off to France on Sept 12th taking the ferry from Roselare in Ireland to Roscoff in France. Will let you know how the Irish Ferries handles bikes.

See Ya!!!

Posted by Patrick Harkness at 10:09 AM GMT
Back on the continent

Well here we are in France. Glad to be back on the right hand side of the road. Before we move on I must relate the story of the ferry ride from Ireland to France on Irish Ferries. The trip takes about 17 hours but there is lots to do on board (if you would like to pay for it) and you do have a closet/cabin to sleep in. We enjoyed the Stena ferries a lot more.

Getting the bike onboard was interesting. You are guided alongside a wall on the inside of the ferry. There is a rail running along the wall at about the 5 foot level that has lots of grotty ropes and crappy tie downs all over it. As you survey the scene the cars are being directed right next to you so keep your wits about you!!!
Onto the centre stand goes the bike. I decide to ask for some assistance from the crew as my boy scout knot tieing badge is woefully out of date. The response is a curt " Do it yourself I don't want to be responsible" This from the head guy. After a somewhat heated exchange a crew member came along to help us out. Irish Ferries the name means service......

Finally off the boat after an easy crossing.

Gotta love french roads, even the smaller roads are smoothly paved and well signposted. So far so good. We are heading to the Normandy invasion beaches to get a little history that is not related to any incestous nobility.

We stay in Cabourg for two nights. It is the end of the summer season here in France and this part of it seems to be like a beach resort. Nice town with a casino and lovely promenade along the beach.

We day trip to Juno beach and the newly constructed Juno Beach Centre that tells the story of the Canadian effort on D-Day. It also is a vehicle to tell people a little about where and what Canadians are. Hope they can educate these folks quickly as being mistaken for an American is getting old. A great centre that is well put together and hits the mark. After this we motored down the various beaches and towns that make up the landing beaches. It is hard to get the scale of the invasion unless you see it. We see the Mulberry floating harbours that were integral to the success of the day and that lasted well beyond what they were designed for. Massive chunks of it out in the ocean, very compelling.

After Cabourg it is off to St Lo to get the bike serviced. Evasion is the name of the BMW dealership. They seem very competent although we are both struggling linguistically. A ton of pointing and sign language gets the message across. We are booked in for the following week so it's off to Granville for a little off the bike time. We were going to go to Paris but have decided against due to the hole in the budget. Paris can be done on a future trip when we are old and feeble.

talk to you soon.

Posted by Patrick Harkness at 10:43 AM GMT
September 30, 2003 GMT
Granville and St. Lo

We leave St. Lo for Granville for a few "off the bike days". Nice small seaside town with a cool harbour area and lots of fishing boats. The ride here is nothing to scream about, mostly straight and flat. We will have to wait until the south of France before things get interesting in that dept.

We have a nice hotel with 3 beds!! We should rent out the other 2!! Granville is not a large town so we spend the time reading, walking, eating and sight seeing. Life is tough. One feature of Granville is the formation of WW2 German gun emplacements. They are all over the headland above the town. One of the bunkers appears to have been blow up after the war in an effort to remove them. Bad call. Giant chunks of concrete rolling all over the place, so instead of one giant bunker you have about 10 really large pieces that you still have to deal with.
The rest of the bunkers are still there.

We take one road trip to Mont St. Michel. Very interesting spot. Hiked up the Mont part of the place and looked out over the flat land that is the norm in this area. Very cool. After a picnic lunch we wandered around the place as the tide was out. On our return to the front area there were hordes of tourists, school groups etc filling the parking lot. Jumped on the bike to roam around the countryside and headed for home.

Spent the weekend in Granville (sept 20) and road back to St Lo on the Monday. We have to get the bike in for an oil change and service. We drop the bike off on Tuesday morning at Evasion BMW and hope that the pointing and sign language has been enough to get the message across.

The bike is outside as I arrive at Evasion. I fear what the bill will say. After the reaming we got in Cork for an oil change this might be brutal. The lady says the amount in french which sounds like a lot. She then writes it down 194 Euro. Whew!!
We paid 130 in Cork for an oil change, this was for a 20000 km inspection!!

Can't say enough good stuff about the folks at Evasion. They are a busy shop that has BMW, Suzuki and something called MBK which seems to be the cheap alternative bike.

The roads in the area that we saw are nothing to write home about for bikes. I did really like the area. St Lo is a good spot to base yourself for a visit . The town suffered incredibly during June 6th and 7th 1944 from the bombing. When it was liberated it was in ruins. The church (oddly called Notre Dame) has all kinds of bullet and shrapnel holes in it. This includes an unexploded shell stuck in one of the side walls that is still there!! The town rebuilt and today is great.

In the morning we will leave here and head to Arras and visit Vimy Ridge.

See Ya!!!

Posted by Patrick Harkness at 03:23 PM GMT
 

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